Sur­pris­ing link

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - READER STORY -

From here, Robert be­gan to piece to­gether clues that led to a re­mark­able dis­cov­ery. “My wife, Sarah, has long known that she had Som­er­set an­ces­tors,” he says. “She was born in Yeovil, and her grand­mother, Mar­jorie Gill, came from a min­ing fam­ily in Writh­ling­ton in the Mendip Hills.

“I had ac­cess to a fam­ily Bi­ble that gave a few de­tails of Mar­jorie’s im­me­di­ate an­ces­tors, in­clud­ing her father, Ge­orge Hicks Gill, who was born in 1869 in Llan­ishen ( Glam­or­gan). This was con­firmed by a census re­turn.

“Ge­orge’s father, Sa­muel Gill, ap­pears on the 1871 census as a coach­man serv­ing in a large house in Llan­ishen. The census con­firmed that he had been born in We­ston-Su­per-Mare in 1839. Sa­muel mar­ried Emily Hicks in Axbridge ( Som­er­set) in 1868. His mar­riage cer­tifi­cate named his father as Ge­orge Gill, and the We­ston parish reg­is­ter con­firmed Sa­muel’s bap­tism there in Jan­uary 1842. The reg­is­ter de­scribed Ge­orge Gill as ‘post­mas­ter of We­ston-Su­per-Mare’.”

Ge­orge’s father John Gill was also a post­mas­ter, of Somer­ton, and a cab­i­net maker. He was born in 1761 to Ge­orge and Ly­dia Gill. Ge­orge was a baker and post­mas­ter of Axbridge, and mar­ried his wife, Ly­dia Dir­rick, in Axbridge in April 1756. “There it was!” says Robert. “The sur­name Dir­rick had resur­faced! Ly­dia Dir­rick had been bap­tised in Comp­ton Martin, five miles from Axbridge, in April 1756, the daugh­ter of John and Sarah Dir­rick, whom I al­ready knew to be my di­rect an­ces­tors.

“Draw­ing up a quick fam­ily tree con­firmed that my wife and I were de­scended from com­mon an­ces­tors, John and Sarah Dir­rick, our 5x great grand­par­ents. It’s in­cred­i­ble!” he says, adding: “It means that we are sev­enth cousins, and, bizarrely, both par­ents and dis­tant cousins, to our own three chil­dren!”

This dis­cov­ery that Robert was dis­tantly re­lated to his wife was even more bizarre be­cause, as far as they were con­cerned, their fam­i­lies came from dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try – Birm­ing­ham and Bed­ford­shire re­spec­tively – and nei­ther knew of any links to ru­ral Som­er­set where their shared an­ces­tors were mar­ried in 1726.

“You might imag­ine that some­thing like this would hap­pen if you grew up in the same vil­lage,” he says. “But we came from en­tirely dif­fer­ent ar­eas.”

“It’s as­ton­ish­ing, re­ally. But then you never know what you will find when you start look­ing.”

Robert Ward with one of the Ex­eter City Bank notes his an­ces­tor forged, lead­ing to his ex­e­cu­tion

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