.jump-link{ display:none }

Monday, 7 January 2019

My Weston Family Challenge - “52 Ancestors” Week 2

“Challenge” is the theme of this week’s “52 Ancestors” - something family history abounds in. Like many others,  I have my share of brick walls to break through, but I am writing about something slightly different here.
  • Do some ancestors appeal to you and become almost "living" , vivid potentialities, whilst others fail to capture you interest and are little more than names and dates? 
  • Are family photographs, memorabilia and heirlooms  powerful motivators for your research and writing?
  • Are you inspired to write by some ancestors more than others?

My blog has concentrated very much on my mother's Danson and Rawcliffe families in Lancashire, largely I think because I grew up with my mother's relatives, knew the area well, heard family stories and regard Poulton-le-Fylde as my ancestral home.   Also the collection of old photographs at my grandfather's house was a great stimulus  to finding  out more about the people featured in them.  Their eventful lives ticked all the boxes in providing inspiration for writing interesting family stories.

In contrast we lived some distance away from my father's family in the English Midlands  and only saw my grandmother, aunt and uncles once or at the most twice  a year.  Few in the family had a telephone which was regarded as "for emergencies only". Although my father  was a regular correspondent , and talked about his childhood, anything further back was very nebulous.  Sadly there was hardly any family memorabilia, which had been thrown out on the death of his eldest brother. 
My paternal grandparents - 
Albert Ernest Weston (1876-1945) and Mary Barbara Matthews (1876-1958)  
This is the only photograph I have of my grandfather Weston,  taken  after my parent's wedding in 1938. 

Against this background, my father's family always remained shadowy and one dimensional with little beyond facts gleaned from basic  research.
As a birthday present for my father, I did write up his family history, making use of a professional researcher in Shropshire to look up BMD records and census returns - this was the days before the Internet.   My narrative included sections on where the family lived as background, and I added timelines of major events, to put their lives in a wider context.  But looking back at it, I admit it is pretty superficial and leaves me quite cold.  I find it hard to identify with most of the people featured.

I came across a blog entry Writing on Family from Dawn,  where she reviewed an anthology entitled Women Writing On Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing. It’s edited by Carol Smallwood and Suzann Holland and published by The Key Publishing House, Inc. of Toronto, Canada (www.thekeypublish.com).  
A key quote in the book struck a chord with me.
"The best family histories are rich in detail"  

So my personal  challenge for 2019 is to focus on my Weston family, and
widen the sources I search to discover  new stories on my paternal ancestry.

Where do  I start to create a more illuminating paternal family history?  There are some pointers in my current knowledge.
  • My great great grandfather Thomas Weston lived 1826-1917.   The only family anecdote I have was told by my Uncle Fred who remembered Thomas picking damsons from the tree in his garden not long before his death at the age of 91.
  • Thomas was a bricklayer who married Annie Walker in 1851, making his mark on the certificate.  Six children were born, but by 1881 Thomas was a 54 year old widower, with his youngest child Annie only 7.  However by 1891 he had remarried with his wife Harriet 18 years his junior and with another son Thomas aged 9.  In the 1911 census, the age of Thomas (senior) was given as  84 years and he died five years later. What a lifetime Thomas witnessed - born before the accession of Queen Victoria and the first passenger train in Britain and died during the apocalypse of the First World War.
  • The names of Thomas's daughters appeal to me - Evangeline Lucy and Caroline Emily - quite high sounding names for a very ordinary family and I want to find out more about them, especially Evangeline.  A quick initial look on census returns on  www.ancestry.co.uk revealed she had 12 children.  There surely must be some stories there to write about?  

    So do  watch this space for more blog posts
    on my  (almost forgotten) Weston ancestors.
    to read posts from other bloggers taking part in the
     2019  "52 Ancestors" challenges. 



  1. I can relate to this! I knew more about my mother’s parents than about my father’s. What surprises me though is that I know far more about my mother’s father’s family than about her mother’s because I was very close to my grandmother. I do know that my mother was closer to her paternal grandmother than her mother’s mother, so maybe that is why I have such little I formation.

    1. Thank you, Wendy, for taking the time to comment. This is one of the fascinations of family history!


Thank you for your comment which will appear on screen after moderation.