Lucky the man who enjoys what he does! I shall be sharing some of my great loves by teaching them at Christ Church University in Canterbury this autumn. If you are historically minded but hindered by early documents, come and learn some classical Latin (always a good basis for the later mediaeval), and if you can’t read early forms of English, then come and practise your palaeographical skills with a variety of late mediaeval, Tudor and Stuart documents.
Allied to both of these subjects, a day course on classical manuscripts and early printed books will show how classical texts survived the Dark Ages, were rewritten under Charlemagne in his especially devised and wonderfully legible new script, and then frequently copied in succeeding centuries. But copying often meant gradual textual corruption, and at the advent of printing in the 1400s, how fit were texts to be committed to the printed page? Here enters the world of textual criticism which has tested some of the most acute minds in the history of scholarship.
As a boy I was mad on stamp collecting – and still am! This still hugely popular and very visual hobby attracts millions of collector and millions of pounds in the formation of great collections. Every country in the world has issued stamps reflecting its own history, geography, products and famous people, starting with the 1d black in 1840. The world is your oyster on the album page!
Autumn 2017 Schedule
As a veteran and founding member of the Guild of One Name Studies, I was pleased to speak at their Kent conference today on our county's magnificent probate records. A good crowd, good lunch, and very comfortable village hall, of which more are probably needed as social and business centres.
Family historians generally focus their efforts on researching their own family trees, collecting and analysing data in order to find as much detail as possible on every branch, twig or tiny leaf. Others compile surname studies, which seek all occurrences, past and present, of a single surname, anywhere in the world.
A one-name (or surname) study is a project researching all occurrences of a surname, as opposed to a particular pedigree (ancestors of one person) or descendancy (descendants of one person or couple). Some ‘one-namers’ restrict their research geographically, perhaps to one country, but true one-namers collect all occurrences worldwide.
I spoke last night in the rather splendid Ash next Sandwich village hall with attached heritage centre containing a fine archive of local material for researchers. I was guaranteed a good crowd to hear about Bryan Faussett as one of his major sites was Gilton in Ash parish. A number of people lived very close to the original sand pit where excavations started in the 1760s and were extremely curious to hear the history of the many interesting finds which have now continued for over 200 years. What lies under their back gardens now, I wonder?
Archaeology is flourishing!
Canterbury Cathedral Archives have just held their second residential weekend on genealogy. People get to be very well looked after in the Cathedral Lodge and then have a full day of displays, problem-solving and lectures/seminars in the search rooms. I gave yet another talk on "Kent Ancestors" and then subjected the class to trying their hand at reading some fifteenth-century wills. An enjoyable time was had by all!
An impressive crowd at Bexleyheath local studies centre yesterday (still with its own valuable local archive) to hear me on talk on Kent Ancestors, an introduction to Kent genealogy. My recent royalty cheque suggests that writing the book has all been very worthwhile; let's hope that lots of new Kentish pedigrees are now being constructed!
My 2016 speaking programme concluded yesterday with a large crowd at Gravesend library to hear about my new book "Tracing Your Kent Ancestors" and where to look next.
It was clear that genealogy is not always only about the dead, as several people were hard-pressed to find lost living relatives. Despite the age of information overload, this is still a common problem, and at least one person went away confident of where to look next.
We look forward to many more such occasions in 2017!
Good reviews and feedback from the Crayford lecture on Bryan Faussett, a great turn-out and an engaging audience.
"Dr. Wright's lecture, on Bryan Faussett and his excavations in Kent, opened a window to a hitherto unknown 18th archaeologist and his equally unknown Anglo-Saxon finds of extraordinary quality. It appears that an excursion to Liverpool to view these artefacts would be well advised. Our members were delighted to learn about this almost-local pioneering antiquary, and Dr. Wright is to be applauded in bringing Bryan Faussett to the attention of a wider audience." - Crayford Manor House Historical Society
A full house last night at Ashford Library for a seminar on Kent Ancestors. I covered a lot of ground from which many people got some new ideas as to how to overcome their genealogical brick walls, including especially Kent's wonderful probate accounts and inventories as well as the many series of early mediaeval records which are in print and indexed, and perhaps deserve to be better known.
Many thanks to Karin Backlog and the staff at Ashford Library for making it a successful event.
A busy hour talking at the Canterbury Beaney last night about 'Kent Ancestors' where the evening almost became a problem surgery for those present. Every family tree hits brick walls, so one or two were surmounted, or at least the enquirers were given good leads to follow up. A 'problems' workshop would seem a good idea for the not too distant future. Even with the amount of information now available on the web, this has in no way affected how people must develop good research procedures to make the most of how they construct their pedigrees.
The next Talk Tuesday, 8th November 2016, 'Tracing Your Kent Ancestors' - Talk and Book-signing, 7:00pm Ashford Library, Church Road, Ashford, Kent