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Has anyone investigated their family tree and found anything interesting?

(142 Posts)
IcouldstillbeJoseph Fri 14-Sep-12 12:51:03

I'm off sick and lying around watching rubbish daytime TV. Loads of those adverts for etc. It doesn't really interest me, but was wondering whether anyone has ever discovered anything interesting/significant in their family tree?

HecateHarshPants Fri 14-Sep-12 12:58:51

Mine dead ends because my great grandfather doesn't exist.

He was a merchant seaman who kept jumping ship, stealing other people's identities.

Every so often he'd come back to the UK and get word to my great grandma, who would dump her children with her parents for a few days/weeks and disappear off wherever to meet him.

Even the name he put on the marriage certificate to my great grandmother dead ends. It's not him.

The name they raised their children with is not the one on the marriage certificate. That was made up too.

He eventually disappeared to Canada and bigamously married a woman out there. Her father sent my great grandmother hush money.

I would love to know what happened to him after that. Did he stay with this woman? Did they have children? Or did he run off and change his name again.

I would also love to know what it was that he was running from!

snigger Fri 14-Sep-12 13:03:46

My great-great grand-father marketed his own patented body building course - my great-aunt tracked down a pamphlet with a picture of him with a waxed moustache and a corset. So proud.

thestringcheesemassacre Fri 14-Sep-12 13:04:38

My grandmothers grandparents (my great great I think) were convicts who were sent to Australia. The grandad was a bit of a chancer who stole some fruit from a stall in oxford St and the grandma was a house maid who took some linen that had been left out in the bin. They survived the trip and then met in one of the unofficial marriage style camps.

Also the grandad was one of the workers that first went with Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth who first discovered the Blue Mountains in Aus.

onetiredmummy Fri 14-Sep-12 13:05:25

One of my female ancestors was transported for cutting a man's throat with scissors.

Another who moved to Maine was found drowned in a lake under suspicious circumstances.

Sad one - my great great great grandma was in labour up in the bedroom, the eldest son (2) was downstairs with his father, other sibling playing outside. The father was drunk & nearly unconscious & the 2 year old fell into the lit open fire & died sad

Mama1980 Fri 14-Sep-12 13:06:01

My great great grandfather was killed at the bottom of Stamford hill having been run over by a haycart. The death certificate states that he had taken drink.

BeauNeidel Fri 14-Sep-12 13:07:00

I haven't, but my great-uncle had an interest and investigated. He had an interest until he found out about a relative who was a doctor, he impregnated one of his household staff. The baby the dies under mysterious circumstances shock

My paternal grandparents are immigrants from Greek Cyprus, they were apparently on a list of 'possible communists' when they came over. Not sure how true that one is tbh hmm

ViviPru Fri 14-Sep-12 13:15:57

I love all this.

My Great Great Grandma was a cook on a huge estate in East Anglia. The master of the house fell in love with her and was disowned when he got her pregnant and married her. His brother did the same with another member of household staff. To this day we have no idea what happened to the fortune they would have inherited had they not been ostracised. Tad miffed that my inheritance stands at a few bits of Wedgewood and a clapped out Merc grin

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Fri 14-Sep-12 13:18:42

I solved a family mystery. My great, great grandmother fell out with her brother and never spoke to him again. We never knew why, but guessed it must have been serious because he emigrated to the US to get away from her, and then died in an earthquake in San Francisco.

Anyhow, when I started delving into my family tree, I found out why. My great, great grandmother was from a Catholic family, my great, great grandfather was not only a Protestant, but the son of an Orange Lodge member. When they married his family disowned him completely, her family mostly accepted it, but her brother was so outraged he left the country.

All very sad really ... but they did have a long and happy marriage, so I suppose it worked out for them in the end.

frasersmummy Fri 14-Sep-12 13:19:18

We have a relative who was locked up in some sort of asylum because of something simple can't remember what but the census under occupation shows this poor guy is listed as lunatic

So its official yes I am descended from a lunatic. [Grin]

amck5700 Fri 14-Sep-12 13:20:42

I found out that my dad's parents committed suicide within a few weeks of each other when he was only 7 sad

NotGeoffVader Fri 14-Sep-12 13:22:42

Two suicides (father and son) by cutting their own throats, one by throwing himself under a horse (also son/brother of above), one drowning - lost at sea on the Lusitania, several pregnancies outside marriage, connected to the composer of 'Colonel Bogey' and to a singer from the 80s/90s, although this person is still active musically. Have been unable to contact said singer so currently not able to reveal more on that.

NotGeoffVader Fri 14-Sep-12 13:23:52

Actually make that four suicides; The two throat-cutters, the horse-chucker-underer and a distant great-aunt who gassed herself after discovering something awful about her husband who left her.

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Fri 14-Sep-12 13:26:02

Oh, I'm also descended from the man who invented the first flushing lavatory ... I'm remarkably proud of that grin

AnneOfCleavers Fri 14-Sep-12 13:27:42

I have a pirate captain on my family tree. Arrr!

