The Family Tree of Life

Canva - Tree of Life Embossed Artwork on Structure (1)Nicola here. Today I’m wondering what happened to all the plans I had at the start of lockdown in March. Back then time spent quietly at home felt like an opportunity to catch up with a load of things I’d wanted to do for a while, whether it was clear out the wardrobe or start a new hobby. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see this was probably optimistic; we’ve all had a lot of shocking, frightening and unexpected stuff to deal with in our different ways, my concentration is non-existent and I haven’t achieved anything close to what I thought I would. On the other hand, and on a more optimistic note, the kindness and strength of friends, family and strangers through difficult times has been truly amazing.

One of my interests before the pandemic kicked in was genealogy. I only came to family tree research a few years ago. A number of relatives had been busy working on different parts of the family history for years and I felt they had it covered and I had lots of other things to research! But then, I don’t know why or how, I started to become interested in genealogy myself and once I’d started it became totally compulsive. I even had an Ancestry DNA test done – which didn’t reveal anything very exciting at all!

Like a lot of people at the start of their genealogy journey I was hoping for something different or unusual in the family tree. It Canva - nulldidn’t have to be a connection to royalty or, at the other end of the scale, a pirate or highwayman, but something interesting would be very welcome. There was a persistent story in the family that at the start of the 19th century, one of my grandmother’s ancestors, who was an illiterate Yorkshire coal miner, was offered the opportunity to claim a title but that he refused, saying: “No fancy London lawyer is going to make a fool out of me.” I haven’t been able to find any evidence for this story at all but it really interests me where family stories come from. Usually there is a grain of truth in them even if they get very distorted over the centuries.

Brampton Bryan castleMost of the family stories came from my father’s side of the family because he was a remarkable raconteur. He claimed that we were descended from 13th century Gascon knights, which is pretty precise although as it turns out, entirely fictitious. What he probably didn’t know when he made this up was that our only connection to the aristocracy actually was on his side of the family, via a link to the Harley family of Brampton Bryan in Shropshire. I’m not going to put in a claim for the family castle. It looks as though it needs a lot of work! However, the estate does look very nice. There are some pictures here. it’s certainly an honour to be connected however distantly to Brilliana, Lady Harley, who defended Brampton Bryan Castle against a 3 month siege by the Royalists during the English Civil War. I think I may write about her in the future. Certainly there are enough stories I've discovered in the family tree to inspire a number of future books!

Back on my mother’s side of the family tree there may not have been any nobility but there were some interesting things going on. CHippendale_plaque_in_Otley _where_Thomas_Chippendale_was_bornOne of her distant cousins was the cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale who became famous for his Georgian furniture and interior design work. I discovered that this family line was descended from the man who has become my favourite ancestor, Osgod Clapa. Osgod (from the Old Danish name Asgot) was a Viking who came to England during the reign of King Canute. It was apparently at the marriage of Osgod’s daughter Gytha in 1042 that King Harthacanute died from drinking to excess! Osgod went on to become Master of the Horse to Edward the Confessor. We actually have a description of Osgod from a pilgrimage he made to the shrine of St Edmund when a monk described him as: “proudly bearing armlets on both arms, his gilt-inlaid axe slung from his shoulder in the Danish fashion.” I must admit to being very happy to have found a link to a bona fide Viking!

Canva - Photo Of Dried Leaves Near TreeBut for all the exciting discoveries there can be to make in a family tree, I found that when lockdown came, I put aside the genealogy research and didn’t feel like digging into the past any more. Instead I felt a very strong urge to connect with the family I had in the present, and also those with whom I had lost touch. Perhaps it was that the pandemic made me focus on the importance of strong bonds to the people who matter. It’s not always possible to re-connect but where it is, it can bring joy.

In the last week or so I’ve gone back to the family tree. If I find more exciting discoveries that Canva - Pink Flowers With Sunlight will be great but I’ve also come to realise that it’s the everyday stuff that is truly important. Those ancestors who worked the land for centuries had determination and endurance, and when they moved to the cities to find jobs during the industrial revolution, they were striking out to make a new life for themselves and their families. The women were as tenacious as the men, working, raising families, enabling us to have the lives we have today. Many of our ancestors had to face considerable hardship and given the times we’re living through now, that can be very inspiring. For a lot of people, the appeal of genealogy comes from the fact that it is history on a personal scale. It helps us to understand where we come from but in tough times, I think it can also give us strength to see ourselves as part of something bigger and to keep forging ahead.

Are you interested in genealogy? Have you investigated your family tree or family stories, and if so, what did you find?

110 thoughts on “The Family Tree of Life”

  1. Wow, Nicola, you’re so lucky both to be descended from a Viking and for the fact that you can actually trace your family tree that far back! Mine goes to 1595 and then I get stuck, but like you, I’m totally hooked on genealogy. Once you start, you just can’t stop! It’s a never-ending, fascinating puzzle. Oh, and I read a lot about Brilliana when researching one of my novels – she was an amazing lady!

    Reply
  2. Wow, Nicola, you’re so lucky both to be descended from a Viking and for the fact that you can actually trace your family tree that far back! Mine goes to 1595 and then I get stuck, but like you, I’m totally hooked on genealogy. Once you start, you just can’t stop! It’s a never-ending, fascinating puzzle. Oh, and I read a lot about Brilliana when researching one of my novels – she was an amazing lady!

    Reply
  3. Wow, Nicola, you’re so lucky both to be descended from a Viking and for the fact that you can actually trace your family tree that far back! Mine goes to 1595 and then I get stuck, but like you, I’m totally hooked on genealogy. Once you start, you just can’t stop! It’s a never-ending, fascinating puzzle. Oh, and I read a lot about Brilliana when researching one of my novels – she was an amazing lady!

    Reply
  4. Wow, Nicola, you’re so lucky both to be descended from a Viking and for the fact that you can actually trace your family tree that far back! Mine goes to 1595 and then I get stuck, but like you, I’m totally hooked on genealogy. Once you start, you just can’t stop! It’s a never-ending, fascinating puzzle. Oh, and I read a lot about Brilliana when researching one of my novels – she was an amazing lady!

