Until a year ago I really did not know much about my family history – and what I did know was unorganized. One thread of my tree, the Birks, were fairly known because there was a short family history published privately in the 1920’s and my maternal grandafather had been a very considerable family historian. However, it had been claimed that the huge tree he had spent decades researching had been destryoed after his death by his widow. There were a couple of his notebooks and some photos that were in the ownership of the family – but rarely looked at and certianly never studied.
Then I bought access to a couple of Genealogical sites and started to surf them. It soon became addictive – and a wider range of families started to feature; families by marriage, collaterals and connections took my tree across Britain, into Australia and New Zealand, included India and Europe. A wide range of people populated the dry details – from Scottish lords trading in Southern Spain to the unhappy transported prisoner. A close ancestor appears in Leeds Assizes charged with manslaughter (but he got off) and grandmother actually a step-grandmother) had a mysterious divorce.
I also started to meet relations on the internet and to see myself in a wider context of cousins, relations by marriage and to feel a sense of connection. I developed an admiration for my grandfather, Frank Elliott Birks, a man who had a burning passion for family history and to whom I will dedicate this blog. His work was not lost – it had passed around his distant family, it had been built on and expanded. He did it through hard slog – through libraries, record offices and church records, in amazing and accurate detail.