French Con­nec­tion

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - LETTERS -

The fea­ture on Huguenots in your last is­sue (Oc­to­ber) was ex­cel­lent, and the records re­ally can open up hid­den gems in the un­like­li­est of places.

Af­ter my first child was born eight years ago, I de­cided to start look­ing into my wife’s an­ces­try

for their sake, trac­ing fam­ily from Eng­land to Ja­maica and even Asia. Over that time I’ve of­ten been guilty of fo­cus­ing on the more ex­otic ances­tors, and not spend­ing the same ef­fort look­ing into Lon­don­ers who seemed to have more ‘bor­ing’ lives.

My wife’s 4x great grand­mother Sarah Saint (1817–1901) seemed to be one such an­ces­tor – a silk­weaver from the Beth­nal Green area who mar­ried an­other weaver called John Bur­ton and lived what seemed a poor, but pretty nor­mal life. For years I thought noth­ing more, un­til I re­cently de­cided to look into her Saint her­itage. Through a mix of fel­low re­searchers on An­ces­try, the use of Google and records that dis­tant re­la­tions kindly shared with me, I found some­thing amaz­ing.

Sarah was in­deed quite poor, backed up by in­cred­i­bly de­tailed work­house records, but also of Huguenot ori­gin. This meant that when be­ing taken in by the

French Hospi­tal af­ter fall­ing on harder times, she had to prove her lin­eage – some­thing that goes back to Élin­court in Oise, France, in the early 1700s. This also helps ex­plain my wife’s fairly large share of West­ern Euro­pean ori­gin in her DNA re­sults.

It seems Sarah lived out many of her last years at the hospi­tal, weav­ing silk while she was there. Some of her ac­tual work is on dis­play at the Huguenot Mu­seum in Rochester (near where the hospi­tal now is).

But the sur­prises didn’t stop there. When Prince Wil­liam and Kate got mar­ried a few years ago, her dress was de­signed by a cer­tain Sarah Bur­ton of the Alexander McQueen fash­ion house (name purely a co­in­ci­dence). This Sarah Bur­ton apparently took in­spi­ra­tion from the silk gar­ments wo­ven by Huguenots, and specif­i­cally her name­sake who died at the hospi­tal in 1901! So our ‘bor­ing’ silk-weav­ing an­ces­tor has only ended up in­spir­ing the wed­ding dress of the fu­ture Queen! Ni­cholas Larkin, Rom­ford, Es­sex

Edi­tor Replies: What a won­der­ful story, Ni­cholas, com­plete with a re­mark­able link with roy­alty.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.