Real peo­ple re­mem­bered

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - WRITE IN -

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.

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