I started studying the Trepess name out of curiosity and to pass the time while waiting to make an international phone call in early 1978 – I was in Italy, and amazingly, to call home I had to queue up in a small post office in the local village, and wait for a line to become available. In the corner was a large number of UK phone directories and I flicked through each one, recording the entries for the surname. Regretfully I didn’t know anything about variations in those days, or I should have recorded those too. The list was enormous – 17 names and addresses in the set that they had. That got typed up on my trusty typewriter, and filed for posterity. Several years and several countries later (I work in the oil industry), I started to work on my family tree. At the time, I was in Aberdeen, so had access to the IGI on microfiche. Finally I had most of the family known to me linked up, and back a few generations. I really wanted to know why I had such an unusual given name (Pickard), and knew that I had an ancestor of the same name, so that was relatively easy to find. Eventually, armed with a rudimentary tree and some notes, I got round to writing to the names on the list, explaining who I was, and wondering if they knew of any connection. I heard back from several of the people, and also had by that time recorded a few variations, one of whom replied that he had researched his side by purchasing as many TREPPASS and variation birth certificates as possible. He very kindly shared his knowledge base with me, giving me loads of data to put my names into order. At the same time I joined the SoG and the BMSGH (as most of my lot came from Warwickshire)
I had recorded my interest in the surname in the Genealogical Research Directory, but never heard back from anyone through that – every now and again, I re-enter the name, but still to no avail. I remember reading about the launch of the GOONS, and studied all the information available to me at the time. I very nearly plunged for membership, but in the end, decided that I didn’t have enough data at that time.
All my research was in a wordprocessor file and the tree painstakingly written in the special fonts and commands for a laser printer which I had access to out in the jungles of India, as I had a MicroVAX workstation in the office. When I changed jobs (a major upheaval), I had to learn and use WordPerfect on a PC, and so luckily as I was based at a university, got my data converted from the Digital tape cartridges to PC. After a few years, I decided to collate all my data into a spreadsheet, so went through all my notes and made separate worksheets for births, deaths, and marriages. That made life much easier, as I was instantly able to sort the data by name or by date, and thus tell whether two people were likely to be related or one and the same.
Once that was done, I felt I had enough data on hand and in an accessible format, that I could join the Guild, which I did in 1998. One of the immediate benefits in those days was the inclusion of the magazine from the Federation of Family History Societies along with the digest. Regretfully that is not offered any more, and I have subscribed to that separately.
As my surname is one of the many British surnames, that is classified as uncommon, I have not had much luck contacting others with the same interests. None of the society memberships have made any new contacts in my own surname research, but being a member of the Guild has allowed me to find people researching other surnames that connect with my own line in one way or another.
As I live overseas, it is very difficult for me to get to meetings in the United Kingdom, but I was fortunate enough to attend one Guild meeting, and in addition to the very valuable information I got from the presentations, it was great to be able to meet some of the people I had corresponded with over the years, and to have ready access to the bookshop and other items for sale. I thoroughly enjoyed that meeting, and would strongly recommend any member that has a chance, to make the effort of attending. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, and would certainly go out of my way to attend more, if I was in the country at the time.
My surname is very much concentrated in Warwickshire, and I have yet to find any evidence of the true origins of the name. I have thus spent a lot of time building up references to the county. I have several county directories and guides dating back to the early 1800s, both on CD-ROM and actual books., I have collected all the information I can about the county, and have a shelf in my library dedicated to that. It includes early copies of “Burkes Peerage” (though none of my line or others with the same name were ‘gentry), the county worthies, gazettes, almanacs, and any book with additional background information. I have a project ongoing – though nearly finished, indexing the monumental inscriptions for the entire county – this has been done with the close cooperation of the Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry (BMSGH), and the indexes have been placed on my website for all to see. My data collection also includes the census and VRI CD-ROMs from the LDS and other companies, and a number of genealogy reference books. I also collect maps, and find that a selection of early maps of the county and country are invaluable. A few local A-Z booklets and a full country Ordinance Survey Atlas in large scale are also very useful to have on hand. Whenever I am in Britain, a visit to an antique or second-hand bookshop, or better still a trip to Hay-on-Wye is high on my priority list. I am careful to keep computer lists of all the documentation I have on hand, as well as the research I have made. An essential part of that is frequent backups of the data – I tend to use CDs these days, but also have two hard drives in my computer, with the key information on both, and a network link to my laptop and my wife’s desktop, where I also keep copies of the data.
I have also built up a website for the county, and have converted any data submitted to me, into HTML and placed it there for all to access – that includes the county data transcribed by the FreeCEN team, which has proved to be very popular.
My website is on: http://www.hunimex.com/warwick/index.html