It was my family history writing group, and unusually as well as all the chat and reading out things we had written since the last meeting, we had an activity. We had to ‘interview’ an ancestor, and it was also a suggestion they might like to do for next time. . They had to imagine interviewing a family member who they have become interested in during their research. Some of the interview questions were very straight forward, some of them would require them to use their imaginations! The point of the exercise is to try and be creative!!
To assist I called my husband’s grandfather (played by my husband) to come and answer some question
Name of family member: Earnest
Context, my husband knew him :in his early life
- When were you born, and whereabouts was that? My name’s Earnest and I was born in 1883 in a small village in Surrey
- Who were your parents and what sort of people were they? Mum and Dad were John and Sarah, they were just ordinary folk, Dad worked on the land, Mum was in service before they married but looked after the home and family after
- Were your grandparents still alive when you were a child? Do you remember them and what their names were? My father’s parents were Henry and Charlotte, and yes I do remember them – Charlotte was quite posh, but Henry was a gardener and an ordinary working man, like me. Mother’s parents were Robert and Susan… I think… Granddad Day married a couple of times… he died in very sad circumstances in the workhouse down Guildford way
- What was the place like where you lived? Did you always live in the same place? It was a small village with a church and a small market on Saturday… just a road running through to Redhill, just a dirt road in the old days, I believe it’s the A25 now… We had a blacksmith and a few pubs, most folk worked on the land but a few worked in the quarries
- What occupations did your parents have? Dad was a labourer, although he did any odd jobs around the village… I have a picture of him up a ladder mending the church tower. Mum worked in one of the big houses and then she was at home with the family – she did cleaning for other people, and washing, and at harvest she’d go and help out
- Did you have any brothers and sisters? Were they older or younger than you? I had three sisters, but I only knew one of them, as two died one when she was a baby and one when she was a little girl. My other sister, Alice also died early leaving her poor little daughter, my niece little Ruby.
- What work did you do? Did your work involve you travelling? I just worked on the land, like my father. I was a plough-boy and then became a ploughman. When they built a golf course nearby I went and worked there.
- Did you marry and have children? Yes, I married my beloved Augusta , and like my parents we had four children, three beautiful girls and a handsome boy we named after my father, John – although he was always called Jack
- Do you know your wife/husband’s family? What sort of people were your in-laws? Yes, the Browns – good people… My wife, dear Augusta is the youngest of twelve children!!
- Do you have any special memories of important events? I remember the old Queen’s diamond jubilee, I remember her funeral and the coronation of the new king, and I remember the war… but I never talk about that time in my life.
WAs well as my husband’s demonstration, two other brave members of the group volunteered – one played the part of a distant relative born at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the other took the role of her own mother-in-law. It was really fascinating!!
I hope it isn’t a daunting exercise, and might be quite fun. I hope it will be useful for the group, and it might suggest a way forward in writing creatively about their family.
My featured image is of Earnest as a young man and his father John; I’m guessing this must have been taken in the early 1900’s.