DEVON-L ArchivesArchiver > DEVON > 2000-01 > 0949279020
From: "Colin Bevan" <>
Subject: Re: Visitations
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 13:37:00 +1300
I agree with Diana that you have to exercise a degree of caution when using
Visitations pedigrees. Some Heralds of the College of Arms were corrupt
and/or incompetant, falsifying information on pedigrees for their own gain -
William Dethick, Robert Cooke and Garter King are names which come to mind,
in the late1500-1600s.
Corruption occurred because there was an unprecedented demand for grants for
arms in Queen Elizabeth's time caused by the disintegration of feudal
society, and ensuing rise of the new man of wealth who desired a coat of
arms as a sign that he had 'made it'. All he had to do was prove a
connection to an armigerous family.
Awareness of the corruption and incompetence taking place in the College of
Arms led to a government enquiry in 1596 and William Camden, the noted
antiquary, was appointed Clarenceux King of Arms on October 23rd 1597, in an
effort to clear up the muddle.
A round of Visitations ensued, whereby the kings of arms or deputies, went
to the counties, summoning the gentry and asked for their right to bear
arms. Usually nobility and knights did not bother to respond. It mainly
concerned those who bore the title 'esquire' or termed themselves as
'gentlemen'. Arms which were accepted were entered into the book, as well as
the pedigree. Those which were rejected, had to sign a paper disclaiming
their right to bear arms. Lists of the names of the unfortunates were read
out in public places.
When approaching the Visitations, as with any genealogical information, it
is important keep an open mind and verify facts from other sources if it is
at all possible.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Diana Trenchard" <>
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2000 9:02 AM
Subject: Re: Visitations
> Originally I was sending this reply personally to Charles, but as I see he
> also sent a copy to the List I am doing the same.
> Dear Charles,
> I wasn't being critical in any way, I was merely trying to add a
> note about relying on them 100%. I was just trying to add another 'word
> wisdom' to what you had said.
> I am so saddened by how many people, especially beginners, take something
> Gospel just because it is printed in a book, or appears on their screens.
> know I started out in this way until taken in hand by a good mentor. I
> wish that all I know now had been in my head when I first started out on
> family history research many years ago.
> I'll try to answer each of your points - we obviously differ about the
> of Arms.
> >Never did I suggest that the Visitations and the ensuing
> >al, were Gospel, in accuracy or were necessarily complete and
> But by saying that
> ">1. Other researchers, whose ancestors could have been a part of the
> >will have a very easy time relatively, of tracing their roots, using
> >Visitation data."
> you appear to imply it! I was merely adding a cautionary note.
> >Next, there were many granted Arms who were clearly not of the Nobility
> [including the Trenchards<g>]
> > you
> >make it seem that there was a great deal of "cheating," and "shanagans"
> The few years that I have spent on the GEN-MED List has taught me that
> are indeed quite a few errors in the Visitations, most of them probably
> errors in view of insufficient information. The College of Arms only
> in the
> early 1480s (temp Richard III) and therefore it is impossible for them to
> anything like totally accurate information from the centuries before that
> time. During the Visitations the Heralds weeded out quite a few families
> were not entitled to bear arms, but others doubtless (and obviously in
> cases) came through either by accident or fraud.
> >I did not go into the process of an application and what was done
> >for validation, a distinct subject. I suggest you communicate with the
> >College of Arms concerning this issue.
> I have certainly already spoken to one of the Heralds on the subject and
> was unable to offer any help on the discrepancies. Additionally, one of
> unrelated Trenchard 'cousins' has the right from the College to bear the
> Dorset Trenchard arms of the senior branch (with a difference since it is
> through an illegitimate connection) which died out in the male line in the
> early 1800s. At the time his application was made it was gone into very
> thoroughly with the same result - they do not have any primary information
> that can help sort out the discrepancies, and indeed no other information
> except for the pedigrees from the time of the Visitations. Also, the
> had no information (until I told them of it) of a separate armigerous
> family of Trenchards that died out in the two male lines in the late
> >For the most part the Pedigrees were
> >investigated with some care, the College being concerned with
> >When I was completing by M.A. I visited the College. and other
> >establishments - spent a year, in the UK, taking various courses, some at
> >Cambridge. Records lie and liars record, to be sure, truth was bent here
> >there. But you miss the mark, giving beginners the idea that the
> >were untruthful! What I was commenting on was that they can be another
> >source on information. If one was attached to the Pedigree, by descent,
> >makes it easy to do research.
> No, you've missed MY point. SOME of the pedigrees ARE untruthful, and you
> won't know if yours is one of them until you have checked every event on
> THAT was the cautionary note which I was adding.
> >Diana, why don't you post some useful information yourself, on the
> >Please read over my posting - I did not claim that the records - any
> >as a matter of fact, could be taken as absolutely correct.
> But you didn't SAY this. It is important that especially beginners should
> learn not to accept everything they see documented as being Gospel. They
> learn to check everything for themselves. (I've already posted another
> message to the Devon List on this subject before downloading this message
> >Another thing: The Pedigrees were frequently updated, so as to include
> >who may not have been inserted at one time. What you should do is go to
> >College themselves; they can provide a first rate reading list, as to the
> >system, it concepts and its shortcomings. If you have not already done
> >obtain a certified copy of the TRENCHARD pedigree, from the College,
> >might solve your discrepincies?
> Charles, this has been done, together with obtaining every pedigree known
> to have survived in all branches of the family. They were no help at all
> ironing out any of the discrepancies, and in a couple of cases added more
> the confusion. A further complication was that none of them tied up with
> secondary description of a series of armorial windows (dating from early
> 1500s) in the family home of the senior branch which were destroyed early
> >They provide research/reports at a
> >reasonable price - even to helping one sort out the kind of thing about
> >which you have written.
> They were absolutely no help - see above. I have reasonable faith in them
> recent centuries, but significantly less for earlier ones with much, much
> for pre-1480. Before I knew him, an American 'cousin' had obtained a
> from the CofA on the Trenchards. After I recently made contact with him
> sent me
> a copy of the Report. I was very unimpressed with the information he had
> received. It was long after the Trenchard discrepancies had been gone
> and no mention was made in the Report of anything about possible
> unresolved/doubtful links. You appear to have faith in them, but I
> >No, the Visitations/Pedigrees make a research process easier. Do you
> They CAN make it easier, or they can give false information leading to a
> wastage of time and money. They should be treated with caution.
> >Does this explaination satisfy you, Diana?
> We obviously agree to differ on the reliability of the Visitations/College
> Arms <big Grin>
|Re: Visitations by "Colin Bevan" <>|