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General => The Common Room => The Lighter Side => Topic started by: iluleah on Saturday 25 July 20 11:25 BST (UK)

Title: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: iluleah on Saturday 25 July 20 11:25 BST (UK)
We all have had family tell us stories about our/their ancestors and many of these stories are passed on decade after decade often added to or changed at each telling.... So have you been told of the famous, land owner, titled, or explorer ancestor and then when you researched found the story to be a tall tale?
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: IgorStrav on Saturday 25 July 20 11:27 BST (UK)
Still searching for evidence that my great grandfather 'stole all his wife's money that she'd been saving to visit her family back in Belgium, and ran away to the US'.

Have theorised for years when this might have happened, and what evidence might be available to confirm it, but irritatingly there's only negative evidence - ie that he wasn't with his family in the 1911.  Not really good enough, is it.....
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: iluleah on Saturday 25 July 20 12:45 BST (UK)
Still searching for evidence that my great grandfather 'stole all his wife's money that she'd been saving to visit her family back in Belgium, and ran away to the US'.

Have theorised for years when this might have happened, and what evidence might be available to confirm it, but irritatingly there's only negative evidence - ie that he wasn't with his family in the 1911.  Not really good enough, is it.....

Yes you are right stories built up around separation/divorce don't have the records to prove/disprove so it is like 'walking through treacle'
I can relate to this story with my own ancestry where 'others' have taken on one parties story and  it 'fits their purpose' to do so, whereas the reality is something completely different
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Treetotal on Saturday 25 July 20 13:16 BST (UK)
When I started to do the Family tree, I asked my Uncle, who was in his 90s about his claim that Amy Johnson, the famous Aviatrix was a relative as I couldn't make any connection to the Johnson Family as her roots were in Denmark...he told me that she wasn't actually related but the family lived next to my Grandparents and him and his siblings called Amy's parents Aunt and Uncle and that my Aunt Maggie went to school with her.
We also have Carrolls in our tree from Ireland, he also claimed that Lewis Carroll was a distant relative...but that was his pen name  ::)
Carol
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: IgorStrav on Saturday 25 July 20 13:19 BST (UK)
I always tell the tale, which i "think" I read here, somewhere, about a family's Welsh heritage, which remained unproven by the diligent researcher back through many many generations, until s/he noticed at one point the family had lived in Swansea Street, in - I think - Birmingham.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: coombs on Saturday 25 July 20 13:28 BST (UK)
Nan always said there was some Irish heritage on her mother's side in Oxford. The claim remains unproven but James Smith of Oxford was a tin plate worker, and one of the witnesses to his marriage was Andrew Carney, sounds an Irish surname. No connection to Andrew has been confirmed yet but he did live in Oxford at the same time but was from London originally. James Smith said he was not born in county in 1841, but popped it in 1849, 2 years before the first very useful census. The Carney's could have been Scottish as opposed to Irish. Carnie is the Scottish variant, and people were very casual about the surname spellings back then.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Treetotal on Saturday 25 July 20 13:32 BST (UK)
 ;D ;D ;D I remember someone on the photo board, years ago, who posted a photo who she believed to be her Great Grandmother. It was a Carte de Viste of a young Queen Victoria, she took some convincing, she believed that because it was in an album which had belonged to her Grandmother that the lady must be a relative. It was pointed out to her that famous people's photos were often collected.  ;D ;D
Carol
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Ian Nelson on Saturday 25 July 20 13:42 BST (UK)
My Granny Cathcart ( Gladys Emma Tubby of Swaffham, Norfolk, a very broad Norfolk broad) was full of scary stories but her most often told story was about her brothers, George and Dot Tubby who both had 'Power over Horses'.  They calmed an irritable horse by walking round it 3 times and blowing up its nose, after which the horse stood as if hypnotised.  They also worked on the estate of Stephen Fry's parents as mentioned in his biog.  She said her brother Dot was a molecatcher in Whaplode, Kesteven ( part of Lincolnshire ) and I only half-believed her until taken on a Norfolk holiday trip by my Uncle Alan Lewis Tubby and we went off route to find Dot at Whaplode to tell him that his brother Lewis Tubby, (Policeman in Yorkshire) had died.  He approached the house across a ploughed field in his bare feet and he was bald as a coot, not even eyebrows and was carrying a sack full of dead moles for which the farmer paid him per corpse.  She also said one of my relatives was the Coachman to H. Rider Haggard.  He had connections with Norfolk / Suffolk and Isle of Wight, my ancestors localities.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Ray T on Sunday 26 July 20 08:49 BST (UK)
Some years ago, I had a ‘phone call from a recently discovered cousin whilst I was researching my long lost grandfather. He mentioned a conversation he overheard as a child when his parents were talking about a murder which took place at my grandfather’s house shortly after he died.

