Thank you to W Paul Featherstone for sharing his one-name study.
It began back in 1995 when I was given my Featherstone lineage back to the 1500s by another researcher, also a Featherstone, who had studied and produced around 20 odd trees just involving North and East Yorkshire. Her sources list now contains 67 pages of A4 with about one source per line.
All her trees where typed out using a old and much loved first generation Amstrad. My how things have changed.
She had 3 other Featherstone researchers who help her solve the many puzzles of family history, we are still working on some of them. I was living in southern England at the time, just a thirty minute train ride up to London, so I had access to all the archives of the metropolis. Between us we decided that writing a book would soon be outdated by more discoveries, so we circulated all the people she knew who had Featherstone ancestors and presented them with the idea of forming a society and producing a quarterly newsletter of which we sent them a introductory edition of eight pages. I spent the next 5 years producing a web site collecting Births, Marriages and Death registrations from the archives. The circulation of our newsletter went out to nearly 200 members worldwide.
I started testing software to save the information in a more regulated format, one we did not have to change with every new discovery. In my wisdom I choose The Master Genealogist starting when it was a DOS program. I have not regretted that and the database now stands at 55,000 names and more are added nearly every day.
I became a member in The Guild of One-Name Studies and member 200 got the bug and started to collect all of the information related to Kent, of which there was much. In fact, so much that he now covers the southern half of the country and I try and keep up adding the information to the main database. The merging of his information with mine took me a year, after I decided that keeping two files caused problems when we had families crossing the North-South divide. He still keeps his own but information should not have to be merged again.
We get on average a inquiry every week or so, we can answer a lot, but there are still those that we can only suggest where to look.
The name is first recorded as Fetherston, some times with the addition of haugh at the end. It has been transformed in some places as Feverston, and Fatherston changing later to Fatherson. This last happened in Cheshire, the former in Kent, if you’ve ever heard a person from Kent speak you will know that they pronounced their “th” as “v.”
When we first started we knew of an Elias or Helius who was connected to a Castle in Northumberland in around 1080. It is only in the last year that someone has proved (one of our members) that he is believed to be the son of William, who was the son of a Norman knight who came across with William the conqueror. He or his father must have been given lands in or around the village of Featherstone in West Yorkshire and so began the name.
Did you know that the surname Parkinson is also thought to have sprung from a Featherstone? Known as Peterkin, one of the descendants of Elias was given or inherited lands in Lancashire, his son was know as Peterkinson and so it developed.
I have many interesting stories of and contacts worldwide, some involving a missionary who started a school in Hong Kong, or the celebrated commissioner of New Zealand or the Confederate General who held the name. I now am trying to link BMD’s to UK census information trying to make families. On a day to day basis I look at labourers, carpenters, painters with ordinary families, some tragic, some mundane who lived and died in the past. I can do most of my work at home, resources are now so widespread. I just can’t collect it all as there are not enough hours in the day. Just this last week I collected 2,500 details of the USA Social Security Numbers, giving Birth and Death dates. Trying to tie them up to Census information will be my next big task.
At our Featherstone reunion in 2002 we had members from England with roots going back to the Isle of Mann, and thence to Ireland. a member from South Africa with roots in Devon, members from the USA with roots in Co Durhan, a member from Australia with roots in London, and one Canadian also with roots in Co Durham. I have even heard of a connection in Peru, although I have yet to find the link.
Our Main Database at www.featherstone.org
Our Main Society Site www.featherstone-society.com
We also have the data at Tribal Pages, My Heritage, and Geneta
Image: Featherstone Castle