CAJUNS, CREOLES, PIRATES AND PLANTERS
Your New Louisiana Ancestors Format
Volume 1, Number 15
By Damon Veach
FAMILY RESEARCH: Ancestor research is a great adventure. Each individual has to schedule his or her time around major research facilities, or time for computer research, but the extra hours, and probably the most time-consuming aspect involves correspondence and the proper filing system. After libraries and archival facilities have closed and you are tired of searching computer records, notes from the various references must be placed in logical order. A genealogist is not only a family historian but an avid reader and expert file clerk – and in recent years, knowledge of the Internet and all the new research files now going online. In a sense, the Internet is now getting more genealogical interest with all the thousands of documents that are being made available for easy perusal.
Quite often, genealogy is the joy of finding the unexpected, and it is for this reason that many researchers depend on their own efforts as opposed to a professional. A professional simply takes the suspense and joy out of research, and in many cases, the material acquired is expensive and in some cases not properly documented, leaving voids or inaccuracies in family research. This isn’t always the case, but just to be sure, it is recommended that all references be double checked for accuracy. It is definitely noteworthy to watch out also for the genealogical scams that come in the way of postal or e-mail offers for books on your family lineage. These are usually general American history material with phone listings and little about your individual surname. Advice here is to buy only if you know the author, and you are sure the material offered is authentic.
Another no-no for researchers involves mail or magazine ads for family crests. They are not necessarily applicable to your individual family lineage. Take the surname Smith as an example. The first federal census lists the Smith surname as number one followed by Brown, Johnson, Jones, and Davis. Today, the most common names are Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, and Jones. Therefore when someone buys a coat-of-arms or maybe just the family crest, unless the lineage has been traced, there is no way of knowing if you have the correct version for your personal family lineage. The practice of using surnames was not adopted in western countries until about 1000 A.D., and then each family had to pick an identity, usually for tax purposes.
Surnames were first used by noblemen of Venice, and from there the practice spread to France, England, Germany, and the remainder of Europe. Going back to Smith, one finds so many variations. How do you translate to other nationalities? For Germany, it would be Schmidt, and in Russia, it would be Kuzetzov. In Italy, you would have to research Ferraro. Other surnames are the same. Take my name for instance. It started out as La Vache, then to Veitch, Veatch, and then Veach, with other variations being Veech, depending on how the census taker thought it should be spelled. America is a giant conglomerate of many people sharing the same freedoms, and changes in spellings are often involved. My great grandfather thought Veatch was “too Dutchy” and dropped the “t” to make it Veach. It is not always easy to understand spelling changes, but you have to know that it does exist. Accuracy in research is a priority which should not be taken lightly.
If you have a name that is uncommon, research becomes much easier. Veach, most definitely, cannot be classified with the Smiths and Johnsons. Tracing the origin was a challenge but not like those that are so common. Finding all the branches and meeting distant cousins has been a thrill and joy for me, and it will be for you too. Now, my e-mails can be directed to “Dear Cousin,” and not “Dear Sir.” Knowing that Veach was a nice Americanized version of the Scottish spelling, it was great to learn of its origin and how it came to be a part of Scottish history. It was all connected to the Norman Invasion, and my first American ancestor was James “the Sheriff” Veitch, first sheriff of Maryland. In going back to Scotland, I learned that my connection was to William le Vache and dating to a signature in 1296 with further research leading back to the Norman Invasion of 1066. Somewhere along the way, the family came to own a castle which still stands today in Scotland. Peebleshire, Scotland and Dawyck Castle figure prominently in the Veach heritage.
Whether you do archival research or do lots of Internet research, it is still a very time-consuming hobby, but it can be the most rewarding of all hobbies. A wealth of data is available, and a good place to start is with your older relatives. Talk to them. Ask about your ancestors. It just takes patience and perseverance to lead to happy conclusions.
(NOTE: The pictures of the crest and castle were taken from We Veitches, Veatches, Veaches, Veeches, An Historical Treasury of the Descendants of James Veitch, the Sheriff, compiled by Laurence R. Guthrie with editing, additions and index provided by Wanda Veatch Clark of Oregon.)
ROYAL LINEAGES: For over two hundred years, Debrett has been a household word in Great Britain, but its origin goes back much earlier in our history. In my personal library is a book which I find to be one of the best when studying or trying to trace a lineage back to royal lines. It is Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage 1980 With Her Majesty’s Royal Warrant Holders which was edited by Patrick Montague-Smith.
