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Heritage Travel

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I am, what I call, "Painfully British". I had my DNA done a few years ago and I am 92% "British Isles". Nearly 50% of that is Scottish (no surprise - I'm a red-head with lots of Scottish ancestry) and the next biggest is England with a bit of Ireland and Wales to round it out. I DO have some French and German ancestry, but I always joke that those people moved to England eventually anyway. I believe this is why I love the UK and keep coming back to London and can be reduced to tears by a bagpipe. It's just part of me.


Check out my Mom and Dad's family history. The pink color indicates they were born in England and the yellow color indicates they were born in Scotland. Blue is born in the US. If you keep taking it out, there is more pink and yellow than blue.



Family History is a bit of a hobby for me. About half of my Great-Great Grandparents were born in the UK. My maiden name is Sansom and that is a British last name. My Dad's line is almost all English and my Mom's line is English but turns Scottish with a lot of Jarvis', Hamblins, Milnes and McIntyres.


In the 1970's, my Dad's family paid a professional genealogist to research my Dad's Grandfather's roots. His name was Charles Sansom and he was born in Avening which is in The Cotswolds. In fact, much of his family was born, lived and died in Avening. I kept the book the genealogist presented to the family after the research. Charles also kept a journal and I have a published copy of that.


My Mom's Great-Great Grandmother (who was nearly 108 when she died) was born in Stepney before emigrating to the US in the mid-1800's. In a letter she wrote to her daughter later in life, she talked about how Stepney was "many miles from London". If you know where Stepney is, it's kind of funny because it's a tube stop in Zone 2. It's basically London. But, let us remember that Buckingham Palace was built as a "Country Home" so London has clearly expanded.


Technology has made Family History awesome! It is so easy to look up ancestors and find where they lived (for most of us). The available records are being published various places online for all to access. Some are behind pay walls but Family Search is a free service with many of them. You can easily get started by just putting in your own information and then going back to your first deceased ancestor (if you know names and dates). With a little luck, Family Search will take over and start populating your line with ancestors and you can start seeing where they lived.


There may even be memories - photos, letters, diaries, etc. that you can start reading to learn more.


A Family Search map
You can keep zooming in and find out more information

And, after you've done that, you can download the Family Tree app and hit "Map My Ancestors" and it will bring up ancestors and events in your family tree that have happened around the world.


Here is what I've done as a result:


I had a photo of the home the Charles Sansom owned in Avening and a street name. Using Google Maps, I managed to find the home - it's still there. We drove out to it on a trip a few years ago and here I am standing in front of it. It has changed but it's still there. The church yard cemetery has a lot of Sansom graves in it. We went to another cemetery up the hill that is privately owned (this couple saved it from being turned into homes) and found another Sansom grave (unrelated to me). We were fortunate to run into the owners and they said that the view across the hills has not changed since my Grandfather lived there. And, that the cemetery we were standing in was one of the few places in England that still had Black Adder snakes (information I could have done without because the grass was high) and that was how they managed to save it from destruction.


A historic photo
Charles and Mary Ann Sansom

My Great-Great Grandmother was born in Stepney in 1848 and died 2 weeks shy of her 108th birthday in 1956. Her parents were born in London and her husband was born in Scotland - although they met in the US. I took the tube out to Stepney one day in search of the church yard she used to play in. I was looking for a particular object she talked about that was embedded in the church yard wall. I found the church, but the wall was long gone.


A photo of an old lady
My Grandmother Ann Catherine Jarvie Milne

Using Google maps, I also found the street she grew up on, but it's a garage and flats, now. Her parents were married in Southwark Cathedral next to Borough Market. I go into the church every time I'm there.


We were able to visit Scotland a few years ago, although we didn't have a car, so I wasn't able to visit the Highlands where most of my family came from. Next time.


Adding a bit of personal knowledge to travel makes it more meaningful. I feel connected to my ancestors because I know who they are and being able to walk the streets they walked or stand in the church where they were married warms my heart.

And, when you've got a bit of your history populated at Family Search, you can to to Relative Finder and see how you are related to the Royal Family for fun! Queen Elizabeth was my 11th cousin. I'm surprised I was never invited to the palace for tea!

A family history chart

If you are interested in adding a bit heritage travel, let me know. I can try to help you find your UK ancestors and show you how to find where they lived so you can walk in their footsteps.





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