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Currently there are a number of completed chapters, I prefer the word ‘vignettes’, and some that are in progress. Here is a brief summary of the subject and content of each.

Fort Orange, Manhatten Island 1623

Catalyntje Trico married Joris Jansen Rapelje at The Walloon Church, Amsterdam, Netherlands on 21 Jan 1623 and four days later they embarked on the long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean under charter of the Dutch West India Company ship ‘Eendraght’, or Unity, commanded by Arien Jorise. Catalyntje’s Brave New World is about the hardships, challenges, and the sheer endurance of the Early Settlers of America. This story was the inspiration for my interest in family history… the thought of early settlers trading, forming communities amongst Indian Tribes and living in a hut made of bark with a dirt floor. It was here that Catalyntje’s daughter Sarah de Rapelje was born in 1625; she was the first child born to Europeans in the New World… more

matildakennethtnKenneth Lyons and Matilda Rapeljie Smith married in Brooklyn New York on 5 December 1922, it was described as a society wedding but a union of two families of very different backgrounds. The aristocratic Matilda and Kenneth, the grandson of an impoverished farmer from Waterford in Ireland who had been a part of the great wave of Irish migration to America in the 19th Century.

This is the story of the Great Migration of The Irish Catholic families, The Lyons, O’Mearas, Malones, O’Malleys, O’Connells, O’Neills and maybe more. I am proud to say we have all those names in this family history… in progress

fanny4tnSearching for Fanny – often snippets of information passed down from family members can create challenges through inaccuracy or limitation. My Grandfather, Wilfrid Hardy, had always spoken of a Fanny, but who was she?

After years of research I found her – Fanny Hind, on the occasion of her marriage to my 3 x grandfather William Hutchinson Hardy on 7 July 1830. Born on 10 May 1801, she was the third of nine children to Edward Hind, an attorney of Cockermouth Cumberland, and his wife Fanny Busby of Hexham. A story of how to find these special ancestors… more

cruxifixtnThe O’Meara Paper Company – this is the ‘rag to riches’ story about Maurice O’Meara, my great great grandfather, who was born in 1833 and who died 15 January 1910. Quite when his family went to America I have yet to discover but they were part of the wave of Irish Catholic immigrants that settled in Brooklyn New York.

Maurice, a great benefactor to The Catholic Church, married Ellen Malone in Brooklyn in March 1859 and they were to have 10 children.  He gave the pictured cruxifix to his daughter Margaret when she was ordained as a Sister of Mercy at The Overbrook Convent in Philadelphia. On the occasion Maurice & Ellen’s Golden Anniversary in 1909, they received the blessing of Pope Pius X… more

snuffbox1The Gold Snuff Box is about the gift presented to our ancestor Thomas Hardy (1773 – 1855) who was a Woollen Draper living at 14 Sunderland Street, Bishopwearmouth. During his life he was a prominent member of the Freemasons, a society of fellowship, charity and education, at the Palatine Lodge No.97 of Sunderland, which was constituted in 1757. He occupied the Master’s Chair in 1802 and occupied every office in the lodge over a 60-year period. At a banquet held by the Earl of Durham on 27 December 1834, Worshipful Brother Sir Cuthbert Sharp presented him with a Gold Snuff Box in recognition of his great contribution… more

omalleytombcresttn1The O’Malleys of the Owals – I do wish that someone had told me that an ancestor of mine was one Crimthann Cuilbuide, King of Aicill and Umhall in 190 AD. I would definitely have had the upper hand in rebutting the friendly taunts of a few nationalistic Irishman I have come across over the years.

This is the tale of our ancestor, the legendary Grania Uaile or Granuaile or Grace O’Malley, the famous Queen of Clew Bay. She was the notorious pirate chieftain of the O’Malley seafaring clan, and lived from 1530 to 1603… more

barbaralyonstnThe Letter to America – was written on the 23 September 1945 by my mother, Barbara Linington Lyons, and sent to the folks back home. Forget all today’s emails and texts, remember to write a letter home occasionally because, if written well, it may inadvertently record major events of great value to our descendants.

Barbara was a well-educated all-American Girl from a wealthy New York family. When she was 19 years old World War II was raging in Europe and many British Servicemen were being trained in the USA, including my father Wilfrid Alexander Hardy. She met him at a moral-boosting garden party at The Museum of Modern Art in New York on the Monday 11th September 1944. This chapter is about observation, passion, blind romanticism and the spirit of adventure… more

wifridhardytn1Wilfrid Hardy, my grandfather, was born above Willcocks Stores, a grocery shop at No.10 High Street East in Sunderland Co. Durham, on 18th April 1898. He was the son of Alfred Hardy and Jane Anne Marley.

This chapter is taken from the account of Wilfrid himself and charts his childhood, his claim of being in the first Boy Scout Brigade, his First World War experience and the work of a grocery in the poor neighbourhoods of Sunderland… more

alexanderbrownelsietnAlexander Brown was born on 11th August 1858 the son of Joseph Brown and Hannah Simpson Marshall at the family home in Church Street on Hallgarth Square Monkwearmouth Shore, the north side of The River Wear in Sunderland, County Durham.

He was a colourful character, worshiped by his family and he travelled the country working as a bricklayer on many important public buildings. He was a staunch labour and union man, but also religious and a lover of the theatre. There are many other Alexanders named after him… more

magawmemorialtnColonel Robert Magaw (1738-1790) a Scots-Irish imigrant was a lawyer and distinguished Officer of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. On 16th November 1776 he was The Commander of Fort Washington and defended the position against the overwhelming English Army protecting George Washington’s strategic withdrawal. Forced to surrender he and his men were held as prisoners.

Whilst on parole he met and married Marritje Van Brunt (1762-1803) of Kings County, New York and later had two children, Elizabeth and Van Brunt. He was recognised as a American Patriot for his service to The United States of America… more

uncletomtn1The Smerdon Link – Susan Smerdon and John Arthur Joseph Mack married on 19 September 1864 at The Parish Church in Hackney and later were to have seven children, including Wilmott Smerdon born on 17 June 1875.

So, is it a coincidence that a Wilmot Smerdon, the only daughter of Richard Smerdon of Bonehill at Widecombe-in-the-Moor was christened on 1st May 1570? All the Smerdons appear to have originated from Devonshire’s bleak and often-mysterious Dartmoor. Different genders and three hundred years apart, could there possibly be a link. Names are invariably perpetuated through the annals of a family history… more