The Greatest Naval Surname, DNA, Plock and the London Gazette.
Ancestry recently announced their latest venture, AncestryDNA. I have no doubt it will be a huge success and provide them with a very lucrative side-line. I am intrigued by DNA testing and would like to see what comes up, as I am sure do many of you. However, I can't help thinking that DNA testing takes the fun out of genealogy. Where is the research, where are the names, the events, the tragedies, the successes?
Will 'My ancestor was a Viking' replace the now common 'my surname (Pinner) originates in Pinner, Middlesex' - the kind of useless and generic statement that is sold to people on a daily basis.As with most things, you should take it with a pinch of salt. Take the test, read the result but don't let that one thing become the sole focus of your research. You'll lose so much more, skipping multiple generations and more importantly their stories. They led amazing lives, in amazing places and in amazing conditions. They survived where others did not.
Good luck to those who use the service though. I am sure I will use it at some point too!
2. Return to Plock
Recently I was reading this article about the return of a holocaust survivor to his home and retracing his steps through his terrible ordeal. In reading the several articles I saw this 'Return to Plock'. I have previously researched Plock for a customer. Her ancestor came from there - it took some time to find it I must admit. She said he came from Plock but had not other information. I found somewhere that was pronounced Plotsk or Plodge - could this be it? Eventually I found out they were the same place.
It is amazing to think that her ancestor decided in the late 1800s that enough was enough. He travelled cross-country and then by boat to reach England where he settled and made a new life for himself. Not only did he achieve this but started a life for his family, all 83 of them. But for one man, these people would most likely not exist. It is easy to overlook the achievements of just one person but often that drive and desire can benefit many generations to come.
The Greatest Naval Surname
In providing a lot of free content for my site, I look at a lot of military history. At the moment, my focus is on British naval ships, all 6000+ of them! I come across lots of stories, daring events, heroism and a lot of politics. Some people stand out more than others and a lot of time I come across sailing families who make their mark across successive generations.
Of course, the most famous British seaman was Horatio Nelson but he was only one man. Famour naval families include Peyton, Hornby, Fremantle, Saumarez, Hood and Cochrane and many more besides. Which do you think rates as the best, more impressive? Of course, it depends how you measure them - engagements, captures, prize money, events or simply notoriety. Whichever you use, you will have your favourites. For me I think it is the Cochranes - seamen with style.
4. The London Gazette - forgotten sources.
I was talking to someone the other day who had an ancestor living in Newcastle in the 1800s. He had many jobs over his lifetime and seemed to life an interesting and varied life. She had been searching for over 20 years and was looking to expand on the information of tea dealer, draper, cab own and pensions agent through the various census returns. In half an hour I was able to provide a little more information for her, simply by knowing where to look.
Google is a great search tool, if you know how to use it, but combine it will other great sources and you can find wonderful things. One of my favourite sources is the London Gazette. Records on immigration, naturalisation, military records and financial hearings - this can really help to add meat to the bones of your research. Its free and easy to use.
The ancestor in question was involved in a winding up order whilst he was a draper. It became apparent that this person was a driven and passionate individual, an entrepreneur. He obviously lacked one thing though - luck - flitting from one opportunity to another.
You never know what you might find but it may help to find something out about your ancestor or allow you to push back to the next generation.