What would my ancestors think of me?
I had my doubts recently, as I traipsed around the UK, seeking out locations where my ancestors lived and died. As I visited Loseley Park in Surrey in England, the manor home where my ancestors enjoyed an aristocratic life-style in the 17th century. Family members not only hob-nobbed with royalty, but also acted as treasurer for Henry Frederick, the then Prince of Wales and served in Parliament under King James.
As I embarked on our trip, I planned to visit “ancestral sites” more in an effort to “feel the dust of my ancestors’ shoes,” rather than to research. (I was traveling with a son who is not into genealogy.) As we drove up the long winding road to the estate, I realize they my ancestors probably seldom felt the dust of their own shoes. They would have had staff to prevent most dust-ups, and were their footwear to acquire undesirable soil, said staff would have removed the dust or other offending matter.
I wondered as I roamed the grounds, what would these titled ancestors think of my son and me. If we were able to time travel and present ourselves as cousins, I doubt they’d be impressed. Would they receive us graciously as members of the extended family? Or, would they be more like the character Hyacinth in Keeping Up Appearances, quickly ushering us behind closed doors before true aristocrats saw us?
Or am I being unfair? Perhaps they understood the inherent risks for putting their nest eggs in the royal basket. Those were turbulent times. Perhaps they were only doing whatever was necessary to provide for their progeny. I should be, and am, grateful for that.
Likewise, at the Lincoln Cathedral, as I looked down at the tomb of my ancestor, Katherine Swynford on the south side of the cathedral’s choir, I wondered. What would my ancestor think of me if we had a chance to sit down and chat? She died at the turn of the 15th century. What would she have thought about the sheer number of descendants that she had created? Would she feel any differently about me than the royal family members? Would she feel honored that her descendants come looking for her tomb?
You don’t have to visit ancient sites or plan a trip overseas to ponder this question. Do you ever wonder “What would my ancestor’s think of me?” What insight have you gained?
What would they think of your station in life and your achievements?
What would they think of your faith (or lack of following a faith)?
What would they think of the time and culture you live it?
What would they think of family alliances made after their time?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.