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When one ventures into the murky waters of family history, one never knows what skeletons may jump out of the closet or what treasures may be uncovered.
When I started my research I knew very little of my family history, I even knew little about my own grandparents. Throughout my journey I’ve discovered more about my living relatives as well as discovering their forefathers.
While I have census returns, BMD certificates and parish records, the stories of my ancestors lives are still not complete. Certificates and other similar records only confirm their existence. What really adds life to the name in the tree?
Last week I received an email with the subject ‘Selina Bruce nee Haynes’. My stomach somersaulted as I clicked on it.
Selina Haynes is my great great grandmother, born in 1868 in Greens Norton, she married Joseph Bruce in 1886. My great grandmother, Maude, their fifth child.
I knew little of Selina’s life and simply gained snippets in time from census records.
The email I received from a lacemaker, Kate, living in Northamptonshire was my first physical link with my great great grandmother.
Selina was the daughter of brickyard labourer, John Haynes and lacemaker, Jane Kingston Bevis. She grew up in Greens Norton like her siblings, John, Matilda, Annie, Julia, Harry, Willie, Nelly, Tom, Emma Louisa and Clara.
Lace making was flourishing in the mid 19th century and girls were introduced to their pillow from the age of 3. Selina’s family made no exception. Selina’s oldest sister, Matilda who was 7 years old in 1871, was already described as a lace maker. Ten years later, Matilda, Annie and Selina (aged 17, 15 and 13 respectively) were lace makers along with their mother.
Many lace makers at the time had lace making bobbins made for them, often inscribed with their name (or that of a loved one) and sometimes a location and/or date.
Kate recently acquired such a bobbin, made from cow bone and marked with ‘Selina Haynes Greens Norton’. My great great grandmother. She even sent me a photograph of the bobbin.
Moments like these are rare but so exhilarating. I have no need for a bobbin, I’m happy that it has an owner who cares enough to make contact and let me know of its existence.
Not only did Kate provide me with a photograph but she brought my great great grandmother to life for me. I can never express my gratitude sincerely enough. Looking at the image of a bobbin over 100 years old, I see Selina as more than just a name in my tree.