Managed a higher word count today, which is surprising given the time I spent going back over old ground - and just as well, as I found a glaring error in the placement of a person in the family. What was I thinking? I've been working on this family history for such a long time you'd think I'd know it all by rote, and some I do, but mistakes are always just one click away and this is why I'm constantly checking and rechecking.
Family history is handed down by the people we meet and the stories we tell. Most stories begin with the seed of truth and grow to be factual accounts of the life and times of those who have gone before us. Other stories become the myths and legends of families, passed on and added to from generation to generation. Family legends can be a source of guidance but are rarely 100% accurate. The famous actor may turn out to have been a backstage cleaner, the ancestral castle a simple hovel with a few square metre spud patch outside and stirring tales of all types have most likely been much embellished over the years. Such stories add piquancy and interest to our ancestry, but all too often they act as barriers to research, creating impenetrable dead ends. Much of this is understandable when the history is recent and involves facts our predecessors worked hard to remove themselves from.
The are many side roads to be encountered when researching family history that arise from the different spelling of a surname, as previously mentioned, and with so many variations it’s not surprising many seem to have disappeared into thin air, with a birth recorded under one spelling and a marriage or death under another. Another obstacle in family research is the repeated use of Christian names from one generation to the next and throughout extended families. For example, at least three generations of Samuel Nowell preceded my husband and possibly the name went back further than that, with both his father and grandfather also marrying women who shared my name, Mary. Likewise with the Holmyards, where there were also three Samuels in the 18th century before three consecutive generations of Hughs in the 19th century, two of whom married a Sarah. Julia and James Gadbury also named two of their children after themselves, just to add to the confusion. No wonder early researchers became lost between generations.
With the advent of the internet and with more records available on genealogy sites, family research has become a more simplified affair, although it’s easy to get carried away and follow up branches far removed from the original intention. With such tools available and the ability to cross check records at the click of a mouse, all events, names and dates from Hugh Holmyard snr onwards have been cross referenced in several ways using census, parish, criminal and immigration records. The information on Samuel Holmyard has been obtained through matching oral family history combined with official records, however, this should be treated as calculated speculation until such time as more information comes to hand. What is known as fact is that the Holmyard family had lived in the Somerset area for several generations, and church and parish records attest to this.