On International Women’s Day it seems appropriate to have a female themed post. As the mother of daughters and the grandmother of a granddaughter (and two super-cool grandsons who must not be left out), I am ever mindful of the maternal line. I have already outlined who these women are in a post I wrote to celebrate the arrival of the newest generation. Since then I have confirmed two earlier generations, so we now have an unbroken line of eleven generations of women, stretching back to the early eighteenth century. What were they like these women? What sort of life did 5 x great grandmother, Ann Fitch née Palmer lead? She married at seventeen and then spent the next thirty years producing twelve children. Her daughter Elizabeth Oliver lived to be ninety five, no mean feat. I am still hoping that I may be able to extend the direct maternal line further back into the shadowy past of rural Essex. Or perhaps my autosomal DNA will highlight fellow descendants of some of the earlier generations. In the the absence of much biographical detail for most of these women I content myself with finding out out the social history of their time. So I know what sort of clothes they probably wore, something of their household routine, how they might of cooked food for the family and the homes that they may have inhabited. Of course, I would love to know more, to now what they looked like, whether I would have liked them, if I have inherited any of their characteristics but it has to be a ‘glass half full’ scenario and I am thankful that at least know their names and I can commemorate their existence.
My general interest in women’s history, led me to write my Ladies First Column for The In-Depth Genealogists’ Going In-depth Magazine. This column investigates the working lives of our female ancestors, covering both paid employment and household tasks. It is often easier to research the occupations of the men in our families, so I enjoy redressing the balance and putting the ladies first.
Today, intrepid members of our Authors in a Café group ventured out of their usual haunt to combat fog, drizzle and the steep street of Bucks Mills, in order to recce the venue for our up-coming Writers in Residence weekend. We are all very enthusiastic about the inspirational setting, if less enthusiastic about the ‘rest room’ facilities, or lack of the same. So if you enjoy chatting about books and writing and want to experience the spectacular North Devon coast, do drop in at The Cabin, Bucks Mills on 29 April, 30 April or 1 May between 10.00am and 4.00pm. Who knows which of our merry band of seven you will encounter (possibly with their legs crossed)? My ‘shift’ is the morning of Monday May 1; come and say hello, copies of all our books will be available for purchase.