Thursday, 30 April 2009

Family history

Bloggeration! Where did those days go, it's Thursday evening already.

My father (flat 'a', please, dear reader) has always been a keen gardener. I remember growing up surrounded by neatly-manicured flower beds, a fragrant shrubbery, a regimented vegetable plot and a verdant lawn (that sounds like they didn't allow me in the house, doesn't it?). Therefore, he must be despairing of my inability to pick up the green-fingered habit, and though I've tried to run an allotment, believe me I have, I don't seem to have the chlorophyll gene.

But technology may have inadvertently come to my rescue. I'm not talking about a GPS satellite-tracked robot lawn mower or hydroponics, but trees. Y'know, big branchy, rooty things, the symbols of life across the millenia and cultures of mankind. Don't be afraid of their bark, for they ultimately link us all together. Family trees.

Like many others, our little clan, in this case consisting of coal miners, agricultural workers and shopkeepers, is there for all to see on the Internet. This means I can become a sort of cyber horticulturist, taking the branches carefully pruned by Dad and, rather like an espalier, grow them in different directions.

Perhaps worried that my enforced convalescence would be a bit boring, I've been set the challenge of proving once and for all, whether there is a link between my paternal great grandmother (died c1920) and the Reverend Robert Hood, Doctor of Divinity (died 1782).
Oh...Kay... someone mightn't be getting a Father's Day card this year!

The main branch of the family, the paternal line, has been quite well-documented over the years, so I had a starting point at least. Also, I had tinkered with genealogy websites before, so initially, it was a matter of choosing the one that seemed to be the least rip-off. After the early success of finding Great Grandma's marriage record and sending off for a copy of the certificate, I foundered on her father's christian name. Neither myself or MGLW could be certain what it was, though we did agree that it was most likely "Leonard". Trying to find her birth record was impossible, too. None of the four candidates born in the county at the right time proved to be correct, which I only found out by purchasing copies of certificates. Bah!

Then I had a bit of luck. Ignoring Great Grandma, I switched to census returns for her father and, joy of joys, the story started to unfold. Despite the website I was using not having all the census data in their possession, I was able to follow the line back to approximately 1801, thanks to the paternal line having a penchant for the christian name guessed it...Leonard!

This, I suspect, has been the easy part. The next 19 years cannot be done using your average genealogy website, It will require more specific information from parish records, cemeteries and local history societies. It sounds like a road trip up North might be necessary, which will have to wait until yours truly is back behind the wheel.

There's one bit of good news, however. Remember the dead end with Great Grandma? If it had been correct, I'd have been a Mackem. Close shave or what?!

1 comment:

Ruth Walker said...

I like to imagine that it was the other way round, Dad. I bet Nana was forever wondering which feild or hedge you were hiding in and resorted to wafting yorkshire pudding smells out the kitchen window to fetch you in... :)

Oh phew! It's 21st June. I thought that was a hint!