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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?

ModreB Sat 15-Sep-12 18:42:00

My cousin did this for my mums side, she got back to the mid 1600's for my Grandfathers family, but no real scandal. On the other side, my Grandmothers family, my great grandparents (Her parents) were never married, my great grandfather had another family about 2 streets away and apparently flitted between the 2, in full knowledge of both. He was not married to either of them. He had several children with each "wife", my grandmother was one of eight siblings. This was around 1890. Before "settling down" hmm he had been a circus acrobat, and was of Romany Gypsy origin.

My Grandmothers brother and his wife had no children, so at a relatively late age adopted a baby boy. It turned out that he was the illegitimate biological child of his adoptive father. confused His wife, the adoptive mother, apparently never knew but had a very close and loving relationship with the child.

This is not from a website, but family documents, census records etc. We have a very uncommon family name, and know how we are connected with everyone in the UK phonebook with the same name.

Pascha Sat 15-Sep-12 18:44:00

My GGGfather was a known smuggler who was convicted of bigamy - he had 3 wives and families under 3 different names. Thats about it.

Hassled Sat 15-Sep-12 18:44:16

Our family corker is a paternal grandfather's (great?) uncle who was some sort of sea-captain in the South China Sea circa 1880. There is a photo of him looking perfectly normal but the caption reads "all that is known of Captain X is that he once dyed his beard green by mistake". I reckon he was a pirate.

PoppyWearer Sat 15-Sep-12 19:21:03

My DH's family tree is fascinating, but unfortunately he is descended from someone noteworthy (not famous as such, but noteworthy) and the family tree back in time from him is well-trodden, so nothing new to unearth, it's all been done, back to before the Domesday Book.

My Mum thought she unearthed an ancestor who was the product of a brother-sister liaison. Yikes!

HmmThinkingAboutIt Sat 15-Sep-12 19:21:31

I could BORE you to death with the oodles of cool stuff I've found in my family.

Done mine and DH's family. DH's Dad's family is ultra complicated on one side as the husband ran off with another woman, the wife ended up in the workhouse with three kids after having another child with the husbands cousin who was 10 years her junior and only 18!!! Another line of his family goes back to 1500. Another has smugglers and a legend about them haunting the house that still exists. Another has a line that again dates back to 1500 and the guy has a brass statue of himself in a church in kent. Another has a merchant seaman who died in hospital in Bermuda. Got some great newspaper articles on a few people which seem to show they were all troublemakers and real characters!

DH's father recently has been contacted saying he is in line to inherit some money - I've checked it out and its actually true! A relative a few generations ago had an illegitimate child then married and had four more of which only two survived. The illegitimate one married and had a daughter. Daughter moved to australia, never married and died. Therefore the money all goes to the grandchildren of two half sisters who survived!!!

My family; loads of photographers including a woman who was one of the first females in the business. Can trace one line back to scotland and the outlawed McGregor clan. Have a couple of strange connections with famous people (not direct line). Have a couple of lines traceable back to 1500s. Have a female relative who ended up in a mental institute - her medical records still exist. She apparently thought she had dropped her head down the drain and that people would come in the night and remove her arms and the ones she had weren't her real ones.

Two of my grandfathers were in WW1 and I've managed to trace their movements; one was gassed and returned home to England as a result and another kept a diary which matches the history of the division he was in perfectly and its utterly fascinating. Both were so unbelievably lucky. I think the WW1 stuff is one of my favourite things I've done as I feel I have more of a connection with my great grandfathers as my Mum can remember them and I have photographs. This week's Who Do You Think You Are? was brilliant as it was on the same subject. I'd LOVE to do loads more study in this area to remember people who fought in WW1 especially since the 100th anniversary is coming up.

That said, DH's mother's side of the family is utterly dull and I've only found one bit of interesting stuff - one line were boat people and lived on barges in the 1800s - but otherwise they were all coal miners who don't seem to have done much of interest.

I love family history; but its time consuming (and can be expensive unless you are careful!) and I think it can be difficult to get into and start finding stuff unless you know where to start and how to do it. It never fails to amaze me how many trees on Ancestry are bollocks, poorly researched and inaccurate - people don't check stuff properly. Its very easy to take a wrong turn and make a mistake...

As I say, could bore you all to death! SORRY!

