A. Roger Ekirch’s Birthright is the true story of James Annesley who was the heir to many Irish and English estates and aristocratic titles in the 18th century. He was kidnapped at age 12 by an evil uncle, shipped to America, and sold as a servant. His father had died 6 months before and even alive he wasn’t exactly a great dad. Before dying he had kicked James’ mother out of the house and had moved his mistress and mother in. The mistress did not like having James around so James’ father shipped him out to live with other people. When his father died, James was the only person standing between his uncle Richard and the inheritance so Richard got rid of James (or so he thought). Years later James finally made it back to Europe and tried to reclaim his titles and estates. But how did you prove you were who you said you were in the olden days? Most of the principle characters from his youth were dead (or paid off by the evil uncle). Record keeping in those days could be sporadic and voluntary.
James’ story inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write “Kidnapped” as well as serving as the inspiration for numerous other authors’ lesser works. A very interesting read.