Roy Stockdill, R.I.P.

The world of genealogy lost a good friend last week when Roy Stockdill passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. He was a professional genealogist, writer, researcher, and lecturer in England. He ran a one-name study of the surname STOCKDALE, STOCKDILL and other variants. Before his retirement, Roy was a journalist at a number of Fleet Street newspapers and elsewhere, including: the TODAY NEWSPAPER, News of the World, the Sunday Citizen, the West Herts Post, the Coventry Evening Telegraph, the Leicestershire Live, and at the Halifax Courier.

Roy also was well-known for his many humorous articles, many of which dealt with genealogy. Here is one example that he allowed me to publish in this newsletter some years ago. I can no longer ask him for permission to publish it one more time, but I don’t think he would mind.

First, my introduction to the article, written in August, 2000:

A person who apparently is a newcomer to genealogy research posted a message this week on a British mailing list challenging why anyone would spend time looking for genealogy information in books and in dusty old records offices. Roy Stockdill responded with what I think will become a classic answer. Roy kindly has given permission for it to be republished here:

Roy’s article:

Find All Your Ancestors Online!

Dear All

Welcome to my super-fast instant ancestry programme! I am proud to announce the launch of an exciting new service for wannabe family historians who find research the old-fashioned way rather boring. You, too, can have a family tree back to Adam and Eve ENTIRELY from the Internet!!! Here is an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime, never-to-be repeated offer…..

SEND me 10,000 dollars, your date of birth, your chest and inside leg measurements, the location of the pub where your granny met your granddad and the name of that milkman with the hairy nose that your Auntie Maude had the wild affair with – and I guarantee I will have your family tree at least back to Nebuchadnezzar the Daft of Outer Mongolia in the 3rd century BC before you can say “IGI” !!!

NO more listening to boring old farts droning on about how you need to read a book on family history. Books – outdated, who needs ’em?

NO more need to visit dreary old Record Offices or waste your precious time looking at boring bits of paper covered in squiggly writing that you can’t understand anyway.

NO more need to listen to self-appointed, so-called experts who try to tell you they can help you just because they’ve been in genealogy since March 1897 and who will try and persuade you to join a family history society where you will meet hordes of equally boring people who also think they know it all.

I absolutely guarantee you a family tree you can be proud of, that will show your descent from such famous historical figures as Mary Queen of Scots, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Francis Drake, William the Conqueror, Charlemagne, the Norse god Woden, Charles II’s head coachman’s illegitimate son, a 4th cousin twice removed of Henry VIII, Cyril the Incontinent of Babylon, Frederick the Flatulent of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Baron Frankenstein, Joan Collins and the Man in the Off-Licence Round the Corner.

How do I do it? Simple – I log onto the Internet, spend half an hour or so trawling the world wide web and – bingo! – there is your Instant Family Tree! Here’s how it works…

First, I find the marriage of your great-granny on the IGI, then I find someone of the same name who was born in a parish 100 miles away from where she was married, so that’s bound to be her, isn’t it? Then I ring up this mate of mine who specialises in doing look-ups from the 1861 census [which hasn’t been indexed] in places like London, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow. He sticks a pin in anywhere on the census and gives me a couple more names to work with. I reckon they have as much chance of being your gt-gt-grandparents as anyone else, so it’s back to the Net. I feed the names into umpteen databases and websites until I come up with someone of the same name who claims to be descended from Edward III. Ah, yes, this looks as good a bet as any. Nobody is going to notice if I casually slip your gt-gt-grandad and granny into a GEDCOM that shows they were also descended from Alfred the Great and the monk who did the slopping-out at Whitby Abbey, are they?

So there you have it – a wonderful, Instant Family Tree, and all from the Internet. And what I don’t find I simply MAKE UP!!! What could be easier? Apply now for the bargain of all time and discover how to make Internet genealogy really work for you!

Roy Stockdill
Editor, The Journal of One-Name Studies
The Stockdill Family History Society (Guild of One-Name Studies, FedFHS)
MEAD YOUNG in Somerset, Wiltshire & Gloucestershire
Web page of the Stockdill Family History Society:

“Never ask a man if he comes from Yorkshire. If he does he will tell you. If he does not, why humiliate him?” – Canon Sydney Smith (scholar and humorist 1771-1845)

Many of Roy Stockdill’s article are published all over the World Wide Web. I can think of no greater memorial to this expert genealogist, lecturer, writer, and humorist than the words he left behind. You can find many of Roy Stockdill’s articles by starting at:


Such a loss to the Genealogical world – he will be greatly missed. I remember so many of his comments on the old Forum and made a collection of them which I reread for years when I needed to think positively about what I was searching for! I’m so glad that I knew him all those years ago – even if only online. Thanks Dick for keeping us informed.


Such a loss! Roy was always there to help and I corresponded with him and used his transcriptions regularly when I first started my family history. I love his response to the newby! But I never knew he had another life. Thanks for making him even more real.


Thanks MaryHolland for refreshing my memory. I thought the name was familiar. I wish I had been as forward thinking as you to have collected his comments. I may find some yet, if I ever get around to sorting out all my old papers. And thank you Dick for passing on his information.


Roy was brilliant and his banter over the tears has been pure Yorkshire. I have taken his down to earth advice a number of times as I am sure many others have. RIP Family History legend.


I bumped into Roy more than a few times on a genealogy user group in the days before so much online family foolery. His humour was often a sorely needed antidote to those who suffered at the hands of descendants of countless knights, barons, princes and Charlemagnes, but he always had a less frivolous side.


Leave a Reply to Mary Holland Cancel reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: