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Treading in the footsteps of ancestral family

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Christine Report 18 May 2011 22:46

I visited Devizes where my g.g.g.grandfather was a gunsmith. The original premises is now a Chinese takeaway. His son moved the business across the road to what are now the offices of The Wiltshire Herald, and his son in turn moved further into the market square - now a mobile phone shop - not much of the original atmosphere remained unfortunately!

My mother - now 97 - pointed out the approximate position of the shop in Church St Kingston-upon-Thames above which her grandmother was born. She thinks it was the Hobbs shop. Interestingly, Hobbs have removed the ceiling, so that from downstairs you can look straight up into the room above, where she would have been born.


JoyBoroAngel Report 18 May 2011 23:21

i have always tried to visit the graves of my long passed family
and where they have been born and lived their lives
most of them lived quite close to where i live now
i twice visited a village and picked out cottages
and later found my family have lived there

i visited hutton le hole on sunday
where my family built two houses and a pub

though i did regret visiting whitwell looking for my hubbys side
it was just pig farms and the smell i will never forget
it was so bad it could of rotted the nose

no wonder they moved to middlesbrough lol

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 19 May 2011 19:13

Thank you :-)


JaneyCanuck Report 19 May 2011 21:32

Another fascinating thread of facts and insight! (My "drowning deaths" thread makes a companion piece now; we need more!)

When my mum and I visited England in 1994 we had little knowledge of ancestral places. We still had no clue where her father's family actually came from (the Hill/Moncks of Cornwall and Devon, as it has turned out.) We knew her father born 1901 lived in East Ham as a young child before coming to Canada, was all, but we did have an address. My gr-grfather (I now know from the census) was the lunchroom attendant at the gas works there.

We enquired of the concièrge at our London hotel how to get there. He warned us against the trip, and to hold onto our purses if we went. We promptly did, to the East Ham tube station. We walked about 5 short blocks to the address we had -- a classic late-19th century working-class terrace house, across the street from a school with a stone dated 1891, I believe it was.

We took a couple of photos, and my mum decided to be bold; she went through the front gate and knocked on the door, and explained to the man who answered that the reason we were taking pictures was that we were from Canada and her father had lived in the house. What, he said, your father lived here? Well you must come in for tea! Which was exactly what she was hoping, of course. ;)

The family living there was from Sri Lanka; parents, teenaged children and grandmother. We sat in the front room and drank tea -- I don't drink tea, so they gave me orange juice -- and chatted about this and that. And we have exchanged Christmas cards ever since.

We then wandered around the neighbourhood, a vibrant and pleasant high street, helpful people at the library (we bought a picture history book of the area), nice people who directed us to the local churchyard (us not knowing we had no one buried there), a nice clergyman who happened to be outside and showed us around it.

And when we checked out of the hotel I toldt the concièrge he was a racist. The neighbourhoods where me and my siblings live and have lived in urban centres in Canada were far more threatening than anything we saw in Newham.

I was so pleased to have been able to take my mum on that trip. She adored her father and it meant a lot to her.

We also went to Sunday service in the church in Wellingborough where my dad's parents were married and saw the places where his mother had lived there (and met his cousin who had visited her in Canada), went to evensong at Salisbury Cathedral where my dad's paternal grandfather had played the organ, and spent an afternoon at a pub in Worksop owned a century before by my mum's mother's uncle (where I wrote the intro for the guestbook the new landlord and landlady had started), and dropped by a couple of addresses around Nottingham where that grandmother's family had lived.

But if only I had known then what I know now -- I need to go back and visit the places in Cornwall where my mum's father's father's families go back to the 1500s and beyond, and then there are the long roots going back to Lincolnshire, Cheshire, Leicestershire, Kent ... I need a year! At least. ;)


grannyfranny Report 19 May 2011 22:41

When I first started my research about 25 years ago and you had to visit local Record Offices to find anything, we went to Berwick upon Tweed where 5 generations of my family had lived. Saw the houses from the censuses, found the graves in the cemeteries.
One of OH's had had 3 generations of blacksmiths in a hamlet in Shropshire. We went to the village and found the smithy, it's a house now, and we got to speak to the lady there, she was very interested. One of the sons married a girl from another small village in Oxfordshire, we drove through there once whilst returning from a trip. Cannot imagine how they got together though, did perhaps her father call in the smithy with his horse whilst on a journey? Though he was only an ag lab.
And then there was my ancestor who had lived in a Manor House in a village in Leicestershire during the Civil War. It was sold in 1672. Then 3 years ago, my cousin bought the Manor House, and was amazed when I told him who it had belonged to. He says that when he stands at the front door watching the sun rise, he imagines old 10x or so granddad doing the same.


JaneyCanuck Report 19 May 2011 22:49

That's an amazing story, grannyfranny! Have you joined him to watch the sunrise?

One of my far-flung families -- grfather's roots in Wiltshire, which he probably didn't know, his father born in Bristol, him in Kent; grandmother with deep Northamptonshire roots, but veering off to Leicestershire -- got together when he was her brother's senior officer in WWI, and they met at the hospital the brother was in.

Then that couple came to Canada and the son married the daughter of a couple who had come to Canada as children and married here -- with roots in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, going back to Cheshire and Lincolnshire, for one, and in Cornwall/Devon and Essex, for the other.

Makes for a messy family tree, but it would make a great year-long research trip!