FairPhyllis Sat 15-Sep-12 19:23:53

My parents are very into this - my mum's lot are very easy to trace because the names are all very unusual, but sadly Dad's family were extremely inbred peasants who are all called James or Mary and all married their cousins, all also called James or Mary. And many of them were from Ireland so often the records don't exist anymore.

My GGGF (I think) was in the army in India and we got some of his army records showing he was constantly being treated for venereal disease blush. We didn't tell my GM about that. He became a Chelsea Pensioner in the end.

My mum's family spent a lot of time being extremely litigious in the consistory court of the Bishop of Chichester in the 1500s.

One ancestor was shut up in some kind of hospital/workhouse for "idiocy", and the little daughter of another was killed by being run over by a cart sad.

We also found out that one pair of ancestors got married on Christmas Day in the 1800s in an abbey on the south coast - we later twigged that this was because you could get married for free on Christmas day!

One branch of the family was from Jersey and when I happened to be there I had a poke around St Helier and found their houses.

I find the professions that have vanished utterly fascinating - lamplighter etc.

mogandme Sat 15-Sep-12 19:24:59

This is a fab thread

FryOneFatManic Sat 15-Sep-12 20:26:15

My great-grandfather and two brothers walked from Essex to Derbyshire to get work in a foundry. This story has been passed down the family so when I contacted some distant cousins they knew the story. I've managed to get back to 1722 for this branch of the family.

Would love to do Dad's family but unfortunately they were Scottish, with some murky goings on and name changes which are making things difficult.

kellestar Sat 15-Sep-12 20:33:32

My DH found out his uncle was born out of wedlock, he didn't mention it, but his dad said ... is investigating the family tree and his uncle was apoplectic. He won't speak to anyone now and blames DH for it all. Yet DH still hasn't told anyone and won't, but is cross his uncle is causing ruptions.

LindyHemming Sat 15-Sep-12 20:34:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tinkerisdead Sat 15-Sep-12 20:44:43

Ive done mine and dh's. I started it when my first dd was born.

Ive found some great stuff like one great great great grandmother who drowned in the surrey canal after stopping to wash her face?!! The newspaper listed that she was found with one shoe a brass ring and a piece of velvet. I always wonder why she had a scrap of velvet?

But my grandad thought his granny was his mother. I then found out his granny had been married three times and had had a daughter that no-one knew about. Shehas mine and my daughters names. Her father got a divorce from granny and got custody of the child! I cant trace her past her 20's and it makes me sad to think she had a whole family but no-one knew of her.

bonnieslilsister Sat 15-Sep-12 23:29:08

I love this thread smile

My mum's grandfather witnessed his mum being kicked to death by his drunken dad whilst he and his brothers pretended to be asleep shock sad

Apparently he never mentioned it to anyone. He was 9yrs old when it happened.

notcitrus Sat 15-Sep-12 23:39:17

My great great uncle was an explorer and has some mountains etc in Australia named after him. Family story is he gave his gold mine away to Queen Victoria hoping she'd give him a knighthood, only she didn't, which proves he was an idiot. Turns out he did lots of cool stuff, though no-one knows where the money went.

The really interesting thing is DH's great great uncle was also in Australia at the time, became a governor, and my relative was his second-in-command for 20 years!

CointreauVersial Sat 15-Sep-12 23:43:09

William Shakespeare's on mine!

It was fairly easy to trace, because the family were farmers and stayed in the same small area for generations.

CollieEye Sat 15-Sep-12 23:43:55

She may have had the scrap of velvet as a way of re-claiming a child from the Foundling hospital:

BestIsWest Sat 15-Sep-12 23:48:00

Descended from a long line of tin workers, colliers and ag labs. Though someone in the family did invent Horlicks.

apostropheuse Sat 15-Sep-12 23:56:30

Yes I've done it - got back to about 1800. Bit of a dead end though as all of my ancestors are Irish (the Republic as it is now) and many records were destroyed.

I love it all - but it can be very frustrating.

floweryblue Sun 16-Sep-12 00:00:12

I haven't read the thread, for the same reason as I switch off when my mum tells me about her new discoveries about people I have never met, some of whom may have had sex who may be related to me. I don't care!

edam Sun 16-Sep-12 00:02:44

My Dad got hold of the family bible and started rooting around. Ironic to discover us three vegetarian sisters are descended from a gamekeeper. grin OK, we have lots of other ancestors as well, but that chap is significant as he's the one who moved from Scotland to Wales and left a family that has been Welsh for generations with an oddly Scottish name.

