A personal story
A family's history is personal. There are heartbreaks and disagreements in many families, as well as friendship, love and achievement, so it is important to undertake research with sensitivity and an open mind.
I 'discovered' my family when I was twelve and in my second year at Grammar School. The history text book for that year had a colour frontispiece. It was the painting of the Revd James Woodforde by his nephew, Samuel Woodforde RA.
This portrait was familiar to me, so I was intrigued and surprised that it should appear in a school text book.
My history teacher inspired me to find out more. He was a radical thinker and his approach still influences me today.
During my childhood I heard references to members of the family such as 'Auntie Georgie' and 'Cousin Chris'. I never met them so knew nothing about them. Occasionally there were major family events, often funerals, of distant aunts and uncles, but it was difficult for a young boy to work out where these people fitted into my family's past.
Above are seven generations of my family. My mother was Mona Woodforde, only daughter of Reginald Fielding Marriott Woodforde. His father was the Revd Alexander John Woodforde and his great-grandfather was Lt Col William Woodforde, the Revd James Woodforde's 'Nephew Bill'.
My great x 5 grandfather was the Revd Samuel Woodforde.
There was a price to pay in researching the family's history. I learnt that Gertrude, my grandmother, spent her final years in an institution because of her mental health. I also discovered that one of my great-aunts committed suicide.
Thankfully I have also found much to celebrate. Stories of kindness and love. Gentle folk in distant lands. Pioneers, adventurers, writers and artists.