Research

Do you want to know where the bodies are buried?

Then you have probably come to the right place. I can help you pinpoint your ancestors, provide compelling background for a book or TV programme, and lend a hand with the finishing touches to an academic project.

I specialise in the following topics:

  • Political and diplomatic history – the great affairs of state, the minor scandals which can so illuminate a period in history, and Britain’s relations with the world;   
  • Social history – how did people live and work. I am particularly interested in crime, philanthropy and poverty, as well as food and drink, particularly beer and pubs;
  • Military history - particularly the two world wars, aviation and the Victorian period;
  • Family history – soldiers, sailors, airmen, candlestick makers (and other occupations), princes and paupers;

One thing is certain that I have never know what I am going to ask to research next. Long may this continue!

Recent research projects have included:

  • Rawdon Brown, the most preeminent British resident in Venice for fifty years during the nineteenth century, who did much to preserve the city’s buildings. There are papers about him at the British Library; 
  • War diaries – some of my favourite records. Research over the years has revealed the supply unit that preferred amateur dramatics to hauling munitions up to the Salonika front, the clipped stiff upper lip of a Cavalry tank battalion commander during the battle for Normandy in June and July 1944, and the reactions of the Artillery unit which liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945;
  • The hunting down of Nazi war criminals who had massacred SAS soldiers by a unit of investigators at the end of the Second World War;
  • Incursions by Mexican Amerindians into the British colony of British Honduras during the 1860s. There are unique eyewitness accounts of the raids from local peasants and shopkeepers, which reveal a lot about their lives;
  • A film company asked me to provide details of who were likely to be the regulars at a London pub in the 1780s.

I have a lifetime’s familiarity with The National Archives, British Library, London Library, Society of Genealogists and other major (and minor) archives and libraries in London, Oxford and Cambridge and can travel easily to other places in the South East. 

More importantly I live just a pleasant ten-minute walk from The National Archives. 

My fees are normally £50 per hour or £300 per day, including travel in London. Or if you just want documents copied, I usually charge £25 to copy an item. Please get in touch for a proper estimate.

All documents are copied to DropBox folders, which can easily be shared with clients. Or they can be sent via WeTransfer if you prefer. Short or long reports can be prepared if you prefer. Whatever suits you.

Please use the contact form for an initial quote. The more information you give the easier it will be for me to give you an estimate. Once I know what you want, I will prepare a clear proposal, explaining what I hope to find out, how long it might take and how much it might cost. For longer projects we may need to agree a budget limit. 

Not happy? Not all relationships work out. And I have been known to get things wrong. I am a member of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA). The Association offers a complaints procedure, whom you can contact if all else fails.

Spittoons in Arcadia

Having spent many hours in pubs over the decades I have long been fascinated by their history and the people who used them. I wrote this for the Twentieth Century Society newsletter about fifteen years ago.

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Humanity in the Heavens

Occasionally one comes across records which can astound. One example is the messages dropped by both German and British pilots over enemy lines during the First World War seeking information about missing airmen.

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