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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Happy Mothers Day!

It's Mothers Day, so I thought it was only right to post about mums!

In genealogy there is a real bias towards the paternal line and it's something I have never paid much attention to - I'm as equally interested in all lines, paternal or maternal and think it is a shame that mothers information is much harder to find and verify (due to the recording of only fathers info on English marriage certificates). I got married up in Scotland and I love the fact that my mum and mother-in-law's details are included alongside mine and my husband's fathers details. Hopefully England will soon change certificates after the Prime Minister promised to look at how best to update certificates after a high profile campaign last year to stop erasing women from history (see here). 

Mothers are often overlooked in family history, yet they often have the most stories to be told, and their lives are often shaped by the presence (or absence) of their mothers.

Me and my mum (c.1986)

My mum (who is obviously the best mum in the world, it goes without saying!) lost her mum when she was 23, not long after she had married and before I was born. My maternal grandmother Irene was 57 when she died and growing up I was very aware of her presence even though I had never known her (and even though I did not spend a great deal of time with my mum's remaining family). My mum kept her mum's memory very much alive, and we had lots of photos of her so she was always "there" - even if she wasn't physically there.

Irene's mum, Janet, my paternal great grandmother, died before my mum was born but again featured in my mum's life. As I have found out more about her, it has been good to fill my mum in on Janet's life - her early life in the Scottish borders, her family's move to the industrial North East of England when she was a young girl, her war-time wedding to my mum's grandfather in 1915 and their move to London.

I knew my Dad's family much more than my mum's growing up, and was very close to his mum, June, my Nan. She was amazing and I still miss her (she died in 2011). I also knew her parents as they were around until I was 10,11. 

My great-grandmother, Daisy, was a lovely kindly old lady who made a mean Victoria sponge (complete with lots of sugar on the top!) and whose main hobbies seemed to be bingo (if she could get there) and affectionately winding up my great-grandfather, Albert (or "Bert" as she called him) - her husband of over 60 years. Nanny Payne (Daisy) had lots of stories that people didn't question too much, and in some cases even dismissed. It's only as I have researched my family history over the last few years that I've discovered most of her stories were more or less spot on and I wish I had asked more questions about them.  She had experienced great loss at an early age - her brother died in the great war when she was a child, and her mum died a few years later when she was 11, but remained family-orientated throughout her life and looked after my dad a great deal when he was small to enable her daughter to go out to work in order to have the things she had never had.

Me and my great-grandmother, Daisy (c. 1984)

Daisy's mum, Susan, was only 46 when she died. The cause of death on the death certificate relates to her heart but family legend said "the change" was what had killed her. She's one of the most "interesting" characters in my family tree - she lied about her age to get married at 15 in a Catholic church in Notting Hill near the famous potteries known for travellers and there are hints and clues that point towards her family being gypsies. What is certain is that Susan's mother's line was from Ireland and the thriving East End docklands were what had brought them over to England.

My dad's other Nan (Daisy being the first), Elizabeth, was another family figure that intrigued me long before I started to research my family tree. She died over a decade before I was born, but she had died on Christmas day so I was always aware of her and the date on which she had died. I also knew she had come down to London from Glasgow as a young girl, although I probably didn't realise how young she was (14). I've discovered that Elizabeth's own mother died just after Christmas when she was just four years old, and her father remarried a few months after, marrying her aunt (her mum's sister) who also died at Christmas time - 21 years to the day after her sister had died. 

So, to all mum's, here or elsewhere, thank you for the caring you have done, the jobs you have undertaken, the hardships you have suffered, the stories you have told and the way history has treated you.


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1 comment:

  1. Happy Mother's Day across the pond - Here in America, it's not until May. I love your narratives and photos. I am also a young genealogist (well, kinda young - I'll be 33 in May, so now time is creeping up on me!). Please keep up the great posts - it seems so many blogs tend to go by the wayside after a few years. Here's to keeping ours going for many more years to come! :) Kristen at