Can we trust the Genealogical Record of the The Heralds’ Visitations

Résumé de la communication prévue dans le cadre du colloque

L’entreprise généalogique, Paris, 27-28 novembre 2014



Adrian Ailes (National Archives of the United Kingdom)

Can we trust the Genealogical Record of the The Heralds’ Visitations?

A case study (the 1665-66 Visitation of Berkshire)


Between 1530 and 1688 the heralds of the College of Arms visited every county in England and Wales to record the pedigrees and arms of the local gentry. The resulting record comprises a vast corpus of early modern genealogical evidence – but can we trust it ? A close study of a particularly thorough and well documented visitation, that of Berkshire (south England) from 1665 to 1666, is remarkably comprehensive and representative. Yet even here whole families, and even individuals in the pedigrees that were recorded, are deliberately omitted. This paper will consider reasons for this and why we cannot trust many of the published visitations currently used by historians and genealogists.

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