    Reply
  5. Wow, Nicola, you’re so lucky both to be descended from a Viking and for the fact that you can actually trace your family tree that far back! Mine goes to 1595 and then I get stuck, but like you, I’m totally hooked on genealogy. Once you start, you just can’t stop! It’s a never-ending, fascinating puzzle. Oh, and I read a lot about Brilliana when researching one of my novels – she was an amazing lady!

    Reply
  6. Hi Christina! I expect you are descended from more than one Viking (!) but yes it was an amazing find to stumble on that line and actually have a record of it. Before that I had also been stuck around the 16th century, which isn’t bad at all but you do wonder what happened before that… I know how engrossing you find genealogy as well. It really is a great detective hunt, isn’t it. I’ll look forward to finding out more about Brilliana, who, apart from having a rather excellent name, sounds to have been very interesting!

    Reply
  7. Hi Christina! I expect you are descended from more than one Viking (!) but yes it was an amazing find to stumble on that line and actually have a record of it. Before that I had also been stuck around the 16th century, which isn’t bad at all but you do wonder what happened before that… I know how engrossing you find genealogy as well. It really is a great detective hunt, isn’t it. I’ll look forward to finding out more about Brilliana, who, apart from having a rather excellent name, sounds to have been very interesting!

    Reply
  8. Hi Christina! I expect you are descended from more than one Viking (!) but yes it was an amazing find to stumble on that line and actually have a record of it. Before that I had also been stuck around the 16th century, which isn’t bad at all but you do wonder what happened before that… I know how engrossing you find genealogy as well. It really is a great detective hunt, isn’t it. I’ll look forward to finding out more about Brilliana, who, apart from having a rather excellent name, sounds to have been very interesting!

    Reply
  9. Hi Christina! I expect you are descended from more than one Viking (!) but yes it was an amazing find to stumble on that line and actually have a record of it. Before that I had also been stuck around the 16th century, which isn’t bad at all but you do wonder what happened before that… I know how engrossing you find genealogy as well. It really is a great detective hunt, isn’t it. I’ll look forward to finding out more about Brilliana, who, apart from having a rather excellent name, sounds to have been very interesting!

    Reply
  10. Hi Christina! I expect you are descended from more than one Viking (!) but yes it was an amazing find to stumble on that line and actually have a record of it. Before that I had also been stuck around the 16th century, which isn’t bad at all but you do wonder what happened before that… I know how engrossing you find genealogy as well. It really is a great detective hunt, isn’t it. I’ll look forward to finding out more about Brilliana, who, apart from having a rather excellent name, sounds to have been very interesting!

    Reply
  11. A real Viking, Nicola!!! Color me envious. I know that two of my great-grandfathers fought for the Union in the Civil War, but so did hundreds of other men. None of who carried battle axes, I’m pretty sure. *G*

    Reply
  12. A real Viking, Nicola!!! Color me envious. I know that two of my great-grandfathers fought for the Union in the Civil War, but so did hundreds of other men. None of who carried battle axes, I’m pretty sure. *G*

    Reply
  13. A real Viking, Nicola!!! Color me envious. I know that two of my great-grandfathers fought for the Union in the Civil War, but so did hundreds of other men. None of who carried battle axes, I’m pretty sure. *G*

    Reply
  14. A real Viking, Nicola!!! Color me envious. I know that two of my great-grandfathers fought for the Union in the Civil War, but so did hundreds of other men. None of who carried battle axes, I’m pretty sure. *G*

    Reply
  15. A real Viking, Nicola!!! Color me envious. I know that two of my great-grandfathers fought for the Union in the Civil War, but so did hundreds of other men. None of who carried battle axes, I’m pretty sure. *G*

    Reply
  16. I love genealogy. We came to Canada when I was a child and I got into genealogy as a teen when I found a letter to my Dad from my great-grandfather and I asked my Dad when Great-Grandad had died? He said he was still alive. I asked when was the last time we had written to him? I was horrified to realize that no one had for quite a long time. I wrote immediately and continued to correspond up until his death at the age of 96. He was lovely. For me genealogy was about connecting with family as we had left so much extended family in the UK when we emigrated. So I think connecting with those you have who are alive right now, Nicola is more important than digging into the ones who are gone. So don’t beat yourself up at not getting your research done you thought you would. I think your priorities are awesome.
    But I have to say having the line back as far as you do is amazing work! And any time you have a physical description from that far back is astounding and an amazing gift!

    Reply
  17. I love genealogy. We came to Canada when I was a child and I got into genealogy as a teen when I found a letter to my Dad from my great-grandfather and I asked my Dad when Great-Grandad had died? He said he was still alive. I asked when was the last time we had written to him? I was horrified to realize that no one had for quite a long time. I wrote immediately and continued to correspond up until his death at the age of 96. He was lovely. For me genealogy was about connecting with family as we had left so much extended family in the UK when we emigrated. So I think connecting with those you have who are alive right now, Nicola is more important than digging into the ones who are gone. So don’t beat yourself up at not getting your research done you thought you would. I think your priorities are awesome.
    But I have to say having the line back as far as you do is amazing work! And any time you have a physical description from that far back is astounding and an amazing gift!

    Reply
  18. I love genealogy. We came to Canada when I was a child and I got into genealogy as a teen when I found a letter to my Dad from my great-grandfather and I asked my Dad when Great-Grandad had died? He said he was still alive. I asked when was the last time we had written to him? I was horrified to realize that no one had for quite a long time. I wrote immediately and continued to correspond up until his death at the age of 96. He was lovely. For me genealogy was about connecting with family as we had left so much extended family in the UK when we emigrated. So I think connecting with those you have who are alive right now, Nicola is more important than digging into the ones who are gone. So don’t beat yourself up at not getting your research done you thought you would. I think your priorities are awesome.
    But I have to say having the line back as far as you do is amazing work! And any time you have a physical description from that far back is astounding and an amazing gift!

