My Claim to Fame!

Its easy to get carried away with an idea that you have a famous relative or two tucked away somewhere in your family. I actually have two, but when I decided to get proof for myself, I found a big problem. There were just -

Too Many Elizas!

I had always been told: "Grandad's Grandma was the twin sister of Frederick Attenborough, who is the Grandfather of the 'famous' Attenboroughs -Richard and David." The reason that I never truly believed it was because the source of the story was my Great Grandmother, Caroline (Smedley) Blackwell, a woman famed for her fanciful tales (or 'embroidering the truth', as it is known locally).

I decided to try and prove one way or the other whether this was true. I knew that Frederick had a sister Eliza, although not his twin. So far so good. The GRO indexes in Leeds Library produced a Blackwell - Attenborough marriage and census return showed William Blackwell married to Elizabeth. Well, I reasoned, Eliza, Elizabeth - they're almost the same. I was almost convinced.

I got a copy of the marriage certificate and that changed my mind. Frederick and Eliza's father was Francis; 'my' Elizabeth's father was Thomas! So who was he?

I went back to the drawing board and found yet another Eliza of about the same age as the other two, so I now had 3 of them to match up. Much poring over PR's in dim light provided parents for all 3 and spouses.

I had disproved what Great Grandma Caroline had said. However, although she wasn't his twin sister, 'my' Elizabeth was his first cousin, so the connection remains, albeit slightly further removed than she led us to believe.

The moral of this tale? Grand-mama's tell wonderful stories, and we'd all like to believe them. However, as any one who has ever researched their family history should know - ALWAYS CHECK IT OUT! There will probably be some truth in it somewhere, but watch out if she was an 'embroiderer'!

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