06.11.2016 - 08.11.2016
Having returned to Knowle, the first order of the day was a return trip to the Ricoh Arena to see if the Sky Blues could continue their winning/drawing ways. Yep, they'd had quite a run of success since the match I'd gone to! The weather had turned a wee bit chilly since my return from Europe, so I made sure to rug up. Chris brought along an enormous black fluffy blanket, ostensibly for me. Our fellow match-goers snorted with derision as we began to extract it, sausage-like, from its bag. Chris said "It's for Alison". I doubt they believed him, given half of it mysteriously found its way to his lap. A 2-0 win against Chesterfield saw us on our feet and cheering loudly.
The next day I made my way to Birmingham airport to pick up my hire car. Europcar seem to have instructed their staff in the art (?) of the upsell since my last visit. In France we'd been offered the chance to upgrade to a sportier model for a mere €40 extra - per day! This time the young man at the desk enquired how far I'd be driving, and suggested it would be advantageous to upgrade to a diesel, and did I want a sat-nav? That's ok, thanks, I brought my own sat-nav, and I don't want to pay any extra. Imagine my surprise when the petrol-powered Hyundai I'd ordered magically transformed into a diesel, sat-nav wielding Peugeot. Thank you travel gods!
On Friday afternoon I headed to Rugby to catch up with my second cousin Mandy. Her dad Henry and my dad were cousins, and we've visited each other over many years. We fell into our usual easy conversation, as if it hadn't been two years since we saw each other last. We also met up with her sister Tessa and Tessa's children Isobel, Monty, and Harriet, and her mum Pru. I'd stayed with Pru and Henry in 1992, and it was wonderful to spend time with this branch of the family again.
On Saturday Liz and Steven set off for Portsmouth to inspect the university, and Chris and I embarked on the first stage of Operation Who Do You Think You Are. We were in search of our great-grandparents' grave in the village of Aston Le Walls. Inbuilt sat-nav set, we made it to the village and found ourselves at a churchyard. There are two churches in the village, but we seemed to somehow have driven past the first one without even noticing. The second one was lovely, but unfortunately not the one we wanted. Retracing our steps, we wandered in search of Charles and Catherine Welton. Vincent had given us instructions on how to find the grave which meant it didn't take us long once we were in the correct churchyard! The grave itself has weathered, particularly on Charles's side. Their daughter, my great-aunt Kitty, is buried with them, and there is a plaque with the details of all three which has been erected since her death. Unfortunately the dates included for Charles seem to be incorrect, with his birthdate some two years out. Nothing like making things difficult for future budding family historians! It may look like I'm praying in this photo, but it's just that it was very, very, cold!
We also planned a visit to the nearby village of..........Welton! There's something immensely satisfying in seeing your name in such large print! There was of course no chance that we would resist the urge to take copious photos at this important landmark.
Sunday saw me headed northwards to Edinburgh, with an appointment the following morning at the National Archives. Road trip lollies at the ready, I set off on the 300 mile journey. One of my goals for this trip was to try to discover some information in relation to 2 of my great-great-great-grandfathers on my mum's side. George Carmichael and John Flack were convicts, transported to Australia in the 1820s. George was the first on my list, and I'd managed to track down some court papers from his trial in Ayr. I'd rung the records office to make sure they were available before setting off on my drive to Edinburgh, and was told I'd be able to see a microfilm copy. To say I was excited is an understatement!
I headed to the archives bright and early, and was shown to a room full of lockers where I could leave my bag and coat. I grabbed my notebook, pencil, and phone, and followed my guide to the Historical Search Room. Issued with my Reader's Ticket, I was ushered to bench number 22 and took a moment to let it all sink in. The sense of history was palpable, and I caught my breath. I was puzzled by the absence of a microfilm reader on my desk, but the reason for that soon became clear. An archivist delivered a plastic bag to me, containing a sheaf of papers. Hang on, could they be the originals? I sat there for a couple of moments, unsure if I was able to take the bundle out of the bag without gloves, but after getting the go-ahead from the archivist, I reached in and began my journey back to 1825.
The precognition contained the witness statements for George's trial for housebreaking. He and another boy (George MacFarlane) were convicted of stealing £50. According to the papers they were thirteen and eleven years old respectively, and while George M's statement made reference to his father having deserted him, George C's was notable for the absence of any mention of family. I imagined these boys looking after themselves and trying to do what they could to get by. There was a girl in the picture, Isabel Wemyss, who it seems to me was the brains of the outfit! In any event, each of the statements of the accused blamed the other, and the story of the Georges and the money in the red pocketbook was fascinating.
In all, there were over 100 pages of information, and I decided to return the next day to photograph them. The archivist said she'd see if there were other records available, and I headed off to meet my friend Sylvia for lunch. There was time for a spot of shopping, and I invoked my new rule :when in Edinburgh, buy a hat!
Apart from the Historical Search Room, the office also holds a room called Scotland's People, where computer records are available for genealogical research. I headed there on Tuesday morning in search of information about my paternal grandmother's ancestry. Unfortunately I'd managed to leave my reading glasses behind, but a very kind man from the records office offered me the use of his for the day! Isabella Graham was from Scottish stock, and I managed to trace it back to the 1700s. It's such a thrill when the pieces of the puzzle start to form a more coherent whole. In between bouts of Graham research I headed back upstairs to find the archivist had located the sentencing papers for the Georges on computer, and she printed a copy for me. I think the sentence of 7 years' transportation was probably relatively lenient, considering the value of £50 in those days! Photographing the trial papers took some time, as I carefully placed weights at each corner to stop them rolling up. Job done, I sat for a few moments soaking in the history and shedding a silent tear for the 13 year old George and the long and arduous journey ahead of him.