Alan Crosby's blog: Switching sides with my research

By Jon Bauckham, 8 February 2016 - 11:48am

After a false start, Alan Crosby finally returns to helping out his wife Jacquie with her own family history research

Dr Alan Crosby is the editor of the Local Historian and a columnist for WDYTYA? MagazineThursday 11 February 2016
Alan Crosby
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Newark Castle in Nottinghamshire - about 200 years ago the distant ancestors of Alan's
mother-in-law and father-in-law both lived in the same village nearby and were probably
related 
 (Photo: Getty Images)

My wife has been working on her family history. Years ago we did a lot of work on it, looking at census returns and parish registers, but then the research fell by the wayside. That was quite appropriate really, since one ancestor was a tollgate keeper on the turnpike road between Lincoln and Sleaford.

I focused on my own families (which I thought were much more interesting, naturally!) but now Jacquie’s are back on the agenda and, in contrast to when we worked on her forebears back in the 1980s, we can make use of the fabulous wealth of online resources that simply weren’t invented way back then.

Her ancestors come almost entirely from a pretty limited area of the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, the area between Barnsley, Mansfield, Newark and Lincoln - and we even discovered that about 200 years ago her mum’s distant ancestors lived in the same village near Newark-on-Trent as her dad’s and were very probably related.

They have some really good local surnames - the Wombles on her family tree never fail to raise a smile, and the Garlands sound delightful! - and some great stories, too.

I particularly like the one about Jacquie’s great great grandfather, who sometime in the late Victorian period went out to Chile looking for work. He came back after a few years but by then his wife was happily accustomed to being in the house without him, so for the rest of his life she made him live in a shed at the bottom of the garden.

On the face of it, you'd normally find that kind of story hard to believe – except for the fact that when he died the local paper reported this strange eccentricity, so of course it must be true!

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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