Monday, 11 February 2013

Embarrassments then and now

So much has been happening recently. Today, his Holiness the Pope resigned.  I resigned myself to donatng three books to the care and keeping of the Diabetes Association — but for pick-up tomorrow in case I change my mind. I also sent consolatory greetings to my daughter-in-law after she posted a note on Facebook about the death of one of their family dogs. However, it was an anniversary remembrance of their pet, who, I failed to recall, died a year ago. That reminds me of the time I asked after my son’s cat who had left this feline realm many months before.  I knew that but had forgotten. So embarrassing.  Maybe I should resign too.

Nevertheless, there are some events that crystallize things for me as a sniff of smelling salts awakens a swooning person. I was pleased to hear that the bones of poor Richard the Third were identified as his. His mortal remains will now be given a proper burial, and I hope the Sarum Rite is used. There is a precedent; it was used in 1984 for the funeral mass for the crew of the Margaret Rose, which sank in 1545 in the Solent off Portsmouth, England and lay buried in mud there for over 400 years.

Anyhow, what amazed me was that the clue to his former majesty’s identity was found in DNA belonging to a female descendant  (and not, as one excited CBC announcer claimed, an ancestor) of his from London, Ontario 17 generations on.

And in my own small way, I have made equally surprising finds. I have been working on the family tree using and other sources I have serendipitously found via Google. 

At one point I thought I was related to an Englishman transported to Australia for stealing cloth, then marrying after his seven-year sentence was up and fathering a quiverful of children there. He also seemed to have returned to England, married and fathered several children there as well. Descent from a bigamist thief was a slightly embarrassing notoriety. Fortunately, I do not have to worry about it.

Someone put incorrect information into their tree; it was copied by many others until a bright light puzzled why, before the days of jet travel, John Noble was fathering a child a year in Australia as well as doing his part populating Mother England.

Same name and death date on the tombstone, but it was in an Australian cemetery, not an English one (first clue).  Wrong date and place of birth, it soon transpired, and I was left with an unblemished ancestor who lived all his 74 years in Fylingsdale, Yorkshire.
However, and this is the cliff-hanger, there was another find: more to come, once I prune some overhanging branches from the family tree.