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4 Apr 2015

Gateway to the Wall and Canal

Annie Gibson!

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.


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