I have been stuck with one of my male ancestors who I think was born about 1704 but I cannot for the life of me find record of where he was born. I had a lovely lady clairvoyant I used to visit every 6 months and she regularly got in touch with him and told me things about where to look, she actually described the register and where in the register I would find him listed. The strange thing is that I had actually looked in just those places but where I expected to find his birth details in the church register all I found was a mouse hole.
This sounds weird but the old vellum registers used to become deteriorated, they suffered from the damp, the ink faded because sometimes the clerics couldn’t afford good ink and it was so watered down that it just didn’t stand the test of time. Plus the books were tucked away in cupboards and fell easy prey to mice who loved to nibble at the vellum. Makes a change from cheese I suppose!
I used to envy my clairvoyant in being able to see and speak to Benjamin Curtis, my ancestor, there are so many questions I would like to ask him. Where was he born? Who were his parents and who were his grandparents because Verity [my clairvoyant] told me that his grandparents were quite well to do people and up in court circles. I am talking about Britain here when I mention court circles.
The way Verity described him was like something out of the historical books I liked to read. He walked with one of those staffs with a silver knob on top, not as a walking stick, more of a fashion statement. He had a very long auburn tinted curled wig, coming right over his shoulders and wore a frock coat, stockings and shoes with buckles. He wasn’t too tall and was quite well built. I was fascinated to hear her tell me that the length of a wig denoted how wealthy a person was. I can only think that if his wig reached down over his shoulders he must have had more than a few shillings in his pocket.
He showed her where he used to live, as though she was hovering over the earth and could see the outlines of the house. He told her it wasn’t there anymore, but she could see where it had been, almost like those archeological programmes when they take photographs from the air when they are looking for old sites. Unfortunately old records can only tell you so much about those times even though that is quite a lot they do not always include the details you personally want to find.
He also told her where he was baptized, it was in a church which was one of three which were spaced about half a mile away from each other in a rough triangle. I found the one church out of the three, which was old enough for him to have been baptized there and I went there one Sunday afternoon, a beautiful sunny day. I arrived there, it was situated in lovely countryside and where I wanted to park my car there were a lot of people, milling around, taking photographs, all obviously guests from a wedding which had seemingly just taken place.
I walked through the churchyard and arrived at the church to find that it was what is known as a ‘redundant’ church, one not normally used for services anymore but looked after by a heritage trust. When I went inside, ooh, goosebumps still come up just thinking of the atmosphere. It was a very old church, from around 1000 or 1100 AD, there weren’t any pews left and only part of the rood screen which was heavily carved. The floor was old flagstones and there was a lovely old baptismal font made from old stone. There was one old cupboard which looked as though it was from around the 1600s, sporting lots of woodworm holes, but what took my breath away was the smell. The wedding had definitely taken place there, the floor was strewn with herbs and lavender and the perfume released when the guests had trodden on the floor was just amazing. I expect the couple had to get special permission to use this old redundant church and I wondered what made them choose it for their marriage. Did they too have ancestors connected with this particular church? Whatever their reasons the ambiance in that church on that sunny Sunday is something I shall never forget, the memory is firmly imprinted in my mind as one of those special happenings that will probably never come again for me.
Unfortunately with this particular ancestor I cannot think how I am ever going to get past not being able to find positive information about where he was born and I have now lost touch with Verity so I guess I shall never know – he is now and is doomed to remain one of my family history ‘brickwalls’.
Oh. What I would give to be able to talk to him.