Why I’m More English Than the Queen
Meaning no disrespect to anyone of mixed ancestry, especially Her Majesty, I have always been more than pleased that I am 100% English, with no Scottish mother and certainly no European blue blood. It has allowed me to specialize. Of course there is no such thing as “pure English”, who are a mixture of Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, Norman French, and many other immigrants – most of this so long ago its untraceable except perhaps through DNA. All 8 of my great-grandparents, and 2 of my grandparents, were born in England. My English ancestors lived from Cornwall and Essex in the south to Westmorland and Yorkshire in the north. I am descended from, among a few thousand others,
- a publican (Doidge) in Cornwall, whose daughter, my great-grandmother, helped make lunches for the tin miners; their pub is today a private dwelling
- a blacksmith (Phipps) in Worcestershire, who emigrated in 1881 to Wyoming and worked shaping iron for the Union Pacific Railroad
- a farmer (Alcock) in Gloucestershire, whose residence, The Old House, is today the oldest house in the village of Longborough
- a labourer (Selston) in Berkshire, whose rare surname was not the reason that the bells of Long Wittenham rang over 60 times on the day of his burial
- an illiterate farm labourer (Halls) in Essex, whose self-taught son became a school teacher in Utah, eventually acquiring 3 wives, 19 children (1862-1894), and 88 grandchildren (1885-1940), the oldest grandchild becoming a doctor in education in 1902, setting up the high school system in Utah
- a coal miner (Wagstaff) in Derbyshire, who residing next to my Phipps great-grandparents in Wyoming after emigrating in 1881, saw 4 of his 6 children marry into the Phipps family
- a coal miner (Prime) in Nottinghamshire, who was related to Lancelot …well… Lancelot Prime that is…
- a shoemaker (Enderby) in Lincolnshire, whose wife inherited a good deal of money in 1853 and lived not-so-amicably apart after they had moved to Hull
- the lord mayor (Somerscales) of Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, sometimes merchant, whose father and great-grandfather were Church of England ministers (I have to go back 350-400 years for these ancestors!)
- a tailor (Barker) in West Riding, Yorkshire, who while in the Royal Navy in Plymouth in Devon, married a Mormon girl and emigrated with her to Utah; their infant daughter threw their only comb into the sea the first day out; he tried his luck as a silver miner in Nevada after all six children were girls, went bust by 1880, and 16 years later, now a tailor again, accidentally burned himself (to death) and the Opera House next door, the fire insurance on which had expired the day before.
- a gentleman (Beatniffe) of Westmorland, whose distant relative in Norwich, a bookseller, is my only known relative with an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, probably for writing an oft-printed travel book but perhaps more as a curiosity for his practice of having all his apprentices sleep in the same bed, whose sheets were changed once a year!
Who says genealogies are just a bunch of dry dates, places, and begats?
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