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Your Ancestors

(67 Posts)
NanKate Sat 08-Jun-19 17:15:49

On a BBC Programme this morning they asked listeners to phone in and describe any ancestors who were famous or had interesting jobs.

My great-grandfather was a Music Hall artiste
My grandfather was a singer, dancer and comedian in the Music Hall
My grandmother was his scriptwriter

What about your ancestors and how far back can you go ?

PamelaJ1 Sat 08-Jun-19 18:15:59

Our family is spectacularly uninteresting.

tanith Sat 08-Jun-19 18:21:57

My Great Grandfather was Josh Arch he was the leader of the National Agricultural Labourers Union in 1882 the first successful union to be established and later became the first labourer to become a member of Parliament at the age of 59.

My Bil traced my maternal family back to the 1500s verifying his research by spending many hours checking and copying out parish records in rural Wales and England. He had it all collated including some copy certificates and wills in a printed folder I read through it now and then.

MiniMoon Sat 08-Jun-19 18:25:39

Nobody of note in our family. My cousin traced my paternal grandmother 's family back to about 1600. They were all farmers.

Anniebach Sat 08-Jun-19 19:05:04

My g g g grandmother’s sister was deported for stealing bread.

My g g Uncle was a well know composer and conductor, has a monument to his memory in Liverpool.

My g Uncle was physician to the Queen, her father and her grandmother.

Traced my maternal family back to 1500s.

We named our elder daughter after her g g grandmother, was surprised her second and thirds names were the same as her g g g grandmother and g g g g grandmother.

Septimia Sat 08-Jun-19 19:15:22

Back to the 1500s with various branches of my family. Most of them were pretty ordinary but one moved from Scotland to Woolwich when he joined the army - a surprise bit of information to me. He returned to his home town before he died but the rest of his family stayed in the London area.

However, perhaps one of the most interesting was my paternal great-grandfather who, when he wasn't working as a painter and decorator or a gas fitter, was a conjuror!

Loislovesstewie Sat 08-Jun-19 19:26:01

No famous ancestors, but one of mine was sentenced to death for bestiality! With a sheep! Poor thing, the sheep that is!

EllanVannin Sat 08-Jun-19 19:44:00

One of my ggg uncles was a clockmaker in Cumbria and there are still one or two longcases with his name in them.
This is on mum's side of the family. I saw one on Ebay a few years ago for sale in the USA at a few thousand dollars.

Dad's ancestry would be too much of a giveaway of the family name but is of interest in Roman times. There was also the jester to Henry V111 who was connected.

One of dad's relatives was a bookbinder who was also famous for his gold-leaf designs----Liverpool.
Then there was the 17th century builder/designer of fireplaces in stately buildings. I do have his name somewhere.

Jenty61 Sat 08-Jun-19 19:54:58

On my side of the family they were fairground travellers from Ireland. My great grandmother was a flower seller in the uk, I remember helping her on Saturday mornings. My grandad was a rag and bone man and I used to go out with him in his brown lorry.
On my husbands side they were local smugglers.

crazyH Sat 08-Jun-19 19:55:15

My maternal uncle was an eccentric, famous crow-catcher in our village. Yes, you heard it right, crow-catcher. Where I come from, crows are consummable. So he earned enough to keep himself in gunpowder and always smelled of the stuff. He was a recluse. He lived in our outhouse. Believe me, you always knew he was returning home, when you heard the thousands of crows cawing in fear. My mum had 2 other sisters, but it was my mother who gave him food and shelter. My kind, lovely, generous mum and dad.

paddyann Sat 08-Jun-19 20:03:02

I have music hall song and dance men in my tree too and one very famous singer who had a film made of his life .Most proud of my granny who was a suffragette and thats where I get my political interest from .Other than that we have policemen and millworkers and farmers and shirtmakers and a milliner all in Scotland and Ireland .The scottish side I've traced to mid 1700's the Irish isn't so easy with the loss of records during the rebellion but I live in hope of getting further back .Only problem is it becomes addictive .

Humbertbear Sun 09-Jun-19 10:03:31

One of my mother’s cousins was the Leader of a world famous orchestra and another was a well known novelist. I have a second cousin on my father’s side who sits in the House of Lords ( we never speak) . Oh, my father’s cousins were well known variety artistes. Female twins who married male twins who were also performers. But I’m OST proud of my great grand parents and grand parents who came here as poor immigrants and built a life for themselves and the rest of their descendants.

