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I Found my Family History and Much More via the Internet

By P. Eliot - April 2001

My name is Peter Eliot; I was born on 9th March 1945 in Langham Street, London, W1, the middle of three boys. My parents were Percival Lionel Eliot (aged 54) and his second wife, Anne nee Weintraub (aged 21). When I was 3 years old, my mother deserted her family to live with a younger man. So at the age of 3 along with my older and younger brothers I was put into the care of the London County Council.

I spent the next twelve years in "Beechholme" in Banstead Surrey. Life at Beechholme could well be the subject of another story, but for now let’s say it was something like a combination between an orphanage and a boarding school. Our father visited on alternate Sunday afternoons and we would go for a country drive or visit the local village. We were also permitted to stay with him in London during the school holidays. In those old fashioned times it was not believed that a man could properly care for his children on his own. During these visits our father would tell us about our Noble relatives, namely The Earl of St Germans and his oldest son Lord Eliot. He also mentioned a French title something like the Marquis de la Gofrey. Because of my father’s age and a natural lack of interest typical of young people, we thought he was making it all up.

In 1961, my father died. A few years later, I married at the age of 20 and emigrated to Australia. Over the following years I often thought about my father’s words and when I was about 25 years old I found a book in our local library (Debretts Peerage and Baronetage). I looked up the name Eliot and found nothing. Then I looked up St Germans and found the Eliot connection. This always fascinated me, but I had no idea how I fitted into the picture.

Many years went by and our own family arrived, grew up and set out on their careers. A couple of years ago, I started searching the internet for any mention of Eliot. From time to time I’d find little titbits of information, for example the story of Sir John Eliot "The Patriot" who died in the Tower of London. There were also stories about the Earl of St Germans at Port Eliot in Cornwall. I also found mention of my own father in just a small entry in a genealogy register. It related to my father’s first marriage to Lilian Amy Poate Aslatt in 1912.

Then, around 12 months ago, I found more and more information appearing on my father and his ancestors and descendents including his family descending from his first marriage. To my surprise, I even found an entry for my mother and for my older brother Leslie. Most of the information was found on http://www.familysearch.org and http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com. I started to catalog the information and came to the conclusion that much of the research was being carried out by someone sharing a similar interest as myself. The information frequently bore the name "Ian Cairns Genealogy".

Through some internet searching, I found the email address for Lord Eliot (he prefers the name Jago). I made contact with him, specifically asking him if he could help me find my connection with his side of the family. He was most helpful and sent me a reply in which he mentioned an obituary that his father had found glued into an old book at Port Eliot. He thought it might have been an obituary to my own father. As it turned out it was not my father, it was another more ancient relative. The obituary stated.: "Sunday, Francis Perceval Eliot, Esq. the 63 year old of his age, at his house in Portman Street. He was the nearest representative of an ancient family, and allied to the present Earl of St German’s. Mr. Eliot was formally the Colonel of the Stafford Militia, and for many years, until the period of his decease, one of the Commissioners of Audit in Somerset House".

I had also found other obituaries for Francis Perceval Eliot.
Including "Obituary with Anecdotes of remarkable Persons" printed Oct 1818 (page 373)
Aug 23. In Portland Street in his 63rd year, Francis Perceval Eliot esq. Formally colonel of the Stafford militia and for many years until the period of his decease, one of the commissioners of Audit in Somerset House.
In the death of Mr. Eliot, society has lost a valuable member, and literature a distinguished scholar. His last labours were directed to the "Ǽgis" a weekly newspaper, in which he took considerable interest. Ten days before his death, the columns of the paper were enriched with a masterly refutation of Infidelity; and only two days before he expired, the first part of a nervous but temperate article from his pen, on foreign politics appeared in the front page. Life is divested of its most bitter cares by the exercise of genuine philosophy, and death is stripped of all its terrors when it approaches the bed of the man of virtue.

Also around 12 months ago I joined the Society of Australian Genealogists and spent some time at Ramsey Hall, Kent St, Sydney. The collection at Ramsey Hall includes the Overseas Library. I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of a volunteer namely Mr Keith McCormick. Keith is the Society expert on the Nobility and he was able to direct me to many valuable and interesting sources of information. I collected copies of the St Germans genealogy, and many other references to Eliot. I mentioned to Keith that it seemed strange that someone out there was doing similar research to myself and he suggested that I contact this Ian Cairns chap to see who he’s doing the research for. So I composed an email outlining who I was and what I was doing etc. Imagine my surprise when I received his reply, which began "Hello Uncle Peter". Ian is the husband of my niece Linda. They live in the UK and I have since been constantly in touch with them . Ian has the most extensive genealogy database covering many generations and related families. Ian and Linda were also searching for the elusive link to the St Germans Eliots. Linda had also heard similar stories from her mother, Marjorie Lilian (Peggy), my half-sister from my father’s first marriage.

The obituaries for Francis Perceval Eliot proved to be helpful in tracing further back. Ian and Linda discovered a copy of his ‘Commonplace Book‘ (i.e. a scrapbook). In this book he mentions an interesting situation:
"And is a curious singular circumstance in genealogy that the three families of Eliot of Port Eliot, Eliott of Stobbs and Elliot of Minto were brought into relationship by the marriage of two sisters of Colonel William Elliot of the Minto Family – the one with Sir Gilbert Eliott of Stobbs, father of the Late Lord Heathfield, grandfather of the present Lord & great-grandfather of the present Sir William Eliott of Stobbs – and the other with Major General Roger Eliot great great grandson & eldest male representative of Sir John Eliot Kt, of Port Eliot (Temp Jac.1 & Car.1) & grandfather of the writer of this note F.P.Eliot, 23 April 1803."

This gave us a firm indication that the family line went back to and way past Sir John Eliot. We eventually found that Roger Elliott’s father was probably the son on an illegitimate son of Richard Eliot, the second child of Sir John Eliot. The current Eliots of St Germans are descended from Sir John Eliot’s youngest son, Nicholas, and hence we now know exactly how we are connected to the Eliots of St Germans.

Also located by Ian and Linda was the handwritten Will of Francis Perceval Eliot dated 25th Sept 1816. In his will he mentions his wife, children and his father and grandfather

There have been many other discoveries along the way and we have now discovered relatives in UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.

In particular the discovery of my first cousin Douglas Raymond Eliot now living in Brisbane has been another delightful episode. We found Douglas with the help of Margaret Laurenson from the New Zealand branch of the Elliot Clan, where he had been a member some years ago when he lived in New Zealand. Douglas researched the Eliot history some years ago and has similar information to ours. In addition to this Douglas has a copy of the Pedigree submitted by Granville Eliot – son of General Roger Elliott and father of Francis Perceval Eliot. The pedigree shows the family line back through many generations.

General Roger Elliott was the half-brother to Alexander Spotswood, later Governor of Virginia. Portraits of both men are on display at the Virginia State Library. We also have a copy of a document from the Public Record Office mentioning General Roger Elliott dated 1707 and addressed to His Royal Highness Prince George of Denmark and concerns rival claims to a seized ship in the Bay of Gibraltar.

There have been many more discoveries along the way and more to come I’m sure. The amazing thing is for me the serious research began less than 12 months ago. This could not have been achieved without the marvel of the internet.

 

P Eliot April 2001

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