Tracing Your Kent Ancestors
Genealogically and historically, Kent is an important maritime county which has played a prime defensive role in English history. It is large and diverse and replete with great houses, castles and other family homes, many with their own archives. It is also a fascinating area of research for family and local historians, and David Wright's handbook is the perfect guide to it.
For thirty-five years he has been working with the various Kent archives, and his extensive experience means he is uniquely well placed to introduce them to other researchers and show how they can be used. He summarizes the many different classes of Kent records, both national and local. For the first time he draws together the best of modern indexing and cataloguing along with other long-established sources to produce a balanced and up-to-date overview of Kentish genealogical sources - where to find them, their contents and utility to researchers.
Tracing Your Kent Ancestors is essential reading and reference for newcomers to family history, and it will be a mine of practical information for researchers who have already started to work in the field.
Given that many books on family and local history have been written, including ones specific to Kent, the obvious question is whether another is likely to be a worthwhile addition to the bookshelves. For anyone whose research is likely to focus substantially on Kent as a county, the answer seems to be yes. Many of the books listed in the bibliography are old, or general, or too narrowly focused to offer what this book offers, which is a comprehensive overview of the sources and a discussion of their usefulness, problems of using and accessing them, and much besides. Given that such a book would be useful, David Wright, who has many years' experience of researching, teaching and writing about such matters (among many other things), is well-qualified to write it.
Tracing Your Kent Ancestors aims to help anyone interested in the families and, to some extent, history of Kent. Beginners will benefit from following Dr Wright's suggestion of using Chapter 2 as an introduction to the main sources; the experienced should find Chapter 3, dealing with local sources, particularly helpful. There are a few things I would have done differently, e.g., providing guidance in the bibliography about how one can get access to some of the older printed reference works and sources; and the map of Kent parishes would have been easier to read had it been a landscape, 2-page spread. But these are minor quibbles. The book reads easily, the style is discursive but not rambling, and the illustrations are well-chosen. It should prove very useful to its target readership.
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