Monday 21 September 2015

The Sins Of The Fathers

In the play "The Rivals", written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, is the line by David, Bob Acres servant, "Our ancestors are very good kind of folks; but they are the last people I would choose to have a visiting acquaintance with."

Most, if not all, of us will have persons in our ancestry who do not fit the way we identify ourselves and who we do not like to have there.  I confess to a choice and extensive collection.

That Jeremy Corbyn has one is simply par for the course.  One of his sixteen great great grandparents has been picked up by that journal of academic learning, The Sunday Express, to tell us what a rotter he was.  Given the period and the nature of society at the time he may have been more typical of much of it rather than a special case.

As it happens, I had already taken a look and in the limited amount I saw his ancestry is quite ordinary, although in the further past inevitably there will be some who are different.  Some will have picked the wrong side.  If during the Civil War he has both Royalist and Parliamentarians, quite possible, then it is certain.

Sometimes the pattern can be intriguing.  This blog has already noted that Mrs. Thatcher has an ancestry of the plebian classes and at odds in the way she is perceived and regarded by many of her critics.  Rather than being one of the elite she was a gate crasher extra ordinary in many ways, right or wrong.

In the same generation as Jeremy's above, one of mine, a seaman, was convicted at Greenock for violent assault.  Another did time in Carrickfergus Gaol.  Another was potboy at a illegal beer stall with his sister the barmaid and run by his father, a veteran of Corunna.

Welcome to the club Jeremy, but I think I will take a look at those workhouses and trawl the names.  You never know whose ancestor may have been in one of them at the time.

As for previous generations a fiver of quantitative easing says he could have had an ancestor serving in the Army, Navy or Militia during the Napoleonic Wars.  They lasted a long time during which a remarkable proportion of the male population were involved.

Very recently I have discovered one of mine, the sole high status family, a local businessman and Militia officer whose wife's family was close to Sheridan, was called out with his unit to deal with local strikers and political demonstrators.

Jeremy might be just as lucky.

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