The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

2:45pm on Sunday, 27th February, 2005:

Discourteous Ancestors


I received a birth certificate from the GRO last week, giving details of the marriage of a set of my wife's great-great-grandparents. Yesterday evening, I decided to add it to my genealogy program then see if I could find any ancestors.

Some five and a half hours later, at 2:15am this morning, I had the names of two of my wife's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents. I didn't have their dates, but they were the parents of someone born in the late 1500s. I spent another two hours today checking through all the loose ends I picked up getting there, and I still have a few more places to look. Thank goodness two cousins married each other so they combined their grandparents, otherwise I'd have still been at it.

This is in stark contrast to my own ancestors. For a start, 25% of these were inconveniently Scottish so as to prevent me from searching for them in the civil registration index. My father's grandmother had the sole aim in life not to appear in any official records (including a census taken when she was 2), and was so effective at this that I've looked up the GRO entry of every single Laura Cooke born within 10 years of 1869 in Gloucestershire and not one has a father called William (which her wedding certificate reluctantly admits was his name). I know she had two sisters, because my dad remembers them, but they don't appear anywhere either. One of them even went exclusively by the nickname "Em" (or "M" — who knows?) to keep me from tracking her down.

Other branches of my family also do annoying things, such as getting born just before civil registration began so I can't get their birth certificate and discover the names of their parents. Whereas my wife's family settled down in a handful of tiny villages south of Newmarket, mine bounced all over the country leaving scant trace of their passing. If they possibly could, they hailed from somewhere that's lost its parish records in a fire. If the census people did catch up with them, they lied: how can you be 54 in 1861 and 58 in 1871? Yes, Elizabeth Powell, I'm talking to you! And while we're at it, you can't have been born in both Chester and Wrexham.

Oh well, at least none of my relatives had a Sister who Married a Freak.

Referenced by Cringe!.

Referenced by 20 Years to Go.

Referenced by M.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).