Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Living at Granny's house

If we are to believe the 6:30 tabloid television, there is now an unprecedented demand upon older people to take responsibility for raising their grand-children. So it may be surprising to find instances of this supposed scourge of modernity in times past.

The great thing about census data is then when you look for where ancestors lived, you get bonus information about who they lived with. While investigating the homes in Durham occupied by 3xgreat grandfather Thomas LLOYD, I came across the fact that in 1871 he was living with his mother Cecilia and a 10-year-old child, Cecilia Shevels.

After exploring a number of possible relationships, I confirmed that young Cecilia was the grand-daughter of the older one. Her mother (also Cecilia, just to complicate matters) was a daughter from the first marriage of Cecilia BROWN, and hence Thomas's half-sister.

This was not the only case of grand-parenting in our tree. In 1911, great-grandfather John WILKINS was 6 years old and living at Thorpe Hall farm with Aurelius and Ann MEDWELL (his grandparents) and Cornelia Church (aged 16). Cornelia was also the name of John's mother.

It turns out that young Cornelia was the daughter of the older one's sister, Annie. She and John were cousins living at Granny's house. Fortunately at ages 63 and 70, our MEDWELL 3xgreat grandparents had a domestic servant to assist them in caring for the children of two of their absent daughters.

Family historians are not all surprised to find evidence of three, or even four, generations living in extended households. We assume that is how things were. Perhaps we should look more closely for cases where the "middle" generation is missing.

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