The interesting thing about family history is that it shows just how mobile people were in ye olden days. There's a sort of vague assumption that for generations most people went no further than the nearest market town, but as soon as you start looking at the lives of quite ordinary people, certainly when you get to the 19th Century, they moved around a lot.

dh's Mum told him about her Great-Grandad being a musician in Amsterdam, so when we went there on holiday we looked him up. Only to discover he was quite a big deal over there and there's even a street named after him - a great big boulevard, not just a backstreet. I seem to remember his street was much bigger and broader than the parallel roads named after Mozart and Beethoven - only fair given he was the local boy!

Goldidi Sun 16-Sep-12 00:03:49

The most interesting thing in our family tree is that they kept reusing names. My great great great grandmother had 6 sons all called John because the first 5 died as babies and they used the same name for the next baby sad Only 2 of her 11 children survived to adulthood sad

We also had scandal with an unmarried great aunt who kept her baby shock when she fell pg at 14. She even managed to find a man willing to marry her and take on the little girl as his own. It was a good job too as they then couldn't have children together.

TotallyKerplunked Sun 16-Sep-12 00:08:37

GG grandfather inherited almost 1 million quid yet died penniless!

I've also got a few lunatics in my family tree and to my mothers everlasting shame found that some of the family originated from France in the 1500s. No one famous.

bitbizzare Sun 16-Sep-12 00:11:53

Gt Gt Grandma Maine was born in Ireland in 1888. She had a twin sister, Mary .. Their mother died the day after giving birth of "Bride's Disease", their father seemingly vanished as there's no records of him. Gt Gt Grandma was adopted by a Scottish couple who ran a Catholic shelter in Glasgow for teenage boys on the run, in 1901.. For whatever reason the three of them then moved to the far North of Scotland ..

Annie had six children, they fostered dozens (this was a Catholic norm).. Annie then developed PND and was sent to Craig Dunain Asylum where she died in 1961 of heart problems.

She and her sister were beautiful women - I have two photographs of them - but it is odd that in many ways, she had a very sad life, whilst her sister married a barber at 19, they lived above his shop and had many children and long happy lives together..

Interestingly Gt Gt Granda Maine grew up next to Gt Gt Grandma Braulen in a little village called Culburnie - who was only living up north as she was fostered from Glasgow. Gt Gt Grandma Braulen and her husband had 8 children, eventually two of their sons would go on to marry on to marry Gt Gt Grandma Maine's daughters.

Gt Gt Grandma Braulen is in many ways a bit of an inspiration to me - as is Gt Gt Grandma Maine - Gt Gt G B grew up with a widow in the middle of nowhere with her wee brother and two other children. She went to work at 13 if not younger, in a lodge in the middle of nowhere.. She would see a tree every night and she said "that tree looks as lonely as me.. I wonder which of us will last longer, me or it".. 100 years later that tree's still there, Gt Gt G B is long dead.

Oddly too my Gt Gt G B's sons (so my great grandad) attended the same school that my father's adoptive father's brother in law went too, they sat next to each other and even have the same surname..

Also funnily enough, the street on which they live and have lived on for about 100 years or so, that is father's adopted dad's b in law, is the same street that Gt Gt Granda Maine's grandparents lived on in the 1800s. Probably the same house, weirdlu.

Jux Sun 16-Sep-12 00:18:12

On his dad's side, dh is the grandson of a prostitute and a naval chappie. Interestingly, further back (and on his mum's side) he is descended from an admiral with an island named after him.

My family are all staunch Catholics, but we are descended from Jews, which I find ironic. Hitler would have hated us the same though.

My dad's dad was a member of the Plymouth Brethren.

Empusa Sun 16-Sep-12 00:19:41

A good few generations of my mum's side of the family lived on Heath Row. Guess what is built there now..

iscream Sun 16-Sep-12 07:42:46

I have my family tree quite far back. I often wondered if it was accurate, as I didn't know my paternal side of the family, so I got my brother to submit/test his dna at familytreedna. We have many matches and several of them confirm what we were told was true. I haven't pursed a lot of my matches, but a 5th cousin e-mailed me and is sending me all his tree details. I am going to try and put my DNA results to the names I already have and fill in some of the names and places. I am going to trace my moms side eventually as well.

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