Saturday, March 8, 2008

Researching Family History: It's Really Just a Title

I've been looking into the Crymble family history the last month or so, and I've found the experience pretty exciting. I am lucky in that my name is very uncommon, and I know exactly from which part of Ireland my ancestors emmigrated, so I can pinpoint my search to very specific regions.

I'm also lucky in that a distant cousin of mine has already done most of the legwork and has found our relatives back to 1585. I even was able to go to the Weldon Library here at the University of Western Ontario and find a brief family history that was printed as part of a regional history of Carrickfergus, back in 1823. I was pretty excited. So, I called my father and told him all about the details I had found, which I won't bore you with here. And his response was, "Yea, but, everyone in Ireland is related."

And I began to wonder what that meant for my search. In a sense, he's absolutely right, and what I'm doing is not researching my family history, but the history of a name as it was passed between men, in an uninterrupted line.

There are 11 generations between that man from 1585 and myself. That means that (based on what I learned in health class), I am directly descended from 4094 people between 1585 and now. And, my search for the Crymble family history is only concerned with the 11 of them born with the surname "Crymble." As if the other 4083 were utterly unimportant.

Mapping where you came from is not as straight forward as I once thought. Each generation you push your search back, the number of relatives you have doubles. Each came from somewhere different, with a different background, a different family history of their own. And if you only search one line, you're only scratching the surface of where you came from.

Ultimately, what you're researching is a title. The title that you still happen to carry around on your credit cards and drivers license, today. Your family history is much more complex than that.


xmasbun said...

Hi Adam,
Thank you for your article, it was really interesting.
I am actually a distant relative of yours through my mother's side. Her grand father was Charles Crymble of Northern Ireland where my mother was also born. I have also read the details of research which claim some sort of French extraction but can't find any connection myself.
My name is Christabel Anderson by the way and I live in London. You can find me on Facebook or at
Best wishes and good luck with the research,

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