Monday, May 22, 2006

My Family, And Other Toppings, Gollaglees, Lambs, Elliotts, Agnews, Moffitts, Mitchells Et Cetera ...

This blogger started to get interested in genealogy and building up a family tree recently, dear blog reader - it's probably because Keith Telly Topping has reached 'that age' where one becomes aware of ones own mortality and all that.

It's good fun and a very useful diversion from me doing any 'real' work for a few days (actually, the original idea was to do an article to pitch to the local paper but it seems to have extended a bit beyond that now). Firstly, I sat my mother down and got about ninety minutes of family history and her memories on who was married to whom and what were various peoples maiden names on tape. Then I started checking out census records and, births marriages and deaths websites, and spent a couple of days in the local library and, finally, joined GenesReunited.

From all of six days research, I can already tell you that my dad's family is a straight combination of Cumbrian agricultural labourers - especially one Thomas Topping (born 1833) who came to Newcastle from Crosby-upon-Eden near Carlisle looking for work in the mid-1840s - and a bunch of second and third generation Irish migrants who, for some bizarre reason, changed their name from Gallagher to the allegedly 'much less Irish-sounding' Gollaglee and lived in West Hartlepool.

It's funny, actually - until three days ago I knew virtually nothing about my paternal grandmother, Bridget (who died when I was about seven and whom I can barely remember) except for three things which were bolted into my brain from an early age:
  • a) Her maiden name was Golligly (that exact spelling).
  • b) She was probably born in Ireland or, at least, if she wasn't then her father definitely was.
  • c) Her mother was either wholly or partly Spanish.
The last bit might still prove to be accurate (more research needed there - I know she was called Sarah Gordon and that her parents, similarly, were Irish) but the first two, it turns out, certainly are not.

Meanwhile, on side of my mum's family - the Lambs - are comfortably from Suffolk and Norfolk (specifically, Snape and Great Yarmouth) where the cow-shit lies thick (the name alone, I would suggest, means that we're all descended from shepherds). And, in the story of Edward Lamb, my great grandfather, you have an almost textbook microcosm of British Society in the early years of the industrial revolution. Born the son of countless generations of farm labourers, decides that he needs to move to where the work is and ends up a decade later with his young family living in 93 Maria Street in Elswick working in William Armstrong's munitions factory on Scotswood Road. When I say that he was a visionary, I don't mean that he would have seen the changing world in the way that George Stephenson or Isembard Kingdom Brunel would have but, in his own small way, he was aware of the way the wind was blowing and, because of that, I'm here. The other lot of my mothers ancestors - the Elliotts, the Moffitts, the Johnstons, the McMillans and the Agnews - are all very Scottish after a couple of generations of Northumbria (except for the Gaylors, who are yet more Irish).

Anyway, here's the Telly Topping United 1964-65 promotion squad. See if you can spot this blogger (hint, I'm just about the only one not looking at the camera!)