"There is no such thing as an 'ordinary' family any more than there might be 'ordinary' people. We all have our tales to tell as individuals. So it is with families. Anyone who has reflected on their family history is sure to have wondered about the family stories and legends we all heard in our childhood. Who hasn't heard seemingly far-fetched tales as a child - ones that you could scarcely believe even in your naive, gullible years and which as an adult seem even more laughable? Although in later years one can look back at them, and see a glimmer - just a glimmer mind you - of truth."
"Among the many conversations we had, only two things stand out in my memory. The first, that we have French and Welsh blood running through our veins (well diluted by now) and second, that we are related to Captain James Cook! At the time those things didn't register much with me, I just took it for granted. After all, aren't grandmothers the fount of all wisdom and knowledge? And the family was/is of seafaring stock. It wasn't until 1977 when, as a minister in the Maori section of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, that I began to think more deeply of my 'relationship' to Captain Cook, and the need to establish it as fact."
"Fred, my father, was a quiet man. He almost never spoke. He certainly didn't speak to me. Not that he was hostile or unkind; he simply never spoke to me. Isn't that strange? I cannot remember him ever saying a single word to me and I have a good memory. My earliest memories go back to Mooroopna when I was just three or four years old and they are clear and vivid. But I cannot recall a single occasion on which my father spoke to me."
"This is the story, taken almost verbatim from my diary, of a discovery made when I was almost 67 years of age, that changed my life. It is recorded here just as it happened. Chance, or luck, plays a great part in our lives. Of course when we look back at a sequence of decisions and their consequences we often feel that some greater intelligence must have planned it that way. But I believe it's luck. My story begins with such a sequence of chance happenings."
"Many years ago, when I was only fourteen years of age, my grandmother sowed the seeds of curiosity in me by hinting that we had a skeleton in our family cupboard, which was in some way connected to "Jack The Ripper". At that age I was not interested in family history and so it was many years later before my curiosity surfaced. I was looking for a book to read on a flight home from Singapore and spotted "The Complete Jack The Ripper", by Donald Rumbelow, and could hear the bones in our cupboard rattling."
"I searched high and low when my four-times great-grandfather, Henry Townsend, a day-labourer in the Oxfordshire village of Shipton-under-Wychwood, disappeared from the Parish Records. I found his Baptism, his Marriage and the Baptisms of his six children, then - nothing. His wife, Sarah, died and was buried in the village in 1826, at the age of 79, but Henry did not appear to be mentioned again after the Christening of his youngest son. Then, quite by chance, a fellow researcher's casual remark pointed me in the direction of the Calendar of Prisoners for Oxford Gaol."
"I found out quite early on that my Gt. Grandfather was born at Clap Bridge Farm, Bocking, Braintree, Essex in 1874, (even though I'd been told he was born in London). My Gt. Gt. Grandfather was Head of Clap Bridge Farm from 1865 when John Foyster, my Gt. Gt. Gt. Grandfather died. John Foyster ran the farm from 1851. I lived only 25 minutes away from Braintree. I couldn't believe my luck."
Margaret Hampton married Alan John Quinton, an RAF navigator. He was involved in a mid air collision between a Martinet fighter and a Wellington bomber in 1951. Alan, known as John, gave the only available parachute to an air cadet, Derek Coates, whose life was saved.
"Born with a spinal defect, Mavis was to require an operation to correct this, scheduled to be carried out in 1941. William doted on his daughter and as the date of the operation drew near it was obvious to him that he would be at sea when it was carried out. Knowing that his daughter needed him, he took the decision to miss his ship to be with Mavis for the duration of her operation. Being that this was wartime, William's actions were a very serious offence, but his love for his daughter came above all else."
Every year the popular BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? brings us a host of new and exciting stories. We have taken a look at each celebrity as they journey into their family history, and you can read about their discoveries in our articles.
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