This post has nothing whatsoever to do with corona virus. Thought I’d give y’all a break.
I’ve been researching my family tree for quite a while now.
My parents came from Yorkshire in England, and Fife in Scotland.
My grandparents were from Northumberland, Yorkshire – and Fife
My great grandparents were from Kent, Lincolnshire, Northumberland, Yorkshire – and Fife
My great great grandparents were from Liverpool, Essex, Lincolnshire, Northumberland Yorkshire – and Fife
And so on.
Something of a mixed bag.
My English ancestors moved around a fair bit, as you can see.
My Scottish ancestors were all from Fife and more specifically from three small villages on the north bank of the Firth of Forth – Anstruther, St Monans and Cellardyke.
I’ve moved around a fair bit myself – Hull, Sheffield, Devon, Shetland, Northumberland, Ireland and now West Yorkshire.
So when someone asks me ‘Where are you from’, I’m never too sure what to say!!
I struggle to imagine what it must have been like to grow up, as my mother did, in a place where your parents, grandparents, great grandparents and beyond had all grown up and lived their lives. When my mother goes back, there is a story for almost every house. Every corner has a memory. Every stone in the graveyard, even every rock on the beach.
A few years ago I did a road trip to track down the places some of my ancestors had lived.
I started in Lincolnshire and found where my Great Great Grandfather had had his blacksmiths workshop. It’s now a pub (called, appropriately, The Blacksmith’s Arms).
I then headed up to Hull and retraced my own footsteps – the house I lived in until I was 10, my old school, the house my Grandparents lived in, the war memorial with my Great Uncle’s name on it. This is the place I’m probably most ‘from’ – although I left when I was 10 and I no longer know anyone who lives there.
Next I headed north again, to Northumberland. This is where it gets a bit weird, because I lived in Northumberland myself for 18 years – but I left before I started researching the family tree!! I found the beach where my Grandfather, aged 15, had saved a young woman from drowning (her parents bought him a silver cigarette case as a thank you gift!). I found the street where my relatives lived before the slums were cleared. I found the place where another Great Great Grandfather had his greengrocer’s shop. It’s now a sex shop.
And then finally up to Fife. Anstruther is the home of the Scottish Fisheries Museum. I arranged to visit the archive, and spent a fascinating afternoon looking at documents. I even found an old school photo of my mother aged 8. She wasn’t too pleased at the idea of being found in a museum…
I’ve also researched what’s known in genealogical circles as ‘the back tree’. You find out about your parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc etc. But then you start to think about the rest of the family – your great grandparents’ sisters and brothers. And their kids, and their kids and so on, back to the present day.
And this is where it gets even more interesting. My 5x great grandfather’s brother was transported to Australia. Some relatives moved to the States. Some ended up in Canada. Some are in New Zealand. They got about a bit!! I’ve even made contact with many relatives – people I share a blood relationship with – all over the world.
I left Yorkshire in 1980 and moved back here thirty years later. I’m happy to be back. It did indeed feel like coming home, even though I’m now in West Yorkshire. For those of you not in the UK – Hull, where I was born, is in East Yorkshire. It matters…
I have no plans to leave.
So – where do I think I’m from?
I’m a Yorkshire lass and proud of it, and equally proud of my Scottish heritage. I used to be able to say I was proud to be British and European too, but sadly that’s no longer the case.
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