We’ve all though of the question which famous person from history would you like to have met. Well I have. In fact I’ve given it much thought. My first answer is always King Henry VIII. I want to know what he was really like. Was he the man history makes him out to be or was he actually a man in a situation he didn’t want to be in (Henry was destined for a life in the church until his brother Arthur died and he suddenly became his father’s heir) and did he became the person he was as a result? The other person I would like to have known was John of Gaunt the third son of King Edward III. This was a man who had at least 14 children by many women, 3 of whom he was married to. I’ve love to know what kind of man he was and whether he realised how much his descendants went to populate Europe. Our present Queen Elizabeth II is descended from John of Gaunt. One of his grandsons was the explorer Henry the Navigator (a prince of Portugal being the son of King John I of Portugal of Phillipa of Lancaster (John’s daughter)).
This led me to think about which of my ancestors I would like to have met. The answer I always come up with is my Grandma. She died 2 years before I was born suddenly in her 60’s from a brain haemorrhage. All my life I’ve seen photos of her and heard stories about her, but I would have loved to have seen her. What did her voice sound like, what did a Grandma hug feel like, am I really as like her as everyone says? All questions I’ll never find the answers to.
So which other ancestors would I have liked to have known? Well my Grandma’s mum. She died when my Grandma was 6 so she really missed out on her mum and could possibly have had the same questions of her mother as I have of her. Family story always had that she died in the flu epidemic in 1918. We got a bit of a shock when I purchased her death certificate and found out she had died of an appendicitis. She was 39 years old.
Another ancestor I’d loved to have met was my 5 times great uncle Hugh Wardle. He was born in 1802 near Leek in Staffordshire. He had an interesting life. He was a Druggist (the fore runner of a pharmacist although he probably just sold drug rather than made them). He was married twice to women called Elizabeth and the couples had 5 children between them. In 1855 he emigrated to America where along with his 2 sons from his first marriage and they opened a drug store on Warren Street, Hudson, New York State. I would love to know what prompted this move especially since it meant leaving his other children behind. Was it just the adventure, or were times so bad he left for a new life and to give his sons a better change in life? Did he miss his daughter Lady Elizabeth Wardle and his son George Young Wardle? both of whom were friends and colleges of the designer William Morris. Lady Elizabeth’s husband Sir Thomas Wardle was influential in the silk dying industry and George ran the Morris Works in London. Did he ever wish he’d stayed in Staffordshire? Again all questions I will never have answers to.
One of the main reasons I would love to be able to meet all of my ancestors is to see what they look like and see if I can see any of myself in any of them. I’ve seen picture of some ancestors and I think I now know where my silly hair comes from, but does any of my other traits come from them.
But alas this is all pipe dreams as it will never happen, and even if a time machine was invented I’d be too chicken to go in it, so I’ll just have to continue imagining answers to my questions.