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Invisible pull towards ancestral roots?

(36 Posts)
LiltingLyrics Mon 09-Jul-18 15:22:21

I am a keen albeit amateur family historian and enjoy doing research for others.

Time and time again I come across this same thing somuchso that I am starting to think there is something very real about it.

People are attracted to certain places where they choose to live, work, study or simply explore. When I draw up their family tree I often find an ancestor that they had no prior knowledge of had come from that very same place. It's usually only two of three generations back.

It doesn't have to be a scenic place. It can be a run down area of a grimy city, a choice of university out of a number of equally good offers, an overseas holiday destination the person returns to again and again or a post-retirement escape to the country.

Does anyone have any stories that might support the theory of an invisible pull towards ancestral roots or is it all just coincidence?

M0nica Mon 09-Jul-18 15:31:20

What about the evidence that this does not happen. You work out the probabilities of your theory you have to look at the evidence for both possibilities.

cavewoman Mon 09-Jul-18 16:10:45

There are a couple of villages that always fill me with peace and a quiet sort of joy. Until I did my family tree I had no idea that all of my fathers forebearers had lived in them both since at least the 17th century.

However, my research also shows me many other areas on my mothers side that I have no fondness for at all.
I think that I just like the two villages for the lovely places that they are.

paddyann Mon 09-Jul-18 17:26:39

my OH always believed his ancestry was Scottish for generation back.We went on holiday to Ireland and he said he felt he had "come home" this was before computers making root searches easy .Fast forward 25 years and we discovered his 2x great GF had come from the very place we had visited.We've been back many times now and he gets homesick when we leave .Not exactly scientific but just one story .

jenpax Mon 09-Jul-18 17:42:06

I have felt this way about Sussex. But I was born and grew up in the county. I knew that the house I grew up in had been lived in by my great grandmother and then left to my paternal grandmother who gifted it to my parents. Both sets of grandparents lived in Sussex too, gravitated there by the pull of the solitary grandchild (me?) so I guess my pull has been easier to explain!
I had 2 of my 3 AC in Sussex. But was forced by circumstances, to move when they were tiny. I felt drawn to move back again to Sussex a few years ago, but now due to my own ill health, have to again consider moving away and nearer to family and in a different but still lovely coastal county?

Fennel Mon 09-Jul-18 18:00:03

I've always felt an affinity with the NE, especially with the coastal town where I grew up. Blyth, which now has a negative reputation but I still feel I belong there.
I think part of it is the accent, the dialect, the special sense of humour born from the tough life of coalminers and seamen.

Cabbie21 Mon 09-Jul-18 18:05:32

I moved to my present small town to be nearer my grown up children, though we chose the actual location to suit our current and future needs. It not only happens to be not so very far from the village where I grew up and left at the age of 18, but I vaguely knew my mother’s parents came from this area originally. My mum is long dead, and her parents died when she was very young, so I was in no way influenced by them, but delving into family history, I have discovered loads of connections with this area, family graves in the next village, my grandfather’s cousin actually was living in this town for a while.
So far I have not found any living relatives but I know there must be many. Uncanny, as my mum never knew she had relatives living not far from her in her lifetime.

paddyann Mon 09-Jul-18 18:49:54

Cabbie21 I went to Ireland to where my GM grew up and was amazed at the number of folk with family names and businesses that were names from both sides of GM's family.We had a coversation with a guy in a pub and he told me I looked just like EB ,who lived near him .EB was also my GG 's name .He spoke to her and she confirmed we were related.It was brilliant to meet her and yes there was a family resemblance.

OldMeg Mon 09-Jul-18 18:54:38


jenpax Mon 09-Jul-18 19:40:53

paddyann,What a lovely story

SueDonim Mon 09-Jul-18 19:43:19

Nope. I have ancestors from Kent (where I was born and bred but haven't lived for almost 40yrs), Somerset, Wales, the Forest of Dean, France, Holland, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Portugal and South Africa but I don't feel a pull to any of those places - although I do like Somerset.

