Stephys family history
For this blog, I thought I would share with you my family history. I got interested in it after watching a "Who Do You Think You Are" programme. Following this I did a little bit of research around different available websites on the subject. As you know my family was not stable, and so I knew this would be difficult. I decided to start with my maternal side. I contacted my mum and started to ask questions. I knew my own details, and gathered data about basic dates/names/places for the next couple of generations. I remember from my childhood the Auntie I grew up with having a box of photographs. In this box of photographs, I remember a photo of youngish children with skullcaps, dark hair, skin. A little bedraggled, the most striking thing, their dark eyes. She talked a lot about her mother Annie Rebecca. My mother talked a lot about the Jewish link in my family. It was mentioned that a Great Uncle had to prove he had Jewish Heritage to marry his second wife who was from a strict Jewish family. Great Uncle George took himself off to Somerset House and duly returned with paperwork to prove just that. I felt that I was not taking the usual route along genealogy, but following stories, instinct. I started looking at the censuses from back in time on my mothers line, using what information I had. This was awe inspiring, I never knew what a Land of discovery lay behind a computer screen. I found my Great Nannie Emerick as a young child, born in Stoke Newington, a true Eastender. I also found her mother Hannah (Mitchell). This surname jumped out a little, as I felt a Jewish link was here (my 6th sense). Her father was a shipwright, in earlier years, on the London docks. This led me to wonder if there was some immigration link and then some settling by a port of arrival, using a known trade.
The story of my great grandmother Annie Rebecca Emerick had always been epic. My Mum had told me she had left home at an early age, was headstrong, brave. She had gone into service as her mother Hannah died at a young age, and she hated her step mother. She went into the Salvatian Army and met her husband George. They were two of the youngest Captains, in time. She had worked with homeless single parent mothers in the true East End of London, and was also a Governess before this. I felt an intense bond with this woman. On seeing her photograph, I saw myself instantly. A tough exterior with a vast vulnerability and sensitivity within. You could say a strawberry cream in a chocolate box.
The story was that she and her soon to be husband went to Ireland at the turn of the 19th century.There they worked in the Salvatian Army, somewhere and got threatened and stoned for their beliefs.I was intrigued by this story and wanted to find out more. I found her mother Hannahs death certificate in time, she had died very young after a long TB illness. She also lost a son at a very very early age. These two things struck a deep chord within. I am as you know a nurse and know the terrible suffering of TB patients in the old days. I have also suffered 2 miscarriages, so also know that intense pain also. I felt a deeper connection with my maternal female line. This is where I get my strength of character from. I delved furher into my maternal line. My mother mentioned there was German Jewish on one side and Armenian Jewish on another. This is a little poignant. I have always been drawn to the Jewish people. On holiday I love to seek out a Jewish quarter. In Paris I did this. I found the most amazing area. I wound my way through the streets, passing shops, people, tabernacles, and loving the buzz and the warmth I found there. I have a Jewish star of David symbol necklace and a Jewish candelabra. These are 2 of my most treasured possessions. I also have a love of Turkish style food, music, furniture. My mothers sister visited Armenia a few years ago and apparently wanted to stay there, she found such a strong emotional bond that it brought her to tears. This is on my "bucket list" I know i have to visit there.
Naively I felt I would discover this "Jewishness" but of course it is a religion, a way of life. They had to be as little mystical, in and out of the shadows. A race tormented and still, sadly. I made contact with a distant cousin who turned out to be related to the Emericks. she had no knowledge of my line, but also told the same story of Jewish links, and apparently the family having to move from a ghetto part of London, and tragedy. She is also researcing alongside me and we hope we will find that link one day.
I did a tour of Annie Rebeccas birth place and life in Stoke Newington and Clerkenwell. I must say, I feel a connection with that part of London. I have pictures of her houses which are very precious. It took me many years to find her birth certificate, when I finally held it, the tears rolled down my face.
Intrigued by the name Emerick, I did some reasearch around this line. On a major genealogy page, I discovered a photograph, of interest, it seemed a group of brothers.
The gentleman at the front intrigued me, the Navy uniform jumping out. Not knowing this was my direct family, I filed the photo, knowing by my 6th sense this was significant. Once I made contact with my cousin Ros in Australia, she explained these were my Great uncles, and sent me THE very same picture!
