A line of Williams…

When I ma exploring my family history, as well as creating or adding to my family tree, I write a little explanation too. I write it in a very plain way, just to get the facts down – one day I hope to use both the tree and the facts creatively, and produce the story of my family in an accessible and interesting way – I am not quite sure how I am going to do that yet!

here is an example – and this is not something I have made up to show what I mean, this is my actual family. If by some chance you recognise some of these people, maybe they are in your family history too, then please do get in touch! Here’s the example in very plain writing:

A woman who maybe was called Ann Barnard or Barnet, married a man called Samuel Older, maybe he was Samuel I Older, Isaac maybe. Samuel died leaving his wife with three daughters and a son. Ann married again, Henry Matthews and she had eight more children with Henry; one of these was a son, Solomon.
Solomon married Sarah Moore, and one of his children was the first in a line of William Matthews. William the first married Mary, maybe she was Davies, maybe she wasn’t. His son, William the second married Fanny Court and their son William Henry, the third, married another Fanny, Fanny Searle. William and Fanny’s son, William Reginald, the fourth, married my grandma, Ida Isabel Walford, and their son William Alan, was the last of the William Matthews as he had two daughters.
Fanny Court was the daughter of Henry and Lucy Court, her grandparents were James and Elizabeth Court. Fanny’s daughter in law Fanny Searle was the daughter of Thomas and Fanny Searle and granddaughter of James Searle and Charlotte Harding. James Searle’s parents were William Searle and Sarah Blackman. William Searle, was the third with that name; his father was married to Mary Linton, his grandfather William was married to Ann Hersey But that William was the son of Richard Blackman. Sarah Blackman was the daughter of yet another William, who was married to Ann Woods. Ann’s parents were John Woods and Ann MacKrill, and Ann had undergone a name spelling change, her parents were John and Mary MacKrell.

Four Williams, photo taken about 1892

William was a popular nineteenth century name, and it is popular today. Coincidentally, my husband who has William as a middle name, comes from a line of Williams too – and our son has William in his name.

Earlier today I was very pleased to announce that my genealogical mystery, Radwinter, is now available as a paperback; my character Thomas followed his family history, and he came across quite a few Thomas’s!

if you’re interested in reading my story, here is a link:

Moving house…

No we are not going to be moving house, but someone near and dear to us is. Moving is such a nightmare – not the getting the new place which is so exciting, nor saying goodbye to the old place which is sometimes left with regret, sometimes with relief, sometimes with a mix of the two, but the actual physical packing up of stuff is the nightmare, and moving it out and then in, and then unpacking!

If you are moving somewhere bigger it is not such a problem… if you are moving somewhere smaller it definitely is! But whether it’s bigger, or smaller, the sorting out of everything, throwing away/giving away/recycling/charity shop donating/tip taking to… sorting stuff out, not getting side-tracked by reminiscing/reading a book you forgot you had/looking at old photos/making yet another cup of tea, trying to pack cleverly (I have to admit, brag even, that I am amazing at packing stuff, whether it’s shopping or luggage for holiday, or the boot of the car, I am brilliant!) and not running out of energy, enthusiasm, patience…

I’ve moved many times in my life – the first I can’t really remember, when I was fourteen and the family moved from a two bedroom flat into a three bedroom semi-detached house. The garden was a jungle and I remember that, I remember there was a lot of renovation needing doing, and that my sister and I had our own rooms for the first time. I can barely remember it, to be honest, I know I had wallpaper with Egyptian pictures on it and hieroglyphs… but the move, no, I can’t remember!

Two years later we were on the move again – and this time from the east of the country to the west. I really don’t remember it at all, because I wasn’t there; I was on holiday with cousins for the whole of the summer holiday – maybe to get me out of the way! So when I came home, I came home to a new place, a bungalow on a hill…

The next move for me, though not for the family, was to Manchester to do my degree. I was there for three years, and moved from flat to flat many times – five times I think! of course, then I was mostly moving clothes and bedding, and a few bits and pieces of cookery equipment, books and LPs. Then there were a series of moves round Manchester, mostly in rented accommodation, but then into a flat I was buying and then a move out of the city to Oldham. I only really remember one of those moves… we were moving out of a house, literally round the corner to another house; we’d hired a van to move all the furniture which I was driving… load the van, drive round the corner, unload the van, drive back, reload etc. etc… boy was it exhausting!!