    Reply
  19. I love genealogy. We came to Canada when I was a child and I got into genealogy as a teen when I found a letter to my Dad from my great-grandfather and I asked my Dad when Great-Grandad had died? He said he was still alive. I asked when was the last time we had written to him? I was horrified to realize that no one had for quite a long time. I wrote immediately and continued to correspond up until his death at the age of 96. He was lovely. For me genealogy was about connecting with family as we had left so much extended family in the UK when we emigrated. So I think connecting with those you have who are alive right now, Nicola is more important than digging into the ones who are gone. So don’t beat yourself up at not getting your research done you thought you would. I think your priorities are awesome.
    But I have to say having the line back as far as you do is amazing work! And any time you have a physical description from that far back is astounding and an amazing gift!

    Reply
  20. I love genealogy. We came to Canada when I was a child and I got into genealogy as a teen when I found a letter to my Dad from my great-grandfather and I asked my Dad when Great-Grandad had died? He said he was still alive. I asked when was the last time we had written to him? I was horrified to realize that no one had for quite a long time. I wrote immediately and continued to correspond up until his death at the age of 96. He was lovely. For me genealogy was about connecting with family as we had left so much extended family in the UK when we emigrated. So I think connecting with those you have who are alive right now, Nicola is more important than digging into the ones who are gone. So don’t beat yourself up at not getting your research done you thought you would. I think your priorities are awesome.
    But I have to say having the line back as far as you do is amazing work! And any time you have a physical description from that far back is astounding and an amazing gift!

    Reply
  21. There is a Caldecot winner entitled “They Were Strong and Good” by Robert Lawson. The final line of the book is “They were not rich or famous but they were strong and good.”
    I believe this sums up what most of us will find in our genealogical research. And I find that satisfying (if somewhat boring). I try to find out what life was like in the Texas town where my husband’s father was born; in the Netherlands where my great grandmother was born, and so on. It brings the data to life when I find this type of information.
    And I met a 3rd cousin once removed on that Netherlands line (she lives in Michigan but grew up here in mid-Missouri0; we have become good friends. This is another benefit of research.
    Our backgrounds are important, but our living relatives are even more important.

    Reply
  22. There is a Caldecot winner entitled “They Were Strong and Good” by Robert Lawson. The final line of the book is “They were not rich or famous but they were strong and good.”
    I believe this sums up what most of us will find in our genealogical research. And I find that satisfying (if somewhat boring). I try to find out what life was like in the Texas town where my husband’s father was born; in the Netherlands where my great grandmother was born, and so on. It brings the data to life when I find this type of information.
    And I met a 3rd cousin once removed on that Netherlands line (she lives in Michigan but grew up here in mid-Missouri0; we have become good friends. This is another benefit of research.
    Our backgrounds are important, but our living relatives are even more important.

    Reply
  23. There is a Caldecot winner entitled “They Were Strong and Good” by Robert Lawson. The final line of the book is “They were not rich or famous but they were strong and good.”
    I believe this sums up what most of us will find in our genealogical research. And I find that satisfying (if somewhat boring). I try to find out what life was like in the Texas town where my husband’s father was born; in the Netherlands where my great grandmother was born, and so on. It brings the data to life when I find this type of information.
    And I met a 3rd cousin once removed on that Netherlands line (she lives in Michigan but grew up here in mid-Missouri0; we have become good friends. This is another benefit of research.
    Our backgrounds are important, but our living relatives are even more important.

    Reply
  24. There is a Caldecot winner entitled “They Were Strong and Good” by Robert Lawson. The final line of the book is “They were not rich or famous but they were strong and good.”
    I believe this sums up what most of us will find in our genealogical research. And I find that satisfying (if somewhat boring). I try to find out what life was like in the Texas town where my husband’s father was born; in the Netherlands where my great grandmother was born, and so on. It brings the data to life when I find this type of information.
    And I met a 3rd cousin once removed on that Netherlands line (she lives in Michigan but grew up here in mid-Missouri0; we have become good friends. This is another benefit of research.
    Our backgrounds are important, but our living relatives are even more important.

    Reply
  25. There is a Caldecot winner entitled “They Were Strong and Good” by Robert Lawson. The final line of the book is “They were not rich or famous but they were strong and good.”
    I believe this sums up what most of us will find in our genealogical research. And I find that satisfying (if somewhat boring). I try to find out what life was like in the Texas town where my husband’s father was born; in the Netherlands where my great grandmother was born, and so on. It brings the data to life when I find this type of information.
    And I met a 3rd cousin once removed on that Netherlands line (she lives in Michigan but grew up here in mid-Missouri0; we have become good friends. This is another benefit of research.
    Our backgrounds are important, but our living relatives are even more important.

    Reply
  26. Genealogy and writing are the passions that have been with me for 40+ years. I love digging through the past on the grass roots level. The big picture of what is happening at the time is good, but how did the decisions made by the men in power affect the average person? That is where genealogy, local and family history come in for me. I can trace my ancestors to the Norman de Neusome family in Lancastershire, but I’m more interested in their descendants who settled in Jamestown, Virginia and what their life was like. I’m related to a Spencer family, but not the ones who live in Althorp, but possible to the Traitor Hugh de Spencer…why did he take part in killing Edward the Second? Could it be Edmund Spencer the poet, no…most likely Edmund Spencer who was no on in particular who had an ancestor settle in Jamestown, but not James Spencer the Ancient Planter, the other one who came in 1611. I haven’t untied that particular gordian knot yet. The Pandemic has pushed me to take a course in Genealogy Principle from Boston University which will lead me to the path toward becoming a Certified Genealogist and then a professional. In a couple weeks I’ll be done with this class and be looking toward my next project.

