I became all over enthusiastic the other evening and began to write an introduction to this family history thing...and it looked fine and I'd corrected the spellings...well...I didn't exactly, it was the spellchecker that did that ...and so I saved it to add more to it, and big knickers, I deleted it by mistake...had a look in case it hadn't really gone, but it had. Do you want to save this, it said brightly...and I said yes please...don't mind if I do...and then I clicked on delete.
Anyway...no mind...I'll do it again and make sure it's finished and printed off straight away.
Now I found a chap today who was my first cousin three times removed...he was one of the ag.labs I grumble about but he left a Will, and lo and behold he left just over two thousand pounds in 1890. Now that was a very large sum of money for those days and it does beg the question of however he managed to accrue such an amount when he had eight children and a wife to support...
I haven't delved any deeper into Henry's life yet...could be he was the beneficiary of a Will himself I suppose, which gave him a head start as it were. He left all the money to his wife 'to do with it whatever she deemed right and proper'...I hope she bought herself a lovely new frock and a hat and perhaps a good pair of buttoned boots...and a parasol. And a pair of kid gloves.
The truly annoying part of doing all this research is that unless you are looking for the titled people, the ordinary folk remain something of a mystery. The census enumerators were nothing more than scathing when a body put down they were a dairyman or a ploughman...it would be crossed through with a heavy black line and ag lab put in its place, so it's almost impossible to know what your persons role was on a farm.
They did move about a great deal within the same area...working on one farm and then moving to another rather than staying in the same place all their working lives...so I would think they'd go to the hiring fairs to find new employment and it could be that those unfortunate enough to end up in the Workhouse, hadn't been successful in finding work for the following year. But I'm simply guessing and don't know for sure. They might have been drunken layabouts, who shunned the idea of a hard day's work for all I know.
Once you leave the 1800's behind and begin to explore the 1700's it all becomes more of a puzzle. This will be the very beginning of the titled folk who were at Oxford University when only twelve years of age and who lived in grand houses and married well. Some might be Knights of the Realm...some may have been a titled Lady. Move into the 1600's and you can forget the humble ag lab altogether...now his ancestors fought in famed battles and were privy to the Royal Court and lived in small castles...back even further to the 1400's and Henry's forebears were going on Crusades and coming back to England filled with religious zeal...and their saddlebags with precious artefacts they'd stolen.
They returned to castles perched on the edge of sea swept cliffs and ate in huge halls and went on wild boar hunts and carried beautifully wrought swords...
What would they have thought about Henry living a relatively humble life in a small farm cottage with his wife and many children...growing his vegetables and gleaning firewood for the winter from the estate...perhaps joining with a couple of other workers to poach some rabbits on dark autumn evenings...Henry may well have made boots for his children using the lasts cast by the local blacksmith...he'd have gone to Church every Sunday and his wife would never have put her washing out on that day...she'd have waited until the Monday for that.
Henry is something of a stranger to me...even if he is a cousin. His way of life, and that of his wife, is an alien concept...go back to the 1400's and it might as well be another world altogether...it's easy enough to completely forget that Henry's and my common ancestor are related...they carry the same DNA...those Crusaders and their women...those who attended the Kings and the Queens and were privy to the Royal secrets and intrigues...
Nothing short of magical really.
But for people like Henry, what they did, and how they made their living is a subject of much deeper research...always supposing there is the information out there somewhere.