Eventually after another move in Oldham, we moved down here to Somerset… This time it wasn’t me on my own, but with a husband and two small children! I’ve written about it elsewhere, and i do remember it – the moving that is, I don’t remember the packing up or the unpacking! Maybe it is just as well!

So to our dear house-movers, good luck next week, we will do all we can to help!!


A perfect home

We love the house we live in and are very happy here; when we bought it, it had everything we needed, lounge, dining, room, kitchen, utility area, (downstairs loo – what a luxury!) four bedrooms, bathroom, garden, garage… It’s in a great position in our little village, halfway between the pub and the sea, round the corner from the school the children went to when they were young, local shop, countryside… yes, everything!

When we were house-hunting we did have a limited wish list (we are very easy-going and not very fussy) and top of my list after the essentials of sufficient bedrooms etc., was a large hall. I wanted to open the front door and come into a space where we could take off coats and shoes and hang them up or put them away, no narrow passageway, no stairs right in front of you, not lots of doors all coming off in a small space…

So our lovely house which we have lived in happily for fifteen years has the tiniest hall you could imagine! You come in, and facing you are the stairs, and on the left is the door into the sitting room – no room to put a coat rack, we do have a place for shoes, but there is only enough room for a couple of pairs each… not at all what I dreamed of!

I also imagined having either a door from the hall into the kitchen as well, or an easily accessible back door to bring in shopping etc. Well, no; to get to the kitchen, you go into the sitting room, through into the dining room, into the utility room and then into the kitchen… To get to the back door from outside, we have big, tall double gates which open only from the inside.

I hoped that in the utility room (which actually had been a dream rather than a requirement when we were house-hunting) there would be a second sink, for washing dirty veg, shoes etc. Again, no – there is water connected through for the washing machine, but no sink, basin or tap.

The kitchen hasn’t got room for a table for everyone to sit round for breakfast, or for me to use to for making cakes, biscuits, bread – we have a galley kitchen, and although it does have lots of work surfaces, a table is better!

I really am not complaining at all – I’m just observing the difference between what you might dream of and what you might get! We’re very happy here! When we moved in, alterations had already been made. What is now the kitchen had been the garage, and what is now the dining room, had been a smaller room plus separate kitchen – so now we do have a lovely big dining room!

If we had lots of money, lots and lots of money, I would get the builders in! I would put another door in the hall through into the kitchen so it could be accessed easily with bags of shopping , wet clothes (kitchen floor easier to wipe than carpets in the sitting room!) I would put a double sink in the utility room. Upstairs, because we no longer need four bedrooms, I would knock through between the bathroom and the small bedroom to create a bigger bathroom with a decent sized shower.

If we had mega lots of money, I would build an extension on the kitchen side of the property (plenty of room to do so!) it would make the kitchen bigger, it could create a bigger hall (with a clever architect) The bedroom upstairs would be bigger, and so would the smaller bedroom which I now have as a study/writing room. The larger utility room/toilet area could be used for storage as well as having my desired extra sink, and there would be extra space for coats etc.

However… if I did have loads of money, then maybe I would just smarten the dear old house up, and actually move to somewhere more convenient for us now the family have left – smaller garden for a start (we’re too busy writing and painting to do more than just keep it sort of tidy) less bedrooms and a bigger bathroom…

So here I am… busy writing… just thinking about all that I could do… As they say, LOL!!

By the way, my featured image is not of our home, it is just a lovely dream of somewhere almost perfect to live!

L. F. WALFORD (late of Messrs. E. Barnett & Co.)

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to visit Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. Before arriving there, we spent nearly six weeks in Tasmania – it was a holiday, a trip of a lifetime, but also a voyage of discovery, to see if I could find anything out about my great-grandfather Louis, who was born in Hobart in 1845. Although I didn’t learn anything new about his life, I was able to see where he had lived and worked, and experience the wonderful country of his birth. I knew he crossed to the mainland, and was for a while in New South Wales and in Sydney, before arriving in London some time around 1880.

Imagine my surprise earlier this evening to find that he had lived in Brisbane for a while! He had worked for Emanuel Barnett, who had an import export business, just as Louis’s father and uncle had, and worked in a now historic warehouse, then called Jewell’s Building, and later Wenley House. By the time Louis was working for Barnett & Co., Emanuel had been there for three years – and remained in the building until 1919.

