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DOROTHY OAKLEY, the wife of RICHARD LEIGH of Carmarthen, was of English origin through all the ancestral lines that we studied, and they showed very interesting connections to English history and culture over several centuries. Research on these families was begun separately in the 1980s by three LEIGH descendants, who then met in the early 1990s and joined forces. Two of us, Gene Hetherington and Derek Williams, live near the native region of DOROTHY’s ancestors ancestors in the West Midlands of England, and have easy access to its record offices and libraries. The third, Von Leigh (actually the wife of a LEIGH descendant), lives conveniently near Carmarthen in Wales. The combined results of our work are given here. We would also like to acknowledge the assistance given by Mr L. F. Thompson and by Mr Guy Ward.
For convenience, the results of the research are presented in three parts. The first part describes DOROTHY OAKLEY's ancestors, her mother’s SEVERNE family, and the WHITE family of her paternal grandmother. The second part describes the INGRAM ancestors of her paternal great grandmother. The third part describes the SHELDON and HEATH ancestors of her maternal grandmother. In the text, the names of these ancestors are shown in capital letters. We also found much interesting material on collateral branches of these families, and they are distinguished from our direct blood line by using capital letters for their surnames only.
We were fortunate to find documentary evidence of the families in parish records, in wills and property deeds, and in pedigrees of the families that had been recorded by the heralds. Called “Visitations”, these heralds’ records are now kept at the appropriate county Record Office, and the pedigree of each family is indexed by surname. Diocesan records such as parish records and wills are now usually located with the county records at the Record Office in the corresponding county town, which for most of the examples quoted here are Worcester, Oxford, Gloucester, and Carmarthen. Exceptionally, the Warwickshire parishes to which reference will be made were formerly in the diocese of Worcester, and their records are now found at Worcester Record Office. Most Warwickshire county records, such as pedigrees and deeds, are at Warwick Record Office, but some have been deposited at the Record Office in Stratford, and others at Birmingham Central Library. Many of the gentry wills were probated in London at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) instead of the diocesan court, and are located at the Public Record Office (PRO), now known as the National Archives. Further information about some of the families was obtained from published histories of the counties in which they lived.