A couple of years later, I discovered that his “widow’s” lodger (it was a bigamous marriage) had been murdered in a nearby field on the way back from the pub.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: pharmaT on Sunday 26 July 20 09:11 BST (UK)
So far the tales I have managed to research have turned out to have a grain of truth in them.  Perhaps another generation removed than I had been told, or when money involved slight variation in the actual figure.

There are some stories that I have neither been able to confirm or disprove. For example the obituary of one ancestor claims that he was the second cousin of Thomas Carlyle.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: KGarrad on Sunday 26 July 20 09:29 BST (UK)
I have been contacted by an American(?!) who was convinced he was the rightful King of Mann (i.e. The Isle of Man).
Had to point out that the title was changed to the Lord of Mann in 1504, by Edward Stanley 3rd Earl of Derby.
And that title was revested in the Crown of Great Britain in 1765.

Also had a long discussion with a gentleman in Ealing (I had a 3 month contract working there), who insisted that a Vicar of Ealing had married a Princess of the Isle of Man!
There has never been a "Princess" of the Isle of Man!
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Mckha489 on Sunday 26 July 20 09:35 BST (UK)
And conversely what about the amazing things you discover that somehow didn’t make it into the oral history of the family!


The long sea voyages of my 3x G grandfather in the Royal Navy
His time as a smuggler
The huge tidal wave off the coast of South America
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Kiltpin on Sunday 26 July 20 10:57 BST (UK)
There is a persistent tale in our family that we are directly descended from Florence Nightingale. The fact that no trace, nor connection, can be found and that Florence died unmarried and childless does not alter the conviction of my cousins. At my mother's funeral last year, some of them were bragging of such to others not in the family. 

Regards 

Chas
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Mvann on Sunday 26 July 20 12:39 BST (UK)
I've checked one or two family stories out. Some are what you might call somewhat true. One was to do with my 2 gt grandmas family came from Manchester, which is only true in the sense that 2gt grandma was born there but her dad was born in cheadle, staffordshire. Also some relations mentioned are usually a generation out. In some cases, where aunt or uncle was used in a tale, they actually meant great aunt or great uncle. The only one I've checked that is completely wrong relation wise was to do with grandmas aunt Annie wright. Annie wright was actually grandmas grandma and it was Annie's aunt the tale was to do with.


Jon
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Ray T on Sunday 26 July 20 12:44 BST (UK)
I've checked one or two family stories out. Some are what you might call somewhat true. One was to do with my 2 gt grandmas family came from Manchester, which is only true in the sense that 2gt grandma was born there but her dad was born in cheadle, staffordshire. Also some relations mentioned are usually a generation out. In some cases, where aunt or uncle was used in a tale, they actually meant great aunt or great uncle. The only one I've checked that is completely wrong relation wise was to do with grandmas aunt Annie wright. Annie wright was actually grandmas grandma and it was Annie's aunt the tale was to do with.


Jon

I can see how that arose. Cheadle; originally in Cheshire but now in Stockport, shares a fair bit of its boundary with Manchester.

Often confused, I was once walking down Cheadle high street when a chap in a lorry stopped and asked me For directions. I looked at the address and said that’s Cheadle, Staffordshire, this is Cheadle, Stockport. He let out an expletive and said that he’d just driven up from Birmingham!
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Mvann on Sunday 26 July 20 13:28 BST (UK)
2 gt grandma was born in Manchester. Her dad was born cheadle staffordshire and, according to the census, her dads mother was born in newbold Leicestershire, but, as I haven't found her marriage yet, I can't confirm it. Also didn't realize there are 2 newbolds in Leicestershire. As it happens, 2gt grandma, her parents and siblings all moved to Leicester from Manchester.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: coombs on Sunday 26 July 20 14:02 BST (UK)
Nan said there was a weightlifter in the family, never came across such a person. Her great grandfather however, was a cricketer in Oxford.

