I enjoy following the ancestral trail: the detective story element in hunting for information and corroborating it with evidence, (I do not like to be defeated), the satisfaction of finding key facts, and writing up the information in an interesting way that appeals to others. So do read on, or even better, sign up as a follower. I would love to hear from others who share my enthusiasm for family history.
Historical Documents: 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 7
Historical Documents is the latest topic from Amy at http://wetree.blogspot.com/ in conjunction with Geneabloggers, in the new series of weekly blogging prompts on the theme of52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy.Which historical document in your possession are you happy to have? How did you acquire this item? What does it reveal about your ancestors?
Two marriage bonds of 1786, an affiliation order of 1810 ordering support of the "said bastard child", and wills made 1813 and 1833 are the most prized of historical documents in my family history collection - all relating to my Danson family of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire and acquired through Lancashire Record Office.
Marriage Bond, 1786
Left is the marriage bond of my great, great, great, grandparents Henry Danson, aged 19 and Elizabeth Brown, aged 20 who married 29th October 1786. A Bond could be obtained as an alternative to waiting the three weeks to have the banns read. It was a promise between the groom and a witness (in this case Henry's brother in law John Bryning) that if the marriage proved invalid in the eyes of the law, they would pay the church a substantial sum of money of £200.
I have a very similar document for the marriage of Henry's sister Jennet and John Bryning, who married a few months earlier in 1786. They are the oldest documents in my family papers and pre-date by three years the milestone historical event of the French Revolution in 1789. It is also very special to see an actual signature of an ancestor.
Affiliation Order, 1810.
A document (right) of a very different kind relates to Henry's eldest son, John who in 1810 was served with an affiliation order ordering him to contribute to the upkeep of his“said bastard child”- a daughter by Ann Butler of Marton. The poor child was repeatedly given this tag in the document which is fascinating on its choice of language. The child is not named and so far I have been unable to make much progress in finding out about this illegitimate Danson ancestor.
John Danson's Will, 1813
My great great great, great grandfather John Danson (1736-1821) made his will in 1813. It conveys something about his standing in the community, his level of education and confirmed names of grandchildren. It is the little personal touches which convey a picture such as " I bequeath to my son Henry my desk and all my books...to my daughter Jennet, wife of John Bryning, my corner cupboard now standing in the parlour of my house and my meal chest in the room above."
The will of Henry Danson (1767-1839) is dated 1833, six years before his death. It is beautifully written in copperplate but very short on punctuation. The will brought first knowledge of two daughters - Ellen and Margaret (who predeceased her father) and the names of Margaret's five children. It also raised interesting questions as middle son Peter, unlike his brothers John and Henry, is not named as a legatee or executor. Peter never married and in the 1841 and 1851 censuses was in the household of his brother Henry until he died in 1855. Was he perhaps not regarded as fit or suitable?
I have taken "historical documents" in this context to mean offical personal papers, but other more recent documents add to the family story down the generations and include:
A letter on British Expeditionary Force headed paper, written by my mother's favourite uncle George, written just three weeks before he died at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, aged just 22.
The collection of World War One cards sent by my grandfather from Flanders - subject of many a blog posting.
War-time correspondence between my parents.
Telegrams sent on my parent's wedding and during the war.
My own father's accounts of his childhood and war experiences.
I am very proud to have such documents to bring alive my family history.