Genealogy and family history is now the third most popular search on the internet after food and porn. Wondering about one’s forebears has always been of interest to many people and this has increased with the onset of TV programmes such as Who Do You Think You Are and Heir Hunters.
But when I started 50 years ago it was with a list of names provided by older relatives together with a few memories of where they had lived and died. For concrete information and genealogical proof original parish registers and other documents had to be found. This was both time-consuming and expensive.
Now the internet not only throws up whole family trees but also other information to flesh out the vague family memories provided in the past. I knew that my great uncle Robert had worked for Lord Lonsdale at Lowther Hall, Penrith. But internet searches now provides additional information.
Lord Lonsdale was a wealthy sports-loving bon viveur. Yet he died, having spent his fortune, in a house near his stables in Oakham. Lonsdale is remembered as a founder of the Automobile Association and the provider of the original Lonsdale belt for boxing. Bob Daffurn was a gardener on the estate in Cumbria and when Lord Lonsdale found out that he wanted to manage a public house he helped to secure the Dun Bull Hotel in Mardale in 1909.
Years later it was decided to flood Mardale to create a new reservoir, Haweswater, so Bob moved out of the valley and up into Shap where he ran the Greyhound Inn until he died in 1947.