Also the tales that ancestors rarely moved more than 5 miles from their birthplace prior to around 1900, which is something that has been totally quashed.

Talking of Cheshire and Lancashire, and ancestors being more mobile than believed, my Sussex born ancestor wed in 1605 to a London girl, daughter of a merchant and once Mayor of King's Lynn in Norfolk, who I think came from Warrington in Lancashire (Now Cheshire) originally. You never know where in the country (or other countries) your direct line will take you.

Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: iluleah on Sunday 26 July 20 17:03 BST (UK)
So far the tales I have managed to research have turned out to have a grain of truth in them.  Perhaps another generation removed than I had been told, or when money involved slight variation in the actual figure.

There are some stories that I have neither been able to confirm or disprove. For example the obituary of one ancestor claims that he was the second cousin of Thomas Carlyle.

I think you are correct with many family stories but just like the game of 'chinese whispers' they change as people forget or add something so the story changes to something unrecognisable to when it started...... or it is to hide something else ... a 'shame' that family at the time felt so a story was developed to remove/hide that shame.

One great aunt would tell me stories and when I repeated them asking my gran or mum they would both laugh and say " she has always had a vivid imagination"  and dismiss anything she said......... and I have to say she told me some stories that even as a child made me 'wonder' as they were very unbeleivable....  like a much older 1st cousin of my mothers who had a burn on his face " he got burned by one of his rockets that he made which misfired and exploded (and in a hushed voice) something secret for the Government/Navy" , my mother/gran told me "No, it was from a firework on bonfire night and he was never in the services"  when I eventually researched him finding his military file it was still sealed...30 yrs on researched again, some of the file were open but with lots  blacked out and still many papers sealed...reading the little I did read it does seem my great aunt was truthful....and lots of the other stories she told me on research I found to be true yet the rest of the family claimed something completly different and told me she was lying
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Viktoria on Sunday 26 July 20 17:39 BST (UK)
My mother had a sister, a quiet gentle girl in a very lively family.
She was the favourite of everyone.
She fell in love with a  Curate, the Church in Manchester was “High “Anglican,
and the clergy wore soutanes  all the time and none were married.
.
He moved away and she was taken in - conned- by a nasty piece of goods who claimed his ill treatment of her after marriage was due to his army service,WW1
.
She developed TB ,he put black thread round cutlery only to be used by her,
Crockery etc .
Was verbally cruel etc.
Her sisters maintained she died of a broken heart,in fact it was the TB, and the dreadful haemorrhaging .
All the family detested him.She died in 1929 aged 29.
Then my OH and I went to Beamish open air museum and In the Chemiist shop and the Dr’s there were instructions re trying to limit the spread of TB in a household  in the early part of the 1900’s
The very things which had condemned their sister’s husband in the eyes of her family were what were advised ,so he might have been an unpleasant man but he was not wrong in that respect .
I have her perfume bottle and a small ivory fan ,for when she got a high temperature.
All are dead now but even with the above facts he would not be any better thought of ,it is a fsmily legend, or leg end ,!
Viktoria.







Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: pharmaT on Sunday 26 July 20 18:06 BST (UK)
So far the tales I have managed to research have turned out to have a grain of truth in them.  Perhaps another generation removed than I had been told, or when money involved slight variation in the actual figure.

There are some stories that I have neither been able to confirm or disprove. For example the obituary of one ancestor claims that he was the second cousin of Thomas Carlyle.

I think you are correct with many family stories but just like the game of 'chinese whispers' they change as people forget or add something so the story changes to something unrecognisable to when it started...... or it is to hide something else ... a 'shame' that family at the time felt so a story was developed to remove/hide that shame.

