Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, Caleb (part II)

This is the second post in a series about the Trenchfields, a family of mariners from the early seventeenth century, and more particularly about three of them called Thomas (and one called Caleb). In the first post, I introduced the man I think of as ‘Thomas snr’, the oldest Thomas I have encountered, an influential shipmaster in the Mediterranean and a naval commander for parliament during the British civil wars. This time, I want you to meet his relative, who I have titled ‘kinsman Thomas’, for reasons which will become obvious.
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Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, Caleb (part I)

I’ve done a few posts now on interesting finds in my research (‘interesting’ is naturally a matter of taste – but this is my blog after all). This one is a departure, if only because it’s not a favourite from previous work, but something I came across recently, and got rather excited about. I’ve been discussing some research with Maria Fusaro, the leader of the project I worked on for the last two years, particularly relating to Thomas Trenchfield. He was a shipmaster, ship owner and trader who appears frequently in the court records of Venice during the first half of the seventeenth century, which Maria has been working with. He was also a fairly important figure in the London maritime community, as an Elder Brother of the Trinity House of Deptford.

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The Research Challenge of Online Sources

When I was a Master’s student, one of our courses was called ‘Research Challenge’. The premise was simple: in the morning, every Monday for a term, we were given a task – a personage to find out about, say, or a document to track down. At the end of the day we got together to talk about what we had done. The point wasn’t so much what you found as to make you think about how you went about researching. It was great fun. We scurried about the University Library feeling like Sherlock Holmes.

I was reminded of this recently when Dr Maria Fusaro, the Principle Investigator on the project I work for, found a fascinating copy of some ‘Leggi d’Inghilterra’ in an Italian document, and asked me to find the original. Of course, I dived in. So in this post I will look at what I did – all of it online – and what this says about me as a researcher, and about the kind of sources that are available on the internet.

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