My Ancestor Was A Gentleman
Focusing on the English and Welsh gentry, this book will explain the various techniques and sources available for tracing your gentleman ancestors, as well as placing them in their historical context. Records covered include title deeds, Heraldic records and taxation records.
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You are blessed if your ancestors are either very poor or very rich, because there are considerable records about these people. Stuart Raymond proves this genealogical truth in this comprehensive guide to the records for the rich and comfortably off over the centuries. Covering the four centuries from the Tudors to the Edwardians, there are detailed sections on records relating to Heraldry (the gentry was just obsessed with their ancestors as we are today), Inheritance and Marriage Settlements, records of estates and land, taxation, and education. There are also chapters about their role in local society, both judicial (as magistrates) and through proving their loyalty to the central government.
The book very clearly describes all the major sources, and many of the minor ones, which you might use to study your well-to-do ancestors. He also includes any calendars and other published guides together with websites where appropriate.
There is not much background or social history because it is not that sort of book. Instead it is an excellent checklist of the many records that you can use to research rich and middling ancestors.
Friends of The National Archives.