One great aunt would tell me stories and when I repeated them asking my gran or mum they would both laugh and say " she has always had a vivid imagination"  and dismiss anything she said......... and I have to say she told me some stories that even as a child made me 'wonder' as they were very unbeleivable....  like a much older 1st cousin of my mothers who had a burn on his face " he got burned by one of his rockets that he made which misfired and exploded (and in a hushed voice) something secret for the Government/Navy" , my mother/gran told me "No, it was from a firework on bonfire night and he was never in the services"  when I eventually researched him finding his military file it was still sealed...30 yrs on researched again, some of the file were open but with lots  blacked out and still many papers sealed...reading the little I did read it does seem my great aunt was truthful....and lots of the other stories she told me on research I found to be true yet the rest of the family claimed something completly different and told me she was lying

I was told by both my Dad and My uncle that we had connections in Calcutta but we were from the wrong side of the bed sheets.  We never believed them.  Turned out that my Grt Grt Grandfather's half brother was high up in the Bengal Government before independence.

Was also told there were cousins who had titles and that turned out to be true too.

One I would love to solve is the story that one of my grt grt uncles tried to resarch the tree but was disgusted when he found some sheep rustlers in the family.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: iluleah on Sunday 26 July 20 18:25 BST (UK)
Quote
but was disgusted when he found some sheep rustlers in the family.

 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D Oh I love those 'finds'!

Lincolnshire Echo Lincolnshire, England
16 Aug 1907  KESTEVEN PETTY SESSIONS

WAS IT BLANK POWDER? Wiliam Merry, of Eagle Hall, swas summonded on the information of William Woodend, for unlawfully killing a partridge at Eagle Hall on the 7th August.  It seemed  that Woodend was a gamekeepor to Mr. Curtis, of Collingham. On the evening of the 7th August at seven o’clock a shot was fired and a partridge was seen by Wood ‘'to tower’ and fall. The keeper went towards Merry and ran off as hard as he could. The keeper overtook him and charged him with shooting a partridge. The defendant said he was scaring birds. In reply to the defendant Woodend said he could mark a towered'' bird down half a mile away.F.W. Otter, farmer, of Eagle, said he heard shot fired. Defendant: Can you swear there were any partridges? Witness: They looked like partridges. Defendant said he was simply scaring birds, ami had no shot in his gun, and called his wife, who said she loaded the gun and put only powder in it to scare the birds, which were doing damage.The magistrate considered there was not sufficient evidence to convict, and dismissed the case.


KESTEVEN PETTY SESSIONS
Published: Friday 16 November 1894
Newspaper: Lincolnshire Echo
County: Lincolnshire, England

... Night Poaching.George Smith and Wm. both of Eagle, were charged by Wm. Woodend with night poaching at Eagle Bamsdale, on the inst.The complainant, head gamekeeper to Mr. Curtis, stated that about midnight with two constables he concealed himself near ...

My ancestor was Gamekeeper Wm Woodend
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Viktoria on Sunday 26 July 20 18:50 BST (UK)
There is another story,true too.
I have told it before but perhaps it is new to some .
Always told my Paternal grandfather was a Guard.
A tall well built man, it seemed well yes.
However I did not ask any more but when just starting infamily history and before getting into  Census returns etc I tried to find more,              Coldstream "?,Grenadier ?
No one left to ask.
But then I started searching properly etc etc!

He was was indeed a guard .
On the Lancashire and Yorkshire  Railway!

