Skyscrapers and String

Who Do You Think You Are?

Hello Everyone,

Well it has been quite a week, being off, with limitless time to do things, loads of things buzzing through my mind about what I should get done, including a vast pile of enjoyable and exciting books to read and very little motivation to do much more than knit and watch re-runs of “Who Do You Think You Are?” on the tv.

The weather was so spectacularly useless and off-putting going out was out of the question yesterday and the day before, so I’ve been kicking my heels and goofing off, it’s been a bit like school holidays where you get really bored although you can in fact do anything, there’s nothing to stop you.

In the middle of a US episode yesterday at 4pm after another aimless day doing close to nothing I put the tv on pause, leapt up, got my parents marriage certificate out of the filing cabinet (I’d had a copy made in 2004 so I could try to find my Dad who I never met) and called the local registry office. The lady there was kind and said she thought she’d found my Dad’s birth certificate, and would call me back in the morning.

I had seen all these tv celebrities clicking online and relatives popped out of the woodwork so to speak. I thought I’d have a stab. My Nipper came downstairs at this point and she joined in, helping me register and set up an account.

By midnight I had gone from being a person with no family and no idea of history to being a person with relatives in spades. I managed to go back three generations on my Grandmother’s side, and find her original marriage records, all her aunties and uncles, you name it.

Back in time, the names children were given in my family were really pretty. Genetta, Rosalind, Violetta, Price, Core, to name but a few. Who were all these people?

I have so much still to find, I have very little knowledge of my family as no-one would ever discuss these things freely, my Nan never divorced her first husband, she didn’t know where he was I expect, and her and my “Grandad” didn’t ever marry. I remember when my Nan was in hospital at the end of her life, she mentioned then how much she wanted to marry my Grandad, and he wouldn’t hear of it. He was brought up a Catholic, it isn’t the done thing.

My Nan had a horrid time of it, by her account, in her first marriage, and it seems from what she said, and what my Mum told me, that my Nan’s three surviving children ended up in care, separated from each other completely, during the war.

My Mum was really small when this happened to her, and she was badly let down by her relatives, and the Council arrangements for caring for abandoned children were awful then. Having recently observed the interaction between some children and their care worker going to a local home on the bus, it is not great now either.

What my Mum could never understand is why all these relatives never stepped in to help my Nan, and I think my Mum was treated really badly whilst in care, she seemed to feel really strongly on this point.

This part of my Mum’s life shaped her character, and she never had much to do with my Nan’s extended family, due to her feelings that they abandoned her when she was vulnerable and desperately in need. I am going to look up these records if I can and see if I can find more evidence from this time.

She talked of being kept hungry all the time, of being fostered with strangers who treated her badly, of my Nan only making monthly visits, of swapping her only dolly for an apple when the hunger became too great to cope with.

My Nan wouldn’t talk about these times, ever, I remember mentioning at a family dinner what happened to my Mum when I was in my twenties, and my Grandad was appalled that no-one had ever told him. He got together with my Nan when my Mum was about 11 years old, when she was fresh out of Care, and she probably was very angry and traumatised.

Grandad never mentioned that Mum was difficult as a teenager, he never said anything bad about anyone as far as I can remember. My Mum often told me how they had never got on, and she had married at age 20 to leave home. I think he had had an argument with her just before her wedding. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her, or for my Nan.

Apparently the Council had decided they no longer wanted responsibility for the three children, and handed back my Mum to my Nan, who was at this point apparently able to look after her, although I am unclear as to what had changed all of a sudden. I would really like to understand this period of my family history in more detail.

They tracked both my Nan and her former husband down, I think he had moved to Birmingham at this time, and he was told he had to take the two boys, Ambrose and Jimmy. I think also that he met someone, Marjorie, census records show he was living with her by 1955.

Well, enough of this now, it is only interesting to me, as my Dad abandoned both me and my Mum, and my poor abandoned Mum abandoned me, and I guess I am trying to make sense of what she went through to make her like that. And what made him like that too?

When the lady from the Registry office calls me back this morning, I’ll be able to find out if in fact my Dad died in 1999 aged 61 in Norfolk, as seems to suggest. My Mum always said she’d heard he had other children, and he had remarried. I wonder how many other people are walking around with my eyes…..


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  1. is fascinating and addicting. I spent hours tracking relatives and had a blast doing it!


    | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
    • * jengolightly says:

      It is amazing! Such a journey. X


      | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
  2. What in interesting (and quite sad) family history. There is so much to find out. I had not heard of but I am tempted to go on there now…lots about my family I don’t know as a lot of them died when I was little. Good luck with your search! x


    | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
    • * jengolightly says:

      Thank you! It is really simple to use! Cant wait to have another go later! X


      | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
  3. * leslie frank says:

    Your story is very compelling — not just of interest to you. I think we all have stories in our families’ past like this, but often we are more removed from the drama. I think it is cool that you are chasing down the family so many worked to deny you. Best of luck.


    | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
    • * jengolightly says:

      Thanks Leslie, I think being denied the truth is dispowering. Already I feel stronger from what I’ve learned so far.


      | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
  4. I love these kinds of stories. Everyone has great history, it just takes time to find it. Good luck on your search!


    | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
    • * jengolightly says:

      Thank you!


      | Reply Posted 5 years, 2 months ago

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