Something that intrigued me recently when reading Canada by Richard Ford was a character’s notion that most of us don't know and don’t care much about who they are related to beyond their grandparents. This doesn't include of course the hordes of furiously excavating genealogy enthusiasts, world-wide!
Anyhow, I rose to the challenge and sat down to list my great grandparents. Two of them were Thomas Frederick and Martha Cureton. Thomas was coachman and then chauffeur at Rashwood Court, the 'big house' in Wychbold, nearr Droitwich. Thomas and Martha lived in the chauffeur's cottage with their daughter Ida, who was born at the end of the nineteenth century.
The labour was long and hard, and after a boy had been born, the midwife was puzzled at Martha's condition. "There's something wrong here," she is reported to have said, and sent immediately for the doctor. He was out riding on his hunter, apparently, and somewhat the worse for drink, but he reluctantly came as summoned. Pushing his hand up the birth canal, he announced "There's another one up here!" and pulled out my grandmother, a tiny twin. He dismissively cast her onto the bed and said "You can get rid of that - it won't live," at which the midwife cried, "Oh doctor! Where there's life, there's hope!" and rescued the baby, wrapping her in cotton wool. The big, healthy looking boy sadly died at six months, but Nanna lived into her mid-nineties.
My grandfather was Edgar Harold SHAW
his father, my great-grandfather, was William Attwood SHAW
his father, my great-great-grandfather, was Thomas Charles SHAW
his father, my great-great-great-grandfather, was Obadiah Gilbert SHAW
his father, my great-great-great-great-grandfather, was Gilbert Read SHAW
his father, my great x 5 grandfather, was Daniel (II) SHAW
his father, my great x 6 grandfather, was Daniel SHAW
his mother, my great x 7 grandmother, was Alice JELLIANS
her mother, my great x 8 grandmother, was Elizabeth WILMER
her father, my great x 9 grandfather, was Thomas WILMER
his mother, my great x 10 grandmother, was Anne (Agnes) SUTTON
her father, my great x 11 grandfather, was Edward SUTTON 4th Lord Dudley
his mother, my great x 12 grandmother, was Cecily GREY
her father, my great x 13 grandfather, was Thomas GREY
her mother, my great x 14 grandmother, was Elizabeth WOODVILLE, ‘The White Queen’
And through Cecily Grey’s mother, from Edward Plantagenet,
his mother was Cecily GREY
her mother was Cecily BONNEVILLE
her mother was Catherine NEVILLE
her father was Richard NEVILLE
his mother was Joan de BEAUFORT
her father was John of Gaunt PLANTAGENET
his father was Edward PLANTAGENET, Edward III, King of England.
According to other family trees sent me by a cousin, I’m also descended from William the Conqueror. The actor and musician Alexander Armstrong in his edition of BBC TV's Who Do You Think You Are was also pleased to find he had the same great (however-many-times) grandfather.
But I don’t think I need get too over-excited! Since my own ninety year old mother already has over 50 direct descendants, I reckon the Conqueror’s descendants must run into millions!