This is the time of year when the act of remembering seems to take precedent, whatever your persuasion. From a pagan perspective there was Halloween/Samhain yesterday. For those of a Christian mind today is All Saints Day, followed by tomorrow’s All Souls Day. Even if you don’t wear either of these labels, Remembrance Sunday is also almost upon us.
Maybe it’s when we see see the seasonal decay of the world around us, combined with the shortened hours of daylight, that we instinctively turn inward, thinking about our own mortality and of the roots from which we have sprung.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Yesterday, my daughter and I visited an old cemetery in Harpurhey, Manchester. It’s one of those old cemeteries where it seems burials no longer take place, and to see flowers placed upon a grave is a rare thing indeed.
It’s a cemetery of the forgotten, a cemetery where the dead who reside there have nobody left in the world who can enshrine them in remembrance.
There, among the mouldering rows was a particular grave that we were seeking out. A grave that held the remains of ten people that had connections to us both. Ancestors of four generations.
I remember the first time that I stood on this spot with my father. I asked him who the John Murray was that was listed on the headstone, curious as this man was the one who shared my surname and went the furthest back in time.
“I’m not sure,” my Dad replied. “I think he was an uncle of your Granddad’s.”
Once I began my family history research I soon discovered that this man was actually my Dad’s grandfather.
How easily things become forgotten. Lost.
Not long after that day I began my search, born of curiosity and an undefinable sense of belonging. Of the ten people listed on that headstone, three of them I had known in life. Seven, (possibly eight), I now have photographs of.
Mindful of both the responsibility I have acquired and of the passing years, yesterday I brought my eleven year old daughter with me to Harpurhey. The next generation. To her I will eventually pass the baton.
I have since learnt the stories of each of my listed ancestors, of the lives, struggles and triumphs unheralded by these simple dates and names.
Their stories I have recorded, and tell to my children. In this way I keep these people alive.
In regard to my blog, these stories are for another time. For now, I list the people here.
May they be forever remembered.
Charles Hewitt 1847-1884
Amelia Hewitt (née Wolfenden) 1847-1901
John Murray 1862-1926
Kate Amelia Murray 1903-1926
Frank Murray 1912-1928
Kate Ann Murray (née Hewitt) 1872-1939
Frank Murray 1950-1954
Millicent Murray 1899-1989
Margaret Murray 1914-1990
Fred Murray 1915-1992