K is for Kinship #familyhistory #atozchallenge

Having dealt with journeys and migration yesterday ‘K’ gives me the opportunity to write about another of the themes underpinning my ‘emigrants’ research – kinship. What role does kinship play in migration choices? Certainly there is plenty of evidence for chains of migration, where one family member goes overseas and is followed by siblings, cousins or other relatives. This leads us on to wonder how strong family ties were for our predecessors. Particularly in a small rural community, where many inhabitants were related in some way, how aware would our ancestors have been of those relationships? Unless they are family historians, many people in today’s world would struggle to name all their first cousins, let alone be in contact with them. How much is this due to the fact that many families are now widely geographically dispersed, whereas a century ago they might still be living in close proximity? In the days when families were larger, did cousins become insignificant because siblings were numerous?

Many celebrity tree hunters are keen to link two disparate celebrities on the same pedigree. If we try hard enough and follow many ancestral lines we can probably link ourselves to someone famous, to royalty, or to a number of our friends and acquaintances. There was a dear family history friend whom I had known for many years. We had long since had the conversation ‘I am descended from the Smiths of London’. ‘So am I! Ha! We must be related!’ A considerable while later it turned out that we were indeed related (more of that story when we get to S).

Aston Clinton Church

The Church where my great great grandmother and also my daughter were baptised

Equally we can probably connect ourselves to many places through our distant kin. So, for example, my four times great grandfather, William Braund, had a sister called Betty. Betty’s husband was Gamaliel Bartlett, whose father was, in 1735, baptised in the parish where I now live. Convoluted I know but the connection is there. More eerily, I moved to Buckinghamshire in 1982, believing myself to have no ancestral connections in the county. After I moved away I discovered that not only had my grandmother been born in Buckinghamshire, despite her family living in London but that my great great grandmother had lived in the same road in which I was make my home.



4 comments on “K is for Kinship #familyhistory #atozchallenge

  1. Brenda Turner says:

    I always enjoy your posts Janet, and this series has made me think a lot about my own discoveries about my family. This post brought back memories.

    Many years ago I was tracing a distant branch of my family and dicovered that a member of that branch sounded familiar to me. He had been my ex-husband’s (spitoui!) grandfather. I called up my ex’s mother, now in her 80s, and with whom I am still friendly, and asked her if the family name Dunning meant anything to her. Yes, she said, it was my grandmother’s maiden name. I told her about my discovery, and she was very sweet about it. But finding out you are related to an ex-husband you hope mever to see again (spitoui!) in this lifetime can leave you a little shaken.

    From that experience I developed a theory: that if your ancestors, like mine, were in the Ottawa Valley between 1850 and 1900, and had a common language with mine, English, and a common religion, Protestant, then the small size of the population at that time means that we are probably related somehow. After many more years of research I have never yet been proved wrong on that theory. Cheers.

    Brenda Turner

  2. Birgit says:

    My dad always said we were related to Liberace and a famous 1940’s drummer and the name escapes me at this moment-wow! I have no idea and would be surprised but you never know. I know so little on my grandmother’s side and she was supposed to have sisters who travelled to the states. My grandmom was polish and was part of the oldest Polish settlement in Canada (or is it Ontario??) -Wilno. I find geneology very interesting and love the show “Who Do You Think You are”. Anyone’s family history is rich and wonderful

  3. Very interesting post. Thank you. I grew up in Eastern Europe in one of those families with one reunion or other, it seemed, going on every weekend. I can definitely tell you the names of all my first cousins, but that’d take too much space here. I miss that bond, that family connection. Here in L.A., we can barely take care of things like work, family, etc. Reunions happen once a year, if we’re lucky. My husband, born and raised here in L.A., hasn’t seen some of his cousins since they were all kids, not sure he even remembers their names.
    Anyway, I could go on and on. Loved the post, maybe that’s way. 🙂
    Silvia @

  4. Caro - Claire Wiles says:

    Although I have a little more information on the Braund side of the family, I am sad to say I have not been able to track much of my mother’s side
    My grandfather and his four brothers and three of his five sisters all emigrated to Toronto Canada in 1912 from the Preston Lancashire area
    However I do not seem to be able to find any of those relatives here now with the exception of some my mom’s relatives (basically my own first cousins) and I can’t find any of the other relatives.

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