Monday, 2 July 2012

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge : H is for...

H...H...H...I am spoilt for choice for topics for this week's challenge. There is Holt of course, the Norfolk market town where my ancestors lived for many years. There is also Horbury, which is in West Yorkshire. This is where the maternal side of my story began, as far back as 1664...

For those who are not familiar with Horbury, I shall introduce a short history. Situated near the river Calder, Horbury is a village north of the City of Wakefield. When my ancestors lived in Horbury in the 17th century, the largest industry was wool and cloth manufacture. My ancestors are recorded in parish registers as weavers, clothiers and dyers.

Notable people of Horbury include John Carr. Born in 1723, John Carr became an architect like his mason-architect father before him. Among his many designs are Fairfax House, The Crescent at Buxton, as well as churches, prisons, racecourse grandstands, hospitals and bridges in Yorkshire, Nottingham and Derbyshire.

John Carr

Music was a strong influence on two well known men of Horbury. From David Turton (1768 - 1847) to William Baines (1899 - 1922), these two musicians and composers made a name for themselves. Turton combined his love of music with the flannel weaving industry and quite possibly, he was the one who influenced my four times great-grandfather to leave the declining woollen industry behind and pursue music as a career.

Another of my genealogy passions (aside from photographs, postcards and graveyards) is House Histories. I absolutely love to pour over census returns and trade directories, delving in to the lives of people who lived in my ancestors houses and I would go so far as to admit, the whole street. Even my own childhood street, which is the subject of my work-in-progress house history project.

My Childhood Street
There is nothing more satisfying to me than finding out who lived in your house before you. Earlier this year I thoroughly enjoyed reading Julie Myerson's "Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived in our House" and I also loved the Australian ABC production "Who's Been Sleeping in my House?" both of which have fuelled my, already keen, desire to write up my own house history.

Last week I visited the city library because it has an excellent genealogy reference section. There I ravished house histories books by Trevor Yorke, Nick Barratt, Bill Breckon et al, and Melanie Backe-Hansen's beautifully presented book was also there too. I made pages of notes and came away with my head swimming with ideas for my own book. Who knows if it will ever come to fruition. As it is, I am currently keeping myself busy writing two novels, a short story, and a family history book. I have the preliminary notes prepared at least.

Beyond this Door in Bloomsbury Square is Where my
Grandmother Was Born
What story lies in wait beyond your Front Door?


  1. That is an interesting idea - looking to see who lived in family homes before your family did. I have never done anything like that. You are ahead of me on your book writing. I've got the ideas but no organization. Interesting post.

  2. I live the idea of those ravished books! Your passion for house history comes through clearly and would fuel your planned book, but with all those others in the pipeline it will have to take its turn. thanks for an intriguing and tempting post.

  3. Great ideas Debra, you'll be kept busy writing for a long time.

  4. Thank you Kristin, Pauleen and Ann for your wonderful comments. I feel blessed to be able to write about my family in this medium and have it appreciated by lovely folks like yourselves. xx

  5. Wow what passion you have. I can see that writing a 'Who's lived in my street' history would be very cool.