Family trees, by definition, are names linked by familial relationship. Often the names have dates attached – birth, death, marriage. At its most basic, that’s it, a science of tracing the links via documents and registers.
Much more interesting and intriguing are the stories that are sometimes attached to those names. They illustrate, illuminate and bring to life the individual, but often the life and times of those around them. Let me give you an example from a little writing assignment I’m presently engaged in.
In 1872, George and Charlotte welcomed the birth of a baby girl, Caroline in Lowestoft, Suffolk which is on the English east coast. Having trained as a nurse, young Caroline was engaged by a certain Algernon to tend to his brother Robert, who was dying. Upon Robert’s death in 1895, Caroline heard of a need for nurses at the British Seamen’s Hospital in Algiers, north Africa. She applied and was accepted. Whilst in Algiers, Caroline was engaged as companion to a Lady Cole, wife of a British diplomat. Eventually Lady Cole returned home to Edinburgh, accompanied by Nurse Caroline.
Wishing to visit her family, Caroline took the train and waited on the platform at Thorpe Station, Norwich for the connection to her home town Lowestoft. There she was, totally by chance, recognised and hailed by members of Algernon and Robert’s family. Her address was ascertained, correspondence ensued between Algernon and Caroline and, well, the rest is family history.
The other day I took a diversion in my planned run, to La Croix cemetery here in Jersey. Here lies Caroline who, having followed her daughter to Jersey later in life, died in 1963.