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…

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…

Colonial Virginia, Order of the First Families of Virginia

The Cutting Edge of Colonial Virginia Genealogy – Adventurers of Purse and Person

Adventurers of Purse and Person – In Three Volumes

Membership in the Order of First Families of Virginia is limited to lineal descendants of someone who aided in the establishment of the first permanent English colony – Virginia, 1607-1624/5. Membership goes beyond exclusive and is actually by invitation only. All such members are in the direct line of either:

  1. Stockholders in the Virginia Company who came to Virginia between 1607 and 1625 and had progeny, or did not come to Virginia but had grandchildren who did; or
  2. Immigrants to Virginia between the years in question who left descendants. The first group is referred to as “Adventurers of Purse;” the second, “Adventurers of Person.” A grand total of 109 individuals have been authenticated in both categories.

Since its establishment in 1912, the Order of First Families of Virginia has striven “to promote historical, biographical, and genealogical researches concerning Virginia history during the period when she was the only one of the thirteen original colonies.” The Order has collected genealogical information on an ongoing basis; however, its principal mechanism for disseminating this early 17th-century Virginia genealogical scholarship has been through its book, Adventurers of Purse and Person, 1607-1624/5. First issued in 1956, this work had gone through three editions by 1987. To mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of colonial Jamestown, the Order asked John Frederick Dorman, its official genealogist and the leading authority on colonial Virginia ancestry, to prepare a fourth edition.

While the first three editions covered four generations of Virginia founding families, the fourth edition expands the coverage to six – a monumental achievement. The sheer scope of the new edition required that it be published in three large, indexed volumes.

The foundation of Adventurers of Purse and Person is the famous “Muster” of January-February 1624/25 – essentially a census taken by the Royal Commission, which succeeded the Virginia Company, to determine the extent and composition of the Jamestown settlements. The Muster, which is reproduced in entirety in Volume One, names about 1,200 persons, of whom approximately 150 are shown in this work to have left descendants to the sixth generation. In addition to the Muster, this work builds on the investigations of dozens of scholars, correcting, revising, and supplementing the best genealogical scholarship of the past half century. New discoveries, newly available information, and a further reevaluation of evidence concerning previously accepted relationships have led, in some instances, to wholesale changes in the accepted genealogies.

Whereas Volume One concerned 52 families from A through F, Volume Two covers 51 families, beginning with letters G through P, that were established either by settlers of Virginia prior to 1625 or by members of the Virginia Company whose descendants came to Virginia later. Volume Two identifies 7,684 individual descendants resident in Virginia (or subsequently in other states), and its index contains 20,000 name, place, and subject entries. Volume Three focuses (G-Z) concentrates on 46 main families possessing about 6,500 individual descendants, and boasts an index of 20,000 names:

  • Volume One, Families A-F: The first volume covers founding families alphabetically from A-F and includes the following: Andrews, Bagwell, Baley-Cocke, Barkham-Jenings, Barne, Bates, Bayly, Beheathland, Bennett (Edward), Bennett (Samuel), Bennett-Chapman, Bernard, Bibby, Bickley, Bland, Boyce, Boyle-Mountney, Branch, Buck, Burwell, Bush, Calthorpe, Calvert, Carsley, Carter, Chaplaine, Chew, Chisman, Claiborne, Clay, Clements, Cobb, Codrington, Cole, Cope, Cox, Crew, Croshaw, Crump, Curtis, Davis, Dawson, Delk, Digges, Edloe, Epes, Evelyn, Farrar, Fisher, Fleet, Flood, and Freeman.
  • Volume Two, Families G-P: Gaither, Gaskins, Gilbert, Gookin, Gosnold, Granger, Graves, Gray Grendon, Gundry, Hallom, Hampton, Hansford, Harris (John), Harris (Thomas), Harwood, Holt, Hooe, Hopkins, Johnson-Travis, Jordan (Samuel), Jordan (Thomas), Kent, Kingsmill, Knott, Laydon, Lloyd, Lovelace-Gorsuch, Lukin, Lupo, Macock, Martiau, Mason, Mathews, Menefie, Montague, Moone, Moore, Offley, O’Neil-Robins, Osborne, Pace, Parramore, Pead, Peirce, Peirsey, Perry, Pierce-Bennett, Price, Price-Llewellyn, and Purifoy.
  • Volume Three, Families R-Z: Reynolds, Robins, Rolfe, Rookings, Royall, St. Leger, Salter-Weld, Savage, Scarburgh, Sharp, Sharp-Baugh, Sheppey, Slaughter, Smith (Arthur), Smith (Richard), Smith (Roger), Southey-Harmar-Littleton, Spencer, Stephens, Strachey, Swann, Tatum, Taylor-Cary, Thorowgood, Tooke, Townshend, Trussell, Utie, Utie-Bennett, Vassall, Waters, West, West (Anthony), Whiting, Wilkins, Williams, Willoughby, Wood, Woodhouse, Woodliffe, Woodson, Woodward, Wroughton, Wyatt, Yeardley, and Zouche.

