Firstly, I’d like to thank Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, authors of ‘Good Omens’, for the title of this blog. Anathema Device, the Professional Descendant of the novel, is not a genealogist but it seems like a good job description for someone who has based a career on who their ancestors were. Anathema is a descendant of the witch Agnes Nutter and appears to have inherited some of her ancestor’s talents. Having long suspected there were some Nutters in my own family tree I feel a certain kinship with her!
These days I spend most of my time researching other people’s ancestors and I felt it was time my lot started earning their keep. This blog will be a place to tell some of their stories, to celebrate them and to air some of the family’s dirty laundry. I also intend to include some extracts from the records I come across whilst carrying out research and to discuss some of the broader questions raised by the study of family history.
My own ancestors are a mix of English, Scottish and Irish. A fairly ordinary bunch but at times quite a challenge to trace. What fascinates me about family history is not only the process of research, piecing together small scraps of information to reconstruct a person’s life, but also what it can reveal about social history and human behaviour, the insight it gives into a world that can seem very different from our own but populated by individuals with our strengths and our weaknesses, our virtues and our failings.