This afternoon I've followed the trend and googled my genealogy. It all started with a book I was reading of interviews with Kiwi veterans of Gallipoli in the First World War. When I read the account of a medic, I was suddenly struck by the sporadically recurring urge to know more about my paternal grandfather, whom I never met, who was a medic in the First World War, and was wounded at Bapaume in the Battle of Amiens, in the name of King and Empire.
I quickly typed in "Silas S------" and four pages of results appeared, none of which were my grandfather - however, there were several mentions of my great-great and great-great-great grandfathers who were also called Silas S------.
The younger of the two was the first S------ to come to New Zealand, and also the first surgeon at Christchurch Hospital, in 1862. I knew that already. He was mentioned in the lists of those coming through the Port of Auckland on ships in 1861. It turns out the elder was a physician of evidently some importance as his name is mentioned throughout London's medical periodicals around the 1840s to '50s. One medical journal has a letter from him detailing an unusual case of a twin birth he presided over, and he writes from Guildford St, Russell Square, London. Russell Square! That's in Georgette Heyer books! Automatically my great-great-great grandfather goes up a few cool notches.
I also found a website an American S------ has created centering around the S------ family branch of which I am a member, and he lists famous S------s. For example, a general in the US Civil War or explorer Captain John Gabriel S------ of Scotland - but most recognisable of all - make sure you are sitting down - none other than MICK JAGGER'S GRANDMOTHER was a S------!!! I am very tenuously related to Mick Jagger! Of course I'd prefer Bono or Jane Austen, but still, you can't be too picky!
This also makes me remember a very exciting day when I visited the main Christchurch public library and checked out the births, deaths and marriages files for family history. Among other things, I found my great-grandmother's marriage file and discovered that she was an illegitimate child. She had taken her mother's surname as a child, but it named her father as one John I----, and suddenly I realised in a flash why her son and my dad had the really weird middle name of I----! It was extra exciting because my dad had never known, and as his father was a very upright Brethren man it is unlikely he would have given his son that name if he had known either. So I was the first in the family to discover a slightly grey sheep. I felt very clever.
I am loving that you can find so many cool things on the internet now, simply by googling a name, things that we couldn't have known otherwise.
Moving Day: Blog in Review
8 months ago