My History

About Me

I'm a freelance historian with major interests in both local and family history.

A decade ago I started to help the one-name study that includes my own surname, run by Tony Pomeroy on behalf of the Pomeroy Family Association (PFA). I set up the PFA's initial website on Rootsweb, and then in 2000 a DNA project to complement the PFA's ongoing documentary research. On Tony's unexpected death in 2002 I took over hisĀ  responsibilities for coordinating researchers' activities and producing the quarterly newsletter. Around that time I also gave my first lecture on DNA testing, to an audience of members of the Guild of One-name Studies, in Tiverton, Devon, and I set up a five-page portal about all aspects of genetic testing, also on Rootsweb. This website contained the first list on the internet of Y-chromosome surname projects, an effort that soon became impossible to maintain as the number of projects rapidly exploded.

My first book on the topic of DNA testing, published in 2004, sought to put the new opportunities specifically offered by the Y-chromosome test in the context of its impact on surname studies, particularly the linkages between surnames, their development, and their origins. Most recently I've focused on writing papers that lay out, for the first time, a methodology for historians trying to combine data from traditional documentary sources and DNA tests.

In 2005 I took a distinction in the Undergraduate Advanced Diploma in Local History via the Internet run by the Department of Continuing Education at Oxford University. I am an active member of the Guild of One-name Studies, sitting on its Marketing sub-committee, running online membership surveys, and overseeing the internal wiki. Within the Guild I am well known for badgering members to write up their studies into formal papers and reports, and advocating the expansion of the Guild's focus to include DNA-based surname projects on a par with traditional documentary-based projects.

I maintain a forward-looking interest in genetic testing and its applications through a consulting connection with Family Tree DNA, based in Houston TX, the world's pre-eminent supplier of DTC (direct to consumer) genetic tests for genealogists. My own research is increasingly turning towards analysing the development of surnames in England & Wales, built around data derived from the first major Victorian census in 1841. In particular, there is some evidence from surname-defined DNA projects that genetic links exist between surnames that today are recognised as distinctly different but which appear to stem from the same medieval origin.

I am a member of the British Association for Local History and am keen to increase the crossover between local historians and their genealogically-inspired counterparts.

Outside of family and local history, my principal interest is the Civil War period, i.e. from the beginning of the reign of Charles I to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II.