Matelda Sun 09-Jun-19 10:10:26

My only famous ancestor was a Pilgrim Father on the Mayflower in 1620. His eldest son hurried back to England and I shared his surname as I was descended through twelve generations in the male line. Then I got married, failed to hang on to my own name, and spoiled it for my sons, (though I don’t think they care much).

missdeke Sun 09-Jun-19 10:16:31

Back to the 1500s on my mother's English side, although nothing on the Swedish. My youngest daughter goes back to the Lennoxes of Elizabeth 1 time, whilst my granddaughter on her father's side is a descendant of the Plantagenets.

Newatthis Sun 09-Jun-19 10:17:49

My Dh's 2nd cousin was a movie star in LA in the 40's and went on the marry the ex wife of the owner of 'Sea Biscuit' (the famous race horse). My 2nd cousin was a war hero pilot during the 'D' day landings and is buried in a small village in France. the villagers honour him every year.

wot Sun 09-Jun-19 10:19:47

Yes but I lost the post I was writing.

Blinko Sun 09-Jun-19 10:33:58

Wow tanith, Joseph Arch! I guess you'll have heard the song which begins

When Arch beneath the Wellesbourne tree his glorious work began...

Years ago, some amateur film making friends made an allegorical story about Arch and his legacy. That's where I heard the song. Stirring stuff!

Peardrop50 Sun 09-Jun-19 10:52:34

My famous ancestor is my great Uncle Jack Wilson of Wilson, Kepple and Betty. They were a sand-dance act and appeared often at the London Palladium. I do remember him coming to our house for dinner when I was a small child and eating all the daffodils from a vase on the table, or so I thought.

I haven't looked back at my ancestry but would love to find some excitement, the madame of a brothel, a highwayman or perhaps an inventor of the wheel. A thread for another time perhaps.

Opalsusanna1 Sun 09-Jun-19 11:00:30

On my paternal side, my g.g.grandfather was the youngest son of an acting family. His father was an actor manager who worked with Thomas Ternan who was the father of Charles Dickens' mistress. His eldest brother married one of two acting sisters, Frances Cranmer Oliver. Her sister Martha or Pattie was an actor/manager in the 1860s and her portraits are in the National Gallery. Her husband was the heir to Phillips auctioneers and when she died, he married his niece by marriage, Katie Hastings, who was also an actor until her death in 1890. Her son, my grandma's cousin, also went into acting and married a star of operettas. When that marriage failed, he went abroad and came back to London with a mistress who became a Gracie Fields impersonator. He had 3 sons in his sixties that I'm in touch with, after believing that he had died childless.
The eldest sister of the original surviving 6 brothers and sisters married an actor manager and had 3 children, one of whose daughters was known as The Disappearing Lady in Edwardian London as she married one of the Maskelyne sons who were famous magicians and she was the leading ladies in their playlets and some of their most famous illusions.

I've loved researching them and have written a blog about them.

Purplepoppies Sun 09-Jun-19 11:07:28

My great grandfather was a famous aviator. 😊

Barnet Sun 09-Jun-19 11:11:50

Christopher Saltmarshe, an ancestor of my mother's, married Emma Rawson, his cousin. Her brothers were Jeremiah and Christopher Rawson who are featured in the BBC's Gentleman Jack.
Emma and Christopher Saltmarshe were good friends of Anne Lister.
Very proud of this family connection!

tanith Sun 09-Jun-19 11:15:31

Blinko no I’ve not heard that song or the story do you have any links to them I’ve looked but can find nothing.
We did go to the Tolpuddle museum and tree a few years ago maybe I should visit again.

Rosina Sun 09-Jun-19 11:37:57

One of my gggggg ancestors painted a portrait of Elizabeth 1 . Other than that, like Pamela, we are quite an uninteresting bunch.

Marieeliz Sun 09-Jun-19 11:46:19

My grandmother was the daughter of the Sexton of St Bride's Church Fleet Street. That is the only surprise for me as my grandfather was from Gilsfield in Monmouthshire he must have travelled to London and then they all moved to Liverpool. It didn't do them much good as both of them died of TB at a young age. That is as famous as it gets the connection with St Bride's.

