Hello, I’m Alan Stewart, freelance family history author, and this is my blog of UK/Ireland genealogy news.
I write regularly for the magazines Practical Family History and Family Tree Magazine in the UK, and Internet Genealogy and Discovering Family History in North America. I’ve also written for Ancestors, Family History Monthly and Who Do You Think You Are in the UK, and Family Chronicle and Everton’s Genealogical Helper in North America. You’ll also find me in the Family and Local History Handbook.
Please see the ‘Alan’s Books’ pages for information about my two family history books, Grow Your Own Family Tree (one of Family History Monthly‘s Top Ten Books of 2008) and Gathering the Clans:Tracing Scottish Ancestry on the Internet.
My own family history
When I was a small boy, my maternal grandparents had a large family Bible, which was wrapped up in brown paper and kept under a bed! Every now and then, I’d ask if we could get it out and look at the list of baptisms that had been recorded in it back in the late 19th century. Much later, when I had children of my own, I actually got round to tracing my ancestors. That was over 25 years ago.
Among the interesting people I’ve since discovered were my six-times great uncle Alexander Brodie, who went from being an apprentice blacksmith in the Scottish Borders to become a rich ironmaster in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire in the late 18th century. My wife Linda and I have stayed at his house, which is now a small hotel.
When Grace Darling and her father saved nine of the passengers and crew of the SS Forfarshire, which struck rocks at the Farne Islands in 1838, my great-great-grandfather’s brother Ruthven Ritchie was the only passenger to get into a lifeboat with eight of the crew, throwing his trousers in before him!
Most of my ancestors were Scottish, but I’ve also discovered English, Irish and even Indian ancestors that I hadn’t known anything about. Linda proudly states that all her ancestors were British (i.e. English and Welsh), but she may get a surprise one day.
Her mother’s ancestors lived on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, and Linda was fortunate enough to discover that other people had already traced her Hawes ancestors in Walsham-le-Willows, Suffolk back to about 1260, using parish records, wills and manor court rolls. You can read about James McNeill’s researches at www.walsham-le-willows.org/history/quarterlyreview.
If only we could all get that far back!
Good luck with your searching.