In the end I put the poor old desktop on...it took eleven minutes to reach the Google page from the time I actually switched it on...but it works.
So I went to Ancestry...and found an Admiral. Then I looked him up on Google and he's the same chap but completely different dates to the ones on Ancestry...no matter, people often get themselves carried away with excitement and don't stop to think before they add people. Apparently he was the fifteenth child of his Father...imagine buying all them Christmas presents...
The Admiral...a John Jennings or Jennens...was the ninth Grandfather of a second cousin twice removed...and his Mother was one of the Spencer's...Princess Diana's family...Princess Diana keeps cropping up over and over again...as does Winston Churchill. I think he'd have been rather an alarming person to meet with and poor Diana was awful vacuous...probably a result of endless in-breeding among cousins and so on...
The other day, when I was back in the days of those dreadful Pilgrim Fathers, I found some Quakers...I'd found one Quaker before but not several families...they are all buried in what is known as a Burying Ground next to the Quaker Meeting House in Yorkshire. Just a couple went to America when they were in their teens. The written records of their burials are beautifully written out with plenty of space between each person...the Church of England burials are cramped up into the smallest space possible and are often barely legible.
Paper...or rather vellum...was expensive and it had to last as long as the Curate or Vicar could manage...so a single page often contains the details of births, marriages and deaths of fifty or more people...squidged up close together.
It's interesting that those records still survive when you think how old they are...and they weren't particularly important...they certainly had no monetary value and were really only of interest to the village where they were written. They were transcribed separately for Government use...the originals stayed in the Church, though nowadays they'd be kept in a safe in the Vicarage I suppose.
Marriage records are interesting...because both parties needed to sign the register...and more often than not the woman was illiterate so she made her mark instead...just a simple x. But when do you think that was commonplace? Not as you'd think in the 1500 and 1600's but much later in the 1800's...marriages in the 1500 and 1600's were signed by both parties, which was a time I'd used to think that women were unable to write out their own names...it came as a surprise to find that it was far from the facts. It was the wives of the 1800's who couldn't write and made their mark, witnessed by the Vicar marrying them.
But of course the women of the 1500's and onwards who are in Family Trees are not simple peasants...they were the elite of their day and had frequently received an education. The women who married in the 1800's were the wives of the Ag Labs...they'd not attended school, or if they had, it was infrequent attendance and they had little reason to be able to read and write. Or it could have simply been down to poor teaching I suppose.
Someone once made the comment that they couldn't see the point in seeing how far back you could go with a family tree...just adding dates was the way they described it. But to me it has opened up an entirely different world. One small item will lead onto pages of discovery about houses built with timber frames...a modest house of two storeys in height with four rooms would have cost you 12 shillings to build in 1460...that was just the timber used for the frame. A vague mention in passing of an ermine trimmed cloak leads onto the laws concerning what you were allowed to wear according to your status, cat and fox if you were lower class...someone was a ploughman in the 1700's...he'd have used a team of oxen, not horses.
Finding a relative was killed at the battle of Bosworth can take an hour or so and that leads to weapons used and armour worn and the fact battle horses were trained to kick and bite...
History...whether it is found through the pages of old books pored over in libraries, or through a third cousin three times removed who married a Lady, whether it is the startling fact your ancestor was a bone fide Viking or you share DNA with a man who was executed for treason, isn't confined to dusty tomes in silent rooms overseen by fearsome guardians...one fact leads to another and a whole world is there for the exploring...from the John Smith who went, cap in hand, to the hiring fairs...to the Admiral who was the fifteenth child of a ancestor of the Princess of Wales.
There is almost too much to learn in too short a time...not just the dates...the details...I want to absorb and know it all from the certain fact some soldiers recovered from appalling head wounds and fought another day to why you couldn't wear lace around your throat if you were lower class...I need to know who made the armour and when did it become the norm to armour your horse...I want to know about Viking Longhouses and why did my Viking ancestors choose to marry Icelandic Princesses...
Just adding dates...? Hardly that.