Viktoria.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Erato on Sunday 26 July 20 18:59 BST (UK)
When Richard Nixon's daughter Tricia married a corporate lawyer named Edward F. Cox in 1971, my father casually said, "Regrettably, he is a distant relative of ours."  Years later, when I started delving into the family history, I recalled that remark and, although I searched and searched, I could find no relationship.  When I questioned my Dad about it, he said he didn't remember saying it and off hand knew of no family connection.  I guess I should be glad that it was a false rumor.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Viktoria on Sunday 26 July 20 19:46 BST (UK)
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
I like it, the best jokes are those where the teller has no need to see the outcome,they go on for years ,like that  one.
I remember an old person who was rushed into hospital ,it was common knowledge there was a bit of and the old person did not believe in banks,
A good neighbour explained people had seen the ambulance etc abd how sad it would be if someone burgled his house whilst he was in hospital.
“ Won’t you tell me where your money is and we can get it into a safe place that you choose ,but first you must tell me where it is“
The old person beckoned, the friend leant down to hear the whispered response.
It came——————“ In a very safe place”.
It had to be left .
Do you know where it was? In a black plastic bag in amongst the coal.
Viktoria.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: iluleah on Sunday 26 July 20 20:30 BST (UK)
Oh Viktoria..that reminded me of something I had forgotten about which  happened when I was a child. I was staying with my grandparents I must have been over 8 yrs old as I got my bike for my 8th birthday. I would ride all over the place and one day cycled to the next village about 4 miles away to see a great aunt...banged on the door, no answer, normally the door was open/unlocked  but not on that day so looked around to find something to climb up to look through the window and I could see her sitting in her chair cats on her knee and banged again, no response, so I cycled back to tell, on the way back I saw my grandfather driving the landrover taking feed to the sheep, so told him, he told me to go home and tell my uncle... turned out my great aunt had fallen asleep in the chair she was freezing cold, an ambulance called...she recovered. We went to the hospital all sitting there and my uncle told her what had happened, the cats had kept her warm enough to keep her alive, when he arrived to warm her up he got a blanket and he lite a fire waiting for help, she sat up in bed and told him he was stupid....... she had hid some money on the ledge in the chimney, so he had burned her money  ::)
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Viktoria on Sunday 26 July 20 20:35 BST (UK)
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
Viktoria.
Oh, my sides ache!
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Annie65115 on Wednesday 29 July 20 00:07 BST (UK)
My mother used to scoff at her mother's pride in the ancestors. According to my grandmother, we were apparently descended from a triple barrelled bunch,the Marshall-Rawson-Uptons, and they were "Something", you know. My mother was very scornful of this; she felt that my grandmother had airs and graces way too great for our humble roots.

It turns out that no hyphens were involved, but a Rawson ancestor did indeed marry a Marshall, and their daughter married an Upton. The families certainly had had money and social status, about 200 years ago, but alcohol, mental illness, bankruptcy, a little matter of a murder trial with my ancestor as defendant etc etc had put paid to that. My grandmother's belief that we had "come from money" was true; but my mother's belief that we were "poor as church mice" was also true.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: gaffy on Wednesday 29 July 20 02:32 BST (UK)
My family lore suggested extensive land and property owned by an ancestor (who had emigrated to North America) which went astray after his death because of some shady behaviour regarding the will, the outcome being that my family received nothing. Over years of trying (unsuccessfully) to bottom this out and interacting with other folk researching their family tree, it struck me how often a similar story of misappropriated wealth crops up in family lore.

Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: iluleah on Wednesday 29 July 20 10:01 BST (UK)
My family lore suggested extensive land and property owned by an ancestor (who had emigrated to North America) which went astray after his death because of some shady behaviour regarding the will, the outcome being that my family received nothing. Over years of trying (unsuccessfully) to bottom this out and interacting with other folk researching their family tree, it struck me how often a similar story of misappropriated wealth crops up in family lore.

Yes I agree this story is a 'normal' with lots of people.... some years ago I connected with someone researching the same family as I , who said their ancestor was cheated out of all his inheritance by his brothers which ended with him migrating penniless while his brothers took everything..... the truth was ( after I researched) the 3 brothers inherited equally and ran the business together for years, their ancestor wanted to migrate and sold his third to the  other two brothers who took out loans to buy him out...off he went.... one of the remaining brothers had no children so Willed his half to the other brothers son and it passed down that one line of the family and still owned/run  today, so all legal, honest business transactions and all above board
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Mvann on Wednesday 29 July 20 10:43 BST (UK)
Annie65115

Your upton tale has just reminded me of a search I had for what I originally thought was a Mary Ann upton married to a james hartshorn. It turns out I have 2 Mary Ann uptons, both born about 1826, one married to a james hartshorn and the other to a james glover hartshorn. Took a bit of time to work those 2 out


Jon
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: IgorStrav on Wednesday 29 July 20 13:10 BST (UK)
Annie65115