Pittcity Sun 09-Jun-19 11:48:07

I have an illegitimate son of an Earl and a London philanthropist who left a bequest for female descendants. Unfortunately the money ran out just before I could claim.

Greenfinch Sun 09-Jun-19 11:53:17

One of ny ancestors was a ship's carpenter from the Aaland Isles. He was shipwrecked off the coast of North Uist and married a local girl. Hence I have Scottish ancestors with a Finnish/Swedish surname.

Daftnan Sun 09-Jun-19 12:04:13

I have an ancestor on my mother's side who murdered at least one person, and a number of his family members. When he was arrested and imprisoned he announced that he was Jack the Ripper. Although the murders were at the same time as the ripper murders, this was later proved not to be the case.

Authoress Sun 09-Jun-19 12:08:25

My g-g-grandfather was the Emperor of Russia - if you squint a bit, that brings you back to Harold Godwineson's elder daughter, who was sent off to Russia to marry Saint Vladimir l smile
Along, of course, with most of Europe.
That connection turned out to be seriously useful when I was researching my first historical novel, though, because I was able to trace back a particular chunk of land back to the Battle of Hastings, when it was given to Harold's common-law wife Edith in return for identifying Harold's body on the battlefield - "by diverse marks only she could know" smile It carried on through three generations as the women's dower land until 1188, when Henry ll's mistress gave it to my man Wimer the Chaplain. A very cool story smile

petra Sun 09-Jun-19 12:14:24

My gggg? Grandfather was on the Bounty. The first we knew about it was when a chap from Pitcairn contacted my father.

Blinko Sun 09-Jun-19 12:42:51

tanith try You tube and search for

Wellesbourne Sings Historical Protest Songs At Joseph Arch Centenary Event 2019

We knew a different tune, but this one's to the tune of Should Auld Acquaintance...

Booklady54 Sun 09-Jun-19 12:59:19

My grandfather, Sir Arthur Quekett drafted the Constitution of Northern Ireland and his books are still the definitive works on Law in Northern Ireland.

Bijou Sun 09-Jun-19 13:02:17

In the 17th century an ancestor owned a sugar plantation in Barbados owning over ninety slaves. He made a fortune when slavery was abolished from compensation from the British government. The slaves got nothing.
My maternal grandfather was a friend of Keir Hardie and helped to form the Labout Party.
An American traced our family right back to when the Danes landed in Scotland.

Shelagh6 Sun 09-Jun-19 13:04:43

GBS was my Grandfather’s cousin. He employed him in his Land Agent’s office before Shaw came to England.

Foxyferret Sun 09-Jun-19 13:35:55

One of my ancestors was fined for being drunk in charge of a cart. I love her already.

oodles Sun 09-Jun-19 13:46:26

Barnet, I have a saltmarsh connection back in the 17th century, when I have chance to probe further I must dig deeper into it.
A several times great uncle was transported to Tasmania for armed robbery, and did much better there than he would have had he been a good boy and stayed home. Through John of Gaunt back to Gundrada wife if William de Warrene and then back to the likes of Good king Wenceslas once you have a royal connection no matter how far back you get all sorts of famous and infamous people.

gillyknits Sun 09-Jun-19 14:04:29

One of my DH’s relatives was also sent to Tasmania for being a look out to a robbery. He settled there and married and now my DH has hundreds of very distant relatives in Tasmania. They even have their own web page!

Pat1949 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:19:54

Alan Sillitoe, the author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was my 3rd cousin 1x removed (quite distant). He looked so much like my dad and aunt.

Pat1949 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:27:08

One of my ancestors was deported to Australia for stealing a sheep. Now one of his Grandchildren (not sure how many generations on) is a top horse breeder over there.

Barnet Sun 09-Jun-19 14:47:53

Hi oodles.
Interesting story.
My Saltmarshe ancestor was born in the late 18th century on the 'wrong side of the blanket' as they say. His mother/father ( not sure what gender they were) seems to have left Howden in East Yorkshire where the Saltmarshe family came from and settled in Selby about 15 miles away, probably to avoid a scandal.

The family have now died out as the last Saltmarshe died childless in 1970, but his father wrote a book in the late 19th century which talked of my grandfather's family but also (the old snob) denied they were anything to do with him, despite my g-grandfather resembling the 'posh Saltmarshes' to an alarming degree! My g-uncles tried to make a claim on the will, but it would have cost them too much.

