Monday, 17 June 2013

Family History Hunt Part 2: Origin stories

There are a few family stories and facts rattling around in my memory banks.

I knew that my dad’s dad’s middle name was his mother’s maiden name. That meant that in 1992, when I saw an entry for Sarah Newdick (1822-1870) in the Book of New Zealand Women, I was sure she had to be related. A quick query to my mother confirmed this suspicion. She is my three-times great-grandmother – or my grandfather’s father’s mother… So, not quite HIS mother’s maiden’s name. But, close I guess. I can now say that at least one big of my family have been in New Zealand since 1840. So, not so shabby for a Paheka, then.

My father was always proud of his Celtic (ie NOT English) blood. (When my English-born maternal grandmother complained about the noise of the massed pipe bands one Highland Games – the massive ones at Waipu, New Year’s Day 2000 – my father muttered to me, ‘what do you expect from a Sassenach’.) Now, I’m sort of glad that he isn’t around to discover that his direct paternal line is English, until at least, the 1740s (thanks to a distant cousin, who has done this research all ready and shared it). Poor Dad. On the positive side: Sarah Newdick (nee Mackay) came here from County Donegal. And his grandmother’s mother was born in Ireland (but, oh dear… her father was born in England. And I won’t even mention the Australian! But I will have to investigate – the story goes his family was from Cornwall).

Anyway, my mother’s parents were both born in England. Once upon a time, for a history paper, I followed my maternal line – maternally! – for a few generations. Alas, I have lost all that information – but my aunt has it. Whew. So, I rest assured that my maternal side – well, my grandmother’s side – will be covered.

The worst comes with my mother’s father’s side. Due to circumstances – my grandparents’ divorce – my mother lost contact with that side of her family, and knows very little about it. We’re even struggling to learn her grandma’s real name.

With these stories and facts in mind, I have two goals for my initial hunt: how long have the various strands of my family been in New Zealand? How far down do our roots in this land go? And, what can I find out about my mother’s Grandma – who was such an influential person in her life.

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