I wrote this back in late October 2021, where it languished with a series of post it notes in my journal, and waited to be finished. It was not until I was working on the Census series that I recalled writing this, and on searching realised it was not finished, nor published.
Over the part of last year I began to think back to my childhood and visits to a plethora of great Aunts and Uncles. Those visits I enjoyed, and even once I had left home to study and moved on into my own home. Eventually leaving my native Surrey, having married, I maintained those visits, though not with previous regularity, until I found myself at the funeral of the last of my great Aunts.
There is something profound in the realisation that those who have gone before you, have indeed gone. My last great Aunt passed away in 2011, my Mum died in 2014, and I with that passing became the last one. The sentiment that there is more life behind you than in front is almost sobering, and a sudden realisation that I have a great many notes taken on those visits, and a great many happy memories.
I therefore began to focus on the siblings of my great Grandmother, effectively my great, great Aunts and Uncles. My great Grandmother, Annie Prudence Harris was born in the lovely picturesque village of Puttenham in Surrey in 1879. She passed away in the early 1970’s and I remember her.
It was seeing Granny, as she was called by us all, in the census in 1881 that inspired me into this research. At this point, the 1881 Census was the last one available. It was seeing Granny on this census that was just magical to me; the linking of the person that I remembered to the past. In turn, that created the urge to understand, and get to know these people that I shared a genetic link to. I talked about this HERE, as part of the Census series.
Coupled with that census image, were the notes I had made of many visits to my great Aunts and Uncles I was able to bring to life the siblings of my maternal great grandmother and grandfather.
Now, post Christmas, I am sure that the winter will be a filled with cold, flu and Covid, at least in north east England, so my plan is to immerse myself in the research and the filling of gaps that exist within the lives of my great great Aunts and Uncles and the recording within my genealogical software the notes from those family visits.
My great Aunts were able to provide me with the names of my great Grandmother’s parents, who were Henry Harris and Caroline Ellis who married in 1864, AND her maternal grandparents, who were George Ellis and Prudence Budd who married in 1834. I was then able to follow the Budd line back in Puttenham to 1724,
Whilst oral history can be unreliable, I found that the information I was given was accurate when I followed the family through the parish records.
One of my special memories took place at least 30 years ago. One of my great Aunts (born in 1915) came with me to see her oldest sibling and sister who was born in 1900. We were joined by their first cousin who was born in 1911. It was fascinating to watch them interact as a group of three, and separately as sisters in the case of my Aunts. They sat chatting about the memories they shared of the villages, farms, family and other snippets. They were totally instep with one another, their recollections was truly remarkable, so much so I am sure they forgot I was in the room. This was before smart phones. I totally forgot to grab my camera, so the only recollection is my memory and the notes that I took that day.
All of us have these sort of “snapshots”, whether we have photographic support or not. It is sharing and documenting these memories that is important, which means that whilst our family members may have gone, they are not forgotten.