    Reply
  27. Genealogy and writing are the passions that have been with me for 40+ years. I love digging through the past on the grass roots level. The big picture of what is happening at the time is good, but how did the decisions made by the men in power affect the average person? That is where genealogy, local and family history come in for me. I can trace my ancestors to the Norman de Neusome family in Lancastershire, but I’m more interested in their descendants who settled in Jamestown, Virginia and what their life was like. I’m related to a Spencer family, but not the ones who live in Althorp, but possible to the Traitor Hugh de Spencer…why did he take part in killing Edward the Second? Could it be Edmund Spencer the poet, no…most likely Edmund Spencer who was no on in particular who had an ancestor settle in Jamestown, but not James Spencer the Ancient Planter, the other one who came in 1611. I haven’t untied that particular gordian knot yet. The Pandemic has pushed me to take a course in Genealogy Principle from Boston University which will lead me to the path toward becoming a Certified Genealogist and then a professional. In a couple weeks I’ll be done with this class and be looking toward my next project.

    Reply
  28. Genealogy and writing are the passions that have been with me for 40+ years. I love digging through the past on the grass roots level. The big picture of what is happening at the time is good, but how did the decisions made by the men in power affect the average person? That is where genealogy, local and family history come in for me. I can trace my ancestors to the Norman de Neusome family in Lancastershire, but I’m more interested in their descendants who settled in Jamestown, Virginia and what their life was like. I’m related to a Spencer family, but not the ones who live in Althorp, but possible to the Traitor Hugh de Spencer…why did he take part in killing Edward the Second? Could it be Edmund Spencer the poet, no…most likely Edmund Spencer who was no on in particular who had an ancestor settle in Jamestown, but not James Spencer the Ancient Planter, the other one who came in 1611. I haven’t untied that particular gordian knot yet. The Pandemic has pushed me to take a course in Genealogy Principle from Boston University which will lead me to the path toward becoming a Certified Genealogist and then a professional. In a couple weeks I’ll be done with this class and be looking toward my next project.

    Reply
  29. Genealogy and writing are the passions that have been with me for 40+ years. I love digging through the past on the grass roots level. The big picture of what is happening at the time is good, but how did the decisions made by the men in power affect the average person? That is where genealogy, local and family history come in for me. I can trace my ancestors to the Norman de Neusome family in Lancastershire, but I’m more interested in their descendants who settled in Jamestown, Virginia and what their life was like. I’m related to a Spencer family, but not the ones who live in Althorp, but possible to the Traitor Hugh de Spencer…why did he take part in killing Edward the Second? Could it be Edmund Spencer the poet, no…most likely Edmund Spencer who was no on in particular who had an ancestor settle in Jamestown, but not James Spencer the Ancient Planter, the other one who came in 1611. I haven’t untied that particular gordian knot yet. The Pandemic has pushed me to take a course in Genealogy Principle from Boston University which will lead me to the path toward becoming a Certified Genealogist and then a professional. In a couple weeks I’ll be done with this class and be looking toward my next project.

    Reply
  30. Genealogy and writing are the passions that have been with me for 40+ years. I love digging through the past on the grass roots level. The big picture of what is happening at the time is good, but how did the decisions made by the men in power affect the average person? That is where genealogy, local and family history come in for me. I can trace my ancestors to the Norman de Neusome family in Lancastershire, but I’m more interested in their descendants who settled in Jamestown, Virginia and what their life was like. I’m related to a Spencer family, but not the ones who live in Althorp, but possible to the Traitor Hugh de Spencer…why did he take part in killing Edward the Second? Could it be Edmund Spencer the poet, no…most likely Edmund Spencer who was no on in particular who had an ancestor settle in Jamestown, but not James Spencer the Ancient Planter, the other one who came in 1611. I haven’t untied that particular gordian knot yet. The Pandemic has pushed me to take a course in Genealogy Principle from Boston University which will lead me to the path toward becoming a Certified Genealogist and then a professional. In a couple weeks I’ll be done with this class and be looking toward my next project.

    Reply
  31. Hi Karen. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I think it’s wonderful that you re-started the correspondence with your great-grandfather! It’s all too easy sometimes to lose touch, especially with physical distance between you.
    Genealogy is such fascinating detective work, isn’t it!

    Reply
  32. Hi Karen. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I think it’s wonderful that you re-started the correspondence with your great-grandfather! It’s all too easy sometimes to lose touch, especially with physical distance between you.
    Genealogy is such fascinating detective work, isn’t it!

    Reply
  33. Hi Karen. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I think it’s wonderful that you re-started the correspondence with your great-grandfather! It’s all too easy sometimes to lose touch, especially with physical distance between you.
    Genealogy is such fascinating detective work, isn’t it!

    Reply
  34. Hi Karen. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I think it’s wonderful that you re-started the correspondence with your great-grandfather! It’s all too easy sometimes to lose touch, especially with physical distance between you.
    Genealogy is such fascinating detective work, isn’t it!

    Reply
  35. Hi Karen. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I think it’s wonderful that you re-started the correspondence with your great-grandfather! It’s all too easy sometimes to lose touch, especially with physical distance between you.
    Genealogy is such fascinating detective work, isn’t it!

    Reply
  36. You can’t ask for more than “strong and good” I think, Sue, and as you say, even if there isn’t anything exciting to find there are always stories to be told. I also love finding “new” relatives. Like you I now have a distant cousin I didn’t know about before. I think it’s great that you and your 3rd cousin have become good friends! That’s very special.

    Reply
  37. You can’t ask for more than “strong and good” I think, Sue, and as you say, even if there isn’t anything exciting to find there are always stories to be told. I also love finding “new” relatives. Like you I now have a distant cousin I didn’t know about before. I think it’s great that you and your 3rd cousin have become good friends! That’s very special.

    Reply
  38. You can’t ask for more than “strong and good” I think, Sue, and as you say, even if there isn’t anything exciting to find there are always stories to be told. I also love finding “new” relatives. Like you I now have a distant cousin I didn’t know about before. I think it’s great that you and your 3rd cousin have become good friends! That’s very special.

    Reply
  39. You can’t ask for more than “strong and good” I think, Sue, and as you say, even if there isn’t anything exciting to find there are always stories to be told. I also love finding “new” relatives. Like you I now have a distant cousin I didn’t know about before. I think it’s great that you and your 3rd cousin have become good friends! That’s very special.

