Genealogy had never really interested me until recently. My mother has traced some of her side of the family into Wales, Devon and Ireland and my father-in-law has a proudly displayed family tree in the hallway. Still, he’s a farmer and there’s a palpable sense of history on the family farm, which has been passed down for generations. But what about me?
Like many people born in England, I just presumed that I was as English as the Anglo-Saxons and didn’t think any more about it. True, England was invaded thereafter by Vikings, Normans, Irish, Scots and several others, and the Anglo-Saxons were Germanic anyway (and preceded by the Romans) but whatever. I was English in England and that was that.
Last year I went through a lot of rigmarole in getting my daughter, Aurelia, a British passport in Brexit’s wake. I had to dive a couple of generations back to facilitate this, and call up the General Register Office and get all manner of old birth certificates. Including that of my Grandfather Steve.
It turns out that Grandad Steve, who I’ve never spoken to and has lived elsewhere as far as I can remember, wasn’t really called Steve. He had an absolutely nutty name that I won’t put on here. Just really bonkers and quite distinctive. Not typically “English”.
So I’ve decided to do some digging and see what comes up, so I’ve ordered one of those ‘test your DNA’ kits that so many genealogy sites are offering. I’ve done some research and I know you have to take these things with a pinch of salt, there’s surely a margin of error etc. etc. Nonetheless, I’m curious as to what such a test might say.
It’s sitting on my dining room table right now and I’m going to send it off this week; there isn’t really an answer that I’m particularly hoping for or dreading.