Real people remembered
I was fascinated by Alan Crosby’s column ‘ The dark side of family history’ in July’s edition. In my own family a more recent suicide of my late father’s uncle in 1933 really brought home how much geneaology is about real people, not just records of births, marriages and deaths – something we can so easily forget.
My ancestor, Thomas Blake, was only 19 years old when he committed suicide after being accused of theft at the butcher’s where he’d worked since he was 14. The local papers of the time reported the inquest, where this poignant letter to his mother was read out.
“Dear Mum – It will come as a shock to you to know that I am a crook. I can only see one way out – to shoot my way out of it. I am being charged with embezzlement. I cannot think of you worrying about it all the time and so I am doing this. You will find me down the back fields. If you do not want poor old Bob [his dog] sell him. Give my love to all the family. Your son Tom.”
Such a sad find, and something my father had never been told about. Jo Blake, Brighton, East Sussex
Editor replies: You are right Jo. We so often delight at our discoveries however bleak, and it’s important to remember the people above the dates and documents.