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Family History


It was only in 2003 that I developed an interest in Family History. The discovery amongst my father's papers of some old family photographs, letters and diaries  coincided with a period in my life when I was no longer on the professional treadmill and I had more time to devote to them.  Some of the documents had emerged from events of historical importance, particularly the diaries of my grandfather, Charles Frederick Payne, and his letters home from the Western Front between 1917-1919. To fully understand the references to individuals he mentioned in these documents, I realised I would need to improve my very limited knowledge of my  family history. I soon found more than I bargained for, including a great-great-grandfather, George Clarke, who had been a senior detective at Scotland Yard and whose career has been a joy to research and write about (in my recent book 'The Chieftain').

My family history research has concentrated on the mid-18th-20th centuries, the period of greatest interest to me.  I have not myself gone further back but, because I have built my Family Tree online at, I have had the opportunity to latch on to the research of some other family historians and genealogists (but have not personally tested any assumptions before c.1750).  Thus, although it would appear that I may be descended directly from that all-round nice-guy, 'Thorfinn Skull-Splitter', I am entirely dependent on the work of others for the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of that information!

If you wish to contact me about any information on this webpage, please email me direct at

Might we be related?

The surnames and UK location of my great-great-grandparents' generation (c 1800-1840) were:

Abbott (Sandford Orcas, Somerset); Burgess (Chiswick, Middlesex); Clark(e) (Therfield, Hertfordshire); Ford (Chawleigh, Devon);  Harbour(Banstead, Surrey); McGregor (x2: Barnet, Hertfordshire); Nibbs (Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire); Payne (x 2: Portsea, Hampshire and Westminster, London); Shead (Westminster, London); Smith (Tottenham, London); Stableforth (Spalding, Lincolnshire); Stanbridge (West Hoathly, Sussex); Watson (Send, Surrey); Whebby (East Chinnock, Somerset).

Don't forget that there are different spelling variations of these names which may have been used in census records, certificates etc. Literacy was not a strong point amongst several of my ancestors in the 19th Century! 

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My pedigree family tree going back to my great-great-grandparent's generation, which I have personally researched and in which I have reasonable confidence (until you tell me different!)

Click family history database to display  the background information that  underpins the family tree. In time I intend to add more substance to this database but at present it mainly consists of names, dates of births, baptisms, marriages and deaths (where known). Photographs have been included where available. You are welcome to explore the individuals listed in the Family Tree by clicking on the various links available within the database. The information in this database will be added to as time permits.

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