    Reply
  40. You can’t ask for more than “strong and good” I think, Sue, and as you say, even if there isn’t anything exciting to find there are always stories to be told. I also love finding “new” relatives. Like you I now have a distant cousin I didn’t know about before. I think it’s great that you and your 3rd cousin have become good friends! That’s very special.

    Reply
  41. How exciting to be pursuing a course towards becoming a certified genealogist! Like you, I’ve found that so often my ancestors are “the other ones” rather than the famous person bearing the same name. So my branch of the Harleys are the ones who weren’t the Earls of Oxford! Discovering what effect the big decisions of the day had on everyday lives is a fascinating business and makes it so very personal when your own ancestors are affected.

    Reply
  42. How exciting to be pursuing a course towards becoming a certified genealogist! Like you, I’ve found that so often my ancestors are “the other ones” rather than the famous person bearing the same name. So my branch of the Harleys are the ones who weren’t the Earls of Oxford! Discovering what effect the big decisions of the day had on everyday lives is a fascinating business and makes it so very personal when your own ancestors are affected.

    Reply
  43. How exciting to be pursuing a course towards becoming a certified genealogist! Like you, I’ve found that so often my ancestors are “the other ones” rather than the famous person bearing the same name. So my branch of the Harleys are the ones who weren’t the Earls of Oxford! Discovering what effect the big decisions of the day had on everyday lives is a fascinating business and makes it so very personal when your own ancestors are affected.

    Reply
  44. How exciting to be pursuing a course towards becoming a certified genealogist! Like you, I’ve found that so often my ancestors are “the other ones” rather than the famous person bearing the same name. So my branch of the Harleys are the ones who weren’t the Earls of Oxford! Discovering what effect the big decisions of the day had on everyday lives is a fascinating business and makes it so very personal when your own ancestors are affected.

    Reply
  45. How exciting to be pursuing a course towards becoming a certified genealogist! Like you, I’ve found that so often my ancestors are “the other ones” rather than the famous person bearing the same name. So my branch of the Harleys are the ones who weren’t the Earls of Oxford! Discovering what effect the big decisions of the day had on everyday lives is a fascinating business and makes it so very personal when your own ancestors are affected.

    Reply
  46. I am so impressed with you all for how far back you have been able to go. I get stuck because my last name has at least 7 different spellings and the town where I was born changed their name during the First World War from Berlin to Kitchener!

    Reply
  47. I am so impressed with you all for how far back you have been able to go. I get stuck because my last name has at least 7 different spellings and the town where I was born changed their name during the First World War from Berlin to Kitchener!

    Reply
  48. I am so impressed with you all for how far back you have been able to go. I get stuck because my last name has at least 7 different spellings and the town where I was born changed their name during the First World War from Berlin to Kitchener!

    Reply
  49. I am so impressed with you all for how far back you have been able to go. I get stuck because my last name has at least 7 different spellings and the town where I was born changed their name during the First World War from Berlin to Kitchener!

    Reply
  50. I am so impressed with you all for how far back you have been able to go. I get stuck because my last name has at least 7 different spellings and the town where I was born changed their name during the First World War from Berlin to Kitchener!

    Reply
  51. Fascinating stuff! When I first did Ancestry.com they said I was 30% Scandinavian (so Viking possibilities!). However, they corrected it shortly thereafter–I knew it was wrong. With an Austrian mother and a mostly-English father, I’m all mixed up but pretty boring.
    Many years ago, someone on my dad’s side (allegedly Mayflower descendants) printed a family genealogy, and even as a kid I found the emphasis on only males and their jobs very annoying. One of them went bankrupt as a result of the War of 1812 and the blockades. The family fortune was revived by the production of Florida Water, a cologne which I now believe is used in voodoo rites, LOL. It smells pretty bad. I am related to the Trumbulls of Connecticut (governor, artist), but that’s as close as I come to American aristocracy.

    Reply
  52. Fascinating stuff! When I first did Ancestry.com they said I was 30% Scandinavian (so Viking possibilities!). However, they corrected it shortly thereafter–I knew it was wrong. With an Austrian mother and a mostly-English father, I’m all mixed up but pretty boring.
    Many years ago, someone on my dad’s side (allegedly Mayflower descendants) printed a family genealogy, and even as a kid I found the emphasis on only males and their jobs very annoying. One of them went bankrupt as a result of the War of 1812 and the blockades. The family fortune was revived by the production of Florida Water, a cologne which I now believe is used in voodoo rites, LOL. It smells pretty bad. I am related to the Trumbulls of Connecticut (governor, artist), but that’s as close as I come to American aristocracy.

    Reply
  53. Fascinating stuff! When I first did Ancestry.com they said I was 30% Scandinavian (so Viking possibilities!). However, they corrected it shortly thereafter–I knew it was wrong. With an Austrian mother and a mostly-English father, I’m all mixed up but pretty boring.
    Many years ago, someone on my dad’s side (allegedly Mayflower descendants) printed a family genealogy, and even as a kid I found the emphasis on only males and their jobs very annoying. One of them went bankrupt as a result of the War of 1812 and the blockades. The family fortune was revived by the production of Florida Water, a cologne which I now believe is used in voodoo rites, LOL. It smells pretty bad. I am related to the Trumbulls of Connecticut (governor, artist), but that’s as close as I come to American aristocracy.

    Reply
  54. Fascinating stuff! When I first did Ancestry.com they said I was 30% Scandinavian (so Viking possibilities!). However, they corrected it shortly thereafter–I knew it was wrong. With an Austrian mother and a mostly-English father, I’m all mixed up but pretty boring.
    Many years ago, someone on my dad’s side (allegedly Mayflower descendants) printed a family genealogy, and even as a kid I found the emphasis on only males and their jobs very annoying. One of them went bankrupt as a result of the War of 1812 and the blockades. The family fortune was revived by the production of Florida Water, a cologne which I now believe is used in voodoo rites, LOL. It smells pretty bad. I am related to the Trumbulls of Connecticut (governor, artist), but that’s as close as I come to American aristocracy.

