This post is scheduled to appear on the day that my third grandchild is due. I don't yet know if it will be a granddaughter or a grandson but I have already blogged about grandparenthood. When my 'about to be a big sister' granddaughter was born I focused on the direct maternal line backwards through the generations from her via me, back through generations of women, some of whom I know very little about. Maternal ancestry is always more difficult to trace than the male line, because each generation introduces a new surname. My granddaughter is the ninth identifiable generation in the direct female line, with a possible further two generations still to be confirmed.
So who were
these women, where did they live, when did the marry and how old were
they when they too became ‘Granny’? Many of these women lived into their
late eighties or nineties - I am planning on inheriting those genes!
The exception was my grandmother, who was a smoker - let that be a
lesson to you. Despite this, a tendency to have children in the late
twenties or thirties means that only twice has the family spanned four
living generations. Spring births were popular and many of these
ladies died in the spring too. The line starts in Essex before moving
to the London suburbs, then escaping to the Isle of Wight and Cambridge.
I am very fortunate that I have photographs of seven generations of
women, if you include myself, my daughter and granddaughter. I challenge readers to investigate their own maternal (or of course paternal) line in the same way as I have here.
I will start with my mum, Gwendoline Catherine ‘Gwen’ Smith born 27
February 1925 159 Albert Road (later Davidson Road), Addiscombe,
Croydon, daughter of Frederick Herbert and Ivy Gertrude Smith. Married
Cyril Albany Braund 27 August 1947 St. Martin’s, Croydon. Died 13 March
2011 Devon. Married at 22, One child, First child born at 31,
Grandparent at 57, Died at 86.
Gertrude Woolgar born 4 January 1893 7 Chalford Road, Dulwich, daughter
of Philip James and Clara Woolgar. Married Frederick Herbert Smith 8
April 1922, St Clement Danes, London. Died 25 April 1963 28 Sundridge
Road, Addiscombe, Croydon. Married at 29, One child, First child born at
32, Grandparent at 63, died at 70.
Dawson born 15 April 1858 Great Baddow, Essex, daughter of Thomas and
Mary Archer Dawson. Married Philip James Woolgar 21 December 1886 St
James’, Dulwich. Died 26 January 1949 159 Davidson Road, Addiscombe,
Croydon. Married at 28, Four children, First child at 30, Grandparent at
63, died at 90.
Archer ‘May’ Bowyer born 1830 (probably March) Writtle, Essex, daughter
of John and Ann Bowyer. Married Thomas Dawson 2 April 1855 Independent
Protestant Dissenters’ Old Meeting House, Chelmsford, Essex. Died 16
April 1919 6 St John’s Cottage, Penge. Married at 25, Six children,
First child at 26, Grandparent at 48, died at 89.
Oliver born c 1799 (probably summer) Writtle, Essex, daughter of James
and Elizabeth Oliver. Married John Bowyer 25 December 1822, All Saint’s
Norton Mandeville, Essex. Died 25 February 1889 Highwood, Writtle,
Essex. Married at 23, Six known children, first known child 30,
Grandparent at 56, great grandparent at 78, died at 89.
Fitch born c 1768 (probably late summer) Writtle, Essex, probably
daughter of Cornel[ius] and Ann Fitch. Married James Oliver 20 January
1794, Writtle, Essex. Died 1863, Ongar District. Married at 25, Eight
children, First child at 25 (pregnant when married), Grandparent at 55
(or before), Great grandparent at 88 (or before), died at 95.
before this come Ann Palmer and then Ann Mason. The genes that my granddaughter
might have inherited from these Anns are pretty diluted but nurture, as
well as nature, plays its part. I wonder how many mannerisms and traits
have traveled through these generations?