The Brisbane Courier 20th January 1877

L. F. WALFORD (late of Messrs. E. Barnett & Co.), being about to make a short visit to England, will be glad to undertake commissions or the execution of indents. Mr. Walford having a large and influential business connection, is also prepared to negotiate for the opening of accounts for every description of merchandise in the home markets.
Until February 10, G.P.O., Sydney; after that date, 10 Coleman Street, City, London.

Did Louis return to Brisbane from London, or did he decide to stay, and there meet my great-grandmother with whom he had five children… I don’t suppose I will ever know!


Latin and me…

When I went to secondary school, a girls’ grammar school, we had the usual array of subjects – English, French, History, Geography, Science, Maths, PE… At the end of the first year we had to choose a further subject, either German, Spanish, Latin or Domestic Science. I desperately wanted to learn German – I had a book of birds with the names of each bird written in English, Spanish, German and Italian – and hoping it would help me, I learned all the German names… which unfortunately now I have forgotten!

I put my first choice as German, second Spanish, third Latin and said I absolutely and utterly did not want to do Domestic Science. To my great disappointment I was put in the Latin group, the ridiculous reason being I was not good at spelling (untrue) and Latin was easy to spell… and is German not? Is Spanish not? So I was put into Latin.

Our teacher was a dear old soul… when I say old, I actually mean old… she was my aunty’s teacher (who went to the school in 1935, and she was old then! Our teacher was a real dear, but pretty hopeless… in my first term of Latin I got glandular fever and was away from school for six weeks. Glandular wrecked my ambitions as a swimmer, and wrecked any chance I had of succeeding at Latin.

Over the next few years I worked harder at Latin than any other subject – and I was a very studious and hard-working school girl! However I could make no sense at all of it, I was totally baffled, and my exam results showed it… 11%, and then 8%… My mum, who was extremely shy and quite nervous, even came into school to ask if I could give it up… but no, no I could not – and when it came to the time to give up a subject, I was forced to give up science (even though my dad was a scientist and would and could have helped me)

I struggled on; then eighteen months before we were due to take our public exams our sweet but useless teacher left, and a new teacher came. She was young, she was amazing, she was very strict, she came from New Zealand… Her name was Mrs Stanton – although with her accent we heard it as Mrs Stenton who taught us Letin.

She was a fantastic teacher… suddenly I grasped it! Suddenly I understood! My results improved – to 38% then to a magnificent 56%! I’d worked so hard! I’d made so much effort! Mrs Stanton had gone above and beyond to help me!

I took the ‘mock’ exam… not brilliant, but I would pass!! The headmistress, the vile old cow (sorry, but she was) told me she was not going to enter me for the exam… Once again my mum went to see her – and no doubt was treated with disdain… I was not allowed to take Latin.

Two years later when I was thinking about going to University to study English which I was so passionate about… guess what… in those days you had to have Latin to be accepted! I didn’t even get an interview at any of the thirteen universities I was able to apply to, let alone the offer of a place. When my results came out, I did not even get through clearing (when Universities match up available places with people needing them)

Somehow or another, and I didn’t know then and don’t know now, the new Manchester Polytechnic came across me and I was offered a place there. In actual fact, it was the best possible result for me. An amazing place, stunning lecturers, great course, life-long friends, a city I fell in love with…

It’s funny how things work out – and even though I wouldn’t swap what happened, I still have this utter fury that I was treated as I was by that despicable headmistress… and even more, that I can’t speak German!


The Elsden nose

Many, many years ago, near Greenham Common, my dad and a group of his mates were wandering round in a wooded area… I guess the date was probably 1942 –  dad and the others were in the parachute regiment and I am guessing they were  getting ready for the invasion of North Africa as part of Operation Torch… but I don’t really know. When dad told us these stories he didn’t really give any such details – it was the story that counted.

So, I’m guessing that dad and the other soldiers were training, on an exercise maybe, and it seems they were walking through a wooded area – I don’t know if it was a wood, or a forest, or just a place with lots of trees, when they came across a village pub, a small place, probably untouched for generations. I don’t know why, maybe dad described it (I’m sure he did, he was great at telling stories) but I imagine it as a low thatched, inn, with a door which even my rather short dad would have ducked to enter.

He and his mates went in, and I imagine it (maybe he told me) it having a stone slabbed floor, beams, small windows and was rather dark and quaint, maybe even lit by lamps rather than electric lights. The landlord, no doubt delighted to see a group of thirsty soldiers, patriotically welcomed them.

“I know what you have just been doing,” my dad said to him. The inn keeper looked puzzled. “You have just been decanting port,” dad told him.

