John Winthrop, Massachusetts, Charles Banks

Genealogist, Charles Banks

Master Works of Charles Edward Banks: A Great Great Man and a Gifted Genealogist

Students of New England genealogy recognize Charles E. Banks (1854-1931) as one of the patriarchs of genealogical scholarship. During his lifetime, he was widely acknowledged to be one of the leading authorities on northern New England families. His two-volume History of York, Maine (a third volume was in preparation at the time of his death) is still the starting point on its subject. Though removed from his primary geographical area of expertise, Dr. Banks’ three-volume history of Martha’s Vineyard is also a model local history.

Notwithstanding his fame as a genealogist, Banks’ first calling was as a physician and surgeon. A graduate of Dartmouth Medical School, Charles Banks enjoyed a distinguished 40-year career in the U.S. Public Health Service. Dr. Banks was involved in many activities, including early efforts to thwart polio and to enforce sanitary laws. He achieved the position of assistant surgeon-general of the USPHS, retiring with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

Besides his interests in genealogy and history, Banks was a skillful artist. His drawings adorn several of his publications. He is also reckoned to have been gracious, kindly, and un-self-serving. He was never reluctant to share the fruits of his research with friends and colleagues. Continue reading…

Royal ancestors

Do you have Royal Ancestors?

If you are just getting started in your search on royal lineage, please check out our post How to Trace Royal Lineage – Basics for Your Research. However, if you are in hot pursuit of your royal ancestry, or are looking for additional resources that detail royal ancestors in America, the following post contains detailed information that may help you.

If you have discovered you have royal ancestors, have you wondered how they came to America?

The system of primogeniture, the medieval practice of passing down a title and its holdings to one’s eldest son or daughter, accounts for the fact that many Americans have royal or noble ancestors. For example, the millions of descendants of the 650 immigrant ancestors discussed in the 2006 edition of Gary Boyd Roberts’ book, Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants (“RD 600”), share royal ancestry because of a pattern of social leveling common to most Western European nations. Second and subsequent sons or daughters of kings became or married nobles. Younger sons or daughters of the nobility became or married “gentry:” knights, manorial lords, gentlemen with coats-of-arms, baronets, lairds, and seigneurs. The younger children of the gentry became or married merchants, clergymen, Puritan or Huguenot leaders, university fellows, bureaucrats or professional soldiers. Left with few alternatives on the social ladder, members of these last groups, or their younger sons and daughters, immigrated to the American colonies and later to the U.S. Continue reading…

Metis people, Metis genealogy

Principal Families of The Metis People

Principal Families of the Metis People Specified

Gail Morin’s series tracing the children of intermarriage between early French fur traders and Canadian Native Americans, known as Métis or Métis People, has now reached four volumes. Mrs. Morin has now given us a list of the primary families who figure in each volume, so researchers can make an educated guess about their potential family connections in each book. Brief descriptions of each volume and lists of which principal families each book contains follow below.

Please note that this is a very list heavy post, but hopefully you’ll find your family name in one or more of the volumes and be able to identify it as a resource.

Continue reading…

Northern New England

Spotlight – Northern New England Genealogy Resources

The northern New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont were inhabited later than their southern neighbors and one way or another, derived or wrested their existence from them. Maine, for example, once the property of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, was acquired by Massachusetts in 1677 and became known as the Province of Maine of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although Maine was an important battleground during the Revolution and War of 1812, it did not achieve statehood until 1820. New Hampshire, once a part of Maine, came under Massachusetts’ control in 1641. While New Hampshire became a royal province in 1679, it would again be governed by Massachusetts between 1699 and 1741.

Land disputes played an important part in the colonial history of the three northern New England colonies, especially in the case of Vermont, where grantees from New Hampshire and New York held rival claims. Even after the English crown ruled in favor of New York, a number of Vermonters refused to bow to that colony’s demand that they obtain new grants. Instead, they formed the famous Green Mountain Boys, a resistance group that, coincidentally, helped defeat the British at Ft. Ticonderoga and Crown Point during the Revolution. A Vermont assembly ultimately declared independence from New York, and the former colony was granted statehood in 1791.

The people of northern New England were a fairly homogeneous lot prior to 1800. Most colonial inhabitants could trace their roots directly to southern New England or England itself. Eighteenth-century Maine and New Hampshire attracted infusions of Scotch-Irish; New Hampshire attracted some Huguenots as well. During the following century the influx of Canadians – notably from Quebec and Nova Scotia – Scandinavians, and Germans brought greater diversity to the region. Continue reading…

Welsh surnames, Wales, Welsh Genealogy

Welsh Surnames – A Glimpse of “The Surnames of Wales”

Editor’s Note: The following post relates to the new edition of John and Sheila Rowlands’ The Surnames of Wales. Those interested in tracing their Welsh genealogy may find this to be a valuable resource. Researchers less familiar with the nuances of Welsh genealogy, should also consider the Rowlands’ Welsh Family History, A Guide to Research. Second Edition as a starting point, and Second Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry as a supplemental guide

A Glimpse of The Surnames of Wales

The revised and enlarged edition of John and Sheila Rowlands’ The Surnames of Wales seeks to dispel many of the myths which surround the subject of Welsh names. In this updated edition, evidence is taken from an exhaustive survey involving more than 270,000 surnames found in parish records throughout Wales in order to present the most complete information. The central chapters include this comprehensive survey of Welsh surnames and an all-important glossary of surnames. This is the core of the work, as it provides the origins and history of surnames from the viewpoint of family history, and also shows the distribution and incidence of surnames throughout Wales. When these genealogical implications are considered alongside the migration patterns to and from Wales, the possibilities for tracking elusive Welsh ancestors improve considerably.

To illustrate the extent of the well researched information contained in The Surnames of Wales, here are the Rowlands’ key to their Glossary of Welsh surnames, followed by a few surname descriptions taken from the Glossary itself.

Key to the Glossary of Welsh Surnames

The Glossary follows a standard pattern. First comes a short historical and linguistic paragraph about each name. An indication of the existence of earlier work on families is given in many cases. A key to these references is to be found in the list of Abbreviations, and also in the References and Select Bibliography. For the most part, the pre-1974 historic counties of Wales are referred to. Frequently included in the historical paragraph is a reference to the work of P.C. Bartrum  on personal names found in fifteenth century Welsh pedigrees (Bartrum, 1981), and also to the work of H.B. Guppy (Guppy, 1890). For an explanation of their work (and the work of others) see Chapter 6. The Welsh medieval divisions used in Bartrum’s work are quoted, and the figures are given as percentages.

Notes from Guppy are included where appropriate: i.e. where names are counted in Wales, Guppy’s figures (expressed as percentages here, to enable comparisons to be made) are shown in the Glossary; figures are also given for the English counties along the Welsh border, where they are included; for other English counties we have been more selective, indicating the figures where they seem to us to be relevant. Many names in this Glossary are totally unrepresented in Guppy’s work. The order chosen here is: North Wales, South Wales, Monmouthshire; the four border counties of Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire; other English counties. Continue reading…