Xmera / Gloucestershire Gentry / Method & Sources

Family Ties
The Gloucestershire Gentry

What a gentleman is 'tis difficult with us to define, in other countries he is known by his privileges, in Westminster Hall he is one that is reputed one, in the Court of Honour he that hath arms.

John Selden


For my current research I have settled on a flexible definition of gentry, as I am not attempting the sort of sociological or statistical analysis that requires precise, quantitative parameters. My method is to take an individual or family that has interested me for some reason and to trace their immediate familial links. If these take me out of Gloucestershire I (generally) stop. I try to follow their line back to what seems like a logical (or a practical) point in the 16th century. This may be when they acquired a certain property and became associated with a particular place. It may reflect the extent of the pedigree they recorded at the Heralds' Visitations of 1623 or 1682/3. I take the line forward until it fails, the family depart Gloucestershire, or some practical point in the 18th century.

Initially all my pedigrees tend to be simple genealogies, but over time they accumulate more details about individuals and more links to transcriptions of documents etc. The focus of my research is on the relationships between families and within the wider gentry community.


The best sources for tracing family relationships are the wills, marriage agreements, leases etc. that survive in local archives and at The National Archives in Kew. There are also a number of printed sources, which I use extensively in my research - some of which are freely available online:

The volumes of the Victoria County History are mostly useful for the direct male line: links to the available Gloucestershire volumes are available here.

The Transactions of the Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society are available online 5 years after publication.
For families with links to Bristol, the publications of the Bristol Record Society can be useful.