Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Genealogy Gestapo

I love being in the Horswills group on Facebook (which is partly why I'm writing here so they don't throw me out for writing this on the wall ....) and I love finding new cousins.

Many years ago my Dad and I researched the family tree. Not particularly through parish records (for goodness' sake, don't the genealogy freaks realise how many lies those contain? Duh....)but through family stories and remembrances. The best way to learn about your family is to ask members of the family but sadly we often leave it too late to do that.

My ancestors were tin miners in Cornwall and moved to the mining areas of North East England when the tin ran out in the 19th century. How do I know this? Because my Grandad told me so and my great grandfather had told my Dad. Why on earth would anyone lie about that?

Dad and I researched the family tree after I got in touch with Wilson Horswill, a methodist minister who was preaching at my local church in London. We couldn't quite work out the connection but Dad remembered a Wilson Horswill "with a funny name but they called him Wilson" . His first name was Moses, Wilson was his middle name. Dad had met him at family funerals. Guess what? That makes you family! You don't go to funerals at random, do you? Especially when you're a child. When I went to Canada in 1978 I stayed with Wilson and Ruby's daughter, Chris, and have since met up with her brother John Horswill and his wife, Dorothy. These people are my cousins. We're all descended from Roger Horswill, my great great grandather, who was born in 1829, some from his first marriage and some from his second. It's not rocket science.

Well, apparently not according to the self appointed family genealogy expert who shall remain nameless, although we could just call her M. Very apposite in a MI5 way.... I had a letter from her years ago asking for what we had. I duly sent it. Not only did she say Dad and I had it all wrong, she said it in a thoroughly nasty manner. She arrogantly declared that my new cousins were not my cousins at all. Fortunately said cousins and I had a laugh about it and made a unilateral declaration that we were indeed cousins and would remain so regardless of what some horrible woman might tell us.

There are ALWAYS complete control freaks who take it upon themselves to be in charge of the family tree. They use genealogy as a poor substitute for proper academic study. They NEVER give anyone else credit for the work, as a true academic - or indeed a true relative - would, indeed they claim it as their own. This command position somehow gives them the right to lord it over everyone else and be extremely rude. This is the kind of person whose achievements in the real world are so limited that they would consider it the ultimate accolade to be captain of the golf club and relish having the honour of a named parking space.

Of course there are lovely, charming cousins who are also researching the family tree and who are perfectly normal people but they don't get a look in, their research is never credited and they probably have a bin full of the nasty letters too.

This dreadful woman's snitty correspondence with my Dad so upset him that he gave up looking for relatives and now he's gone it makes me mad to think she stopped him finding his family before he died. It also makes me mad that she's back and about to put a lot more Horswills off having anything to do with it. There are Horswills missing from that Facebook group. I know who they are and why they're not on it. They haven't realised that it's a friendly "we are all family" thing and are wary of the Family Tree Police.

You remember my story about the tin miners? Well, apparently they either don't exist or we're not related to them. Apparently the South Devon Horswills were geographically challenged and couldn't work out how to get to the tin mines just across the river Tamar.

The Horswill family is small enough that all Horswills appear to be related and yet my family is not in it. We're the lost tribe. How ludicrous. At least we have ex FA cup hero, Micky Horswill, in our tribe. "My cousin's boy" is how my Dad described him. Good enough for me, and indeed for Micky's family who wrote to Mum and Dad for years. Anyone who declares "there are no famous Horswills" should be ashamed of herself. I find it hard to believe that anyone who can do family tree research on the internet can't use Google. But then they wouldn't want any actual facts to mess up your theories, would they?

OK, rant over, we'll see how many Horswills are still speaking to me. I hope it's most of them as the Horswill Family Photos site is almost ready for public consumption and I want to invite them on to it!

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