Sep 072017

Secrets by Charles Joseph Frederick Soulacroix

One-place-studiers often find themselves as the central hub for knowledge about their place. Just as many of our correspondents will be sharing new snippets of information and photos with us as will be asking for our help. Sometimes that information may be more in the nature of family rumour or gossip, or something private and difficult to verify, but let's be honest, anything about our place's families, even if possibly untrue, is of interest to us.

Recently someone emailed me about their family, including the rumour one of their ancestors had a child fathered by one of the sons of the "big house". In the case of illegitimacy you might well find a record of the putative father, as if mother and baby were a burden to the parish, the parish had an incentive to pass the buck, literally. However, establishing the true paternity of any given child of a married woman was a bit more challenging back in the day - better to just officially assume the husband was indeed the father and get on with it! It doesn't mean there wasn't village gossip about whether that was actually the case though. From our vantage point today there is the potential that such a rumour might be able to be proven, if you were able to identify the child, and that child had descendants, and those living descendants were prepared to take a DNA test, and someone was prepared to put the work in on the triangulation front, and you got lucky. In this particular case, one bit of luck would be that unlike the rest of the village, the occupants of the big house were Jewish which is readily identifiable in DNA tests, so if you cleared all the other hurdles it could just be that the rumour could be proven.

What rumours, scandalous or otherwise, have you heard about your place?

Alex Coles

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