The man was astonished! Yes, indeed he had! With a candle and a steady hand, he had indeed been decanting port! How did dad know? He had smelled it! My dad had ‘the Elsden nose‘ – he knew what port smelled like, he had been brought up in a pub, and his own dad had decanted port often enough – and maybe dad had done so too!

In my mind, the landlord then bought dad a pint… but maybe that is just my imagination!

The old pub in my featured image is not the pub in the story, it’s just an old pub near Reigate, called the Angel.

Fifteen years ago today

Fifteen years ago today we were up with the lark after a very late night the day before. Fifteen years ago today we moved into this house, and we’ve lived here happily ever since!

We had lived in the north of England for many years, but my family lived in the west country, in this little village of Uphill… we hoped to move down for various family reasons and for those same reasons we had kept my dad’s property after he died so we could move there once we had jobs. Eventually, after years of trying, I got a job, a brilliant job! Not brilliant in terms of financial reward, but brilliant in amount of satisfaction I got from it and the wonderful people I worked with… but that’s another story.

We packed all our furniture, goods and chattels and on Saturday 22nd 2001, the day after we finished our old previous jobs, we came down from our large, three bedroom bungalow to my dad’s small two bedroom bungalow. Luckily some friends had the children to sleep-over while we tried to create a living space, because over the next couple of days coming up to Christmas, mother-in-law and aunty and uncle arrived for Christmas… but that’s yet another story!

We’d hoped to move to Uphill for many years, and visited regularly and wandered round the village looking for potential homes once we managed to get jobs. We saw this nice large house with a garden, close to the school, close to the pub, easy access to the local shop and post office, near the beach, we saw this house which was for sale many times, but it was beyond our price range.

However, when we actually moved down here, staying in the small bungalow (which admittedly was right next door to the pub) we found that this nice house was still for sale… what was more, and what we hadn’t realised, the price had not gone up, and in fact, now we could afford it!

Everything went through swimmingly, as if we were destined to have the place; the dear old couple who owned kept ringing us while the process was going though:

Dear old couple: oh hello, we wonder if you might be interested in having our dishwasher – the flat we are moving into is just too small…
Us: how kind, thank you, yes please, how much shall we pay for it?
Dear old couple: oh nothing dear, you would be doing us a favour, otherwise we would have to pay to have it taken away…


Dear old couple: oh hello, we wonder if you might be interested in having  the rattan furniture from the sunroom, it’s quite new – the flat we are moving into is just too small… and it doesn’t have a garden or sunroom
Us: how kind, thank you, yes please, how much shall we pay for it?
Dear old couple: oh nothing dear, you would be doing us a favour, otherwise we would have to pay to have it taken away…

The day dawned;  the children were sent off to school, and our friends from Devon arrived to help. We had kept a lot of things boxed up from our pre-Christmas move and we had been using dad’s things in his little bungalow. However there was still a lot to pack, which we did, however at the last-minute we ran out of time for careful packing (we were both working by this time!) and stuff was in plastic bin bags all over the place and in the garden too!

We were moving literally round the corner but heavy items needed a removal company; we had two cars, our friends’ and ours so we kept piling stuff in and ‘the boys’ would drive it round to the new house. My friend is an expert cleaner, so she set to, tidying, packing remaining stuff, searching nooks and crannies for left over things, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, dressed in an apron and rubber gloves (and clothes too, of course, that would have been too bizarre!) I ran backwards and forwards, sorting things in both houses – I wish I’d had a pedometer, goodness knows how far I ran that day!

It was a mad day, and passed in a whirl; obviously we couldn’t move in until the allotted time, and we were slightly harassed by the people moving into the bungalow who kept ringing us up, chivying us to get it emptied (even though they weren’t due to move in until later). At one point, when the place was just about empty, the new occupant came round and banged on the door and tried to harangue our friend about when it would be available (still before the time they were supposed to move in!) My friend, who had been a teacher was quite used to dealing with rudeness and stroppy people, and told him firmly she was only the cleaner and would be leaving shortly!

At last… on the afternoon of May 6th 2002, we were in our lovely new home! Thanks so much to our dear friends! We have been here ever since and have seen many changes in our lives; my husband and I no longer have day jobs, he paints and drums, I write; the children moved to ‘big school’, successfully changed to different schools, went to college, went to Uni, found jobs moved away from home (although this will always be their home!) and we still love our house!