Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where I came from (in pictures)

I've been perusing a number of genaeology sites recently. Not in order to trace my family tree (my dad and brother already did that and traced us back as far as Domesday and beyond) but just to see how people find each other ... and the surprises they uncover. It's quite fascinating to discover where you come from. The British are a great mongrel nation with successive waves of invaders mingling with the natives, followed by settlers and immigrants who have also inter-married and interbred. Brit DNA is mostly Germanic but you'll also find traces of Saxon, Norman, Viking, Celt, Roman, Jute, Israeli, Turk, Western European and many others. My lot are pretty much Celtic down the line with my mum's side being Cornish as far back as we could trace and my dad's side originating in the Irish Republic.

One way in which my family is very lucky is that they always seem to have had money. Consequently, there are portraits of just about everyone in my family going right back to the very early origins of photography. Sadly, whatever money my family had disappeared before the Second World War but, by that time, photography had become affordable. So here's a quick glimpse of my family tree going back just a few generations, starting with me. What the hell is going on with my hair? At least I have my clothes on this time ...

Dad, Mum and me, circa 1961 .

Me, mum, her dad and his dad-in-law

My mum (right) her mum and brother circa 1951

My mum and her dad circa 1941

My dad and his mum circa 1945

My dad and his dad circa 1942

After this it gets kind of complicated ... but here are just a few of my favourite pictures from the Colgan family archives.

13 comments:

Debby said...

The pilot looks quite dashing.

You are lucky to have a photographic history of your ancestry. My family has stories, which are wonderful, but it would be nice to have faces to go with those stories.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Debby - I consider myself very lucky that we're also a family of human squirrels. We hoard stuff. Consequently, we also have letters, postcards, certficates, medals and all manner of weird and wonderful ephemera. Who knows? One day we might need our own museum!

Jon M said...

Ah, old photos. Coincidentally, I've been perusing my own family archives and associated stuff (you might like the cookery book I found and is on the latest posting). Isn't it interesting how we talk about today's complex and 'broken' families but if I tried to explain photos beyond my father's generation, I would use the word, 'complicated' too!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Jon - Miss Tuxford's Cookery for the Middle Classes?! Fantastic! Now that's a book I'd love to read! You have some real treasures there Jon ... I shall expect to read some of it on your blog (for my other visitors, Jon runs three blogs - choose 'Writing in a vacuum' for these particular gems).

And yes, the photos do get scary ... but not half as scary as the family tree. I realise just how lucky we are in these so-called 'troubled times' of angst and worry about everything, when I see whole families decimated by disease, children dying regularly in infancy, people being killed in combat and preventable industrial accidents. We've never had it so good, frankly. Yet we act like we're hard done by.

willow said...

Oh, these are lovely, lovely old photos, Steve! Ooooo...aaaahhh!! I love ancestry, history and vintage pictures.

Your parents are such a handsome couple! And who is the guy in the WWI uniform with his mother(?) The flying ace is oh, so dashing!

I have put about five years into some heavy ancestral research, which I think is totally fascinating. I found that my husband's gg grandfather was a Union soldier in the Civil War and obtained 80 pages of info on him from the National Archives in DC.

Debby said...

In my family, no squirrels, but certainly lots of nuts...

I'm curious about the name 'Myghal'.
Is that a man's name, or a woman's? Is it, perhaps, the Welsh for Michael? Is it pronounced 'Mi- ghal?' Sorry for all the questions. This is just a fascinating site.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Myghal is the Cornish spelling of 'Michael' as Stevyn is for 'Stephen'. It's pronounced something like 'Me-hail'. The Cornish language (or Kernewek) is very closely related to Welsh and Breton French - three branches of the Brythonic Celtic branch (the other Goidelic branch gave us Scots and Irish Gaelic and Manx). The Cornish language was heavily suppressed and was last spoken as a first language in the late 18th century ... but it always persisted to some degree, especially in local slang. It enjoyed a kind of revival in the late 1960s and 70s when scholars started to teach it again (we did Cornish language studies as a voluntary subject when I was a kid atschool) and now it's well on the way to the same kind of recovery we've seen with Welsh.

Lots more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish_language

Kernow bys vykken! (Cornwall forever!)
x

Me said...

Sigh - your doing you celt wash again.....

Debby said...

Oh, golly, 'Me'. Don't make him stop. You got ignorant foreign folks here! Well, anyways, there's one of us here.

Stevyn Colgan said...

As 'Me' knows (we're very old friends), I can be a little over-enthusiastic, even nationalistic, in my support for Cornish culture. I'm not really that militant, but I do care strongly.

It's a sad fact that 'history is written by the victors' and most history books of the past 200 years have completely failed to acknowledge the fact that Cornish language and culture was suppressed by the English (just read about the massacre at Deptford Bridge). Like many conflicts now fought over oil, Cornwall was never going to have an easy time as long as it was producing most of the tin and copper needed for the Industrial Revlution. Of course, it's old news now and we're all friends and we're all one big happy nation. But, unlike Scotland and Wales that retained a degree of autonomy, Cornwall somehow got lost. It didn't help that it was chopped back to being one small county (Scotland and Wales are a collection of counties each). If the Kingdom of Cornwall had remained intact it would still 'own' Devon and much of Somerset.

Even the Isle of Man, which is smaller than Cornwall, has retained its individuality. And that's why Cornwall continues to fight for its own individuality. I do genuinely apologise if I get a bit polemical at times but it's all in a good cause! x

Me said...

Dear Debby
I was not trying to stem Stevyn in mid flow - I assure you that is not possible. I guess I should have realised that my gentle ' in joke' with him may have not come over to well as a comment. Stevyn is a passionate Cornishman and I am proud to know him well - but I allow myself the luxury of a gentle tease from time to time to prod his vents! I assure you - its truly meant in a non harmful way.....:)

Debby said...

Me: my comment was also meant in jest. It was obvious that there was a longstanding connection there, as in "Oh, lord, there he goes again," the sort of comment a longsuffering wife, or an irreverent sibling would make. I didn't take you as rude at all. My apologies.

Me said...

Hi Debby - Phew - I am pleased we are ok....I was worried I'd upset you - not the other way round!
Love the spelling of your name - very unusual - look forward to commenting with you in the future! (for the record - he really CAN go on from time to time) Giggle.....