My Great Grandfather, Joseph Hurst, who you can see here, was just one of the influences in my desire to research my family history.
I remember as a small boy when we used to visit him in the nursing home where he lived before he passed away, that he talked about having traced the family tree back in time, and we had connections to William Shakespeare.
Well I have no idea if that is true, and I as yet have not re-connected with that side of the family to see if there are any documents still existing, but the idea that we might be connected to someone famous in history has always fascinated me.
It was only when my mother died in 1997 that I heard we were connected to Thomas Hardy the author, and although I have been working on this connection, it’s not a blood link but it is an intriguing one nevertheless.
And since the Hursts are from my Father’s side of the family, it seems only right that I should try my hand at writing, given that there are some connections to famous authors, even if these are somewhat loose connections.
You just never know who is in your family tree, and what interesting stories might unfold from the past.
On my Payne side, my Grandfather was one of the last Cape-Horners, and sailed around Cape Horn in sailing ships at the turn of the 20th century.
He died the year before I was born, and I know little of him, save for some family photographs and some records of his service as a sailor prior to the First World War, and then serving in the Royal navy Reserve during the war.
Starting with one document however, I have managed to piece together the amazing story of a ship, it’s first voyage beset by problems, and ending in shipwreck on a reef in the Pacific.
I will say no more of this here, but for about 5 years this has been a story that I have wanted to turn into a historical novel, but as yet have not gone beyond the preface. I do however feel that the time is coming when I ought to work on this.
Another Payne ancestor built the first steam powered mill in a woollen goods producing town in the Midlands of England, and this is another story that I would love to expand on.
One thing is certain, most families have some interesting people and events in their past, and it’s really interesting to explore and research these.
The sad thing is that most people either never try, or like me wait until the people that could have told them everything that they wanted to know have passed on, and by then so much information has been lost forever.
So if you have ever wanted to delve into your family’s past, I highly recommend starting now, and see if you can either interview the older generations of the family to see what they can tell you, or get them to write down everything that they can remember from growing up.
It’s such a shame when the past is lost, because we all have the power to save this for generations to come, especially with tools like the internet, and sites like Ancestry.