Family History goes Bananas!

I’ve had a lovely find today in the British Newspaper Archive. There has long been a family story that my great-grandfather William H Richardson (who started me down my genealogical path) grew one of the first bananas in Ireland. Many versions of this tale existed, and as he had worked on estates across Ireland, a good number of dates and locations had been attached to it. It was something I’d been looking for for some time.

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My family abroad

One of the things I find hardest to imagine about my ancestors’ lives is what it must have been like to emigrate. I’m sure some of them were leaving behind real hardship for the promise of better opportunities, but what must it have been like, boarding a small ship to the other side of the ocean, or the other side of the world, knowing that you would probably never see your home or your family again?

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My family

Broadly speaking, my ancestral family (so far) consists of the following:

  • Newspaper compositors from Derry, Northern Ireland (compositors laid out the metal letters (type) used to print the paper)
  • Weavers and millwrights from Lanarkshire in Scotland
  • Farmers from Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland
  • Skilled metal craftsmen from Dublin, Ireland
  • Farmers from Co Londonderry, Northern Ireland
  • Gardeners from Co Wexford, Ireland
  • Teachers from Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
  • Soldiers from Co Tyrone
  • Linen merhants from Co Armagh, Northern Ireland
  • Blacksmiths from Perthshire in Scotland,who became tube fitters when they moved to Glasgow
  • Watchmakers from Glasgow who ended up in Co Tipperary
  • A lot of shoemakers from all over the place

On one strand, I’ve only got back as far as the mid-C19th (I know I’ve been very lucky to get this far); others (in Scotland, where it’s easier to get hold of earlier records) are comfortably back to the C18th. Another strand, in Ireland, may go back to at least the C17th, but is currently missing a vital link between two generations around 1800.