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Week One: Beginnings

As a primary school teacher, I wonder how many times I have reminded my students that any piece of writing needs a beginning, a middle and an end.

I am very good at beginnings and fairly good at the middles but not so good at endings!

Last year I set out to write weekly for 52 Ancestors and I am pleased that I did as I wrote far more, and more often, than I would otherwise have done, but there are still more gaps than finished articles. The trouble is, I get bogged down in the research for the middle and disappear down various, I think very necessary, rabbit holes – my own school reports used to comment that I could be easily distracted (talked too much) so not much improvement there then.

I learned a lot along the way and become immersed in the person and their life, and incidentally can add detail to my tree, but as I am doing this, I know that much of it will not end up in any article. However, I am mainly doing this for myself, and whoever falls over it online, so it really matters not but it make sense to complete what I started.

So this year’s plan is to join in again and at least try to keep up!

Writing the articles generates another problem which I hope to begin to solve this year.

Like many other people I am not so good at keeping track of my research – the thrill of the chase meant I was sloppy about recording sources – I was generating piles of paper though at the beginning! I had copious scraps of paper and Post It notes none of which made sense when I came back to them. Over the years I have added the information to my choice of desktop software so that is not an issue, but I never really recorded what I had done, when and where so end up repeating things. I have various fancy note books around, none of which have been kept up to date and all suffer from the same randomness of notes which made sense when I wrote them …..

My main concern now is not so much recording sources or even knowing what I had but keeping a log and cross referencing it to everything else especially now I have added exploring DNA matches for 5 kits. This is a daily task done first thing in the morning and I often have little time to check thoroughly there and then, so last year I got hold of some A4 size indexed exercise books and when I come across a DNA match which needs further investigation I record them in there by surname and go back to them when I have the time.

This year I’ve got myself an A4 hard back page-a-day diary to go alongside this. My thinking is that that will be a quick record of what I did on any one day, with notes to tell me what will need recording where so for example, a note to say which DNA surname match appeared would go in there along with whatever follow up I managed to get done..

I will also briefly record any research for individuals or articles I make both online and from my growing library of books. It’s not going to be as grand as a research journal at least to start with, more like a to-do-list cum I-did-list in one place which I can go back to and check off when it’s done, but I’ll see how it goes.

I need to include email correspondence in this as well, as I am one of those dreadful miscreants who does not instantly reply to queries and spends time checking before replying and then yes, sometimes I forget to reply for ages.

Since I wrote this article, I have decided to revamp the layout of this site, so am keeping a record of this too.

This post could equally well have fitted the last prompt for 2020, Resolution, but in the spirit of new beginnings I shall post it for 2021!

Week Three: Namesake

Week Three: Namesake

I am not named after anyone and none of my direct female ancestors are called Caroline. My brother has the same name as our paternal uncle, and by coincidence the first name of four of our very distant great grandfathers. Our mother shared her name with her maternal...

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52 Ancestors in 2 Weeks – 2020

52 Ancestors in 2 Weeks – 2020

For some time, I had spotted references to Amy Johnson Crow's genealogical writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and often thought it would be a good idea but simply never got round to it. This year I saw another reference and as it was at the end of December, ...

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Week 1: Fresh Start

Week 1: Fresh Start

Where to begin? I could write about my personal disappointment about the UK's fresh start tomorrow, or I could write about my own fresh start when I first took advantage of FOM in 1976 and moved to Belgium to work or when I came back to England in 2008. However, I...

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Week 2: Favourite Photograph

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

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Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

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Week 4: Close to Home

Week 4: Close to Home

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but...

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Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

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Week 6: Same Name

Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her...

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Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

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Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

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Week 9: Disaster

Week 9: Disaster

  William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant relation, my paternal 3rd cousin 3 times removed. His youngest son,...

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Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

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Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

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Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still...

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Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

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Week 16: Air

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

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Week 23: Wedding

Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

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Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

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Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

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Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

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Week 48: Gratitude

Week 48: Gratitude

Thank you very much .... The world of amateur genealogy would not be where it is without the selfless help of fellow genealogists. I learned enormous amounts from just reading other peoples' queries and the solutions. They gave me ideas of where to look and, more...

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