Alan Crosby's blog: A man of many talents

By Jon Bauckham, 1 June 2016 - 2:37pm

Alan travelled to Oxfordshire and trawled through newspapers in his bid to research the life story of a small-town politician ancestor

Dr Alan Crosby is the editor of the Local Historian and a columnist for WDYTYA? MagazineThursday 2 June 2016
Alan Crosby
Read more blog posts from the magazine team
 
 

 

Worcestershire Alamy The Hive

The Cross and Horse Fair in Banbury, Oxfordshire, c1890-1900 (Photo: Getty Images)

I'm off to Banbury in Oxfordshire tomorrow, to do more family history research. I’m gradually working my way through no less than 40 years of the local weekly paper, the Banbury Guardian, to try to piece together the full story of my great great grandfather’s career as a small-town politician.

He served on the town council from 1859 until his death in 1886, and I’ve always wanted to discover more about what he did and how many pies he had his fingers in. That's quite a few, I think. So far, I’ve found him as a director of the Banbury Building Society, as a subscriber to a wide range of good causes, as foreman of the grand jury at a coroner’s inquest on a man found drowned in the Oxford Canal, and as the agent for insurance companies and breweries.

In a small Victorian town with only a few thousand inhabitants, it was quite easy to get involved in this way, especially if, as in his case, the family had lived there since the days of Queen Elizabeth I. The nursery rhyme Ride a Cockhorse to Banbury Cross is said to be about one of Elizabeth’s processions, when she came through the town – I’m sure my ancestors would have been among the crowd on that occasion.

But suddenly, at the end of the 1880s, my branch of the family left the town. My great aunt was born there, but my grandfather was born at Herne Hill in London. His father, an ambitious lawyer, wasn’t content to stay in a provincial market town. He moved his family to the capital, took to drink because he didn’t make a success of it, and died in the workhouse. If only he’d stayed in Banbury!

Alan Crosby lives in Lancashire and is editor of The Local Historian. He is an honorary research fellow at Lancashire and Liverpool universities.

 

6 websites for researching your WW1 naval ancestors
previous blog Article
From the office: Celebrating Britain's historic cinemas
next blog Article
6 websites for researching your WW1 naval ancestors
previous blog Article
From the office: Celebrating Britain's historic cinemas
next blog Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here