DNA can be somewhat of a contentious and confusing issue but for someone like me it is incredibly helpful and slots in well with solid research when tracing a family tree. DNA has shown me that you can’t always believe oral history handed down through the family and you can’t always believe the formal documentation that more often than not you use for proof.
It was thanks to a DNA test that I “met” a very close match online. I thought I had thoroughly researched my family history over three generations but this relationship did not appear and given the match, it should have. I have a huge amount of collated information, oral family history, birth certificates, court notes, newspaper articles that I have used to prove that William Shute, my grandmother’s husband, is my grandfather. My match was descended from the Doherty’s so we compared notes/trees and realised that my Shute connection was unlikely. A descendant of my supposed grandfather William Shute kindly agreed to have her DNA tested and there was no match.
My grandmother separated from her husband very early in her marriage and to all intents and purposes Jack Doherty became her husband and my mother’s father. My mother was told that Jack was not her biological father when she had to provide a birth certificate on her marriage. Her birth had been registered under William Shutes name probably to ensure her legitimacy. My mother was very distressed to be told that Jack was not her biological father but she always regarded him as her father and the man that had raised and loved her.
For me, this makes DNA testing worthwhile and our family celebrated the confirmation that our Pop was definitely our biological grandfather as well as the Pop we loved. I can imagine this would not be the experience in other cases and why some are wary of having their DNA checked.
The one brick wall that causes me the most grief is for my 4 x great grandfather Hugh Chisholm. Even my Chisholm family history mentor and cousin Audrey from New Zealand haven’t been able to help me crack where he was born. I know from my DNA and the link is in Scotland but I can’t seem to shift him from England when he married in Yorkshire in 1795. He was a miner so I am now checking all records that I can find with the name Chisholm or similar who had an occupation as a miner as it was a job that was almost automatically taken up by the children. Fingers crossed something comes to light
Just so I won’t get lost decided to post the April prompts on my blog. Now to think about what I am going to write.
Week 14 (April 1-7): Brick Wall
Week 15 (April 8-14): DNA
Week 16 (April 15-21): Out of Place
Week 17 (April 22-28): At Worship
The prompt for Week 8 of 52 Ancestors is 52 weeks is Family Photo. So many photos in this category, which one did I treasure the most. My eyes turned initially to the oldest and then I thought it is easy to overlook the treasures that are being created in your own lifetime so I have chosen a family photo taken in 1957.
The Children of Charles and Hazel Biggs. Margaret Rose, Colin John (holding Anthony Roy) and Carolyn Mary. The photo was taken in the lounge room of the family home at 34 Highgate Street, Bexley in 1957.
It was a big event to have our photo professionally taken and we were dressed in our best clothes. Colin in his school uniform and Margaret and I in our dresses beautifully and lovingly made by our mother. Don’t be fooled by that perfect looking young man in the middle, he was always full of mischief and on the go. It is a wonder that they managed to get him to sit still for the duration of the shoot or at the very least taken the photographer’s camera apart to see how it worked.
I can remember looking at the portfolio of photographs and all us kids deciding that it had to be the one with our little brother Anthony crying. As far as we were concerned that was pretty well all that he did at that stage of his life. He did prove to be worthwhile a little later in life as the perfect baby doll for Maggie and me to dress up and play with. I am sure that is how he developed his good humour and his patience and tolerance.
So good to grow up in a loving family and still all be “together” and enjoying our own families nearly 70 years later.
Well here are the prompts for February and my mind is running in circles thinking about what I will write:
Week 6 (February 4-10): Surprise
Week 7 (February 11-17): Love
Week 8 (February 18-24): Family Photo
Week 9 (February 25-March 3): At the Courthouse
Now all I need to do is settle down and get myself focused, no problem there …. or maybe just a bit!
In order to find an unusual name to meet this week’s challenge, I have had to go back to the 17th Century. All my ancestors seem to have very solid Anglo-Celtic names, with many first names handed down from generation to generation according to common family naming patterns. So who did I find to meet this challenge? My 6 x great grandmother, born in Bremhill, Wiltshire in 1658 and named Frizwith Crumpe. Her mother was also named Frizwith.
Record of Baptism. Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre; Chippenham, Wiltshire, England; Wiltshire Parish Registers; Reference Number: 1154/2
Frizwith is one of the variations on the name Frideswide. It is a form of the Old English name Friðuswīþ (Frithuswith), composed of the elements frið“peace, tranquillity, security, refuge,” and swið “strong, mighty, powerful.”
Having not heard this name before it needed a little research to find that they were named after Saint Frithuswith. The name became known thanks to St Frideswide (also known as Frithuswith, Frideswith, Frevisse and Fris) who was reputed to have been the daughter of a king of Mercia in the 8th century. Fleeing from an overzealous suitor, Frideswide founded a convent in Oxford. The church later became a cathedral — which we now know as Christ Church Cathedral, She is the patron saint of Oxford.
There are a number of stories about her life and she was well regarded and revered until the time of the Reformation. With Protestants discouraging the veneration of saints, St Frideswide disappeared from popular knowledge.
Maybe I should be thankful that this was one name that was not handed down through the family regardless of how saintly she was!
Week 2 and the word is “challenge”.
Researching any ancestor is challenging, and in nearly every one of their stories, there is that message of overcoming life’s challenges to succeed. I have to admit my own personal challenge when it comes to family history is much simpler, a cupboard full of photos and ephemera that need to be sorted, recorded and appropriately stored.
Instead of just thinking of them as just another job that needs to be done I need to remember how lucky I am to have these pictures and other pieces of family history that have been handed down over the years. The oldest pieces I have are a pair of Lithgow Pottery serving plates from the mid-1800s that belonged to my great grandmother. Now I think about it I can’t believe that not only have I not made a record of their history but I haven’t even photographed them!
My father and mother had many old family photos some that are deteriorating because of the glue and other storage methods that were used. I don’t even want to mention my own family photos that have just been bundled into shoe boxes without any thought. They all represent over a century of family memories, and they need to be treated with respect.
At least I can say I have started by looking up sites on how to store photos. The ones I found most useful are:
Time to face up to the challenge and get all the photos and memories safely stored and into a format that is easy to share and celebrate!