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From: Stephen Hayes
To: All
Date: 2004-05-14 07:53:32
Subject: Burke's Peerage - there are TWO versions

* Forwarded (from: GEN_BRITAIN) by Stephen Hayes using timEd/2 1.10.y2k.
* Originally from Roy Stockdill (8:8/2002) to All.
* Original dated: Thu May 13, 01:13

From: roy{at} ("Roy Stockdill")

In the thread concerning a forthcoming BBC TV programme on genealogy, 
there has been some debate about the possible participation of 
someone from Burke's Peerage, also comment from one or two of us 
(noticeably Eve, Liz and myself) as to whether this refers to a 
gentleman called Harold Brooks-Baker, who is universally  - and 
confusingly - described in the British and foreign media as 
"Publishing Director of Burke's Peerage" and frequently sought out 
for interviews and comment as a royal and genealogy expert.

We still do not seem to know who it is that is actually taking 
part in the TV programme but since I have been challenged to do so, I 
am going to report the situation as I know it and I am going to do it 
in the knowledge that there is a potential legal minefield here, so I 
will confine myself entirely to known facts. I apologise for the 
length of this message, but it's the only way to explain what is 
going on!

The background is complicated and confusing, but basically there has 
been - or was - an ongoing dispute over rights to the ownership of 
the Burke's Peerage title. The outcome seems to be that there are now 
TWO companies claiming the title, which have no connection whatsoever 
with each other. Both have almost identically named websites and I 
strongly suggest those who are interested make their own enquiries.

However, if you go to the following URL.....

you will find the "official" version, i.e. the Burke's Peerage that 
all genealogists know as the "bible" of British aristocracy. This 
company is called Burke's Peerage & Gentry and if you go to.....

you will find an "ABOUT BURKE'S PEERAGE & GENTRY" page which 
includes the following statement.....

"We have had a number of enquiries on the subject of Halbert's. 
Burke's Peerage & Gentry has no connection whatsoever with Halbert's, 
Mr Brooks-Baker, Burke's Peerage Partnership, or websites and" and 

......are the websites of the "alternative Burke's Peerage" operated 
by Mr Harold Brooks-Baker, an American who has been in England for 
many years and who formerly published, in conjunction with an 
American firm called Halbert's, a series of books called the "World 
Book of....." [fill in any old surname you like]. These were widely 
condemned by serious genealogists and family historians as 
worthless, being comprised largely of a potted history of the 
surname, a bit about emigration and immigration and listings of 
current people of the name culled from phone directories, electoral 
registers, databases, etc (many of whom proved to be deceased). Those 
of you familiar with Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter will 
know that Dick has written extensively about Halbert's in the past.

Mr B-B used to own "the" Burke's Peerage - i.e. the official volume 
of nobility - but under his ownership there was no edition published 
since 1970, if indeed he ever published one at all. In 1999, a former 
employee Charles Mosley went off and got together a team to publish 
the 106th edition, which was published by a firm called Fitzroy 
Dearborn and which had no connection with Mr B-B's Burke's Peerage at 
all (it's all to be found with a spot of Googling). In the subsequent 
dispute, Mr B-B ended up owning a company calling itself Burke's 
Peerage, but which did not own the rights to publish the title. The 
"official" Burke's Peerage was published in its 107th edition towards 
the end of last year and this is fully detailed on the Burke's 
Peerage & Gentry website,

If you examine Mr B-B's website,, you will 
find that his version of the name offers to do paid ancestry research 
(especially for Americans and Australians), sells Scottish, French 
and Irish landed titles, will design you a coat of arms and has its 
own credit card. They say they have designed coats of arms for Bill 
Clinton and Nelson Mendela. 

I say no more, but I hope this makes the situation a little clearer 
for understandably confused newcomers.

Roy Stockdill
Web page of the Guild of One-Name Studies:-
Newbies' Guide to Genealogy & Family History:-

"Familiarity breeds contempt - and children."

Mark Twain

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