SylviaInCanada Report 20 May 2011 06:55

We were in England on a business trip in September 2001.................. 9/11 happened 2 days before we were due to leave for the UK, but we were only delayed one extra day.

We were driving from, I think, Cambridge to Oxford, when I realised we were within a few minutes of Preston Bissett in Buckinghamshire, one of 3 small villages where my father's family had originated. They've been traced back to about 1740 in PB, and to about 1540 in Edgecott.

I persuaded OH to divert so I could visit there, assuring him it would only take about 5 minutes. Uh oh ................ small narrow one lane lanes!!

Anyway, we found it, and we walked through the centre of the village ............. absolutely no-one around, and it was the middle of the afternoon. The church is on a small rise, and we walked the path from the gate to the church door (locked :(( ), and looked at a few grave stones (all very badly worn and unreadable). Crossed the square and looked down a couple of the streets leading off.

We were back in 2008, and this time chased up some of OH's ancestors, in Preston Patrick in Westmorland. He had spent much time up there until he was in his 20s, because that was close to where his father was born and f-i-l liked to visit his cousins.

We went to PP church, and OH waded into the long grass to find the gravestones of his gt grandfather, even cleaning it a little bit. I stayed on the pathway, and found several more family stones. All very near the main path to the church, people buried from about 1868 to the turn of the century ..... someone later told us that the position of the graves indicated that they were really staunch church goers ................. well, they did have 20 children who needed baptizing lol!

We drove around some of the lanes, and managed to find our way to the farm where OH's grandmother had been born in about 1875, and where her family had lived for years before that. The same family no longer owned it ......... and we didn't have the nerve to go down that lane and driveway to knock on the door. Just took photos from the road.



Claire Report 20 May 2011 07:29

i have always lived in Nottingham, and have been doing my tree for about 5 yrs on and off
i got married 10 yrs ago at a church that i have always walked passed and love the look off
only last month, i was doing my mums side of the tree (something i have only just started to do as her maiden name was wilson, so have been putting it off lol), when i came across my grt grandparents marriage and my 2xgrt grandparents marriage, and where did they get married???
you guessed it, at my church, i could not beleive it, not even my grandfather knew lol


MaccollFan1 Report 20 May 2011 08:38

I went and had a drink at the Cambridgeshire pub where my great great great grandparents were landlord and landlady around 1880-1925. Looking at an old photo of the place it has hardly changed since then.



GinaS Report 20 May 2011 08:56

Mine was a sad journey - my father was killed in WW2 before I was born.

I managed to go with the British Legion to Burma (Myanmar) some years ago. I walked some of the streets of Rangoon, where most likely he walked or marched on.
It was a very emotional journey and to see his name carved in stone was a confirmation that this man had lived and died.


Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 3 Jun 2011 18:41

Thank you for sharing your happy journeys, and sad ones, too. That must indeed have been an emotional time for you, Gina.

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 7 Aug 2011 09:15

I suppose, since the revamp of the boards, this should be moved, when possible, to the Genealogy Chat board :)

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 8 Aug 2011 18:52

Anyone else like to add their experiences?


UzziInSunshine Report 8 Aug 2011 20:05

I know I trod in footsteps when I announced to my parents that I was going to be a barmaid (with my educatation my mother screamed) My Dad bless him said if it was good enough for my mother it is good enough for my daughter.

True he didn't want me to stay at that and he was the proudest father when I bought my own pub ..but I was ony following in footsteps of the ones before who owned or ran ale houses. So Yes I did follow heritage even if I didn't know before hand.


UzziInSunshine Report 8 Aug 2011 20:11

but I have to add a ps

I always wanted to be an architect and even now I draw plans .I did my dads (although not to scale) for his house in France. I love design of buildings.


Treehunter Report 8 Aug 2011 21:12

I have done this many time,Essex,Sussex,Somerset few more

But over the last few months near where i live,found one family living few miles away back in 1917. So been to the road where they lived and one of the died. So now going to find where he was laid to rest.

I also do it when i go to the LMA, as just up the road is where i was born and going back to my 2 x great grandad.




MarilynB Report 8 Aug 2011 22:16

We visited a little place called Sedbergh a few times recently. My ancestor Abraham Nowell used to own, or work at a pub on the main street there called the Golden Lion in the early 1800`s. We stayed in a pub on the main street called the Dalesman and when we were there found out that it was originally the Golden Lion and have since obtained pictures of the transformation between the two when the work was carried out.

We recently went to another pub in Settle, where he used to be a Recruitment Sergeant and there was all pictures on the wall of how that pub used to be in the 19th century too. Was really weird to be in the same place twice where he had actually been.

Strange thing is no matter how much I try I cannot find his baptism so I have come to a dead end with that one.


Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 9 Aug 2011 08:33

Thank you for adding.

Yes, Carol, that is why I am hoping that this third attempt (the previous two having been whooshed for no reason) will be moved in due course :)

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 10 Aug 2011 23:26

It is appreciated that not everyone would be able to actually physically "tread in their footsteps"; however, fortunately, there are other visual ways of doing this:

by reading books about the places from where the ancestors originated, reading and seeing the pictures of the areas, the buildings, the fashions, transport etc;
by watching films;
by corresponding with others that have a mutual interest and "seeing" through their eyes.

Can you think of other ways?

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 11 Aug 2011 23:02

My thanks to Phil Moir of genes reunited staff for moving this to the Genealogy Chat board :)