I’m fascinated by genealogy…family research. It’s immensely satisfying to spend all the time required to dig out and find the information you need to go back further, especially when you manage to over-come obstacles like people being given (and using) different names to that they were given at birth. It’s very easy to trace the name changes associated with a woman marrying and taking her husbands, or even hyphenating their maiden name with that of her husband.
So, I had a great deal of trouble with my maternal grandfather, everyone knew him as Henry…in fact “Henry” was his older brother who died in infancy and had been named for his father, when he died, the name was just “passed” to the second eldest, my grandfather, who had been named and christened “Earnest”. Now that’s fine, but no one ever made that change official, or recorded it. The fact was only discovered on his death by reference to national insurance numbers and medical records, or my search backwards would have died right there, so thank heavens for my step-gran giving me some help. I should also say here that he lied about his age when he remarried, he knocked 10 years off his real age of 45 because he was getting wed to my mother’s then best friend, aged 18 at the time!
To date, going backwards with the research into my family, I haven’t found any evidence at all of any kind of “normal family” background….no wonder I had so many problems when I was growing up! The strange thing is, so many people feel that way…..which begs the question…What exactly does constitute a “normal” family?
When you look at today’s society, the early breakdown of marriages, single mums, single dads…families where “dad” can be a different person to each child..are they any further, or closer, to the “normal” families of my childhood? In those days, they stuck at it, through abuse and violence, bullying and financial difficulties caused by booze, gambling and selfishness, and there was a great tendency for people to grow up damaged and enter into relationships similar to those of their parents, and I have to be honest…..I ain’t seen the kind of changes I thought would happen as people became better educated and communication improved.
I don’t agree with any woman putting up with violent abusive partners, I don’t think that any man has the right they confer upon themselves to “own” a woman in their own minds, I don’t think people give enough time and thought to getting married in the first place…I didn’t the first time round, my only regret from that is that I didn’t wait for her to grow up, and me to mature. There was never any abuse or violence though, I can still honestly say that, apart from trying to defend myself, I’ve never raised my hand to a woman. Anyway, she changed my son’s surname (with my consent) to that of her next husband, then the daughter from that marriage was given the name of the following husband….
And this is where things get very difficult for people trying to do the family tree, it’s relatively easy for me, but how will the child two or three generations down the line cope with studying the family when there have been surname changes imposed on their relatives of the past, it’ll be okay as long as they’re starting off with a good collection of family birth and marriage certificates, otherwise they are really going to struggle to find out anything about their heritage…..good luck to them, I hope they have plenty of money available to keep following trails until they find the right one.