From 5 through 18 September, my wife and I were in Norwich, Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Rotterdam. In Norwich, we attended the opening of an exhibition on the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Norwich Library by Sir John Pettus, Kt., when he was mayor. The exhibit featured Sir John’s mayoral portrait, which usually hangs in Blackfriar’s Hall near Elm Hill. Below his portrait were a set of leather-bound books he had donated to the library. Behind and above his portrait was an enlarged photograph of the first page of the original Donations Book in which his name and the names of the books he donated were recorded.
While in Norwich, we did some research on the Pettus family at the Norfolk Record Office and at the Norwich Millenium Library. At the NRO, I photographed two large(3 x 2 ft.), multipage documents on vellum. One was a marriage agreement. The other was a separation agreement. I had tried to get copies of these documents a few years ago, but both documents were too large to copy by machine and send to the U.S. I spread each document out flat on a table and stood on a ladder to get a good vantage point for photographing them in sections.
We also visited Elm Hill, which has the 16th-C. Pettus House and old St. Simon and St. Jude Church, which has been undergoing renovations. The Pettus monuments have been preserved to bring out life-like colors and are now displayed under soft lighting. The protective cabinets around them have been removed, so I was able to photograph the complete monuments.
My wife and I stayed at Caistor Hall Hotel, which was built by the Dashwood family in the 18th C. One of the Dashwoods married both daughters (in succession) of Sir Horatio Pettus, the last Pettus baronet who died in 1772. The house had been renovated in recent years but has many original features, including the dining room and the library, which are quite elegant. The beautifully-landscaped grounds are extensive.
Caistor Old Hall, a 17th-C. Pettus family home, is across the road, and Caistor St. Edmund Church, which has a memorial to Thomas, son of Sir John Pettus, Kt., is nearby. I made arrangements in advance to make sure the church would be open for our visit.
My wife and I visited the Rotterdam City Archives to look for some record of Thomas Pettus II, son of Col. Thomas Pettus of Norwich and Virginia. Thomas II had gone to Rotterdam to collect the money from the estate of his wife’s grandmother, who died in 1670. Thomas succeeded in getting the money but died before he could leave Holland. Although a Dutch genealogist had previously advised me that finding any record of Thomas would be “quite, utterly impossible,” we found the records in short order. Now I have to find someone to translate them from Dutch to English. These are notarized documents that bear Thomas’s actual signature.
I should point out to those who have been told or read that Thomas married Mourning Glenn, my research has proven the name Glenn to be a complete fabrication dating back at least a century. Mourning was the daughter of William Burgh of Chuckatuck, Upper Norfolk County, Virginia, and Elizabeth Billingsley, a widow. Mourning's supposed last name is only one of numerous fabrications I have found over the past 38 years. My forthcoming book will have the complete explanation.
Since returning home, I have been busy making the appropriate revisions to my book to reflect the new information I found during my trip. I have also been working to eliminate the remaining flags indicating problems of various kinds in the text or endnotes. Finally, I have been working on the index, which is a tedious process.
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