What started your interest in Genealogy?
With my family’s Italian heritage, I wanted from an early age to find out when the family arrived in the UK; from my research I have found that all the members of the family undoubtedly found in the country are descended from Felippo Tunesi who arrived in London in the 1860s. This does not count any individuals who have recently come from Italy for work of which there is a very small number. I have also undertaken extensive research into my mother’s Wigtownshire roots and my grandmother’s Devonian and Cornish ancestry. This, allied with my love of heraldry and the genealogies associated with the armigerous families has sparked my lifelong interest in all things genealogical and heraldic.
I worked at the College of Arms as a research assistant for several Officers of Arms in the 1980s-1990s, and also whilst there I greatly enjoyed designing coats of arms for new grantees. I have been working for myself in the genealogical and heraldic field for in excess of thirty years.
What are your specialist areas of interest and why have you chosen them?
My specialist areas are Heraldic Research, Family research, Probate work and Speaking. My love of heraldry, and a good memory for a coat of arms and the families that bore them, had led me to finding the provenance of antiques for my many clients in auction houses around the world. I also undertake genealogical research for clients, mainly in England or Scotland; I’m half Scots. I also regularly lecture to U3A groups and genealogical and heraldic societies upon specialist genealogical and heraldic subjects. I am also interested in the City of London and its Livery Companies having served as Master of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners for the year 2013-2014.
Your most exciting discovery, either personal or professional
With my heraldic research hat on, I managed to identify a long unidentified funeral hatchment at a church in Hertfordshire, which I wrote about in my regular feature in Hertfordshire People, Hertfordshire Heraldic Miscellany. On the genealogical front, for an ex-services client of mine, I discovered that one of his ancestors fought at the Battle of Waterloo.
A typical day’s work
I start work at 8.30am by checking all my emails for communication from clients, both genealogical and heraldic. I usually spend the morning on genealogical cases in hand and after lunch on heraldic cases for my professional clients. I regularly undertake research in London and at record offices, and at home using the many digitised sources available on the internet and my extensive Library. My wife has devised a weekly timetable for me so I spend an equal amount of time on my professional and voluntary work. I am Hon. Secretary of the Hertfordshire Family History Society, The Heraldry Society and I am the Chairman and Secretary of the Society of Heraldic Arts. I am also an RAFVR(T) Officer, based at Headquarters Air Cadets at RAF Cranwell, being both the Special Projects Officer for Air Cadet Organisation Badges and Protocol and the Air Cadet Organisation Historian. I also have continuing commitments with the Worshipful Company of Scriveners, The Light Cavalry Honourable Artillery Company, where I am the Sutler, and the Order of St John where I am on the Ceremonial Staff of the Priory of England and the Islands attending investitures and other ceremonies throughout the year.