From the office: Working for WDYTYA? Magazine

By Rosemary Collins, 26 April 2017 - 2:04pm

Rosemary Collins, WDYTYA? Magazine's new editorial assistant, says hello and shares the story of a dramatic escape in her family's past

Sarah OrmeWednesday 26 April 2017
Rosemary Collins, editorial assistant
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Frederick Passmore Dorothy Moon wedding
Photographs from Rosemary's family history

Hi! I’m Rosemary Collins and I’m joining Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine as the new editorial assistant, taking over from Jon Bauckham, who has been promoted to features editor.

My job involves reporting on the latest news in family history for the website and magazine, sending the weekly newsletter, and supervising the book review pages. I’ll also be the first point of contact for readers with queries about the website and the forum, so I look forward to hearing from you!

I’m particularly excited to work for WDYTYA? because I’m fascinated by family history and love finding out anything I can about my own ancestors. They come from all parts of the UK and further afield, and include some remarkable stories.

My maternal grandmother’s family can trace their ancestry back to the Roussels, a family of French Huguenots who fled anti-Protestant persecution in France in the 17th century. According to family legend, as part of this escape the family’s teenage daughter, Marie Roussel, had to travel to Calais disguised as a peasant girl and leading a donkey, with her two little brothers hidden in panniers on the donkey’s side. She was stopped by a party of soldiers, one of whom ran his sword through the pannier. Her brother was badly injured but did not cry out, knowing that doing so would mean they would be discovered!

I also have a lot of Scottish ancestry. My maternal grandfather, who died this year at the age of 97, led a fascinating life that included serving in North Africa and Italy during the Second World War, and was always very proud of his Scottish heritage to the point of refusing to support England when he watched the rugby!

My grandmother is half-Scottish and also served in the war by joining the WRENs, where she operated code-breaking machinery at Bletchley park.

Rosemary's Huguenot ancestors came to England in the 17th century (Credit: Getty Images)

On my father’s side, my grandfather was born in a cottage in St Alban’s Park, where his father, who was originally from Cornwall, was park keeper.

My grandmother came from a Sussex farming family, the Reynoldses, and I am currently trying to trace her mother’s family, the Coytes, who lived in London during the nineteenth century.

I’ve got back as far as my 3x great-grandfather, Archibald White, a blacksmith who was born in Midlothian before moving to London.

Another branch of the Coytes emigrated to America, where the town of Coytesville in New Jersey is named after them.

I can’t wait to discover more about my family history, and WDYTYA? Magazine, with its wealth of information about family history and community of passionate readers, is the perfect place to help with my research. I just need to make sure I’m not drawing my family tree when I should be working…


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