One-name study: The Dowles of Romney Marsh

On Saturday 4th August 2018 our guest speaker was David Burgess. He is a representative for the Guild of One-Name Studies. He wanted to explain first the value and purpose of this organisation and then go onto reveal his connection with Romney Marsh in Kent.

With the Guild you can register the name you want to research which there may already have on record. The origins of a surname really got under way in the 13th and 14th century when it was becoming apparent that with a growing population and the need to prove who you were for inheritance purposes. David then went onto explain that surnames were taken from a number of sources such as occupation, place where you lived or taking the name of a male ancestor. Such a study could help with isolating a name and its variants and to share findings with others. After starting your research in the usual way such as use of IGI, Parish Records, census returns etc. you create a collection for analysis, synthesizing your findings and then submit your research to the Guild. You may help others and in return you can get feedback too. There are many benefits of joining the Guild from receiving a journal to making your research available world –wide.

David then went on to explain his connection with Romney Marsh. His father was from Kent and this entailed several trips to this county in order to access records that were not available online. Through his family tree he showed the link with the name Dowle. Apparently a swamp area in Romney was called a ‘dowle.’ He then went on to show how one or two members of his family tree had some status in the past. One became a mayor while another branch was local gentry and further information could be accessed via Pedigree Heraldic records. David has managed to breach the 16th century through parish records but access to archives at Canterbury Cathedral showed a link with the 15th century!

Next meeting is 1st September 2018 when Patrick Bourne will talk on ‘Death and Disease in Victorian Leeds.’