Family History Day

My degree was in History and English and one of my dissertation projects was my family tree.  This was *cough* 16 years ago now, but I was utterly hooked on finding out where my family had come from and who they were.  Back then I’d have to hunt in dusty libraries and records offices for any information  Now of course you pop something into Google, Ancestry or FamilySearch and you have the information in seconds.  But by the time I’d met Paul I’d pretty much done my tree back to the 15th Century, so imagine my delight when we married and had Miss L – I had a whole new tree to find!

Recently though Miss L’s been watching ‘Who do you think you are’ and has now taken an interest in her own family.  So on Saturday as we are very fortunate to live near the area Paul’s family come from (mine’s Scotland, Somerset and London) we headed to the village his great grandfather lived, in the 1880’s.    I’d driven through it but never stopped off and looked round the churchyard for family graves.  So we thought it might be fun to see if we could find any – we are bit of a weird family!


This is Woodditton Church which was mentioned as property of King Canute (995AD) and is in the Domesday Book in 1086. As from the records I’d found that Paul’s family had lived in the village for about 200 years I was pretty confident that there should be some gravestones for us to look at.  Gravestones are also an excellent source of information as things tend to be written on the stones that are missing from any other record about the person, so always good to find.

We were a bit disappointed when we got to the graveyard and there seemed to be a lot of missing stones as the graveyard seemed very empty for what has been a thriving village for centuries.  But we started our hunt…..which went on and on for about an hour and there was not one gravestone of Paul’s family.

Just as we were about to give up Paul pulled some moss from an old stone which was lying on the floor, and there she was Miss L’s great, great, great, great, great Grandmother Eliza Jane Wiseman and her daughter also an Eliza Jane.  So we cleared the grave of moss and tidied up around it.

This side is of her daughter as the older Eliza’s side was virtually unreadable, but we very happy to have found them and made their grave more presentable.  We have no idea where the rest of their family is though, it’s possible the stones have been uprooted over the years so I’ll have to contact the church to find out.

But Miss L was amazed to find it and very excited, she now wants to go to some of the other churches in the area and learn more about where she comes from, which is what I wanted to achieve.

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  1. I love WDYTYA and graveyards. I don’t think you are odd at all 😉 On my father’s side his family can be traced back 1,000 years. Largely because they’ve always lived in the same village. I haven’t talked about family history with our children. Perhaps I should.

  2. I started researching my family tree last year, got back to th 1600’s then my computer crashed spectacularly and I lost all of it :(. I have the WDYTYA program for my laptop so am gonna start again sometime soon.

    I unearthed quite a few family ‘secrets’ and scandals. But nothing too bad.

    So glad that Lilyis interested too. Always good to know where you come from I think.


  3. what a fun and exciting day.
    You are not weird, if you are I am too!! I love going to the old kirkyard and finding family stones. I have searched my family tree since I was about 17. My mums side of the family came over to America in 1608, England/Scotland (Cobb). My dads side (Gauld) came over from Scotland 2 generations back. I try to get to the UK at least once a year to research. I do most on the computer with but I love the old libraries, cemetery walks and interviewing the family members. They usually have old documents and photos and mementos…. I have a whole room dedicated to my research. It’s a bit of an obsession.
    I am excited that your daughter is excited about finding out where she is from.
    the best on your adventures of finding family.

  4. What a fabulous day to search your family roots. It is so exciting to find these connections to those who have gone before us. Don’t you just wonder what their lives were like? It also gives us pause to think about how we live our lives, and what are future generations will learn about us and how we lived our lives, doesn’t it?!

    Thanks for sharing your interesting post!

    Debbykay at Rose Cottage Gardens and Farm

  5. Thanks for your lovely comments.

    Victoria, I was really surprised at how interested Lily was in her family. You should talk to your little ones about it especially as it’s one of your interests. I know what you mean my family are from all over. Paul’s from about a 4 mile radius they spent 1000 years going between 4 villages 😉

    IM – OMG! I would have been desolate to lose all my research. As much as I don’t like it, I use Ancestry to back it all up and to share it with other family. You don’t need to pay and it saves on losing everything ((HUGS)) x

    Callie – Thankyou and you’re a Scot like me 🙂 Wow you’re Mum’s family left early – they must have been some of the first settlers – how exciting! My family left Scotland for England in the 1880’s, I think my GGG Grandmother was chasing her cheating hubby to be honest LOL!

    DebbyKay – You’re right I often wonder how these woman managed in their lives with the ups and downs of life. Many in my family lost children before their 5th birthdays which is just heartbreaking.. It does make me feel grateful for life today 🙂