I was an only child and although my parents had seven siblings between them none had been greatly exercised by the genetic imperative. The annual ritual rummage through a box of family photographs fascinated me with its cast of hundreds. Who were all these people? Where were they? Many, perhaps most, would still have been alive in the 1950s, but few ever appeared at our door.
Looking through the photographs today, I realize that most of the faces are of total strangers. No amount of facility with genealogical records is going to help me to identify them. (No names on the back!) Distant memories are all I have to go on. On second thoughts, a growing familiarity with my “tree”, could focus the memories and sharpen intuition.
Take this venerable chap, for instance.
I do remember clearly that my parents couldn’t put names to a fair proportion of faces and I think this fellow was one of them. Their knowledge of their grandparents was sketchy, and of great-grandparents almost non-existent.
It doesn’t help that my maternal and paternal sides’ photos are mixed together. (They were always thus.) This image is on postcard stock so, off the cuff, I’m going to date it to 1890. The subject is probably wearing his best clothes but they are sensible rather than fashionable. He is fresh-faced but his hands have done much work. A countryman. The kind of person we all want to have in our pedigree – an Ag Lab.
So, I’m looking for a parental great grandfather aged between 60 and 70 in 1890, who lived in a village. Of the eight candidates, I have the names of just five. One is Norwegian, totally lost in the mists, one a Channel Islander, ditto. Two were city dwellers, and one got my 2x great-grandmother pregnant but did not marry her. Last man sitting for this photograph is Thomas Andrews GOODING (1819-1897). Born in Binbrook, worked the land around Binbrook, died in Binbrook. He married late, aged 41, but had eleven children with Eliza HATCLIFFE.
There isn’t much chance of this hunch ever being confirmed – unless a distant cousin reads this, has the same photo in their family album and kindly gets in touch.