I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t very impressed with Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors, as far as it being “A Guide for Family Historians,” as it is subtitled. I was even less impressed when I learned of the author’s reputation in the world of genealogical research.
As an American with British Roots, my first thought was that this book probably wouldn’t be of much use to researchers on this side of the pond. Brits might find it more useful. I also think that it will be of more interest to people who are just beginning genealogical research than it will be to those who have some experience.
For example, there’s a brief introduction to the Burke’s references and similar (still useful) old chestnuts. This would be helpful to know when just starting out, but the information doesn’t come until Chapter 10.
Before that, almost half of the book is taken up with a very general overview of the aristocracy, including history, heraldry, visitations, titles, pedigrees, and other somewhat ancillary subjects. Personally, I would have rather been given much earlier the “how-to” information I was expecting from the title of the book.
The book includes a number of anecdotes about the author’s own search for the aristocrats assumed to be hiding in his family tree. I’m just taking a guess, but this search seems not to have been as fruitful as he might have been expecting, because, to me, there’s a noticeable waft of “sour grapes” in the air. This was pretty off-putting to me, and I think it would be discouraging to fledgling family historians, as well.
While the author’s family stories are probably interesting to the family itself, they do little to explain the nuts-and-bolts of how a reader can search for their own family stories, or to illustrate concepts that would be useful for beginning genealogists to know early on.
If I could have given Anthony Adolph one piece of advice before he went to press, I’d have strongly suggested a unified list of references & recommended reading. As I got into this book, and realized that it wasn’t very helpful to me, I thought that I could at least get some of the books that he referred to, and look at those. I was disappointed to find that there was no list; in most cases, the titles are sprinkled throughout the rest of the text.
There is a very short—about 2 pages plus an illustration—section in Chapter 8, Records of the Nobility and Gentry, that at least groups some of this kind of information together, but that’s about it. So, if you decide this book is worth getting, do yourself a favor and note—or at least highlight—the names of these works as you come upon them. That will save you the time of searching for their names later.
So if you're in the UK, and within striking distance of some of the reference organizations there, and especially if you're new to this fun and exciting hobby, you might enjoy the book. Others--I'd skip it, buy it used, or borrow it from a library.