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4 Apr 2015

Gateway to the Wall and Canal

Annie Gibson! (my grandmother's grandmother)

Born just before civil registration, and seemingly not baptised, she is not living in her birth county nor her adopted county of Westmorland in the 1841 census. She appears as if a magical tree child by Lake Windermere's shores in time for the next census, of 1851.  In hindsight there were plenty of clues to her origins, but they were so unexpected we didn't dare to look.

150 years after her birth, and the sands of time had eradicated her photograph, accent, story from our collective memory. But her grandchildren knew a few clues about her. She was they said a Northumberland farmer's daughter.  We didn't know that there was so much more to it. That Crawcrook would prove chock-full of cousins and Penrith too. A lot of energy was expended on solving her husband, Mr Airey's line, known to live near the Lakes forever...

Annie's father's family were from the Wall - Hadrian's wall. Annie is named in the will of her father's father, as Ann, daughter of my late son John Gibson. She was an only child, and predeceased her mother, leaving a large family of ten children, all of whom married, and all bar one had family. (Today however, only five have living descendants.)

It struck me that the granddaughters proved difficult to trace at times and lived in quite a variety of interesting places. The list follows: India, Yemen, Iraq, Venezuela, San Francisco, Egypt, Toronto, Cape Town. And the very hardest child to find moved to a little cottage in the Chiltern foothills which she was to enjoy for one year and six months.  The grandson, of whom there were not many, lived in Wimborne, Middlesbrough and Manchester, hardly the same at all.

I am sure stories are attached to most of the exotic places these 'daughters of the Lake' sojourned in. Several require use of the Suez canal to visit, and Aden in Yemen was reported as 'no place for a woman'. The lady in Venezuela was greeted after some months by a semi-naked son who had gone upstream with the natives for a time. The escape from London poverty to California came about thanks to a granddaughter winning a typing competition. She never returned, settling with her east coast ranching husband and is captured whinnying with laughter as she slams her land-vehicle into gear. We haven't yet accounted for her.

3 Apr 2015

Royal possibilities

Here are my Royal possibilities:
Miss Muldoonie. Wealthy Irish heiress who ends up marrying my male Irish forebear, about 1810, despite her family's best efforts to prevent the union. Presumably she was still a Roman Catholic, as her name is very Irish. I am still not sure how this money connection could be rotated backwards through an Anglo-Irish overlord and leave us in a polite society drawing room in Covent Garden, 1600s. But I think it might.

Margaret Rea. This lady from parochial Bogralin, somewhere in Scotland, was born in about 1761. She lived to see her great-granddaughter nearly reach majority, though they may never have met. This lady became my grandmother's grandmother. The devious illegitimate breeding rats of illegitimate Stuarts, from James the Fourth and Fifth, had plenty of time from 1500 to inject their DNA into Margaret.

Alexander Millrea. A fisherman at Kirkinner, Wigtown, I shall eat my hat if his ancestry won't include some trace of Scottish kings, whether through Bruces, Stewarts, or Hays.

The Glassons of Camborne. They, or the Bohemias, or Hamblys or any of my other Cornish lines could easily incorporate some of Hugh Courtenay's stock. He is recognised as a gateway ancestor for Cornish people owing to his marriage to Margaret de Bohun, King Edward's granddaughter.

The Pearces of St Austell. These are the poshest side of my entire tree, and were squires for a time. The maiden names of the wives are skipping close to those of Godolphin, Carminowe, and other known 'squirely' names.

Sir Harry Hotspur. Statistically Harry, earl of Northumberland, simply will be ancestor of my Charltons who lived on the Tyne west of Newcastle for generations. He will be their ancestor several times over.

Katherine of Berain and Joan Cherleton. These two ladies both venture into Wales as did members of the Herbert family. They may just be in time to be forebears of my Welsh stock, comparatively wealthy smallholders with land who gave it all up for the total insecurity of life under the iron lords, in the great smelting works. For every Pakistani worker who slides off a Dubai skyscraper, at least ten Welsh ironworkers met their premature deaths in Victorian times. I imagine Rebecca Phillips, the Mortons of St Ishmael, the Jennet line in Cadoxton and the Evanses of Bassaleg could all throw back to the above Welsh ladies.

The Hastings family. They or another line may have settled in the Midlands. My Gee family in Chesterfield and my Fox line in Matlock both could easily have absorbed a medieval royal ancestor generations before. A Gee cousin it seems wrote a Victorian detailed account of her adopted city, Nottingham, qualities which not all of my Derbyshire mining ancestors showed.

The Wentworth family. They were in Suffolk and I am confident that either my poor soil-tilling Smiths, my perhaps African Edens or my Quaker Flowers ancestors will have been able to grab a good thimbleful of Royal blood from this source based as they were just over the border into Norfolk.

Richard the Third mania

I enjoy re-reading the Plantagenet story, and trying to remember the many husbands of the key women, the various Eleanors, Elizabeths and Mauds. And certainly seeing if more has emerged of Richard the Third's female line.

Empress Anne of Hungary, wife of Ferdinand, performed the neat trick of buying up the best genetic real estate. She has got the maternal-line rights to a large chunk of Europe's royalty. Her line includes such gems as Queen Victoria, all the good-time Louis kings, Philip of Spain and Philip of Edinburgh.

Small wonder there were precious little maternal line goodies left for Cecily of York and her sisters, whose fortunes wavered so dramatically during the wars of the Roses. They spent the Tudor period holed up in damp crumbling piles, far from Westminster palaces.  It sounded very hard work to unearth this clan.

I got extremely jealous of those with a personal connection to the Roses folk, and decided I would try to find my own. First step, to browse the book of Americans with Royal descent, to see which English towns harboured them during the crucial 1600s period.

Then I remembered I had a slightly Royal connection in my Cornish line, waiting for my attention. Mary Harry born 1640 was the granddaughter of Alexander Angove of Phillack whose ancestor quite possibly had been Michael Angove the blacksmith hung at Tyburn in 1497. He had led a march to London protesting against the Welsh King's taxes.

But it was Mary's grandmother who the spotlight turned on. Apparently owning a tenement in a deer park, at Park house - a Grade II listed building, still standing in distant Egloshayle. It seemed romantically possible that she was the daughter of Reginald Haweis, landowner at Treworgie. And whose father is listed as Stephen Hawes of the Bushes, Walsham le Willows, Suffolk. And who has been conflated with another Stephen Hawes - somewhat older and from Aldeburgh, Suffolk, a poet and later gentleman of the bedchamber, a courtier (for that old rogue, Henry the Seventh).

And, who was of course, inevitably, rumoured to be.... an illegitimate son of Richard the Third. Which is where we started.

The tree you wish for

I finished reading Johanna Angermeyer's book about her German uncles living in the Galapagos. I thought, that would be nice. Then I started researching my Becks who it turned out were the only white people on part of the Solomon Islands.

I finished reading Eric Newby's book Love and War in the Apennines. Two minutes later, I was researching my missing cousin Arthur Taylor. Tonnes of evidence pointed to him living, of course, in Italy, and even more startlingly not only 'during the War' but a hair's breadth away from meeting Mussolini himself. His work took him to many mountainous corners of Italy, and almost to Malta where Newby's own story started.

Today I woke up keen to browse once more the DNA discoveries concerning King Richard the Third.  I firstly read about his family. Then I turned to my Cornish forbears, who I believe remain the most likely to yield a Royal ancestral line. I had a little look into the murk of medieval history, and that is the subject of my next post.

Be careful for the family history you wish for, it might just happen....