The Camden Pedigree and Canberra
8th August 2023
By Chris Lindesay
We can all be genealogists now, documenting our family records – often from online sources – and producing, at the push of a button, an electronic chart of our family tree. But it wasn’t always so straightforward. This talk focuses on a unique document that records a centuries-old family history with a Canberra connection.
Centuries ago, a reliable English family genealogy often depended on a Visitation, or in-person visit by a herald employed by The College of Arms in London. The heralds documented the peers and landed gentry of an area, recording their family trees (pedigrees) and coats of arms. A particularly noteworthy example is the Camden Pedigree of 1618.
William Camden, who travelled extensively through the 20 English counties on his heraldic visitations, held the senior heraldic position of Clarenceaux King of Arms at the College of Arms. He documented the genealogy of the D’Arcy family. Norman de Areci, who arrived in England with William the Conqueror in 1066, was the first to settle there; by 1086 he had been granted estates in Lindsey, Lincolnshire, and by 1350 the family lived in Ireland where they remained for over 600 years.
The 1618 Camden Pedigree includes all the main branches of the D’Arcy family at that time, and also documents some of the ancestral maternal lines. It is a lavishly produced document, beautifully written on a series of parchment folios and with the coats of arms of D’Arcy descendants, together with those of their wives, luxuriously painted in colour and embellished with gold leaf. Unusually for that time, it also includes extensive proof notes.
This pedigree gives a wonderful insight into the collation of 17th century genealogical evidence, and is one of the finest existing examples of a pedigree and heraldic chart from that period.
Join Chris Lindesay via Zoom on 17 August at 8pm to learn about the Camden Pedigree and its context, and its connection to Canberra! This meeting is normally only open to members of Family History ACT but during National Family History Month everyone is welcome. FHACT members should register via the website as usual. Non Members can contact the Group Convenor here to find out more information. Attendance is free.