Brief history of how and why I got "hooked " on FAMILY HISTORY

Some 40 years ago my late father was given a book by his father, entitled "Royal Families of England, Scotland & Wales ", by Burkes Peerage. It was a first edition printed in 1851. He thought nothing of it, until he found an entry showing his Great Grandfather {Charles Maximilian Thomas WESTERN},17th in a direct decent from King Edward III.(Pedigree CXCV). This discovery got him "hooked " on researching his Family History and a number of years later, he also found that, there was a branch of the family who were wealthy and Nobles who owned vast acres of land in Essex and Sussex.
These discoveries led my father into researching the rest of the "Western " family, which he did over the years, until his death in 1995.During that time he and my mother had spent 1000's of hours obtaining old Wills, copy Birth & Death certificates, until he had finally traced the origin of "Western " back to a Robert W.E. Sterne, a Merchant from Holland, who emigrated (if that's what it was called in those days) to England in around 1304. The reason that W E Stern'e changed his name to "western", was because he travelled from Holland to the west. The Dutch were famous for dyking of the land of East Anglia and were very protective over the reclaimed land. This obviously caused resentment with the English, so being that Stern'e was such a well known Dutch name he thought it prudent to change his name; the simple change was W E to We-stern thus dropping the final E. So far I have not been able to find out how to research back in Holland.

Not being satisfied with this, he then set about creating a Family Tree, incorporating all the Royal Families and other connections he had found, and painstakingly transcribed it onto an extremely large wall chart, which nearly covered one wall of his sitting room. At that time he had about 1000 individuals, nearly all with "dates of birth, death etc.". He had collected "mountains " of papers & documents, in his research of the "Westerns ".
The "Western Family " has had a Lord, Baron of Essex, Admirals and other noble titles, as well as a few "Skeletons in the cupboard ". There is a Family Coat of Arms, a representation of which is shown, on my Web Pages.
I became interested in what my father had started, about 7 years ago, when I first discovered Software, for my PC, which had been designed for Genealogical Research. My first task was to transfer all his information into my computer, which at first was just to preserve what he had achieved. I soon found however, that I was getting hooked. By transferring not just the names dates, etc. I was also getting an insight into how people lived through the ages, and learning history without knowingly setting out to do so. This is particularly odd to me, as I hated History at school.
7 years on and I now have a database of over 56000 individuals, over 27000 marriages, with connections to the present and past Royal Families of the whole of Europe. I have enhanced the purely statistical information, by incorporating links to short biographies and photos (some I have scanned myself, others are generally available on CD-ROM's & The Internet), for as many people as I can.
Apart from royalty, there are also other famous people, who have got into the "Tree ", either by marriage, or in some cases by being a "Mistress " of a King. Nell Gwyn for example. On the legitimate side, people such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Lord Nelson, the poet Byron. In more recent times, Fred Astaire, his sister Adele, married Lord Charles Cavendish in 1932; President J.F.K. (the Kennedy's also have a connection with the English Cavendish family, in turn connected to the Spencer family \{Princess Diana's}\ through the marriage of J.F.K 's aunt Kathleen Kennedy, to Lord Hartington Cavendish, in the 1940's. Lord Charles was the uncle of Lord Hartington .
The earliest date I had recorded was around 500 A.D., but having used The Internet to broaden my Database I now have links, albeit some may be tenuous, all the way back to "Adam & Eve ". I have used numerous history books and other sources to get it to the size it is today. It has become a daily obsession and to those who would not find it interesting, they might see it as an uncontrollable "Monster " but it is in fact a growing, changing archive, detailing the lives and events of those who lived before us; and as I try to keep it up to date, those that are living now.

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