Your upton tale has just reminded me of a search I had for what I originally thought was a Mary Ann upton married to a james hartshorn. It turns out I have 2 Mary Ann uptons, both born about 1826, one married to a james hartshorn and the other to a james glover hartshorn. Took a bit of time to work those 2 out


Jon

I tell you, they did it to annoy and mislead   ;) ;) ;)
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: andrewalston on Tuesday 04 August 20 14:01 BST (UK)
My mum's grandmother was a MARSH was told in her youth that she was a direct descendant of George Marsh, who was burned at the stake under Bloody Mary and became St. George the Martyr. Each generation was supposed to contain a George in his honour.

It was mum who first got me to look into the story, and thus got me hooked on genealogy

Although the parish is correct, records to connect the family are thin on the ground, and the surname is pretty common.

So far I have only found two George MARSHes.

One of her grandfathers claimed to be the "seventh son of a seventh son". He turned out to have been the first son, but the warts still succumbed to his charming.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: iluleah on Tuesday 04 August 20 14:50 BST (UK)
It is stranger 'andrewalston' that many 'family stories' are around the same things. Your story reminded me of a similar story in my family although mine is not detailed like yours nor goes back very far.

Some male in the family each generation is named " after a 'family given name' used for many centuries" I was told.... funny thing was I saw this name on a gravestone in the village and 'no one' knew who it was ( I knew even as a child they were all lying) Turned out it was my great grandfather ( even my grandfather who was his son said he didn't know) Funny thing is my great grandfather is not buried there but in an unmarked grave in the next village 3 miles away.... the gravestone I found out decades later was  done to 'keep up appearances'
Researching I know each generation has named one son this given name and I certainly would have used it had it 'fit' with the surname ( but they were too similar and would have sounded very strange)  and it was the 'real surname' of my great grandfathers, father, who was his mothers brother in law, not the man she married, so a shameful 'event' at the time, 150 years ago when he was born. My great grandfather 'assumed' the surname as his given name when he was a teenager and also 'assumed' his mothers maiden surname, so he found out and also cut himself off from his mothers husband... he was not even registered/baptised with the names he used nor died/buried with his 'real' names.
Yet in the family the 'story' continues of this 'centuries old name' when it is given to a new born, it seems they all prefer to repeat the tall tale regardless of proof
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: robbo43 on Wednesday 05 August 20 22:27 BST (UK)
Most of the family tales from my mother's side of the family seem to be based on truth, if not entirely acurate.
My maternal grandmother said she had a brother who died of typhoid before she was born - true. She said she had a brother who drowned before she was born - not true but she had two uncles who drowned as schoolboys when they went skating on Saham Toney Mere and the ice gave way. Someone lived in a flat at a mental hospital - pretty much true, one of her cousins married the chief male nurse at St Audrey's Mental Hospital, Melton, Suffolk, and they lived in the East Lodge. There was an architect in the family - well one of her uncles was a surveyor who advertised himself as an architect for a while. The poet in the family - not sure, family papers contain a number of sheets of paper with poems written on them, but who wrote them? She also wrote a list of places where family members had lived and all have proved correct.
From my father's side the family opals which were stolen existed, they were a wedding present to a great grandmother from her cousin who was a jeweller and opal trader in Australia and vanished when a great aunt died and two uncles helped themselves to some of her effects before the executors could deal with the property. Now if only we could find the truth about the Russian, possibly a painter, in the ancestry of another great grandmother on my father's side. Every branch of the family traced so far has a variation of the story.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: coombs on Thursday 06 August 20 15:30 BST (UK)
It is true though that most of us descend from landed gentry and royalty. When people say that the often bog standard cliche reply is "Yes as I am sure they fathered many illegitimate children".

True but I am not talking about philandering but people who have managed to find (eg, Danny Dyer) royal ancestors through paper trails and the fact that over the years the fortune died out due to many children, and people who did not do as well with their inheritance. Also only the eldest male inheriting the titles etc. Ancestors getting wealthier the further back you go, leaving good paper trails and finding nobility.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: pharmaT on Thursday 06 August 20 21:22 BST (UK)
It is true though that most of us descend from landed gentry and royalty. When people say that the often bog standard cliche reply is "Yes as I am sure they fathered many illegitimate children".

