Let’s face it people: I am on a Jessiquest.
Anyone who is on a quest definitely needs a wise sage to guide them. It’s, like, a rule. Accordingly, I have begun e-mailing genealogists for help on my mission. Here is the first response I received:
You seem to have an interesting life. I hope I can give you at least a modicum of satisfaction on your query.
Awesome! This expert guy is going to give me some killer advice. He will be my Obi-Wan.
First, I would recommend that you buy through Amazon.com a copy of my current novel FIT FOR FATE: A Tale of Byzantine Intrigue in Modern Athens. There's no genealogy in it, but you wouldn't want me to miss an opportunity to promote my book. And it's a good story, too, (lots of intrigue and romance) based on the seven years I worked in Greece.
What. Greece? Romance? No, no: I seek the wisdom of a Master Genealogist--
For genealogy I'd recommend that you read my book APPLIED GENEALOGY, now out of print, but available in libraries that have a large genealogical section. It has two chapters on royal genealogy, and a lot of other helpful chapters. If nothing else it gives you straight talk about the pitfalls of genealogy and helps you avoid numerous pitfalls. As an example, when I was Historian General of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, a woman came into my office in Plymouth, MA, and said: "My name is White, and since there was a passenger on the 1620 Mayflower named White, I must be a Mayflower descendant and I'd like you to give me all the names in-between him and me." (If you're interested in Mayflower genealogy, the definitive book is my PLYMOUTH COLONY: ITS HISTORY & PEOPLE 1620-1691.)
The only book I want to read is the one titled, “All About How J.Sto is Related to the Queen”--
On the other hand, it has to be true that there are many Americans descended from British royalty, although sometimes via the bar sinister (King Henry I, for example, is known as the father of his country because he sired numerous children via his many mistresses). Chapter Two of APPLIED GENEALOGY will show you that theoretically if an individual could go back to the time of Socrates, he or she might find one septillion ancestors. Of course, there weren't anywhere near that many people on earth at the time(or any other time), and the answer to the poser is "ancestor collapse, "that is, every marriage between cousins (very, very common) cuts the number of potential ancestors in half.
It really helps that you put all of your books in caps so that I can NOT BUY THEM.
Although I was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, I'm not actively doing any genealogical work at this time, since I'm spending all my time writing novels. You can see more of my background and books and a lot of photos, some flattering, some not so, by going to my Website www.gilderoylockhart.com. Probably the largest commercial source for genealogical information can be found at www.ancestry.com.
Really? Do you mean the sites on which, per my letter, I found your articles and e-mail address?
On the one hand, they can save you a lot of work by showing you what has already been done in tracing your family back -- no sense in re-inventing the wheel. On the other hand, there are of course charges for their services. In the interest of full disclosure, my first three books were published by them, and just a couple of years ago they paid me a handsome fee for an article on royal genealogy in their bimonthly magazine.
One time a king paid me a handsome fee to assassinate someone. You I'd do for free.
I see you're from Northern Virginia, and my wife and I live in No. VA, too, although we plan in the not-too distant future to move elsewhere. We're both busy with a large number of projects, so unfortunately I won't be able to give you any additional information (I'm just putting the finishing touches on my newest book, among other things). But I wish you good fortune in finding what you want from genealogy, and in any of your other endeavors. Please keep in mind two seemingly unchangeable laws: 1.) Ninety percent of everything is crud, and in genealogy the percentage is probably even higher, and 2.) Everything costs more and takes more time.
Dear Mr. Lockhart,
Thank you for all of this information about you and your handsome fees and romance books. Your letter will definitely help me on my quest to find out more about my family’s history.
Forever in your debt,
Jessica Mae Stover
PS: You forgot to mention that you won Genealogist Weekly’s Most-Charming-Smile Award five times in a row.
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