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…

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…

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…

genetic citations, DNA

Genetic Citations for Genealogists

As Elizabeth Mills explains at the outset of her latest laminated research aid, Citing Genetic sources for History Research Evidence Style, “Genetic tests are used today in non-scientific fields to help: (1) resolve questions of identity; and (2) determine the correct family unit to which a person belongs. Researchers who integrate genetic testing with traditional document research include biographers, genealogists, and historians; forensic genealogists working with legal firms and court systems; MIA-identification specialists working with governmental agencies to repatriate unidentified remains of military personnel; and unknown parentage specialists.”

Researchers—both professional and hobbyist—who work with genetic data will frequently find themselves reporting their results in online “trees” posted at genetic-testing sites, online databases focusing on a surname or ethnicity, and other reportorial venues. Common terms used in genetic studies include alleles, haplogroups, markers, triangulation, and more.

Besides explaining genetic citations for genealogists, or how to properly cite your genetic findings in a variety of situations, bonus features of Ms. Mills’ new Quicksheet, Citing Genetic sources for History Research Evidence Style include a brief glossary of terms common to DNA research, explanations of the different forms of genetic testing, and the standards for using genetic information itself.

To make the job of citing sources simpler, the author provides a template which shows exactly how you should identify source list entries and reference notes. Ms. Mills also provides examples, or models, of common source types, showing how to use them in a source list entry, in a full reference note, and in a short reference note. On this complicated subject, nothing could be easier to use.

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name variations

Name is the Game: Maiden Names and Name Variation

Editor’s Note: The post below includes an excerpt from chapter 3 of Lloyd Bockstruck’s book, The Name Is the Game: Onomatology and the Genealogist.

While we wish we could share the entire book here, we also want to mention some of the other valuable material in Bockstruck’s publication. “Chapter 2: Forenames” discusses the ancestral clues that are inherent in names. Did you know, for example, that the German forenames Franz and Xavier were predominantly used by Roman Catholics? Similarly, if the father of an unborn child died before the baby’s birth, the child might have been named Ichabod. And Doctor was often used as a nickname for the seventh son in a family because it was believed that a seventh son had an intuitive knowledge of the use of herbs.

In our recently featured Part I excerpt from Lloyd Bockstruck‘s book, The Name is the Game, we focused on the history of surnames. Pulled from the same chapter on surnames, the following excerpt discusses maiden name and spelling variations, and how these can affect your research.

Enjoy Part II below:

Maiden Names

In the British colonies outside of New England, civil records of vital statistics may not have been maintained and religious records may not have survived. When the available court records do not reveal the maiden name of a wife, it could be because she changed her condition but not her surname. William Hastings, the son of Henry Hastings, was born in 1759, married his first cousin, Arney Hastings, 26 October 1785 in Amelia County, Virginia. Her father, William Hastings, gave his consent. Fortunately, the civil marriage record survived to make it possible to identify her maiden name.

Olive Branch married his kinswoman Verlinche Branch in Henrico County, Virginia but no civil or church record exists to prove her maiden name. The bride’s forename was one peculiar to the Branch family and was a very good clue for identifying her maiden name.

Spelling Fixation

It is a mistaken belief that different spellings ofa surname applied to people from different families. A good example is Sir Walter Raleigh. His surname became the capital of the state of North Carolina and the seat of Wake County. Another American city named in his honor is Rolla, Missouri although the spelling tends to conceal the connection.

The name of Sir Walter Raleigh has appeared in written records as Raghley, Raghlie, Raileigb, Rale, Raleagh, Raleghe, Raleghus Ralego, Raleigh, Raleighe, Raleile. Raleygh, Ralight, Ralighe, Ralle, Ralleg, Rallleigh, Raughleigh, Raughley, Raughleye, Raughlie, Raughly, Raulaeus, Raule, Rauleghe, Rawligh, Rawlight, Rawlighe, Rawly, Rawlye,Rawlyghe, Raylie, Raylye, Raylygh, Reightly, Reighly, Rauley, Rhaleigh, Rolye, Wrawley, and Wrawly.

In the aftermath of the Civil War George Wise published his work, The Autograph of William Shakespeare (Philadelphia: P. E. Abel, 1869) giving 9,000 spelling variations of the most celebrated individual in the history of the English language. No name is lacking in variant spellings and close attention must be paid to all possibilities. Andrew Jackson said a man who could not spell his name more than three ways was not worth knowing, so Shakespeare falls within that criterion.

Image credit: Portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh by Nicholas Hilliard [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.