MiniMoon Mon 09-Jul-18 19:44:32

I'd love to know if any of me forebears were from the north east coast. I was born and brought up in Cumberland. Each summer our Sunday School did an outing to the seaside. Usually we went to Whitley Bay, Seaburn or South Shields. The nearer we got to the coast, the more I felt I was coming home. I still feel this way now.
As far as I know though, all my ancestors were farmers or miners. My cousin traced part of our family tree back to the 1600's and they all came from north Cumberland.

grannyactivist Mon 09-Jul-18 22:52:57

I was born in Manchester and met my husband, who was born in Bolton, in East Anglia. Imagine my surprise then when I researched our family histories and discovered that our great grandparents lived on the same street in a tiny Lancashire village at the same time - they are two pages apart on the census.
Unfortunately for your theory I have never visited the place, but do have some curiosity about it.

Eloethan Mon 09-Jul-18 23:53:41

I was born in south London and have lived in various parts of London and England, some of which I liked very much and some (including Suffolk) that I wasn't at all keen on. I feel I have an affinity with London but I'm also very drawn to Sussex.

I'm not sure it's about "roots" but just about the places where you are or were comfortable and happy.

Azie09 Tue 10-Jul-18 09:34:35

Hello LiltngLyrics, I've done a fair bit of family history and have been fascinated by coincidences of places, events and names and also by tales I've heard. I once listened to a radio programme about someone who bought a house that he later discovered had been owned way back by one of his ancestors!

On a personal note, I've always been drawn to Devon and discovered that I had ancestors from there. I also went and explored the area in Ireland where my mother's family originated from and found a huge sense of coming home. I almost seemed guided to some places.

If sheep can pass on knowledge of home ground, I don't see why humans can't too. It does annoy me when people use logic, eg probability, to dismiss intuition or other forms of knowing that science simply hasn't been able to discover yet. We now know that the bits of our genome that were previously dismissed as rubbish contain, amongst other things, traits that were formerly believed to be unable to be passed on. Google epigenetic if you would like to know more.

BlueBelle Tue 10-Jul-18 09:46:28

No I ve never had any coming home feelings, not doubting anyone that has but just like believing in ghosts (which I don’t) I guess I don’t have the sort of emotional brain that clicks in to the imaginative bit, I think my brain whatever is left is too practical

Anniebach Tue 10-Jul-18 09:59:05

I have certaintly experienced the opposite

annodomini Tue 10-Jul-18 10:12:47

I was born and bred on the Ayrshire coast but haven't been back for a good 20 years. However, in my dreams, it's still frequently there as my home.

Elegran Tue 10-Jul-18 10:15:18

Azie I think hefting is learned behaviour. Lambs graze with their mothers on the bit of land which the mother learned earlier was "their" pasture and acquire a lifelong knowledge of the home ground - where the good grazing, the water and the shelter are. They pass that on in turn to their own lambs. If a lamb were removed from its mother at birth and raised elsewhere, it would not be familiar with the area.

KatyK Tue 10-Jul-18 10:25:22

My parents were from southern Ireland and whenever I am there, it feels as much like home as the place where I was born and bred.

Azie09 Tue 10-Jul-18 22:20:26

Thank you Elegran, I think you're right. However, I thought I remembered that when foot and mouth removed sheep completely from northern fells, I heard a discussion concerning the loss of the sheep's ability to know their own grazing area and that this was a trait which was inherited. It seems I am wrong. We can't ask the sheep of course. grin

seasider Tue 10-Jul-18 22:28:28

I have always wanted to India and will fulfil my dream later this year. I have never known my biological father but have just taken a DNA test that shows i am 44% south Asian (India, Pakistan) maybe I knew! I always feel at home in little gritty Northern towns that are like where I grew up .

LiltingLyrics Tue 10-Jul-18 23:57:13

Thank you to everyone who is sharing their stories here in response to my OP. My logical brain tells me it's a romantic hypothesis but I can't help also thinking that there is something in this.

seasider have you watched Who Do You Think You Are? this week about Olivia Colman? A very interesting part of her ancestry rooted in India.

Anniebach Wed 11-Jul-18 10:27:59

I believe there is something which connects us to our ancestors.

JuneS Thu 06-Sep-18 10:02:53

It makes you think that maybe there is a genetic memory. I have researched my one line of my own family proven back to the 1600s which was lucky as they were a well documented family. Along the way marriages have brought other families to my family tree, many from different places. I have never had that feeling of belonging to any place when visiting some of the places during research. The only place that I really did come to love was Cuddington in Bucks which was the home of my husbands ancestors but nothing to do with me.