    Reply
  55. Fascinating stuff! When I first did Ancestry.com they said I was 30% Scandinavian (so Viking possibilities!). However, they corrected it shortly thereafter–I knew it was wrong. With an Austrian mother and a mostly-English father, I’m all mixed up but pretty boring.
    Many years ago, someone on my dad’s side (allegedly Mayflower descendants) printed a family genealogy, and even as a kid I found the emphasis on only males and their jobs very annoying. One of them went bankrupt as a result of the War of 1812 and the blockades. The family fortune was revived by the production of Florida Water, a cologne which I now believe is used in voodoo rites, LOL. It smells pretty bad. I am related to the Trumbulls of Connecticut (governor, artist), but that’s as close as I come to American aristocracy.

    Reply
  56. I would love to look into the family but have a feeling it would be a boring uninteresting one. A cousin of mine did start it at one time but stopped looking when she discovered an ancestor was transported to Australia for stealing. That would have been the point I would definitely have carried on. I’d love history like that in the family.
    My Dad always said we were descended from the Normans. I don’t know why he thought that as he wasn’t into history in any way. He was a labouring man with little learning.
    Great post Nicola.

    Reply
  57. I would love to look into the family but have a feeling it would be a boring uninteresting one. A cousin of mine did start it at one time but stopped looking when she discovered an ancestor was transported to Australia for stealing. That would have been the point I would definitely have carried on. I’d love history like that in the family.
    My Dad always said we were descended from the Normans. I don’t know why he thought that as he wasn’t into history in any way. He was a labouring man with little learning.
    Great post Nicola.

    Reply
  58. I would love to look into the family but have a feeling it would be a boring uninteresting one. A cousin of mine did start it at one time but stopped looking when she discovered an ancestor was transported to Australia for stealing. That would have been the point I would definitely have carried on. I’d love history like that in the family.
    My Dad always said we were descended from the Normans. I don’t know why he thought that as he wasn’t into history in any way. He was a labouring man with little learning.
    Great post Nicola.

    Reply
  59. I would love to look into the family but have a feeling it would be a boring uninteresting one. A cousin of mine did start it at one time but stopped looking when she discovered an ancestor was transported to Australia for stealing. That would have been the point I would definitely have carried on. I’d love history like that in the family.
    My Dad always said we were descended from the Normans. I don’t know why he thought that as he wasn’t into history in any way. He was a labouring man with little learning.
    Great post Nicola.

    Reply
  60. I would love to look into the family but have a feeling it would be a boring uninteresting one. A cousin of mine did start it at one time but stopped looking when she discovered an ancestor was transported to Australia for stealing. That would have been the point I would definitely have carried on. I’d love history like that in the family.
    My Dad always said we were descended from the Normans. I don’t know why he thought that as he wasn’t into history in any way. He was a labouring man with little learning.
    Great post Nicola.

    Reply
  61. Surname variations can cause so many problems, can’t they. I hadn’t realised that there were also name changes for towns as well, although I can see why they would do that. All extra obstacles for a family history researcher!

    Reply
  62. Surname variations can cause so many problems, can’t they. I hadn’t realised that there were also name changes for towns as well, although I can see why they would do that. All extra obstacles for a family history researcher!

    Reply
  63. Surname variations can cause so many problems, can’t they. I hadn’t realised that there were also name changes for towns as well, although I can see why they would do that. All extra obstacles for a family history researcher!

    Reply
  64. Surname variations can cause so many problems, can’t they. I hadn’t realised that there were also name changes for towns as well, although I can see why they would do that. All extra obstacles for a family history researcher!

    Reply
  65. Surname variations can cause so many problems, can’t they. I hadn’t realised that there were also name changes for towns as well, although I can see why they would do that. All extra obstacles for a family history researcher!

    Reply
  66. That sounds like a very interesting mix, Maggie, and not boring at all! And the rest of the family story you mention is absolutely fascinating! There’s definitely several stories in there. Yes, the emphasis on the men and their jobs is typical but can be disappointing; when I discovered that one of my female ancestors was a chimney sweep I was delighted!

    Reply
  67. That sounds like a very interesting mix, Maggie, and not boring at all! And the rest of the family story you mention is absolutely fascinating! There’s definitely several stories in there. Yes, the emphasis on the men and their jobs is typical but can be disappointing; when I discovered that one of my female ancestors was a chimney sweep I was delighted!

    Reply
  68. That sounds like a very interesting mix, Maggie, and not boring at all! And the rest of the family story you mention is absolutely fascinating! There’s definitely several stories in there. Yes, the emphasis on the men and their jobs is typical but can be disappointing; when I discovered that one of my female ancestors was a chimney sweep I was delighted!

    Reply
  69. That sounds like a very interesting mix, Maggie, and not boring at all! And the rest of the family story you mention is absolutely fascinating! There’s definitely several stories in there. Yes, the emphasis on the men and their jobs is typical but can be disappointing; when I discovered that one of my female ancestors was a chimney sweep I was delighted!

    Reply
  70. That sounds like a very interesting mix, Maggie, and not boring at all! And the rest of the family story you mention is absolutely fascinating! There’s definitely several stories in there. Yes, the emphasis on the men and their jobs is typical but can be disappointing; when I discovered that one of my female ancestors was a chimney sweep I was delighted!

    Reply
  71. Thanks, Teresa, I am glad that you enjoyed it! It sounds as though it would be very interesting to investigate your family tree further. Sometimes people do seem to stop when they find something criminal, perhaps because it upsets them, but I think that makes the story richer. How fascinating too that your Dad said you were descended from the Normans. There must have been a family story suggesting it, and there may be a grain of truth in there somewhere… Worth checking out!

    Reply
  72. Thanks, Teresa, I am glad that you enjoyed it! It sounds as though it would be very interesting to investigate your family tree further. Sometimes people do seem to stop when they find something criminal, perhaps because it upsets them, but I think that makes the story richer. How fascinating too that your Dad said you were descended from the Normans. There must have been a family story suggesting it, and there may be a grain of truth in there somewhere… Worth checking out!

