There was I being snooty and cross because I found some people who had supposedly emigrated to America way back in the 1600's...you know how mad I get when American's don't know their history or geography...and I had to slide under my desk with pink cheeks and mutter 'whoops,sorry' under my breath when I found stories and ships and Wills and suchlike...

This is Teresa's Grannies tree who had several families of parents and children, brothers and their wives, sail out to Connetticut on a ship named the Saint John...they were Plymouth Brethren following in the footsteps of those on the Mayflower. Teresa's eleventh Gt Grandmother was named Mercy...I've been humming the song...Mercy,mercy me, under my breath ever since I found her.

The awful pity is that Teresa isn't actually particulary interested...she gets a bit of a bee in her bonnet about one member of the family and can't be doing with the others...it was little Joey, who was a child who died at the age of four, and was buried in the unmarked childrens area of the village churchyard, which had her hunting high and low for more information about him. If we tried one record we must have tried a dozen...she eventually found where his grave is...within a few yards anyway.

Little Joey was born severely disabled...he couldn't walk or talk...his disability was caused by him contracting congenital syphilis, which we found out when T. sent away for his death cert. Incredibly unpleasant, but it was undetectable in the early 1900's in a pregnant woman. Easy enough nowadays but the tests weren't available back then.

Something which always has me bewildered is how families fortunes changed over the centuries...the people who travelled away to America came from wealthy landowners who made good lives for themselves once settled in the States. They acquired land there and built houses and raised many children. While back in Suffolk and Norfolk in England, their close relatives became the inevitable Ag Labs...many spent time in the local Workhouses...in one family I found today, it was ten years in the Workhouse, with seven small children who probably couldn't remember any other kind of life. And some died classed as paupers with no visible means of support.

While Mercy's children and grandchildren were building their own homes and becoming settled in their new land...going on to become people of importance in their community...their cousins, and those who had chosen to stay behind in England, were living a life of great poverty with no reasonable chance to escape.

They could, of course, have followed their relatives to America...but maybe their American cousins beliefs were too different from their own...perhaps they couldn't raise the fare to travel to America...or maybe they simply didn't want to or it never occurred to them that it was an option.

The Ancestry member I've been in contact with about the girl who supposedly died in either China or Tibet in the 1600's, wrote, in one of her messages to me...'It isn't just a matter of adding on the dates...it's the exploration of one's past...it's the finding out where you belong in the scheme of things'

It's the slotting yourself into the niche...it's the finding out where you fit...it's the heart stopping moment when you discover an ancient Parish record written in cramped handwriting in poor mans Latin...it's the sudden discovery of a record of an Apprenticeship to a Cordwainer or a Cooper...it's the knowing that one of your Grandmothers was named Elizabethus and seeing her mark on her wedding certificate and the knowing if were not for her living in some great old house with draughty rooms and a kitchen with a cook and boys to pick the stones from the fields...you simply wouldn't exist.