Articles, History, People, Stories

Hidden Stories in Family trees

At the end of the nineties I researched my family tree and being the curious type, I ended up doing four, my parents and my husband’s parents. Each one totally fascinating with curious tales to tell.

My father had dark skin. During the seventies and eighties politically correct was only used by politicians. When Dad entered a social club, the comedian always called out to him with: ‘I see the Arabs have arrived.’ He never took offence.

His mother, my grandma, had the same colouring and I have a photograph of her mum, who was exactly the same. So we always knew what line it came down. However on researching the family, I found nothing to account for it. Eventually, a few years ago, my sister did a DNA check via Ancestry and Turkish blood came up. Apart from that, the mystery was never resolved.

My Mum’s dad didn’t know who his father was. Just that he was Welsh and born in 1904. For a long time it was suspected that it was the doctor she worked for as a nanny. But on searching that family tree, I suspected someone else. On her death bed my grandparents begged for her to tell them who it was. She refused. Why would she do that? What harm could it have done seventy years later?

Thats where my theory comes to play. I think I found the answer. According to the 1901 census, she worked as a domestic servant to a large family in the town. They owned a business and the head of the household was the brother of the mayor, also a local businessman. There are many stories about domestic servant’s becoming pregnant. It could have been someone in that household.

Seventy years later, that family was still prominent in the area. My great grandmother felt some misguided loyalty. Once more never proved, but it made sense.

My husband was an only son, of an only son. That made me realise that my boy was the last of his line. The original Mossman, born in the early 1800s, came from Scotland to Manchester to look for work in the cotton industry after the death of his parents. He married his landlady’s sister and they had four sons, Frank, Harry, James, and Robert, and one daughter.

James Mossman - b 1837
James Mossman

Frank didn’t marry and Robert was my husband’s grandfather.

Robert’s family

Harry, had two sons. The oldest died off Berry-Berry in a prison of war camp. The youngest boy died suddenly at a school’s sport’s day.

Harry’s two sons


That left Jim who emigrated to Australia and was never heard of again. I hoped he’d had sons who’d carried on our name. I placed an expression of interest on an internet site, and was contacted by a grandson who coincidentally turned out to have exactly the same name as my own boy. Indeed, he went on to have many male heirs, and there is a large family out there now. That pleased me no end.

Jim’s and family.

My husband’s mother also had an interesting story. She lost her mum to asthma when she was eight, and didn’t have a good childhood. Her father passed her around for relatives to look after. He was a hard working man, active in World War 1, and on the Homefront in World War 2. Eventually he realised his daughter needed a mother and married a woman he did not love.

There are many interesting stories in my tree, as I’m sure there are in yours. These are the people who shaped us and helped to make us what we are today. It important to keep these stories alive by writing them down to pass on to the next generation.

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