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SOME ten years or so ago, being curious as to the origins of my family,
the more immediate members of which had come from Tasmania, and
New Zealand, via Bristol in the nineteenth century and earlier still,
from Cardigan, in S. W. Wales, I became a researcher into the past,
thus giving myself more pleasure, interest and delight than I could
have believed possible. Not only does one follow the main trail back-
wards one is constantly waylaid by beguiling detours, led into cul de
sacs, baffled, frustrated, charmed with the discovery of new friends.
One becomes a student of topography, searching old maps, tracing
farmhouses and mansions history is read, churchyards yield up
their elegantly lettered inscriptions on old and crumbling tombstones.
Alas, so often a crucial date has flaked away and dissolved into dust;
tombstones one expects to find have vanished, no doubt piled up
against the fringes of the churchyard, cracked, face downwards, un-
decipherable. Someone tells you of a memorial in an ancient church-
yard so far unvisited, another mentions a family in the district still
bearing the name for which you are searching.
In S.W. Wales a handful of familiar family names come down
throughout succeeding generations. They represent the gentry,
revered and respected, their names still linked with their old family
mansions, halls, farmhouses. Who in Cardiganshire has not heard, for
example, of the Vaughans of Golden Grove, the Lloyds of Coedmore,
the Brigstockes of Blaenpant, the Parrys of Noyadd Trefawr, for these
names crop up time and time again, occurring in histories of the
county, articles on the old houses, and in the lists of squires, judges,
magistrates, M.P.s, and other notables of the day. But what of the
smaller men, the landowning countrymen, of whom Professor L. B.
Namier has said, the ephemeral records of print seldom touch
and their lives and time are inscribed on stone or brass, in letters
lasting and unread.'
It seemed to me equally important that stories of some of the smaller
men should be discovered and made known to their descendants. One
writer has said that ignorance of one's ancestors leaves room for all
kinds of vague and unconfessed misgivings about their origins and
heritage.' All to the good if one could be proud of one's antecedants
on the other hand, the odd skeleton or two in the cupboard-the
rake or the rogue-could lighten a possible unimpeachable but
boringly dull line.
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