True but I am not talking about philandering but people who have managed to find (eg, Danny Dyer) royal ancestors through paper trails and the fact that over the years the fortune died out due to many children, and people who did not do as well with their inheritance. Also only the eldest male inheriting the titles etc. Ancestors getting wealthier the further back you go, leaving good paper trails and finding nobility.

Yes odds are that most of us are descended from some sort of landed gentry.  It's just that so many of us would not have a complete paper trail to prove it.  If you're descended from the youngest son of the youngest son of the youngest son wouldn't take that many generations to go down to middle class or lower.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: coombs on Thursday 06 August 20 22:02 BST (UK)
It is true though that most of us descend from landed gentry and royalty. When people say that the often bog standard cliche reply is "Yes as I am sure they fathered many illegitimate children".

True but I am not talking about philandering but people who have managed to find (eg, Danny Dyer) royal ancestors through paper trails and the fact that over the years the fortune died out due to many children, and people who did not do as well with their inheritance. Also only the eldest male inheriting the titles etc. Ancestors getting wealthier the further back you go, leaving good paper trails and finding nobility.

Yes odds are that most of us are descended from some sort of landed gentry.  It's just that so many of us would not have a complete paper trail to prove it.  If you're descended from the youngest son of the youngest son of the youngest son wouldn't take that many generations to go down to middle class or lower.

I guess some are lucky enough to find a gateway ancestor, and others not so. It can depend a lot on many things. Also many daughters of wealthy worthy people married gentlemen, or mayors, or small time landowners, and their children ended up marrying farmers and yeomen and so on to farm workers etc.

So family tales about being descended from nobility are probably true at the end of the day, but hard to prove for many.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: roopat on Saturday 08 August 20 09:28 BST (UK)
Well my OH tells some tall tales about his own family & himself. I have to bite my tongue every time I hear him tell other people stories about his youth /educational achievements / career which I know for a fact are grossly embellished. This has got worse since he retired but having known him since he was 25 I take no notice as I was there for most of these exaggerated events ;D


Still irritating though!  ;D




Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: iluleah on Saturday 08 August 20 11:08 BST (UK)
Well my OH tells some tall tales about his own family & himself. I have to bite my tongue every time I hear him tell other people stories about his youth /educational achievements / career which I know for a fact are grossly embellished. This has got worse since he retired but having known him since he was 25 I take no notice as I was there for most of these exaggerated events ;D


Still irritating though!  ;D

 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

....and that is exactly how many of these family tales begin.  ::)

Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: IgorStrav on Saturday 08 August 20 13:24 BST (UK)
Well my OH tells some tall tales about his own family & himself. I have to bite my tongue every time I hear him tell other people stories about his youth /educational achievements / career which I know for a fact are grossly embellished. This has got worse since he retired but having known him since he was 25 I take no notice as I was there for most of these exaggerated events ;D


Still irritating though!  ;D

I had a boss - and we're still connected as colleagues - who told the wildest tales about office events in which she was a major participant. 

I knew just how true these were, since I'd been present at many of them, and I can certainly say untruths and exaggerations never got in the way of a good story.

But it's tricky when you're calle on to confirm the details of something which never actually happened......

Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: coombs on Saturday 08 August 20 13:51 BST (UK)
My aunt is like that, she is always telling very embellished stories. And on occasions we have had to correct her, saying "I never did that".
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Vance Mead on Saturday 08 August 20 18:08 BST (UK)
The story my mother told me was that her Pontifex ancestors were descended from Pope Martin V, who was Pontiff in the early 15th century right after the Great Schism. I have researched them and they were husbandmen, a few carters, a cook, and one priest. So I'll put this in the Tall Tales column.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Guyana on Tuesday 11 August 20 17:29 BST (UK)
My Dad's tales were something else,
1. "Grandad" was a pirate. (His mother had piece of watered silk to prove it!) There was dispute over the last lot of loot, and it went to Chancery, so the whole lot was lost
2. "Grandad" was one of a gang of (no doubt drunken) men who took a bowl of soup up to a corpse hanging on a gibbet, with a comic ending.
Dad's been dead 30 years, and I wouldn't get any more sense out of him, so how would I research that lot?
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Stanwix England on Wednesday 12 August 20 21:28 BST (UK)
Not my family in this case, but the number of people I've seen claim their ancestor was supposed to be on the Titanic but didn't go for some last minute happenstance is huge. I'm sure it was true for a few people, but if it was true for everyone I've heard it claimed for and they'd all actually got on board the ship, it would have sank before it hit the iceberg because of the added weight alone.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: coombs on Friday 14 August 20 12:50 BST (UK)
It is similar to how many people from East London claim they lived on Vallance Road Bethnal Green and knew the Krays, and had tea with Violet Kray. The Blind Beggar must be the largest pub in the world as many people say they were in there the night Ronnie shot George Cornell. Or they knew Alan Sugar as a youngster.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: barmaid1971 on Tuesday 25 August 20 15:21 BST (UK)
There was a family rumour that my gg grandmother was a French countess. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that she was the daughter of a farmer from Peterborough who left her husband and small children to remarry to a soldier, then a farmer, then a coke dealer (the stuff for fires, for the avoidance of doubt).  Her husband eventually caught up with her and there was a scandalous divorce. She did marry once again legally after that to her last husband.  I think she really liked wedding cake.

I think she may also have had a daliance with the french master at the school where her husband was the Head.

I can imagine it gave her husband a bit of a headache since his school promised to educate young gentlemen with moral virtues!
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Stanwix England on Tuesday 25 August 20 19:42 BST (UK)
Flipping heck! Mind you, I think that's more fun than a duchess.  ;D
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: barmaid1971 on Tuesday 25 August 20 23:27 BST (UK)
I think so.  I'm rather fond of her.  Wish I had met her.  I refer to her as "Naughty Joyce".

I wrote her life story (and with apologies to Charlotte Bronte) I titled it "Reader, I married him.  And him.  And him. And him"......
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: iluleah on Wednesday 26 August 20 18:54 BST (UK)
I think so.  I'm rather fond of her.  Wish I had met her.  I refer to her as "Naughty Joyce".

I wrote her life story (and with apologies to Charlotte Bronte) I titled it "Reader, I married him.  And him.  And him. And him"......

All the things I was told or overheard when I was growing up I wrote down once I began FH, I was pleased I did as once I told the family I was researchng they all wouldn't tell me anything and even deliberately lied, only my great aunt would talk and I wrote all her ( what I thought) was tall tales down...those 'stories' do tell me lots about my family the more human side, the way that living people still hold on and hide the 'shame' of previous generations.... "nowt so funny as folk"! As my Granddad used to say.
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: Mimble on Tuesday 01 September 20 20:53 BST (UK)
My South African 1820 settlers from the UK were inclined to 'reinvent' themselves as they were unlikely to be found out so far from home. Also, the locals tended to think of them as wastrels as they had come out to South Africa on a sponsored scheme, and they were keen to establish (and embellish) their credentials in their new society. My grandfather was convinced that his family ancestors were swordmakers and came from a 'great house' with a coat of arms as this is what he had been told. In fact according to the censuses they were humble peasant cutlerers! Also that his grandfather had fought at the Battle of Waterloo, whereas his military record shows he was never near the place. There was also a story about a family inheritance that had been 'lost in Chancery'...

However, I have discovered that grandpa's grandfather's mother was actually descended from nobility and royalty through the Montgomery family, and his grandmother was descended from Mary Queen of Scots through her Moodie Scottish laird grandfather, and to Edward II of England through her Van Zyl Dutch mother! As farmers in South Africa they seemingly never knew that, but how they would have loved to have known!
Title: Re: Tall tales or truth?
Post by: DianaCanada on Tuesday 01 September 20 21:59 BST (UK)
My great-grandfather told my mother that his grandfather had fought at Waterloo as well and she passed that on to me.  Turns out he was too young for Waterloo but had spent 20 years in the army in India and Afghanistan, then went home, married his first cousin, fathered seven children, tripped over a tree root one night (drunk) and was found dead in a field the next morning.  An interesting story in the end!