Magnificent Obsession

MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION

I have been searching for my ancestors for almost 20 years. I wish I had started before then. People who do not seek their heritage wonder why those who do are so intent on their search. I never wonder why I do it. The search is compelling. Why did my ancestors live where they lived? What happened to them? Were they famous? Am I related to Royalty? In my case, no. At least I haven’t found any Royalty in my family. But I did find a multitude of Royals in my granddaughter-in-law’s ancestors when I did her family tree. She has a rich heritage to pass on to her son as he grows.

But what is it that lures us into the past, years beyond years, wishing we could be there, wishing we could talk to them, wishing we could ask questions? We are haunted by our ancestors. They are in our souls. We want to know more, plain and simple.

I just recently discovered why my late husband’s middle name was Freeman. His father did not have that name, but his grandfather did. It turns out that his great-great grandmother’s name was Mary Anne Freeman. She lived in Deptford, England and her father was James Freeman, the same as my husband’s first and middle names. Now I wish that I had learned this many years ago when I visited England. I was within driving distance to Deptford and could have seen their homeland.

The question is what will happen to my research when I die. Who will continue the search and record all the links? Will anyone else in the family care as much as I do? Probably not.

However, if they pursue it or not, I have benefited from and enjoyed the search and the discoveries I have made. I have connected with my ancestors and felt their joys and sorrows. I just wish I had the time, money and energy to continue the travel to other places and possibly find more of them.

Denyer Family in England

I just found some of my late husband’s ancestors in England. I have not been doing much genealogy lately, but I keep a toe in the water so that if something turns up I can add it to my family’s history.
These ancestors, the Endicotts, were found in the 1841 census of a town in a part of London on the Thames. The town is Deptford and has a tumultuous history.
Deptford is a district of south east London, England, on the south bank of the River Thames. It is named after a ford of the River Ravensbourne, and from the mid 16th to the late 19th century was home to Deptford Dockyard, the first of the Royal Navy Dockyards.
Deptford and the docks are associated with the knighting of Sir Francis Drake by Queen Elizabeth I aboard the Cook’s third voyage Golden Hind, the legend of Sir Walter Raleigh laying down his cape for Elizabeth, Captain James aboard Resolution, and the mysterious murder of Christopher Marlowe in a house along Deptford Strand.
My husband’s ancestors were not famous, but to me they are a part of my children’s lives, so it’s important to know them. The genes of the elders were passed on to their descendents. The men were sawyers, which meant they sawed the wood for carpenters. None of my children are carpenters, none work with wood, but all three are creative.
Many years ago my daughter and I spent 2 months on a trip to Europe. We were in London for about a week. However I was not doing much family history at the time and had no knowledge of the Deptford connection. I did know that my husband’s grandfather was born in London and we visited the house where he lived as a teenager. I had written in advance to the people who currently lived there to ask for permission to see the house. They were very hospitable and we were treated to a tour of the 2 story home. We even discovered a street named “Denyer” and tried to find other Denyers, but the telephone listing was so many pages long it would have been impossible to pin down any relatives.

Now I wish I could go back and visit Deptford. I have much more information than I had in 1973 and perhaps could find connections to our family. But my age makes that journey impossible. My daughter who accompanied me on the trip to Europe would like to make the same trip with her daughter at some point in the future. I hope that she will be able to do it.

New Denyer Family Information

I just found out with a lot of help from a wonderful lady in England why the Denyer males in my late husband’s family had the name Freeman, either first or middle.  It made no sense to me.  I just listed it in my data base and went on to other ancestors.  Then I saw a message on my Cornwall list that Janie, in England, was from Cornwall and offered to do research there.  I couldn’t wait to contact her.  I do not have access to International resources so this was an offer I couldn’t resist.

 

I told her what information I had, not asking about Freeman, just looking for more info on my husband’s family.  She responded the very next day with the Freeman source. I was astonished.   The name came from my husband’s grandfather, Freeman Wm. Valentine Denyer’s grandmother, Mary Anne FREEMAN.  This wasn’t all.  She listed 3 links to information on the birth date and place of Mary Anne’s daughter, Amelia, Freeman’s mother, which I didn’t have and the misspelling of her last name.  I had Penglaze and it is Polglase which may be why I hadn’t found the information earlier.    She said the Cornwall language, including names, is often misspelled or mispronounced.

 

Needless to say, I was thrilled.  I emailed all the Denyers and passed on the good news.  I know my husband didn’t know, or cared, why he had that middle name, nor do my son or grandson, who have the same middle name.  To my knowledge no one in the family, now deceased, had ever questioned the source of that unusual first name.

 

Further research linked Mary Anne to her husband, the marriage date, her husband’s occupation, coalminer, and her parents.

 

I love doing genealogy and the people who pursue it.  They are, without exception, generous to a fault, and eager to share information and pictures when available.  I have made many friends in far away places in this quest and offer my help whenever asked.  It just so happens that today is my late husband’s birthday.  He would have been 86.

Freeman William Valentine Denyer b 14 Feb 1857

 

James Freeman Denyer 1972