Sherlock Homes

(Yes, I do know there’s an “L” apparently missing – I assure you it was intentional.)

On Tuesday this week, Carol got introduced by our neighbour, Paul, to some on-line resources for researching family trees. She had been interested in doing some family research for some time. I, on the other hand, have always felt myself to be much less interested in family history and was just happy to let her get on with it. Apart from an apparent lack of interest, I was busy walking backwards and forwards to town sorting out the car and my teeth. So, back Carol trots (eventually) and spends the remaining part of the day completely engrossed in her lap top rummaging around old family bones.

Wednesday is Carol’s Greensand Trust volunteers day and would be out most of the day doing good works but, before leaving, she gave me me a quick introduction on the use of the on-line archives, too – just in case. More importantly, she told me how to get into the subscription she had set up for searching. It seems that the old census information (ten-yearly from 1841 to 1901) is now available on-line together with a whole load of hatched, matched and dispatched records.

Paternal grandfather’s family in the 1901 censusSo, just out of interest, I searched for me and, low and behold – absolutely nothing! Disillusioned at my non-existance and after running Carol round to her meeting with “the volunteers”, I bumped into Paul on the driveway and told him the disturbing news that I didn’t exist and that he must have been talking to Scotch mist. Shortly, after a reviving Java, he was in and driving my computer running back over the male Curd line of the family (minus me, of course, ‘cos I don’t exist) and throwing up some interesting connections. Fortunately, Curd being an unusual name, this was relatively easy, if you’ll pardon the pun. It became evident that the census details are the most useful and, since 1851, interesting in showing the relationships of everyone within a household, ages and places of birth. (The 1841 was no more than a list of names, really). Here were fathers-in-law living with (presumably) sons-in-law, 18 year old folks lodging having moved away from home for work, daughters in service, and so on.

I spent the rest of the day glued to the computer putting some flesh on the bones of my family before being able to challenge my mother as to my provenance. Some years ago whilst working at an IBM installation near Portsmouth, I was confused with a “John R. Curd” who happened to be contracting at the same installation. I had soon traced the Curd line back to Sussex and began suspecting that he and I were related somewhere from the Sussex connection. That’s for the future, though.

On Thursday I was eager to return to sifting through the records and find some details about my maternal side of the family. Female lines are much more difficult owing to our bizarre habit of wives adopting their husband’s family name. Fortunately, my mother is still with us and can help with some family details. Now she’s sucked in as well wondering about connections on her side of the fence.

I really didn’t expect to have any interest in genealogy at all. I’m not feeling any particularly strong affinity with the long dead but the piecing together of a puzzle is fascinating – all the the Sherlocking around in the census records does seem to hold my attention and it’s a useful pastime when blocked in by roadworks and the weather sucks.

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