If you are into 17th-century Virginia ancestry, it doesn’t get any better than Adventurers of Purse and Person. Genealogical Publishing Company, the parent company of this blog, is honored to be the publisher of this fourth edition of a work that is nothing less than the bedrock of colonial Virginia genealogy.

Image credit: Map of land granted to the Virginia Company by the charter of 1609, according to the terms of the charter and current geographical knowledge. By Anonymous cartographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Donald Lines Jacobus, Connecticut

Who Was Donald Lines Jacobus?

Who was Donald Lines Jacobus, and why should you know about him?

The Connecticut genealogist, Donald Lines Jacobus (pronounced ja cob’ us), was the founder of the modern school of scientific genealogy and the greatest American genealogist of the 20th century. Jacobus and his protégés taught us how to research and write family histories, how to solve genealogical problems, what sources should be used, how to interpret them, and why we must abandon unsupported findings which, in many instances, were built upon flights of imagination as much as on facts.

Jacobus has a long list of achievements, for instance, in 1922, he founded the esteemed periodical, “The American Genealogist” (TAG). We are more concerned with explaining why this sage’s teachings and writings are of importance to 21st-century sleuths. Jacobus’ book publications may date from 1922, but each one still stands as a model of genealogical scholarship. For example, Families of Ancient New Haven is the definitive statement on the ancestry and relationships of 35,000 residents of 18th-century New Haven, Connecticut, and it is the only publication that succeeds in treating every family of an entire New England region. In other works related to Connecticut, Mr. Jacobus, who built on Mr. Edgar Francis Waterman’s files in Hale, House and Related Families, Mainly of the Connecticut River Valley, succeeded in presenting exhaustive data from original sources, in providing new interpretations as well as additions and corrections to existing literature, and in making the family accounts definitive. The index alone bears reference to some 16,500 persons.

Jacobus’s Families of Old Fairfield is the ultimate authority on the ancestry and relationships of approximately 50,000 residents of Fairfield County, Connecticut. It is a vast compendium of family history, meticulously developed from original sources, and in every way an accurate reflection of the investigative genius of its celebrated author.

Jacobus left us scores of genealogy articles that appeared in the “National Genealogical Society Quarterly,” “The New England Historical and Genealogical Register,” and his beloved TAG. In 1968, the Genealogical Publishing Company assembled a number of those highly respected essays and published them as Genealogy as Pastime and Profession.

Genealogy as Pastime and Profession encapsulates Jacobus’ thinking. It describes the principles of genealogical research, the evaluation of evidence, and the relationship of genealogy to eugenics and the law; it discusses early nomenclature, royal ancestry, the use of source material, and the methods of compiling a family history. Jacobus was a wonderful writer, and he brought all of his wit and erudition to bear in this timeless volume. Beginners and experienced family historians will especially love the case study chapter in which the author the sets out to solve the mysterious ancestries of Ebenezer Couch, Nathaniel Brewster, and John Gill. Whether you do your genealogy over the Internet, by cranking the microfilm reader, or strictly by pouring over old documents, you’ll find that Genealogy as Pastime and Profession is as useful today as when it was first published 35 years ago. Jacobus’ advice, by and large, is as reliable as a wise old grandfather’s.

Image credit: Christ Church, Stratford, Connecticut, USA, second church, built in 1743. By/edited by Lucy Jarvis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

East Germany Border, German Genealogy

German Genealogy – Unification and Continuing Migration

Editor’s Note: The following article is condensed from the chapter, “The Germans and Germany” in the brand new 5th Edition of Mr. Angus Baxter’s classic how-to book, In Search of Your German Roots. Readers should note that, in the interest of brevity, a number of tables in the book which describe the migration and distribution of the German population and the contemporary archival holdings of other nations that have a bearing on German genealogy have been omitted from this except. Part one of the article, which can be viewed here, summarized Germanic migration and settlement patterns prior to the unification of the country in 1871. Part Two picks up the story from that point. 

The Process of German Unification

Germany only existed as an undivided country from 1871 until 1945 – in contrast with England and France, which had been unified for more than five centuries. Systems of government in the various German states ranged from absolute monarchies to the near-democracy of some of the electorates and free cities. Various forms of confederation or economic grouping took hold, flowered for a few years, and died. Each state had its own laws, archives, and system of recording events. You cannot say, for example, that “censuses were first held in Germany in 1871.” That is true for the unified Germany, but censuses were taken in Wurttemberg in 1821, in Baden in 1852, and so on. The only unified force in the Germanic area was the church–first the Catholic and later the Lutheran. Continue reading…