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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Reason Genealogists are Lost in English Records

Ancient Wars
In the early days most of the first colonies were populated with persons from the British Isles.  The history of England and the United Kingdom dates back over 2,100 years!   Most American genealogists succeed in tracing back to say, 1600.  From the mid 1500's afterwards, the Catholic Church no longer ruled England, and the Church of England kept the parish registers.  Most of these seem in tact, and you can trace several generations from the registers.  The records before that are found in the monarchy transactions of Westminster, Canterbury, and so on.  You simply have to read the documents of the times to discover anything.  In the year of 1100 A. D., the population of London was more than 15,000.  By 1300 it was about 80,000, but remember, although the history books do not always reflect it, the plagues swept Europe throughout the 14th and 15th centuries.  And the English was fighting wars in France all throughout this period.  By the mid 14th century over half of the European population was decimated.*  London was but a maze of narrow streets with wooden buildings and poor sanitation.  And there was rigid class distinctions: royalty, gentry and peasants. One dressed accordingly and could never rise above their circumstances.  I daresay this reason, as well as economic conditions, was a primary factor in immigration.  The study of English records requires a recognization of the letters of Latin and Old English.  In the interest of time, I make out what my names should look like in writing and make copies of all documents.  Later on, the words can be interpreted.   Here is where to find the old English script. Click on Colonial Handwriting

*For Americans who believe in protecting the rat population...rats carry fleas which caused the death of almost half of Europe and continue to this day to be a dangerous infestation.

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