When I was a child we spent several summer holidays at my uncle Stan’s farm at Farlecombe on the edge of Dartmoor. It was an idyllic time, even the boredom of the stupidly long journey down there would evaporate as we turned into Devon’s narrow lanes – although this may have been due to the adrenalin rush as the possibility of tractor-based calamity increased.
Uncle Stan (actually my great uncle; Alfred Stanley Ellicott) was, to me, the archetypal farmer with his heavy corduroy trousers and wellington boots, he seemed completely at one with his surroundings as his thick Devon burr coaxed his cattle down the lanes through this beautiful landscape. He could have been there forever.
Many years later I’m busy tracing my grandfather’s globe-trotting for Cable and Wireless and I start to notice another Ellicott appearing in the passenger list searches and it transpires that his brother, far from being a lifelong son of the soil, spent many years as a civil engineer in Sierra Leone, something no doubt other members of the family already knew but, at the time, was quite a surprise to me!
I suppose the moral of this post is never to assume you already know a person’s story: ask (about) your relatives, and even if you never find someone famous in your tree, there are always interesting tales to tell.