Sunday, January 08, 2012


I saw on the news recently that an avalanche in the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt has left many British holidaymakers stranded. This reminded me of some correspondence last year regarding Edward Parry, Suffragan Bishop of Dover, whose tombstone is shown on my page at .  It turned out that, in 1871, Edward travelled to Switzerland in order to consecrate several Anglican Churches, one of which was The English Church (St Peter’s) in Zermatt.  The Times Online for Aug 05, 1871 reported that "The Right Rev. Edward Parry, D.D. Suffragan Bishop of Dover, will consecrate the Zermatt Church on Sunday next."  Diane, my correspondent, very kindly arranged for a copy of the Church’s history, “A Church in the Alps”, which contains some details of Bishop Parry’s involvement in the dedication of the Church, to be sent to me.

It is interesting how, even with a large study, one family can come to dominate so many of the references collected.  I happened to be considering writing a blog posting about a sequence of Parrys – Joshua Parry, Caleb Hillier Parry and Charles Henry Parry, three generations from one family, when I heard the news item.  The post was prompted because of my purchase of a book entitled "The Spirit of Enquiry, Caleb Hillier Parry, MD, FRS" by Sholem Glaser, just before Christmas.  This is one of several books I’ve come across in the past and thought “I really must get a copy”. Written by a retired surgeon, the book covers Caleb’s contributions to medicine but it also contains information about his ancestry and family relationships, so my hope is that it will both confirm the information I already have, and also give me some new leads on the family.   

Charles Henry’s brother, and the youngest son of Caleb Hillier Parry, was Sir William Edward Parry, the arctic explorer - and his son was the Edward, Suffragan Bishop of Dover, subject of the Swiss churches query.  Later descendants of the family include another Bishop, another Admiral and a couple of knights – so that’s why this one family seems to dominate the record collection. 

And since this family made use of the same coat of arms as the Herefordshire “Golden Valley” family, it is one that I am particularly interested in putting together the pedigree for.  I usually try to avoid collecting too much general biographical information on individuals – anyone interested in that much detail on these individuals can easily find it elsewhere anyway (although there are some errors – as on the Wiki page for the Suffragan Bishop, which has his father incorrectly listed as his grandfather).  But another book relating to this family, “A Memoir of the Rev. Joshua Parry, Nonconformist Minister of Cirencester; With Some Original Essays and Correspondence”, has also been on my “wants” list for a while.  This is the biography of Joshua written by his grandson, Charles Henry and published in 1872 so, again, it’s a book likely to contain information about family connections.   I discovered that it has joined the many old books being digitised and republished – unfortunately, only as a “snippet view” online, but at least printed versions are now easily available so that’s where some of my “Christmas money” will be going! 

I wrote in my last post about identifying the probable author of the pedigree sheets in Hereford library.  As I was looking up the book about Joshua a few days ago, I noticed that the front cover for the original version shown on the Google books page (at ) is the drawing of the coat of arms from the tomb of Joan Parry, formerly Morgan, the wife of James Parry of Poston, which I show on my “quartered coats of arms” page at  .  I obtained this drawing at the same time as the pedigree sheets so, since I don’t think Charles Henry was the author of them, it appears he was probably in touch with the author (or my identification is wrong!)  It will be an interesting task to try to identify who was communicating with who, out of the various, separate, Parry families, during the 1800s.

I haven’t made a great deal of effort to contact living Parrys – I am quite happy just to be in touch with the steady stream of researchers who contact me, since the ParryONS is a fairly large study.  It will be extremely time consuming collecting the records up to date, yet alone do all the communication that would be necessary.  But it occurred to me that perhaps, for queries about certain families, I should be seeking out living descendants.  I knew that the great, great granddaughter of Sir William Edward Parry published several books – indeed, I have her biography of Sir William Edward Parry on my bookshelf.  Unfortunately, having found an address for her through some online research papers, I then found what I suspect will be a notice for her death at .

So, now I am pondering - should I proceed to look for other descendants of this family?  In fact, should I change my own intentions regarding the study as a whole, and make more effort to contact living Parrys?  (Certainly, if the DNA project is ever to succeed, that will probably be necessary.)  At times like this, I am reminded of how different One-Name Studies can be.  Back in 2008, Andrew Millard made a post to the Forum comparing the way in which the Pomeroy Family Association (PFA) and my Parry Study were tackling research (  ).   I remember thinking at the time that perhaps the way in which the PFA had a very specific aim (“The aim of the project is to reconstruct the family trees of everyone who calls themselves by any of the surnames we associate, either historically or in the present-day, as a variant of, or related to, Pomeroy.”) was something I should consider for the Parry ONS, rather than just “carrying out” a one-name study.  It is slightly depressing to look at the post on my blog that Andrew refers to and to read how many things I listed then, which are still “ongoing projects” – would a more specific goal would have helped these get finished?   

Actually, probably not – the rest of life would still have got in the way and, to be honest, part of the fun and excitement of the study, for me, are the unexpected avenues I end up going down.  But what the reminder has done is helped to provide some focus for getting things back on track, after so many months of other activities taking priority.  I think this is going to be a good year for the study!

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