Monday, 14 May 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : A is for...

Thanks to the wonderful, creative team at Gould Genealogy I am stepping up and taking part in their History Through the Alphabet Challenge. Starting today I will be cracking the whip on myself, blogging something about my family history each week. This is a great challenge for me because I really do need a kick in the pants...I mean, I really do need motivation (cough).

I will start the letter "A" with my Aunts. I have many aunties, past and present, both here in Australia and in England. Through my teenage years my Auntie Sandy was there for me in many ways and I will be forever thankful that she was. She is great because she usually manages to keep her cool, even when I ask her the weirdest or most awkward questions, or interrogate her for any stories about the family. She always has a smile for everyone, she has a fantastic laugh and best of all, she is a great listener (even when she really doesn't have the time). Today she is working in Byron Bay, on the east coast of Australia. I miss her a lot but we still keep in touch.

My Auntie Sandy c. 1964
When I was younger, two aunties that I also remember most fondly were my Auntie Rita and my Auntie Muriel. My Auntie Rita was my father's sister-in-law. I remember when I was little, she and my Uncle ran a shop in Hungate Street, in Beccles. My sisters and I used to love visiting their shop and we would always beg and plead for a bag of sweets. Auntie Rita usually always obliged, letting us try out the new flavours and varieties, unless my father had pre-warned her that we had been naughty!

My Auntie Rita, 2008
Muriel was my Great-aunt; she was the older sister of my paternal grandmother Freda. Muriel and Freda were extremely close and they spent a lot of time together so I got to know Muriel very well, as she lived on the same street as Freda for some time. When I made a return visit to Beccles in 1988, I went to visit my Auntie Muriel who was then living in Ravensmere. We had a lovely chat and after many cups of tea she took me into her bedroom and she showed me her jewellery box. As she lovingly showed me each brooch and necklace she told me who gave it to her and where it came from. She pulled out a lovely brass patterned bracelet, and passed it to me to try on. As I sat twirling it around and around on my wrist, she sat down and whispered to me, "I want you to have it so that whenever you wear it, think of me." I still have it, and I still think of her whether or not I wear her bracelet.

My Great-Auntie Muriel c. 1925

A is also for Ancestry. I first started using this website several years ago, when my local genealogical society subscribed to the library edition. Members were allowed one hour at a time, which you had to book time for in a register, and that hour always passed by so fast. It quickly became my bible, and I utilised it a lot. Sometimes I even found myself helping others who were less familiar with the website, giving them a crash course on how best to search for records of their ancestors. I received many hugs and a lot of wide smiles from grateful genealogists!

I love Ancestry, mostly because I have discovered so many of my ancestors (both direct and indirect) through the census returns, probate, baptisms, marriages and burial records, War records, school admissions, and most importantly, through making contact with distant cousins. There is an absolute wealth of information which I am still yet to tap into, and I have been using Ancestry intensively for more than six years now.

Finally, A is for my Ancestors. Without them, I would not be here. Without them I would have no stories to tell, and this blog would not exist. They each lived a life before me; they laughed and they cried. They flourished and they struggled through a vast array of difficulties and challenges; they built the foundations of the world we live in today. They fought for our countries, they sacrificed their lives, and they made the best from what little they had. They flourished in business; they were regarded and remembered; they left their mark. I will finish this post with some names of my ancestors that start with the letter "A":




  1. Fantastic! Your aunties sound just wonderful. We are so lucky to have relationships like that. For me, it's my uncles. Bring on the letter U. :)

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Steph. I had very strong female influences growing up, my uncles were much more mysterious. Some dark horses you might say! xx

  2. A most interesting blog. I grew up in Bungay and the town was the scene of my happiest years. Leaving Bungay Grammar School in 1971 I moved away to work but have been back for many visits over the last 45 years. So many Bungay characters have remained in my heart (alas most are now dead. I knew the Preston family of Cross Street and spent so much of my youth in the cafe which in my time was called The Gaytime run by Jim and Brenda.Oh to live those boyhood years again.
    Kind regards.
    Peter Hare