    Reply
  73. Thanks, Teresa, I am glad that you enjoyed it! It sounds as though it would be very interesting to investigate your family tree further. Sometimes people do seem to stop when they find something criminal, perhaps because it upsets them, but I think that makes the story richer. How fascinating too that your Dad said you were descended from the Normans. There must have been a family story suggesting it, and there may be a grain of truth in there somewhere… Worth checking out!

    Reply
  74. Thanks, Teresa, I am glad that you enjoyed it! It sounds as though it would be very interesting to investigate your family tree further. Sometimes people do seem to stop when they find something criminal, perhaps because it upsets them, but I think that makes the story richer. How fascinating too that your Dad said you were descended from the Normans. There must have been a family story suggesting it, and there may be a grain of truth in there somewhere… Worth checking out!

    Reply
  75. Thanks, Teresa, I am glad that you enjoyed it! It sounds as though it would be very interesting to investigate your family tree further. Sometimes people do seem to stop when they find something criminal, perhaps because it upsets them, but I think that makes the story richer. How fascinating too that your Dad said you were descended from the Normans. There must have been a family story suggesting it, and there may be a grain of truth in there somewhere… Worth checking out!

    Reply
  76. I took a course in graduate school that required some basic genealogy for one of the projects. I learned about the local federal repository of census records and how to use the “soundex” to find possible connections with those whose name may have been spelled differently. THat was fun, but I’ve never had time to pursue it again until now. I retired about a year ago and am finding lots of things to do. Maybe I should should do ancestry.com and start up again. Part of my problem with family history is that my dad’s people were illiterate folks who were brought over from the Irish debtors prisons to Georgia. So there aren’t any family bibles until the turn of the 20th century. Any family stories are probably wildly inaccurate by this time. But it’s still interesting to think about. Thanks for this post.

    Reply
  77. I took a course in graduate school that required some basic genealogy for one of the projects. I learned about the local federal repository of census records and how to use the “soundex” to find possible connections with those whose name may have been spelled differently. THat was fun, but I’ve never had time to pursue it again until now. I retired about a year ago and am finding lots of things to do. Maybe I should should do ancestry.com and start up again. Part of my problem with family history is that my dad’s people were illiterate folks who were brought over from the Irish debtors prisons to Georgia. So there aren’t any family bibles until the turn of the 20th century. Any family stories are probably wildly inaccurate by this time. But it’s still interesting to think about. Thanks for this post.

    Reply
  78. I took a course in graduate school that required some basic genealogy for one of the projects. I learned about the local federal repository of census records and how to use the “soundex” to find possible connections with those whose name may have been spelled differently. THat was fun, but I’ve never had time to pursue it again until now. I retired about a year ago and am finding lots of things to do. Maybe I should should do ancestry.com and start up again. Part of my problem with family history is that my dad’s people were illiterate folks who were brought over from the Irish debtors prisons to Georgia. So there aren’t any family bibles until the turn of the 20th century. Any family stories are probably wildly inaccurate by this time. But it’s still interesting to think about. Thanks for this post.

    Reply
  79. I took a course in graduate school that required some basic genealogy for one of the projects. I learned about the local federal repository of census records and how to use the “soundex” to find possible connections with those whose name may have been spelled differently. THat was fun, but I’ve never had time to pursue it again until now. I retired about a year ago and am finding lots of things to do. Maybe I should should do ancestry.com and start up again. Part of my problem with family history is that my dad’s people were illiterate folks who were brought over from the Irish debtors prisons to Georgia. So there aren’t any family bibles until the turn of the 20th century. Any family stories are probably wildly inaccurate by this time. But it’s still interesting to think about. Thanks for this post.

    Reply
  80. I took a course in graduate school that required some basic genealogy for one of the projects. I learned about the local federal repository of census records and how to use the “soundex” to find possible connections with those whose name may have been spelled differently. THat was fun, but I’ve never had time to pursue it again until now. I retired about a year ago and am finding lots of things to do. Maybe I should should do ancestry.com and start up again. Part of my problem with family history is that my dad’s people were illiterate folks who were brought over from the Irish debtors prisons to Georgia. So there aren’t any family bibles until the turn of the 20th century. Any family stories are probably wildly inaccurate by this time. But it’s still interesting to think about. Thanks for this post.

    Reply
  81. I love genealogy, and have been researching my family history for a long time — but you never really finish! Recently I discovered a “lost” branch after my mother came across an old postcard that had been sent to a great-uncle nearly a hundred years ago. Naturally, I got the assignment of working out the relationship.

    Reply
  82. I love genealogy, and have been researching my family history for a long time — but you never really finish! Recently I discovered a “lost” branch after my mother came across an old postcard that had been sent to a great-uncle nearly a hundred years ago. Naturally, I got the assignment of working out the relationship.

    Reply
  83. I love genealogy, and have been researching my family history for a long time — but you never really finish! Recently I discovered a “lost” branch after my mother came across an old postcard that had been sent to a great-uncle nearly a hundred years ago. Naturally, I got the assignment of working out the relationship.

    Reply
  84. I love genealogy, and have been researching my family history for a long time — but you never really finish! Recently I discovered a “lost” branch after my mother came across an old postcard that had been sent to a great-uncle nearly a hundred years ago. Naturally, I got the assignment of working out the relationship.

    Reply
  85. I love genealogy, and have been researching my family history for a long time — but you never really finish! Recently I discovered a “lost” branch after my mother came across an old postcard that had been sent to a great-uncle nearly a hundred years ago. Naturally, I got the assignment of working out the relationship.

    Reply
  86. My husband did searches for his ancestors and got pretty far. Difficulties he ran into was that given names were all too often repeated generation after generation. There were 3 James Purcell’s who fought in a small battle in Indiana and he could not determine which one was his ancestor. I had hoped he could have the composer Henry Purcell in his family – never got there.
    My family is German so it is a little more difficult to go back too far. My maternal grandfather’s family we have done pretty well and he had 7 siblings. My sister was able to locate and meet some of them this past year. My maternal grandmother was adopted and we know nothing of her birth parents. My father did have a basic family tree, going back 3 generations – names, dates, town born and died in and sometimes their work in life. It is interesting to search and hopefully one day go there to see where they all originated from. Several of my siblings are doing searches as well.

