Sunday, 21 February 2016

Keeping it in the family


This old list is pinned up inside the church at Dauntsey, Wiltshire, where the Doomboard resides. I am not quite sure what it is about, but I think it may be a list of people who you are not allowed to marry. I see it was printed in Great Queen Street, London, so it may also have something to do with Freemasonry.

I was sitting in a builder's hut at a National Trust building once, listening to a conversation about incest which had been sparked off by an article in The Sun - that rag which pretends to be a newspaper. One of the oldest builders was perplexed by the very notion.

"I just don't fancy my daughter", was how he put it.

"Neither do I!" said one of the younger ones.

Donald Trump recently said that every man in America fancies his daughter, and if he wasn't her father, he wouldn't mind dating her himself. To think that this man is getting closer by the day to being President.

I once had to meet a friend in the small, North Devon village where he was brought up. We had arranged to meet in the pub, there being only one, and he was a bit late. When I walked in, everyone turned to look at the stranger and they all had a similar look about them. This was because they were all related to some extent - even the landlord to his customers. These were the days when a telephone box was the only contact to the outside world.

One of the younger ones had arranged to meet some of the others in London a few years before, and they were discussing how to get him there without mishap, as he had never been further than about 5 miles outside of the village. Eventually, he came up with the solution himself:

"I know, I'll meet you in the High Street."

There is a little village North of a crook in the River Severn which is served by one road only - both in and out. Given a few thousand years, this place will be an island in the middle of an oxbow lake. There used to be a ferry which was pulled by a rope across the wide stretch of water which took you straight to the heart of another area renowned for its isolated and inbred community - The Forest of Dean - and when the ferry was taken out of service, the gene-pools of both localities were drastically reduced.

I worked for a well to do and elderly couple in its church, restoring an 18th century memorial for a long dead ancestor. The wife was brought up in this village, and was related to all sorts of people who she should not have been. She had a crisp, upper-class accent, but the verger of the church had a very broad local one. They were cousins.

In these days of social media, you have to lock your unregistered daughter in a cellar from an early age if you want to get up to that sort of monkey business.


22 comments:

  1. There is a lot of incest in this county.

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    1. I only speak for Norfolk where I know it goes on.

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  2. The village in my township is five generations of inbreeding. Best say nothing to anyone about anything.

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  3. I should have called this post, '30 people you may not marry'. Only 30?

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  4. I think you are bang on about the list, which used to be given out to celebrants here, and was in the little book you were sent when you put the engagement notice in the paper. It's not all blood relations either - step parents aren't allowed to marry step children for example, which goes some way to recognising the importance of ties other than blood. But as they say, Country ways...

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    1. Damn. My hopes of marrying Green Eyes have been dashed. I used to taunt her when she was a kid by saying I would marry her, and there was nothing to stop me. Her mother even backed me up in the joke.

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  5. Of course we don't have that sort of thing in our blood in Sussex!

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    1. Not since the Battle of Hastings, anyway.

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  6. Odd but true... there are often questions about why natives of Indiana, US, are called 'Hoosiers'. (Who-shurs)
    Simple answer: When people met they would ask one another "Who's your Mama? Who's your Daddy?" With all the gadding about the pioneers did, it was all too easy to lose track of family connections... Sometimes accidentally on purpose.

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  7. I've been visiting over here for a while by way of Rachel and Cro, and thank them both for introducing me to your posts. It was Weaver that introduced me to R and C.

    I've now decided to go on and click on as a follower of this here site on my own.

    When I first moved to NY, folks would ask me where my family was from. When I grew up in Virginia, the question meant which county of Virginia. Up in NYC, the question required a country of origin. Somehow this post reminded me of those questions.

    Best wishes.

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    1. This is an official welcome then, Frances. London is a bit like that now, with under 50% of language spoken being English.

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  8. I was once passing through a tiny hamlet with a journalist friend, and pointed up to an upper window where a youngish girl was looking out. I explained to my friend that the father of the family had kept her back for himself, and maybe there was a story in it for his paper. He said 'not interested, the father would need to be well known'.

    So, incest is only of interest if it involves 'fame'.

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    1. Unless you become famous for it, like that Austrian bloke.

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  9. I'm sure that I've read this list in the Book of Common Prayer (that we were given at the Coronation - along with a mug). I hope that it has absolutely nothing to do with the Masons!

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    1. I was given a little Dinky Toy coach and horses.

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  10. I first came to our village twenty five years ago and since then, so many of the 'local' folk have died off or moved out and it is almost all incomers. I think there are about ten families left - and I think the farmer is related to about six of these ten.

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    1. You single-handedly sextupled the gene pool then, Weave.

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  11. http://www.genetic-genealogy.co.uk/Toc115570145.html

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    1. Thanks for that, Gill. Thank God I did not break more than a couple of these rules, otherwise I would be in more trouble than I am already.

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