Monday, 22 August 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

I’m really enjoying the new series of Who Do You Think You Are? The line up is just great and so far the past lives which have been revealed have had me gripped.

There’s something about family history which really fascinates me, as it does a whole lot of other people. Its amazing to find out how the decisions made by people who are long since gone, have a direct impact on our lives today, sometimes even down to the fact that we are here at all. What about if your great, great grandfather hadn’t emigrated? Would the family line have died out? Or what if he hadn’t been caught stealing a chicken because the family were starving and transported to Oz to set up a whole new bunch of descendents?
Of course it helps when you’re a celebrity and you have a whole heap of historians searching for you, explaining to you the information they have found and showing you what impact it would have had on your ancestors’ lives. But perhaps that takes away the fun of becoming a private detective on your own life.

I’ve always considered myself very lucky and am very proud that I have my own family tree at my fingertips. It actually goes back to the time of William the Conqueror which is no mean feat by anyone’s standards. Unfortunately, I can take no credit for this whatsoever.

The original research was complied by George Ormerod who was a historian living in Cheshire in the Victorian era. He wrote a major account of the history of Cheshire in which my ancestors happened to be prominent.

It turns out that one of my ancestors helped to collect data which went into the Doomsday book and for his efforts was awarded the township of Mere, which lies just outside Knutsford in Cheshire. The family name has changed in its spelling over the centuries but originates from this place. Sadly the family hit hard times and were forced to sell up. They continued to be prominent in the area though which is why the line was traced by Ormerod. I remember years ago going to Chester library and opening up the huge book where the family tree and his findings were contained. The book now is too fragile to be handled and has been transcribed onto a CD which I managed to buy from the records office. Now I have the information at my fingertips. It’s not quite the same though.

Later a cousin of my dad’s took up the mantle and updated the family tree from where Ormerod left off, with my younger brother being one of the last entries. It needs to be updated now to include the next generation and this is something I hope to do when I have time.

It’s really good to have this information to hand, but really I think this is just a starting point. The births marriages and deaths are vital statistics, but they don’t tell you how these people lived their lives or what they were like. And that’s the bit that fascinates me. I would really like to find out more but sometimes I feel as though I have too much information. Where would I start? The beginning or the end? It’s not a complaint more of a conundrum. And as ever a question of time. One day soon maybe, I’ll unroll the scrolls of paper and really get stuck into my own history. You never know what I might find.


  1. I love that show too and isn't it often the way that the people you think will be the most interesting aren't - and the people you think won't be interesting are? It's amazing that you can go back so far in your family tree and so much more difficult I would imagine when George Ormerod did it. How sad that the book is so fragile.

  2. Hi Teresa

    I think the programmes with the older ladies are much more emotive and you can really get stuck into them. I loved the scene in June Brown's where she was talking to her ancestor at her graveside - it really brought a tear to my eye.

    It is a shame about the History of Cheshire but at least I have it on CD to look at when (if) I get the time.


  3. Wow! That's very impressive. The place isn't linked to Ellesmere at all is it? I too am an avid watcher, but as you say it's the stories that are the best bit.