Never been able to get to the bottom of it though.

Tweedle24 Sun 09-Jun-19 15:19:01

A gg uncle caught venomous snakes in the Essex marshes and extracted the venom for hospital use. He talked about the wildlife of the marshland on a weekly radio programme and used to to travel to London to broadcast it. One day the BBC announced, just before the programme was aired, that they were going to reduce his fee. He walked out, leaving them in the lurch for the programme. He never went back.

00mam00 Sun 09-Jun-19 15:39:19

My fathers infamous cousin was hung by Pierrepoint for treason in WWII. And he was cousin by marriage to a 1950s film star who appeared in many westerns.

Diggingdoris Sun 09-Jun-19 16:24:06

A distant relative was a famous actress in the silent movies and she lived in a posh apartment next door to Eamonn Andrews. Her husband was the entrepreneur who introduced photo booths to the UK.

JohnD Sun 09-Jun-19 16:28:19

I can trace family connections back to Elizabeth Fry. Unfortunately I don't have similar ideas about dealing with prisoners, especially murderers and those offending against children.

grannysyb Sun 09-Jun-19 16:35:29

An ancestor of mine was a signatory on Charles the first death warrant!

Disgruntled Sun 09-Jun-19 17:11:43

What a fascinating thread! Thank you, one and all. (Fraid I've got nothing to contribute...)

pollynana Sun 09-Jun-19 17:13:46

I share an ancestor with a subject off Who Do You Think You Are. He came from Poland.

harrigran Sun 09-Jun-19 17:25:25

I share an ancestor with a famous British film star who is still working.

Callistemon Sun 09-Jun-19 17:27:42

My ggg grandfather received part of a stolen sheep.
Unfortunately, he did not get transported to Australia, he only got six months in prison.

Slowhandclap Sun 09-Jun-19 17:56:22

One of my ggggggg-grandfathers was a French Count who came to England in 1066 as a supporter/soldier for William the Conqueror.

He survived the Battle of Hastings and the family went on to become government officials, both in England and Ireland, but sadly had no noticeable wealth or standing by the 19th century. Although one ancestor became a famous author.

I found all this out just before my lovely Aunt, also his ancestor died. She said, jokingly, ‘I always knew I was a Lady.’

reelashosser Sun 09-Jun-19 18:06:31

Family history points to an ancestor who was piked on Dublin bridge.

Floradora9 Sun 09-Jun-19 18:42:22

Not strictly an ancestor but my mother's great friend emigrated to America . She and her husband celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in the states and they sent me a photocopy of the telegram they got signed by Nancy and Ronald Regan . Having recently rediscovered this I researched thier daughter who was a realter selling houses in the states and she did lots of work for Liberace and got many nice gifts from him. I mentioned this to my DD and she remembered the lady's business card which her DGM had and it featured Liberace's piano .

Alexa Sun 09-Jun-19 18:44:24

My great uncle was skipper of a Victorian Clyde paddle boat.

leeds22 Sun 09-Jun-19 21:09:12

My posh ancestors seem to have been given a chunk of N Lancashire by William the conqueror and one of their descendants was a cavalier officer who had to escape to the continent. All downhill after that as I’m mostly descended from yeoman farmers, landlords and glass blowers.

Somersetgal Mon 10-Jun-19 07:23:48

According to ancestry website my nearly 90 year old Mother’s ancestor is Lady Godiva! She was very amused when I told her yesterday

Teddy111 Mon 10-Jun-19 11:54:18

My grandad was born Gervase Valentine Lincoln,he was baptised and brought up to Nottingham and was adopted and called Henry Moseley.He drove one of the first buses in Lincolnshire,the Enterprise and Silver Dawn Company. His only child,my mother,became the first, long distance, lady lorry driver in Britain.
My father was a WW2 Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot.He was eventually shot down and was sent to Stalag Luft 3.He survived the war.

knickas63 Mon 10-Jun-19 13:24:46

1690's.Owned a Brewery and Hostelry. One brance of the family were listed as Disenters - we haven't changed much!