Lexilicious Fri 14-Sep-12 13:54:22

I was quite into this for a while. A lot of my mothers side was already done by a relative from her northern Irish family (ulster scots) and there are a lot of lost fortunes, marriages for money, deaths at sea, and so on. Couple of catholic/Protestant marriages here and there. My grandad remembers grazing his knee out playing when quite young, and a kind lady from a Carrickfergus neighbourhood he wouldnt ordinarily have been in patched him up and sent him on home. Turns out she was a third cousin or something. My mum is still doing it, adding detail and checking consistency. Her mother's side is really interesting - norwegian miners settled in Durham area, and there is a quite rare surname which is interesting to track around the world, including a reasonably well known concert pianist.

I tried to do my dad's side of the family years ago but he is almost pure Essex agricultural peasant so it is very difficult to go back further than when census started. Had a very pleasant day out there going round churchyards finding rellies though! I tried using the microfiches of church baptism records but it is really hard work. Might get back into it because it is all in the PRO in Chelmsford, which is where the ILs live.

There is one interesting dead end though which I would like to put some effort into; my dad's great grandfather has a very swanky gravestone in the cemetery in Grays Essex, but according to his marriage certificate was born in a pub in Pitsea which no longer exists (in fact I think Pitsea as a whole is now buried under a junction of the A12!). I cannot find a birth or baptism record for him though, and I think he had a hard childhood because he went to sea from the age of about 8. Ended up as a Master Mariner though, with his own Thames Barge (hence the comfortable retirement and grand gravestone). There is apparently a cartoon of him in Punch, something about serving sailors 'plum duff' for pudding, which is gently mocking the standards he kept on his boats - he would not have drunkenness or swearing, and paid his men above the going rate if they kept to his standards of behaviour. I like that - a generous employer in tough times.

kerala Fri 14-Sep-12 13:56:05

My ex did this and found his great granny was a prostitute. Kind of ended there.

TapirBackRider Fri 14-Sep-12 14:52:36

A great uncle paid for a geneologist to research the family tree (maternal side) and found that the family was part scottish border reivers, part norse traders and part hugenot french.

NotGeoffVader Fri 14-Sep-12 23:09:10

I find it fascinating! Hoping to get back to it all at some point in the near future. Got to trace my Gt-Gt Grandfather's birth. Unfortunately not an unusual name and in London so 25 or so people of the same name to try to eliminate.

TalcAndTurnips Fri 14-Sep-12 23:14:48


A 18C PM - and a family line traceable back to the 1200s. Utterly, utterly fascinating and absorbing.

I often wonder what they'd think of us.

TastesLikePanda Fri 14-Sep-12 23:18:37

A relative traced our family tree back to 1500s and also discovered that someone in the timeline was a slave trader blush

My mother discovered a 'family' name that I will be giving to my first born daughter, should I be lucky enough to have a baby. It's lovely and unusual, but not soo wierd as to be of the 'point and laugh' variety...

Dell28 Fri 14-Sep-12 23:27:05

My great great grandfather accidentally killed his own father in an accident involving a turnip.

I know no more but am dying to. What could have possibly happened???

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 14-Sep-12 23:27:26

I can't do mine, we're all too boring with boring names.

I am a bit dubious about some of it, as well. I do genealogy stuff for work sometimes, and google has loads of official stuff so I use that, but it also has lots of stuff by people tracing back from themselves to 1400 or whatever, and usually it is inaccurate (as in, really obviously inaccurate if you happen to know about the people they're talking about - assuming all men called 'John Smith' must be the same John Smith they're looking for, etc.)

I know some people can really trace their families back but I just thought I'd say that in case you're still trying to decide whether to shell out for those pay sites that people set up to do it with.

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Sat 15-Sep-12 18:17:52

LRD makes a good point about some of the stuff that is online - if you're starting out, do be very wary, especially of the family trees you find on some sites. Always look for alternative sources to corroborate what you find!

To give you an example of how wrong some are: there is a tree on a certain very famous site which has been compiled by someone in America. My great, great, great grandparents are included in this tree simply because my g,g,g granddad has the same name as someone this woman is related to.

It's very easy to see she has the wrong person because her chap lives in the US, my people are in the UK, and the only way they could be the right people would be if my grandmother returned to the UK to have every single one of her children (possible), and my grandfather commuted here every day to work (unlikely).

However, some trees are just as wrong, but not in such an obvious way - so remember to never take anything at face value!

NotGeoffVader Sat 15-Sep-12 18:40:34

hecate - the man with no real name sounds fascinating. I wonder if you might be able to pick up some clues if you trace forward/sideways from the canadian bride?

lexilcious bits of Pitsea do still exist (unfortunately) - so you may not have as much of a dead end as you think.

LRD and Saskia - yes, it absolutely right to be cautious of online data. I have had several people message me through genealogy sites saying they're related. When I have checked, we have ancestors with the same name, but they are in totally different locations.

The research I have done so far has been backed up with BMD certificates, baptism records, census and electoral register info.

After a bit of raking around online I think I have the right baptism information for my Gt-Gt Grandfather, BUT the information there simply says 'born around..' and a year. So not much further than I was! One day I'll get there. He is one of those similar to Hecate's ancestor in that he didn't always give his real name - and certainly interchanged his first and middle names at random. Also he married twice, both women coming from Derbyshire. No information yet on either woman's surname. My guess is that they were somehow related but that is just speculation.

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