    Reply
  87. My husband did searches for his ancestors and got pretty far. Difficulties he ran into was that given names were all too often repeated generation after generation. There were 3 James Purcell’s who fought in a small battle in Indiana and he could not determine which one was his ancestor. I had hoped he could have the composer Henry Purcell in his family – never got there.
    My family is German so it is a little more difficult to go back too far. My maternal grandfather’s family we have done pretty well and he had 7 siblings. My sister was able to locate and meet some of them this past year. My maternal grandmother was adopted and we know nothing of her birth parents. My father did have a basic family tree, going back 3 generations – names, dates, town born and died in and sometimes their work in life. It is interesting to search and hopefully one day go there to see where they all originated from. Several of my siblings are doing searches as well.

    Reply
  88. My husband did searches for his ancestors and got pretty far. Difficulties he ran into was that given names were all too often repeated generation after generation. There were 3 James Purcell’s who fought in a small battle in Indiana and he could not determine which one was his ancestor. I had hoped he could have the composer Henry Purcell in his family – never got there.
    My family is German so it is a little more difficult to go back too far. My maternal grandfather’s family we have done pretty well and he had 7 siblings. My sister was able to locate and meet some of them this past year. My maternal grandmother was adopted and we know nothing of her birth parents. My father did have a basic family tree, going back 3 generations – names, dates, town born and died in and sometimes their work in life. It is interesting to search and hopefully one day go there to see where they all originated from. Several of my siblings are doing searches as well.

    Reply
  89. My husband did searches for his ancestors and got pretty far. Difficulties he ran into was that given names were all too often repeated generation after generation. There were 3 James Purcell’s who fought in a small battle in Indiana and he could not determine which one was his ancestor. I had hoped he could have the composer Henry Purcell in his family – never got there.
    My family is German so it is a little more difficult to go back too far. My maternal grandfather’s family we have done pretty well and he had 7 siblings. My sister was able to locate and meet some of them this past year. My maternal grandmother was adopted and we know nothing of her birth parents. My father did have a basic family tree, going back 3 generations – names, dates, town born and died in and sometimes their work in life. It is interesting to search and hopefully one day go there to see where they all originated from. Several of my siblings are doing searches as well.

    Reply
  90. My husband did searches for his ancestors and got pretty far. Difficulties he ran into was that given names were all too often repeated generation after generation. There were 3 James Purcell’s who fought in a small battle in Indiana and he could not determine which one was his ancestor. I had hoped he could have the composer Henry Purcell in his family – never got there.
    My family is German so it is a little more difficult to go back too far. My maternal grandfather’s family we have done pretty well and he had 7 siblings. My sister was able to locate and meet some of them this past year. My maternal grandmother was adopted and we know nothing of her birth parents. My father did have a basic family tree, going back 3 generations – names, dates, town born and died in and sometimes their work in life. It is interesting to search and hopefully one day go there to see where they all originated from. Several of my siblings are doing searches as well.

    Reply
  91. It sounds as though genealogy would be a fun hobby to take up again, Kathy, especially with your experience. The Irish background might be difficult to research but fascinating if you could find out more about it.

    Reply
  92. It sounds as though genealogy would be a fun hobby to take up again, Kathy, especially with your experience. The Irish background might be difficult to research but fascinating if you could find out more about it.

    Reply
  93. It sounds as though genealogy would be a fun hobby to take up again, Kathy, especially with your experience. The Irish background might be difficult to research but fascinating if you could find out more about it.

    Reply
  94. It sounds as though genealogy would be a fun hobby to take up again, Kathy, especially with your experience. The Irish background might be difficult to research but fascinating if you could find out more about it.

    Reply
  95. It sounds as though genealogy would be a fun hobby to take up again, Kathy, especially with your experience. The Irish background might be difficult to research but fascinating if you could find out more about it.

    Reply
  96. How intriguing to discover a lost branch of the family, Jane! And it’s so true that there is always more to discover.

    Reply
  97. How intriguing to discover a lost branch of the family, Jane! And it’s so true that there is always more to discover.

    Reply
  98. How intriguing to discover a lost branch of the family, Jane! And it’s so true that there is always more to discover.

    Reply
  99. How intriguing to discover a lost branch of the family, Jane! And it’s so true that there is always more to discover.

    Reply
  100. How intriguing to discover a lost branch of the family, Jane! And it’s so true that there is always more to discover.

    Reply
  101. It seems to be a common issue to have a couple of “family” names like James or William. I understand the tradition but it doesn’t make it easy to research! A connection to Henry Purcell would be a wonderful thing but even when you can’t get back that far it’s lovely to make contact with some “new” relatives and the challenge of discovering more is always there.

    Reply
  102. It seems to be a common issue to have a couple of “family” names like James or William. I understand the tradition but it doesn’t make it easy to research! A connection to Henry Purcell would be a wonderful thing but even when you can’t get back that far it’s lovely to make contact with some “new” relatives and the challenge of discovering more is always there.

    Reply
  103. It seems to be a common issue to have a couple of “family” names like James or William. I understand the tradition but it doesn’t make it easy to research! A connection to Henry Purcell would be a wonderful thing but even when you can’t get back that far it’s lovely to make contact with some “new” relatives and the challenge of discovering more is always there.

    Reply
  104. It seems to be a common issue to have a couple of “family” names like James or William. I understand the tradition but it doesn’t make it easy to research! A connection to Henry Purcell would be a wonderful thing but even when you can’t get back that far it’s lovely to make contact with some “new” relatives and the challenge of discovering more is always there.

    Reply
  105. It seems to be a common issue to have a couple of “family” names like James or William. I understand the tradition but it doesn’t make it easy to research! A connection to Henry Purcell would be a wonderful thing but even when you can’t get back that far it’s lovely to make contact with some “new” relatives and the challenge of discovering more is always there.

    Reply

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