Friday, June 13, 2008

Past research

Another recent addition to the British Origins site was the “Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries 1890-1980”. After looking at them, I almost wrote an entry entitled “sometimes I could scream!” because amongst the entries was one saying “I have now definite proof …”(of a particular Parry’s parentage) but it didn’t indicate what the proof was. It’s like researchers who write saying “I know….” but when you ask how, it turns out that they don’t actually know at all. Such comments serve to remind me of the importance of documenting sources, and also of attempting to ensure that what I research is distributed and available for others to build on. But it is frustrating to think that much of what I am working on has already been researched by others in the past. Yes, past research does need re-examining, especially as new records become available, but how much better it would be if we could keep building on it, instead of having to rediscover it.

Sometimes we do need to correct past research though. I wonder to what extent that will be the case when I have followed up what I call the “fess families” – those Parrys families laying claim to the coat of arms “a fess between three lozenges”. Back in March, a researcher sent me a link to an article on the Gazettes Online web site, concerning an insolvent debtor, Segar Parry . This is a site that I plan to go through systematically when I get time but I can never resist following up such items. There were two lines of enquiry that resulted. Firstly, I discovered another entry which stated “Cornet Robert Burdett, from half-pay of the 25th Light Dragoons, vice Segar Parry, who exchanges, receiving the difference. Dated 29th March 1819”. Now, I don’t understand the military arrangement that is going on here and so still need to find out about that. But, back in December 2006, I received an email asking about a James Burdett Parry, baptised 1828 in St Marylebone to a James and Amelia, so finding the names Burdett and Parry linked together in some way could be important. An additional point of interest on this line is that there is also a John Burdett Parry. Unfortunately, he was born about 1808 in Herefordshire, and is in that county in the censuses so, although his wife comes from Middlesex, there doesn’t seem to be anything to connect him to the James Burdett Parry. It could all just be coincidence but it is something to be looking out for.

The second line of enquiry that resulted from following up the Gazette article came from the reminder that I have already come across references to the combination of Segar and Parry with regard to heraldry. According to a story that I have yet to prove, one of the daughters of William Segar, Garter King of Arms, married a Parry. The Parry wasn’t keen to apply for a coat of arms but his later descendants did. Looking at my own listing of Parrys from Burke’s General Armory I found “Parry (Segar-Parry, Little Haddam, co. Hertford). Ar. a fesse betw. three lozenges az.” – so that makes this family one of those I should be including amongst my “fess families” investigation.

And it certainly looks like it will require investigating – I am fairly sure that the Segar Parry was the son of a Nicholas Segar Parry and, using a combination of the IGI and the probate abstracts, it appears that the family may have traced back to Flintshire.

So how come the Herefordshire Arms?

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