Alan Crosby's blog: Farewell to a fellow family historian

By Jon Bauckham, 21 January 2016 - 11:13am

Last week, Alan attended the funeral of his friend Margaret – a keen genealogist who was always happy to help others with their research

Dr Alan Crosby is the editor of the Local Historian and a columnist for WDYTYA? MagazineThursday 21 January 2016
Alan Crosby
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St Johns Hurst Green Lancashire

Margaret's funeral was held at the Church of St John the Evangelist in Hurst Green, Lancashire, which was built in 1835 (Photo: Rude Health, licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)

On Friday I went to a friend’s funeral, at the little village church of St John the Evangelist at Hurst Green, in Lancashire’s beautiful Ribble Valley. The morning was glorious – blue skies, golden sunshine and the higher fells covered with snow which shone brilliantly white.

The church was packed as we remembered Margaret. She’d suffered from ill health since childhood but she was a real character, a strong-minded countrywoman, never afraid of expressing trenchant opinions. Although her education had been affected because of her health problems when she was young, she was bright, sharp and witty. As the vicar said: “She made us all laugh.”

Margaret was an avid family historian, a point made clear by an order of service that proudly stated her maiden name – Ainsworth, one of the classic Lancashire surnames. Genealogy was one of the things that “made Margaret tick”. She was an active member of no fewer than five family history societies, used the record office for many a long year, and knew the antecedents and family trees of just about every family in the valley.

If people had hit a brick wall and couldn’t locate a particular farm or cottage, weren’t sure if so-and-so came from that family or a different one, Margaret would know the answer. When I gave talks to local societies she’d be there on the front row, quick to pick me up if I made an error, or to challenge if she thought I was on the wrong track.

She devised her own funeral service and, true to form, gave us a surprise at the end. Her coffin left the church to the stirring strains of the theme tune from The Archers!

Farewell, Margaret. God bless.
 

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

 

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