I was stuck for months with 279 direct ancestors on record, when suddenly over the past few weeks, it's grown to 296, with a total of 2,806 family members in the whole tree.
One recent breakthrough was on my father's line back to Oxfordshire. I knew that my 4th great grandmother Brooker (nee Seymore) was born circa 1795 at Drayton, Oxfordshire. Scanning through the digitally photographed parish registers of both Drayton St Peters, and then Drayton St Leonards, between 1780 and 1805, I had that eureka moment when I found this:
Actually, I found three baptisms of an Elizabeth to this couple, John and Phoebe (Faby) Seymour, as well as other children, and then their marriage in 1790:
So Phoebe (Faby), was a Godfrey before marriage, and a spinster. I've traced some of the lines back a bit further:
It looks as though around 1720, the Seymore family moved from the area of West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, to the villages of Lewknor and Aston Rowant in Oxfordshire. Not a dreadful distance, only around nine miles. I'll have to investigate these new ancestral villages in Oxfordshire sometime.
I've also made a little progress on another close by line, also on my father's Oxfordshire lines. My 3rd great grandmother Brooker was born Mary Ann Edney in 1845 in Shiplake, Oxfordshire. I've managed to extend that branch a little further back:
The Edney family has recently provided me with the furthest back DNA match on my paternal line. DNA matching suggests with a moderate confidence level, that I and another British tester share identical by descent segments of DNA with a predicted relationship of 5th to 8th cousins. Ancestry sees a relationship on our trees that it thinks is behind those segments:
I'm very keen to find these DNA matches, to biologically verify my research, where it can (over the most recent 8 - 10 generations). However, I'm particularly concerned about proving or disproving my paternal line beyond Generation 3, as I had a slightly colourful great grandmother on that line. The Edney match does indeed support, that my documented great grandfather, was indeed my biological great grandfather, but really I need more verification. I'm looking for matches with common ancestry in Oxfordshire or Switzerland, in order to do just that - alternatively a Y-DNA match from another tester descended on the Y line from an Oxfordshire / Berkshire Brooker family.
I've been trying very hard to breakthrough on a Suffolk based branch on my father's side. I have a brick wall above my 3rd great grandfather Robert Barber, born somewhere in Suffolk, around 1796. I do have some good candidates,
As you can see, a baptism of a Robert Barber of Halesworth, at a non-conformist chapel in Beccles during 1797. Tempting to claim them as ancestors, if I could, then I could actually go back a few more generations on that line. But I'm not convinced this is the right one. There were a lot of Barbers in Suffolk at that time. This is the thing about genealogy - you have to make that call, that decision to add, or not to add. The further that we go back, the less the resources, and the more missing. Then perhaps, we are forced to sometimes make slightly more generous decisions. I do struggle with that though.
As a side note, I have ordered Robert's death certificate from the GRO. He died quite young in 1846, and it smashed his young family apart, some ending up in the workhouse. I'd like to know what happened.
His son George got out of Shipmeadow Workhouse and got work at a farm labourer in the Hedenham / Woodton area of Norfolk. He married and settled there. They had a number of children, including a daughter named Emily Barber. When she was 11 years old, during the 1871 census, she was recorded as working as a "crow keeper" (children employed to scare birds from fields):
Emily later moved to Norwich, to work as a servant in a Solicitor's household. There she met a young wheelwright from Attleborough, called Fred Smith. They married at the bottom of Grapes Hill. They were very congregationalist new chapel. They raised their children in a terrace house in Suffolk Street, Norwich, including my father's mother, Doris Smith.
Here's Emily, with her son Sid Smith, who was a First World War veteran from the Western Front: