Having put a stop to my manic and unstructured efforts at genealogy, creating a rather narrow family tree disappearing into the mists of time, I have now settled down to more thoroughly research each ancestor. Apart from my parents, both deceased, the first and easiest is my maternal grandfather, someone I knew and spent a little of my early childhood with. I tend to class him as my “first” ancestor, going backwards from my mother, hence this post meeting the #52Ancestors challenge for the prompt “first”.
William Waters was born in the tiny mining village of St Blazey in Cornwall in 1872. His father was a copper miner, as were at least 10 generations before him! By the time he was 9 years old the family had migrated to the mining village of Haverigg in Cumbria, England, almost certainly caused by The Great Depression and a downturn in the market and price for tin and copper. At the age of 19 William was working down the local iron ore mine, Hodbarrow, the richest seam of haematite in the world.
Across his life William experienced a series of most significant events; the coronation of Edward VII, an oppressive heatwave lasting 3 months in 1911, the creation of The National Insurance Act providing sickness benefit, two world wars, women gaining the right to vote for the first time, The Great Slump of the 1930s, and food rationing in the UK. All images credited to/from Ancestry.com
William had 13 children, of which my mother was the youngest being born in 1920, his wife died before him in 1941 and he passed away 10 years later in 1951. I was almost 5 years old when he died but have strong memories of him taking me almost daily to his allotment in what were know as Square Gardens in the village of Haverigg. Bizarrely these allotments have now been built on, and a close friend, Janice Brockbank the retired head teacher of the village primary school owns a house in the exact same spot. I wrote a little of my memories with him in a previous blog post, Grandad’sOnions you can read from the link or from my blog home page.