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Have any interesting history in your family?

(26 Posts)
madbadanddangerous Sat 06-Oct-12 16:44:02

I just want to know if anyone has anything interesting. No one will probably post sad but oh well.

Here's mine: I have a great-uncle who was a spy for China during the war. However, most importantly, my grandmother, who was taken into a concentration camp aged 14, as she was a Polish Jew. She jumped out of the cattle trucks through a hole- she'd been destined for Auschwitz and almost certain death. Her parents were already dead. However, she later joined the French resitance and hid a British airman... my grandfather.

Anything interesting or unique about your family?

Onetwothreeoops Sat 06-Oct-12 16:49:20

I've been researching my family for a few years now and can safely say I have nothing like your story to tell.

We have some fascinating characters but they led comparatively dull lives. During ww1 one of my ancestors went AWOL for a day and it gets a mention on his service record...

Lovely to hear others stories though!

SoMuchToBits Sat 06-Oct-12 16:50:33

I found out that a 3rd cousin of mine murdered his wife then committed suicide.

fuzzpig Sat 06-Oct-12 16:54:17

I'm apparently related to Humphrey Davy, who invented the Davy Lamp and made various other important contributions to science.

Nowt else. smile

RedBlanket Sat 06-Oct-12 16:57:02

Nowhere as interesting as yours. My dad's dad had two brothers who were each married to my dads mum's two sisters. My dad didn't know any of this till we looked up his family tree. It was v confusing.

lljkk Sat 06-Oct-12 17:17:53

Blimey, the near miss on Auswitz etc.!

Sorry, can't come close to that.

Although family rumour is that an uncle worked as a spook for a while (1950s).

Supposedly GGG-grandfather was beaten & thrown down a well by his cruel tyrant Swiss Obermeister father; upon Obermeister's death GGGg & his mother flitted away in dark of night to America, renouncing family fortune. In USA GGGg became a messenger boy for Ulysseus S. Grant. Later GGGg amassed his own fortune as a successful businessman.

Now I've done enough research to discover most of that was tosh, but it's a nice story.

Lots of people who frittered considerable wealth away in my trees.

One of my Great-Aunts married into a staunch KKK family; decades later her sister (my Gran) had an important role in promoting racial integration within their church.

Another set of GGG-grandparents lost 4 children, age 3-11, to diptheria in the same week in about 1877. My GG-grandmother was a toddler & their only child to survive. (They had about 5 more kids, though).

I AM actually descended from the Mayflower Pilgrims, but that's kind of ordinary. If you believe some of the stuff online I could also trace back to Plantagenets, too (but don't believe any of it).

On DH's side there's a man, the eldest son, who got disowned by his Baptist family (not sure why, but completely written out of all family records down that side); & his son went on to be a very wealthy manufacturer.

madbadanddangerous Sat 06-Oct-12 19:51:41

He murdered his wife? I'm so glad DH isn't reading this- don't want him to get ideas! lljikk yeah, most of our family stories are tosh. Thankfully we've managed to find that some of the most exciting (and sad-like with my grandmother) were real. We found out a relative (GGG-cousin) had gone off to America and took part in the gold rush- before being murdered by a jealous mine owner. Real? As if. A fun story, but not real, not at all.

Pagwatch Sat 06-Oct-12 19:59:17

My grandfather was born to a young woman in a poor house in Ireland. He was brought up by the caretaker and his wife. There are no records of who she was or who his father was so my family tree stops there.
He fell in love with the eldest daughter of a wealthy man who owned many of the businesses in the local town.
They married and she was disowned.
She died when my mother was about ten.
The estranged grandfather never acknowledged his grandchildren including my mother and they grew up in truly hideous poverty. She met him once and he asked if she was eating and gave her some coppers.

I never understood how he left those children to such a hideous upbringing.

It's hardly extraordinary but it interests me.

austenozzy Sat 06-Oct-12 20:07:18

One of my uncles has apparently traced our family tree back centuries, and it includes John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim's Progress. I can't vouch for the veracity of that, however.

And my dad reckons that my great-grandfather (poss g-g-gf) was the first British pilot shot down in WW1. I don't know if he survived, or even if the story was a wind-up by my dad. (entirely possible, but he told me that many years ago so can't recall circumstances)

Fuchzia Sat 06-Oct-12 20:21:37

Nothing stunning. My G G grandmother died in quite unfortunate circumstancess. Someone mistook a poison bottle for a medicine bottle in her unlit cottage. it started a campaign that led to an act of Parliment requiring poison to be sold in ridged glass bottles.

DH OTOH has a ancestor who was a famous highwayman.

trice Sat 06-Oct-12 20:39:58

My grandfather was orphaned at the age of three in montana and was sent back on a boat to the Isle of Man to an aunt he had never met with the shirt on his back and a copy of his birth certificate. It must have been so terrifying and bewildering.

We were also had an interesting political firebrand ancestor. He was a chartist who wanted to arm the disenfranchised and kill the rich. He named his son after a terrorist who attempted to blow up napoleon. He may also have run off with the chartists money and ran a boarding house in new york for escaping political activists.

throckenholt Sun 07-Oct-12 09:13:54

I have been tracing my family history for years - I have got back to about 1800 on all sides, and considerably further on some sides. Almost univerally they are just ordinary folk (agricultural labourers, bakers, shoemakers that kind of thing). No scandal, nothing explicitely interesting (just all totally fascinating to me all the same).

