Wouldn’t we all like to find that we have famous people in our family trees? Personally, I was lucky enough to have an ancestor who I already knew had been knighted before I began my research. More recently though, several instances have cropped up when I have found myself questioning comments made by other researchers (mainly amateur family historians) about how ‘interesting’ (or not) their ancestors were.
Finding an ancestor who did something noteworthy is all very well but does that make them any more ‘interesting’ than the agricultural labourers of the past? When I blogged through 52 of my ancestors last year, several of them did what some people would refer to as ‘run of the mill’ jobs…. half of my forebears hailed from Devon and worked on the land in some fashion or form, but does their occupation and apparent ‘lack of noteworthiness’ mean that I have left them on the shelf and not researched them? Hell no!
I even saw a reference to ‘dead beats‘ recently in some publicity for an online discussion – ugh! Maybe an Americanism and possibly lost in translation across this side of the pond, but I would never ever refer to anyone in my ancestry as a ‘dead beat’. What an awful turn of phrase….
But, what makes someone famous? It’s a question I often ask in terms of celebrities too – what makes someone a celebrity? For readers in the United Kingdom, just take a look at the current series of CBB and you’ll probably question whether your own view is shared by producers on Channel 5!
Are you descended from the monarchy (as so many Ancestry users appear to be!)? Do you have actors, television presenters, directors, land owners, managing directors, magistrates etc. in your family history? What kind of information have you managed to locate relating to those characters? And are you just as pleased to find information about your ‘every day’ ancestors as the famous or notorious ones …. I sure am!