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Discovering Your Heritage
Do Your Family Traditions Originate from Your English Ancestors?
By Glynn G Burrows -
Heritage is such an emotive word, it conjours up so many different things to different people.
For me, heritage is my family traditions, my accent, words I use (local dialect),
my parents’ home, the village I grew up in, my county, in fact, the fields and lanes
that surround me are my heritage. On a wider scale, with the recent wedding, our
National Heritage was recently seen by the whole world -
For a lot of people in America, their heritage is relatively new, but it can still be exciting and interesting as there is so much to find out, and it is so diverse. You may well have family traditions that originate from your ancestors from England! What I’m going to talk about today, is how you can find out about your heritage in surprising places!
I have been looking through some local newspapers recently, as I am indexing all the early photographs, which date from the first decade of the C20th. Many of the photographs are of important people; Royalty, Councillors, Politicians etc, but amongst the rich and famous, are some of very ordinary people. Some of the most interesting are pictures of couples celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversaries or reaching milestone birthdays. A picture of a couple celebrating their Golden Wedding in 1910, shows two people who were married in 1860; a photograph of a man celebrating his 100th birthday in 1915, shows a man born in the year of the Battle of Waterloo, during the reign of King George III, how fantastic is that?
The photographs that could interest you, in the USA and Canada, are the pictures of emigrants, heading off to their new life in a new world.
There were hundreds of people who left England just before WWI, to escape poverty and get a foot on the ladder, hoping to climb from a very deep black hole of nothingness, to a life of plenty, it is those people who you may count amongst your own ancestors.
If you have any of the following names in your family history and you think that your ancestors came over at about the same time as the Titanic, they could have originated in Norfolk, England!
Males: F M Phillips, H Allen, W T Evanson, W Nichols, E A Smith, A Coates, J Rice, F Coates, W R Coulter, A J Richardson, A Read, F Wharton, D Read, J Dowe, A Dye, C Plummer, A Havers and women were: Florence Smith, Mildred Harding, Ethel McIver, Alice Tuttle, Kathleen Jay, Annie Sunderland, Alice Jay, Violet Jay, Ethel Gooch, Emily Roberts, Elizabeth White, Emily Bruce, Mabel Hannent, Harriet Goldspink, Nellie Howman, Sarah Smith. (These were all single people I believe.)
Lots of the emigrants would have arrived in Canadian ports, but many would have traveled into the USA and some would have arrived, with jobs already in place for them.
Don’t forget that a lot of English people went over to the West during the middle of the C19th, so many of the emigrants were going over with the knowledge of family from the old country who were already well established. We tend to forget that letters passed over the Atlantic during the days before air travel, but there are a lot of these letters preserved, both in the USA & Canada as well as here, in England.
I have copies of some lovely letters sent from such places as Bury, Lower Canada, in 1850, from James Tite to his son, William, who was still in Norfolk. James was telling William that he should join them and that the wages were so much better in Canada. Another letter, from Daniel Ellinor, of York Mills, Upper Canada, to George Lambert, tells him of the wages and how he is going to buy 100 acres of land. John Whiley, of Tinmouth, County Rutland, Vermont, tells his brother and sister how his animals and crops are doing and how, “we live in a land of liberty”, “I should welcome you to my cottage.”
Have a look in your local library and record office, to see if they hold copies or originals of old letters, see if they have any information on immigration during the early part of the C20th and I am positive that if you check your own local newspapers for the early days of photography in the press and see if it shows newly arrived immigrants, you will find stories about them, you never know, your family just could be amongst them!
If you find any people arriving in your area from Norfolk, be sure to let me know!
Mr & Mrs James Daniels, 1920.
Mr & Mrs R Skipper, were celebrating their 60th anniversary in 1914!
Mr & Mrs Delf, 1914
Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England -