Oral History – A Pinch of Salt or a Grain of Truth?

Oral History SeriesContinuing the oral history series and the post from yesterday

A few years ago whilst at the funeral of another family member I mentioned the story to my late Mum’s first cousin. I asked if he knew of the story? He replied I must have it wrong because the land in fact was on Wonersh Common. I asked are you sure? and received one of those looks that Mum would give me, you know the stare that says you are foolish to question me!

I explained what I had been told by no less than three of his Aunts, yet he remained adamant, it was Wonersh as that was where the Butcher family hailed from. He and I both looked at his older brother, who miraculously and typically said he had never heard the story previously and suggested that I follow it up.

A year ago I called the daughter of my Great Aunt, she told me that she knew there was land in Wonersh, but not this exact issue and sent me some documents. When they arrived they were the same I already had and did represent research from the Butcher family and not the land on Wanborough Common or Wonersh Common.

As I said yesterday, I am no further forward now, than I was thirty years ago when I first heard the details of Wanborough Common, let alone Wonersh Common (Wonersh is in Surrey too).

Is this a case of a pinch of salt or a grain of truth? Or is it that two stories have become merged over time. I can certainly confirm that the family did indeed have links to land in Wonersh and surrounding areas, I have copies of the various documents to prove it. Meanwhile, Laverty’s notebook also reveals something worth following up on and I hope that it doesn’t take me another thirty years to do so!

This entry was posted in Butcher One-Name Study, Genealogy, Harris, Headley Hampshire & Frensham Surrey, One-Name Studies, Oral History Series, Places. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Oral History – A Pinch of Salt or a Grain of Truth?

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    I can certainly relate to this. There are things my father told me in the last year of his life (after my mother had died) which explained some puzzling events in my memory, but which – until his revelations, which he quickly retracted as having said too much in an unguarded moment – I had interpreted entirely differently based on a different version from my mother.
    These days oral history is a valuable part of the historian’s armoury but there is no doubt in my mind that when people have reasons to embellish or cover up the truth, it is not to be trusted at all – and what’s more, those distortions of the truth often make their way onto official documents, either because people don’t know the truth or they’re covering it up.

    Like

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