Box of trea­sures

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In the Au­gust is­sue of WDYTYA? Mag­a­zine, Wendy Ford de­scribed how she was able to use a col­lec­tion of pa­pers to con­struct a pub­lic fam­ily tree. I had the great for­tune to ben­e­fit from the dis­cov­ery of an­other col­lec­tion of let­ters, pa­pers and pho­to­graphs bought by a man named Stu­art Poul­ton. The dis­cov­ery in­cluded let­ters from a sol­dier who fought in the First World War to his mother. Stu­art’s re­search was thor­ough, in­clud­ing trav­el­ling to bat­tle­field sites, read­ing reg­i­men­tal records and ob­tain­ing records. The sol­dier, who was my pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther Ge­orge Wil­liam Ashby Bent­ley ( Will), lost his right arm in a bat­tle near Neuve Eglise on 4 Septem­ber 1918. In 2005, Stu­art pub­lished Will’s story via the in­ter­net as ‘The life and times of a hero’.

A cousin of mine found the story af­ter putting our grand­fa­ther’s name into a search en­gine. When I looked in Oc­to­ber 2011 it was still avail­able but I needed to use the Way­back Ma­chine ( ar­chive.org). Stu­art had al­ways hoped that Will’s de­scen­dants would find his story and when my cousin and I made con­tact he of­fered to give us the orig­i­nal pa­pers.

I am sure I wouldn’t have been ablebl to piecei to­geth­erh theh de­tails­dil off my great grand­mother’s life with­out the in­for­ma­tion from Stu­art’s pa­pers.

Let­ters and en­velopes in the box and her father’s obit­u­ary gave her maiden name (Barnard) and three of the other four sur­names she used dur­ing her life. This Barnard line has proved the only one of mine that I have been able to trace back to landed gen­try.

I there­fore have much to thank Stu­art for and hope in time that Wendy Ford’s re­search will re­sult in happy de­scen­dants thank­ing her for shar­ing her dis­cov­er­ies. Janet James, Swin­don Editor replies: I am so glad th­ese pa­pers found a wel­come home. Stu­art Poul­ton sounds like a bit of a fam­ily his­tory hero.

wins a 12-month Di­a­mond sub­scrip­tion to The­Ge­neal­o­gist.co.uk

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