The Never Ending Hobby

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.

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About Steve

I'm a toolmaker by trade, still working hard programming, setting and running CNC mills and lathes. I do a 72 miles round trip each day for work, driving through some of the most beautiful countryside rural England has to offer along the Wylye Valley next to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. I've been married to my Irish wife Catherine for 21 years, and we have two children, Sam, 19 and Megan, 17. I also have two grown up children from being married before, Gary, 35 with two boys, Eddie and Alfie, and Jeani, 31 also with two boys, Alfee and Max. I love walking, gardening, cooking, reading, music and good wine! I'm also a fanatical cricket fan, and firmly believe that if all the guns were put down and factions settled their differences on the field, countries would all settle down peacfully and moan about the umpires....much more civilised, and a hell of a lot cheaper.
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3 Responses to The Never Ending Hobby

  1. Jen says:

    Families I have to say also kept secrets, raised each others kids without benefit of adoption sometimes not even telling the child their real parentage.

    In my family my mother was raised by an aunt and uncle due to the fact that her mother died at child birth. Her natural father (she was told who he was) lived in an upstairs apartment but back 84 years ago it was unheard of for a single man to raise a daughter.She considered that Aunt and Uncle every bit her parents and their childeren her sisters.

    My sister in laws mother on the other hand found out that her sister was really her mother and her mother who raised her was really her grandmother (wow!). She had gotten into “trouble” as a young woman and her parents raised the baby as their own. All this without benefit, just passed the baby over and away they went.

    Makes ones family trees a nightmare.

    For me my Aunts were really cousins, my mothers sisters were really her cousins, her mother was really her Aunt and so on. And then when you for the emotional bonds it’s terribly hard to back off and look at them in terms of well this person is really not this but that after they’ve been an Aunt to you for 50 years!

    • stejeb says:

      Your family sounds a bit like my wife’s, her dad was raised by relatives. I didn’t know much about mine until about 2002 when I decided to start digging, since then I’ve got to know a lot of relatives I either never met or hadn’t seen since I was very small, families really can be strange!

  2. Jen says:

    I’m not sure if this is relevant but in every circumstace they were all Irish! They take care of their own for that there is no doubt! I won’t even get into my Dad’s mother and all the burned down churches with all the missing records over in the old country 🙂

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