Human beings are gregarious creatures and have an inborn need to belong and to know where they belong, so that ordinary, modest individuals set out for a variety of reasons to trace their family history and this requires investigating a much vaster hunting ground than one would anticipate. The aim is not the wish for fame, fortune or the discovery of a connection with royalty or the high-born, but for the absorbing interest in the many lives that led down to one's own and beyond and the fun of the chase while investigating small snippets of information found on gravestones, historical books or records, in Wills and on Birth, Marriage or Death Certificates.
However, if one wishes to attempt to do this without involving expensive experts, it not only requires the diligent searching for facts oneself, but also the assistance of others, such as members of the family, who may have a certain amount of knowledge readily to hand that is unknown to one's self.
These actual Family Trees were compiled originally during the 1970's/80's when we wished to obtain British passports and this required the confirmation of Phillip's British descent. As it took nine certificates from various parts of the world to provide the information requested, he observed, 'Now we have all this data, we may as well draw up family trees.' Which we did and copies of these were lodged in the Albany Museum, Grahamstown, South Africa prior to our emigration from that country on about 6th.June, 1989.
Naturally it is hoped that the information recorded here is correct although it is probably inevitable errors will occur (but hopefully corrected wherever possible!) On the other hand the stories told are as I remember them, except where identified as recollections of others, so what needs to be understood is that many of these tales refer to circumstances as seen by very young or even childish eyes and have only been written with the intention of entertaining, informing or amusing anyone who is sufficiently interested to take the time to read them.
Four thousand years ago an Egyptian scribe wrote that humans die and turn to dust, but writing makes us remembered.
Advice from Glyn Marillier, 12.3.2002 regarding Genealogy:
'Some people just have to rush into print as soon as they have what they consider a nugget of information or two that they have collected "the complete set" of ancient relatives. It finally dawns on them that the only real time pressure in all of this is the eventual death of living informants and the ravages of time on old documents. Once you relax in the notion that no-one can ever know everything about anything and that accuracy really matters so as not to waste your own and everyone else's time with endless corrections, genealogy becomes a whole lot less frantic.'
I believe a good working model can be taken from Othello's 'nothing extenuate, Nor set down in malice' by simply giving names, dates, places and facts, where known, and then making it easy to discern where there are doubts that may at some later date be confirmed or altered; and in addition which are family tales, anecdotes or descriptions, as they are what provide the 'meat in the sandwich', the atmosphere of the time, the character of the individual, thus adding pleasure or interest for the reader.
From: 'The Prize' - Irving Wallace.
' there can be worse virtues than secure knowledge of continuity existing from the distant past and offering reassurance for the future. It is something that atheists and republicans miss, I imagine '
As I wrote on 1.6.2002 to Allan Marillier
Perhaps I should explain the chronology of compiling my records. First we only had the few certificates that were required for Phillip (and consequently me) to acquire British citizenship, which he had relinquished. That sparked the interest. Then we visited the Government archives in Cape Town where a very helpful lady suggested we start with Death Certificates, which often listed the names of children. We then went up to Grahamstown and spent a bit of time in the Genealogy Dept. of the Albany museum looking at trees there. From there we travelled around South Africa visiting churches, cemeteries and council offices asking for information on various surnames and returned home to draw up the trees as best we could. These hung around for a number of years without addition because we were more concerned with emigrating from SA and looking for a suitable spot to live - Britain, France (which Phillip likes), Spain, USA (two years more-or-less in a motorhome- wonderful time, but no way could we afford the medical insurance or costs), then for about two years we returned to South Africa, spent getting things sorted out. During that time I decided that I could not simply throw away what we had collected on the families - letters, papers, copies of photographs, etc. - so I gather all together and typed out pages for each section of the many families (on a borrowed typewriter!); made three copies of everything, sent off the bits and pieces in various directions asking relatives to add from their knowledge and finally kept one copy of it all for myself, deposited one copy plus all the original letters, papers etc with the Grahamstown Museum and lastly left different sections of the last copies with various family members who were interested in their immediate family. The most disappointing was the lot on the Warner family as that 'cousin' seemed very enthusiastic and she continued sending sections off for additions by other relatives as far as I know, but she failed to send me any of the extra information. Only very recently did our middle son, Andrew, suggest that I record the family stories (my father was a great one for anecdotes) and that led to my putting all I had onto computer files. I am still in the middle of this. None is finished nor have I been able to find time to check what has been entered and I still have additions to make. Because much of what I have was as people recalled things, it, too, is not always totally reliable but at least forms a starting place for further research, I suppose.'
And as I wrote on 3.6.2002 to Phyllis Marillier who did a sterling job on gathering family information and compiling the Marillier tree:
'Allan tells me that the foundation of all his remarkable Marillier tree came to him from you, so all we genealogy fans must thank you for your efforts. I can understand your frustration over writing so many letters and only receiving about 15 replies to your requests for information. My greatest disappointment was that I left copies of all I had gathered on the Warners with a Warner cousin, arranging that she would send the collection around the family for additions, as I had been doing prior to our emigration, but although she has written a couple of times over the 12 years we have been in Australia, she has passed on absolutely no family data. At the beginning of our search we went to the Albany museum in Grahamstown and I was devastated to find only one line of the Freemantle family, just listing the name of the original 1820 Settler and some of his children; the eldest son from whom our branch descends wasn't even there! However, the best and most informative was the Warner family as there was a basic tree, letters from a brother in Bristol to the family in the Transkei, a lovely painting of Hester Warner (I sent a copy to Peter Davies who forwarded a copy to Allan and now I have printed it to send to you with this) and some family items, some on show but others in safekeeping. I got such a kick out of it all and wanted to know more about the individuals concerned. The lady who donated most of the items was Irene Elizabeth Toye Warner, descended from the brother who remained in Bristol and she eventually came out to South Africa to visit all her relatives there and ended by marrying one of her cousins, Albert Warner Staples. She was an extraordinary character and your description of Ida reminded me of her. My mother used to recount stories about her, especially her determination never to waste anything, so she would arrive at our home with parcels of 'left-overs', even jam wrapped in brown paper!'
There is a very famous saying that goes something like "If you don't know where you came from, you cannot know where you are going." I hope this collection will put up a few signposts in both directions!