The only tantalising thing is the furthest back ancestor I have found - who was born in France in 1599 and moved to Amsterdam in 1624. Called Pieter la Chaire, and a linnen worker, and moved from La Haye in Normandie. That is pretty much all I know about him before he married and had kids (that was from his marriage certificate - Dutch records are very detailed - much better than British ones). I would love to know why he moved to Amsterdam, and how much religion played a part in it (maybe he was a Hugenot ?) - very dodgy politically in that place and time.

I have also got one family where the husband married (or didn't marry the second one probably) two sisters one after the other (first one still alive). Had children with both. All 3 lived to their 70/80s and all claimed to be widowed (all at the same time). Would love to know what actually went on there.

I also have Irish ancestors who would have been Cork during the famine - would love to know how bad it was for them and theirs. sad

lljkk Sun 07-Oct-12 10:54:16

I think Netherlands was often haven for religious refugees around then; the future Mayflower Pilgrims spent ?10 years in Leiden (?1608-1618).

A branch of DH's family settled in New Zealand around 1890. I have many letters written by these NZ folk. I published them online, which led to a flurry of contacts from modern NZ. They revealed loads of saucy background, the man who died when he drank poison thinking it was lime juice, his sons who couldn't keep the family business going, his other philandering son who abandoned wife & many kids to run off with a different woman & create many more children. Various NZ descendants got in touch with me but don't easily talk to each other.

On my side: Cousin1 was very reluctant to give me any info because Cousin2 (someone I don't know about, but more closely related to me than Cousin1) issued threats and rants because they didn't like the "true" history that Cousin1 had unearthed. The dispute is about events that happened in the 1850s, but someone didn't like their family story being changed.

And then I find people who jealously guard their info because I think they've got in mind to publish a book & get some money back for their time (fine). But I've found some howler mistakes in their research, what little they'll share, it's pretty obvious they just don't want to hear contradictions to their preferred family myths (I wonder if Americans are especially awful for that?). So they're never going to publish anyway.

I try to put everything I have online, I've had loads of great new contacts that way.

GroupieGirl Sun 07-Oct-12 11:40:14

My great-great-grandfather came to Liverpool from Germany, supposedly intending to go on to America, but won five pounds in a wrestling match and stayed to become a professional wrestler. Supposedly! (I simply don't want to know if this is a myth).

My great-grandmother was a clippy during the war and often had to walk home in the early hours of the morning. One particular night she could hear footsteps behind her and after speeding up and detouring a few times eventually turned around to confront her "stalker" only to discover she had been followed home by a Duck-Billed Platypus! It was the night New Brighton zoo had been bombed.

madbadanddangerous Mon 08-Oct-12 23:41:14

That's such a great story GroupieGirl about the duck billed platypus. I'd have kept it as a pet if I were her!

SerenityNOT Mon 22-Oct-12 00:38:51

I found out I have an older brother. He's really lovely, too.

HerRoyalNotness Mon 22-Oct-12 01:12:57

I have family who fought with Bonnie prince Charlie and are despised still in the region they settled in, after emigrating from france. We are the vvvv poor cousins in comparison, of a wealthy lot and my ancestors emigrated to NZ. Funny thing is the minute I set foot in Scotland I feel like I'm home, despite being born on the other side of the world. Unfortunately English DH will never agree to live there.

ivykaty44 Sat 10-Nov-12 14:50:16

Serenity - would you like to tell us more? sounds like it could be a sad and happy story?

weaselm4 Sat 10-Nov-12 15:00:13

My mum's parents were interesting: her dad was a German infantryman in WWII. He grew up in Romania and was drafted into the army. He came to Britain as a POW, worked on farms where he met my grandmother who was a Land Girl.

They had a very long and happy marriage, despite his being from the 'wrong side'.

Wish I could find out more about them, as she spent some of her childhood in India as well.

Safmellow Sat 10-Nov-12 20:40:58

Mine supposedly goes back to the Plantagenets too with Edward III as my 22nd great grandfather. No way of verifying it though. Only bit of 'supporting' evidence is that when I told my mum she said there were rumours about it in the family going years back and she told me the correct branch of the tree it relates to.

Apart from that nothing else yet (it's an ongoing project), except I was sad to see one entry on the 1861 census showing my 2nd great grandma aged 9 nine living alone with her 12 year old brother, who was listed as head of house and was a coalminer sad

mixedmamameansbusiness Sun 11-Nov-12 21:11:20

Infanticide and a potential neighbourly love affair my GG grandfather married the woman two doors down who was at onepoint living with her husband??.

decktheballs Sun 11-Nov-12 21:22:40

Not history as such but my dad's uncle (my great uncle?) was very involved with the Kray brothers.
I've only met him a few times and find him so normal it's quite terrifying

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Sun 18-Nov-12 00:01:09

My Great Uncle had at least 5 wives, and ended up in the Daily Mail, after being charged with bigamy!

lechatnoir Sat 24-Nov-12 20:36:51

On his death bed, grandfather told my dad (his sonwink) that he was a spy during the war but wouldn't elaborate because he'd signed the official secrets act. Would love to explore this further but no idea where to start!

Safmellow Mon 26-Nov-12 17:25:39

Well I have discovered that most people of the English race are descended from Edward III so maybe I actually am too haha! Along with everyone else smile

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