Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Knowing Your Place

For someone who had always felt he was pacing through life, just a fraction 'out of step', family history research became much more than a series of fascinating discoveries about the lives of those who had passed before. The travels, trials, and general antics of my forebears provided me with certain markers. A means of finding where I might fit into the scheme of things.

After losing my beloved maternal grandparents, I weathered storm of grief, during which, I was partially torn up, my roots exposed.

Propagation of the family tree, forced me to examine runners of DNA stretching away into history. Fed on fresh records and nurtured with keenly researched detail, it steadily grew to a manageable size. Small enough that I didn't lose perspective, yet still large enough to accommodate me in the sturdier branches of its canopy.

John Hodges and his wife, Sarah. Paternal 2 x great grandparents.

I've taken the project just about as far as I want to now, which makes me think I must be comfortable with who/where I am. I have learnt that the fact I have a much stronger association with my maternal line, has little to do with my dislocation from a paternal influence, at an early age. For me, there are indisputable similarities that are set in the actions and reactions of those, long gone, maintaining a shared instinctive connection through time, a kind of maternal magnetism.

Eliza Jane and her husband, Wellington. Maternal 2 x great grandparents.

I know I've touched on this briefly before, with one or two people, but sometimes it's as though a hand reaches from nowhere, and guides you to where you should be. It's a feeling so difficult to articulate. It's a chain of consciousness that links us, and makes us what we are.


  1. You're very lucky to have photographs going back so far! I think I need to do something like this :) My father is an historian so you would think he would get on the case - but I'm still waiting.

  2. Very interesting post. Families might be our tyranny and destiny, or they may be a nurturing soil. What amazes me is how much echoes through generations, especially elements that were unknown.

  3. My wife has researched a lot about her family. Some of the things she has discovered make you really stop and think. I'm lucky to have some previous research on my side, (my maternal great, great grandfather did a lot on this), but as yet I don't feel ready to do anything with it.
    Lovely post, Martin - very thought provoking.

  4. Oh my, this gave me goosebumps, Martin. I know exactly the feeling you describe.
    Lovely post.

  5. I Love & Identify With Your Concept Of maternal magnetism. Yes, Force & Direction Are ,no doubt, Informed By The Branches & Root We Are Connected Too ..........

  6. A wonderful post! How good that you were able to identify those strands of your family that you felt strong resonances with, and why. And your photographs are wonderful. Families (or branches thereof) do seem to have quite "individual" characters!

  7. Gabrielle - I do count myself fortunate to have these photographs. Discovering my family tree has been a good thing for me. Get on to your father.

    Isabel - There are many more 'negatives' in the paternal line. Things I find it hard to comprehend. I don't recognise myself in any of the people I found there.

    Martin - The time will probably come, as it did for me, when you'll want to be more aware of what went before.

    Ciara - It's so hard to put into words. It's good know that this post struck a chord.

    tony - Thanks.

    christine - Thank you. The whole thing has been a fascinating and useful exercise for me, personally. Oddly, there are those in my family who just shrug their shoulders and ask, "Why?"

  8. Family history is so intriguing. I too know much more of my maternal line.

  9. A wonderful piece of writing that gave me goosebumps.


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