There is a continuity of publishers and editors which connects Debrett with the first comprehensive peerage ever to appear. This was the Baronage of England in 1675, during the reign of Charles II, by Sir William Dugdale, later Garter King of Arms. The direct ancestor of Debrett’s Peerage was the New Peerage or the Present State of Nobility in England, Scotland and Ireland, first published in 1769.
Before the third edition was brought out in 1784, John Debrett, editor and partner in the publishing and bookselling firm, had taken over the business. In 1802, with the issue of the fifth edition, he changed the title to DeBrett’s Correct Peerage. The name of Debrett has remained ever since.
John Debrett edited his peerage from 179 Piccadilly, opposite Burlington House in London, premises which were a noted resort for Regency “men about town.” Since his time, Debrett moved to various addresses in London, including La Belle Sauvage in the city and also with offices in picturesque Chelsea.
Debrett contains full details of the Royal Family, the Peerage and Baronetage. These include all the living branches of these families, many of which are most extensive and have members living all over the world. For instance, many branches of peers’ and baronets’ families live in the United States, such as the relations of Lord Fairfax of Cameron in Virginia, and the heir to the Earl of Wharncliffe who lived in Connecticut. Lord Aylmer, the Earl of Egmont and Earl Winterton lived in Canada, as did several baronets, including Sir Fenton Aylmer, Sir Michael Butler, and Sir Charles Tupper.
Each article in this book is illustrated with the appropriate coat of arms. Other useful information includes articles on each of the five grades of the Peerage – Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, Viscounts, and Barons – also the Baronetage, the Orders of Chivalry, biographies of Privy Counsellors, Chiefs of Scottish Clans, and the Scottish Lords of Session.
Patrick Montague-Smith was born in 1920. After war service, he became Assistant Editor of Debrett’s Peerage in 1946, and on his predecessor’s retirement in 1962, he became editor. The three before him all edited Debrett for lengthy periods, and he is only the fourth editor in over a hundred years, actually since 1867 when Queen Victoria had reigned for only thirty years.
Among his other books are Royal Line of Succession in 1853 and The Royal Wedding of H.R.H. Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips in 1973 and also Debrett’s Correct Form, which has been published in three editions, 1970, 1976, and 1978. He is also well known for one other book, Country Life Book of the Silver Jubilee, which was a best seller in 1977, but he has written numerous other books. He has also written many articles for national magazines and newspapers and has established himself as the ultimate authority on the Peerage and Baronetage. He is a fellow of the Society of Genealogists and is widely regarded as one of the foremost genealogists in Great Britain.
MARYLAND RECORDS: The Clearfield Company of Maryland has announced another of the series of Prerogative Court records. This one is Abstracts of the Testamentary Proceedings of the Prerogative Court of Maryland, Volume XVIII: 1727-30 by Vernon L. Skinner Jr.
The Prerogative Court was the focal point for probate in colonial Maryland. All matters of probate went directly to the Prerogative Court, which was located in Annapolis, Maryland’s colonial capital. The Prerogative Court was also the colony’s court for equity cases—resolution of disputes over the settlement and distribution of an estate.
Compiler Vernon Skinner has just completed the eighteenth volume in a series based upon this important source for Maryland genealogists, entitled Abstracts of the Testamentary Proceedings of the Prerogative Court of Maryland. In compiling the series, Skinner has worked primarily from microfilm copies of the Prerogative Court records; however, he has also traveled to the Maryland State Archives to work directly with the original manuscripts in order to resolve problems associated with 18th-century handwriting or limitations of the microfilming process.
The series is arranged, volume by volume, chronologically by court session. Volume XVIII consists of abstracts of the records for the period 1727-30, as found in the remainder of Liber 28 and the first 64 pages of Liber 29. In all, the latest book in this remarkable series refers to an additional 8,500 inhabitants of the Province of Maryland in the years just prior to 1730. For the most part, the transcriptions state the names of the principals (testators, heirs, witnesses, administrators, and so forth) as well as details of bequests, names of slaves, appraisers, and more.
This book is available for $34.50 postpaid from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211-1953. For more information on other books in this series, you can check them out at www.genealogical.com.
MAKING CONNECTIONS: Correspondence to this column should be sent to Damon Veach, 709 Bungalow Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70802-5337 or by e-mail to email@example.com. Queries can be any length, and books and other publications are reviewed if samples are received with each request. Mail is filed by date of postmark and used as space permits.
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