I’ve been continuing to recheck the paper trail to identify as many of my third cousins as possible (people with whom I share a great great grandparent), prior to receiving my Family Finder DNA results in January. When a couple marry in 1863 and have eight children, you would expect that, more than 150 years later, there would be descendants scattered far and wide, well I would. This is my family we are talking about – not so. Today’s third cousin hunt centres on the descendants of my direct male line, great great grandparents William Braund aka Jeffery and Isabella Jane née Nicholls. They had six sons and two daughters. I concentrated on trying to establish how many of these siblings produced descendants in my generation i.e. my third cousins. I have rigorously researched this line in the past and today’s re-check confirmed that I have found all those who are there to be found (barring any illegitimate offspring who were a very well kept secret).
The boys were particularly easy to follow up: one died as a child, three never married, one had two sons but no grandchildren and the other was my own ancestor who produced me and only me, in my generation. That left the two daughters, one of whom died as a teenager. From the other there are just six third cousins, I have been in contact with the father of four of them for many years (my second cousin once removed) and I have found two of them on Facebook but not taken the plunge and made contact yet. It seems strange that so many branches of my family have shrunk and I have fewer third cousins than most people have first cousins. I guess it makes tracing them a more practical proposition.I’d be really interested in anyone else’s third cousin count.
We are in sixteenth century Cornwall with today’s historical novelist, Cheryl Hayden. Her story is based on the Prayer Book Rebellion, which is not one of the well known events of history but had a huge impact on the far south-west. It features the Winslade family, who were large landowners in Cornwall and in parts of Devon including the north-west, where I now live. There is romance and adventure bound up in the plot, which falls into the category of ‘faction’. Cheryl has a background in journalism, so her meticulously researched and well written account is not a surprise. The Cornish setting is particularly well drawn, with believable phrases and dialect. This is especially praiseworthy as the author is an Australian. She is also an academic historian and the Winslade family form part of her doctoral research. Academics are normally very reluctant to praise popular writing in their field, let alone fiction and the fact that this novel has attracted very positive comments from professors of Cornish Studies is a testament to Cheryl’s work. Reading this book immediately made me want to find out more about the events that form the backdrop to the story. I understand that there may be a second novel featuring the Winslades in the future; another for my wanted list.