NanKate Mon 10-Jun-19 15:25:08

What fab and interesting ancestors you have, do keep them coming.

discodiva Mon 10-Jun-19 15:46:06

No one famous but did find out that several of my ancestors were publicans the most notable owning the Captain Digby at Broadstairs for over 60 years in the 1800s, which is still going today. He, along with my GGG grandmother, were charged with smuggling. He served 6 months in prison she was excused but fined by a very lenient judge - plus she had 4 children to look after. That was a surprise I can tell you, especially because it was recorded in the local press!

And my mum had no idea that her grandparents (and her own mum) had owned and lived in one of the local pubs where we used to live in Gravesend!

Also one of my great grandfathers (German by descent) was a musical director for the Rajah of Puddakottai. He was also an artist and ran a studio, which my uncle (now 98 years old) still remembers. Its believed GG also has a painting in the Vatican. Unfortunately I've never been able to get that bit verified.

Its fascinating finding out about your roots. Even after 20+ years of research there's always new information to be found.

annab275 Tue 11-Jun-19 10:59:38

one of my ancestors was William Killick who infamously tried to kill Dylan Thomas with a rifle. This was made into a film starring Keira Knightly called 'Edge of Love'.

Auntieflo Tue 11-Jun-19 11:59:40

My grandad’s family came from Poland, but not sure when. He was a boot and shoemaker, and allegedly made ballet shoes for Anna Pavlova. My grandmother was an invalid for many years and every time she was well enough to be up and about, he would make her a pair of shoes, for her tiny feet, size 3. She died when my mum was 8, but grandad lived with us for a few years while I was growing up.

Fennel Tue 11-Jun-19 12:25:51

I once asked my Dad if we had any famous ancestors and he said yes, a few years ago one was hung drawn and quartered.
So Iaked my oldest maternal aunt and she said that on their side a ?GGGrandfather worked for the Manchester Guardian as a correspondent in Russia.
I thought that was interesting because I've always had a special interest in Russia.

yattypung Wed 12-Jun-19 05:06:43

I was apparently named after a famous German opera singer called Madame Patti and was also told that we were related to Captain Morgan the famous pirate

Grammaretto Wed 12-Jun-19 06:18:47

Gt grandfather was doctor to the king of Burma. Another was a master mariner who disappeared in storms at sea.
The sailor's widow, gt g mother claimed she was related to William Blake, artist, poet and mystic.
I have tried to find a connection but since he had no descendants, I have not succeeded.
I wish I was a celebrity so the team on who do you think you are could find that elusive link.wink

What an interesting thread!

oodles Wed 12-Jun-19 10:26:04

@Barnet might I be able to request your grandfather's book from the library? if so could you message me
the detatils please. My Saltmarshes were way back in the 17th century but the name was kept on for a daughter, which is a bit unusual as usually surnames were given as first names to sons, but before I knew it was a family name I just thought it was a lovely name. I've not gone further back on that line, it's on my to do one day list. My grandmother's family came from the area round Snaith and Swinfleet with wives and family connections from many villages round about. Maybe I should investigate the Saltmarshes sooner rather than later. Going back to Gentleman Jack, I no doubt have connections albeit way back or rather we both have connections way back, I think most Priestleys go back to Priestley Green not far away, it is a very local name, albeit a famous one.

Buffybee Wed 12-Jun-19 10:59:21

My Great Grandmother was a suffragette and was friends with Annie Kenney who was a leading figure in the Women's Social and Political Unionshe, also met Christabel Pankhurst.
Her husband and one son was killed in WW1, so she brought up her 4 daughters, (the eldest of which is my Grandmother), single handed.
She opened her own business and was quite a figure in the local community.
From her photos, she looks a formidable woman, she was tall as were all her daughter, all over 5ft 7 inches which was unusual in those days.
I would love to have met her.
I have one relative remaining who knew her, the daughter of her youngest daughter. She is a formidable, no nonsense ex headteacher and scares me a little bit
I'm going to make a point of giving her a call and going over to see her for the day.

KatyK Wed 12-Jun-19 19:37:57

My great uncle wrote a story that was turned into a very famous film smile

Opalsusanna1 Mon 17-Jun-19 20:44:55

My grandma's cousin married a woman whose stage name was Edna Knollys. They appeared together at the Shakespeare Theatre, Liverpool in 1906 in a production called 'The Gayest of the Gay.'