The Emerick brothers. I knew by my reasearch they were butchers in Clerkenwell. On digging as little further, I discovered their Navy records. I have always had a love of sea. I adored the historic boatyards at Portsmouth. The wreck of the Mary Rose drew me to tears. I have an intense fascination with the Titanic and its stories and that exhibition drew me to tears. The HMS victory, I found stunning. I leant against the rope and inhaled deeply and that smell has never left my psyche. I love anything naval. I never knew until recently the strong naval connection. Again I saw the profile, the same apparently "cutesy nose" amongst these Emericks.
I did manage to trace back the family to Germany. The area they come from is somewhere near the Rhine, again another place on my "bucket list" for more research.
On my Great Grandads line (Annie Emericks husband) George, I have already mentioned he had to prove a Jewish link. Was this on his mothers line or his fathers, I am still trying to discover it. My mother feels there lies the Armenian Jewish line. I did however discover a Welsh link from the Barry Island. Strange that I adore Gavin and Stacey, which is placed there in part!!
He was born in Bury Lancashire, and worked in the cotton mills from a very early age.
I know that he adored the Great Annie Rebecca, they were never apart, he carried a lock of her hair, and died broken hearted not long after her. They were true kindred spirits, a very special once in a lifetime relationship. The kind you simply must follow by destiny.
The comical thing was I couldn't find a wedding certificate for them. I hunted high and low. It took years, but I never give up. I now know that they married in Belfast, amid all the troubled times they must have clung together and never let go. Their bond so strong, that therein lies a message for 2 people seriously in love.
On my mothers paternal line, the Foot family were historically from Norfolk/Dorset. They went to to become master plasterers, apparently some of their original work in Town Halls, which I also must visit. They were also staunch Salvatianists. My Grandad broke with tradition a little, and was a gas scientist, working in laboratories, as well as callouts (strange I am now liaising with the Microbiology lab side alongside my Specialist nurse role)
My fathers line was as you can imaginee due to our separation something I shelved for a long time. When I got to know my Dad, I was warmed by the fact that he was intrigued by it, as I am. I found out for him, that his Grandad was in the Army, and got his army records. My Dad alsways said his family were Gypsy, tinkers, the "Shaves" there was also the rumour of Irish somewhere in there too.
Starting with my Dads certificates I started to research. This led me on a journey of discovery. I found the Shaves were from Hackney, another London link. I have yet to find the Irish or gypsy link..... I do have a fascination with these too, the Celtic music, influence, way of life.
On the maternal side I found the Weinerts. This was an interesting name. It led to Bavaria, pork butchers. I had to laugh, with Dad as I shared this. In true Hackey Dad style he exclaimed " Cor blimey, no wonder me and your mavvarr never gort awwn, Jewish and German, bleedin `ell !!! " We laughed so hard together, it was priceless.
It explains why I love the Sound of Music, as the scenery. A recent programme on Bavaria also blew me away. Another "bucket list" place. it will take me a lifetime to do all of this.
One of them was a surgeon, which I find interesting, given my medical career pathway, and want to explore more.
I have touched on the Italiano link in my paternal line, my grandmas mum having an affair with someone from Lake Garda.
This picture of my Nan on the left with my stepmum (god rest both their souls) shows her Italiano I feel.
I was lucky to know my Nan for a few years before her death. She was so like me in looks, non judgemental, mischievous, spoke her mind, a beautiful soul who I hope I am like. She had a tough life, and got through a lot. She was also the reason I found my Dad, as she contacted of all people the Salvation Army to try and find me after 25 years. Strange how they played a large part in my ancestry and future.
So there you have it ~ the story so far.
Some could say I have the pedigree of a Numpty, a mongrel not a thoroughbred.
I see myself as having the Jewishness, in my forever demonstrative hands to prove my point, having the Italiano eyes and hair and love of music, the gypsy that longs to travel and be a slightly freespirit on a bareback horse along a beach, the Bavarian love of mountains & water once again, the Lancashire love of Eccles cakes, and Manchester tarts, the Armenian soul of feeling for Humanitarian causes and empathy of people displaced and immigrant, the love of the Southern Coast, one of my favourite places amongst others Devon, esp Brixham so far, another favourite possession a hand painted picture from there....
Mainly I feel the soul of My Great Grandma Annie Rebecca Emerick, I see in those eyes the pain of her childhood and loneliness, the strength of character to be stoned and threatened with death for what she believed in, the true love for her partner. I just know I will follow that, I know this road is leading to that eventual peace and a kindred spirit. The vulnerability in the eyes are being replaced by a spark so strong, the light ahead so bright its blinding. So I am ready to push down my sunglasses which are perched on my head, onto apparently "cutesy nose" and walk further along this beautiful road of destiny.