James Henry Massey aged 86 with his great grand daughter

I have been a member of  ever since I had an attack of vertigo a few years’ ago and couldn’t leave the sofa without falling over.  Over the course of two days I built my family tree and found out some interesting facts which include the knowledge that my much maligned great grandmother, Mary Massey,  whilst she never married her partner James Underwood, lived with him for 20 years and bore him five children.  The family story had always been that she was a loose woman (a very different connotation in 1900, than now) but thanks to I now know better because census records detail her as a “paramour” and living at the same address for  at least 11 years with her children and husband, one of which was my granddad James Henry Massey.  When she died in 1910 aged 40, her children were scattered between relatives and so the blackening of her name began. I often asked my granddad what he remembered but he was only 4 when she died so he couldn’t fill in any details.  He was sent to live with aunt and uncle Underwood and their children at a time when  life was hard and he would have been an extra mouth to feed.  His life can’t have been easy then.

The problem is, as afar as goes, that is as much detail as I have and will ever have on this intriguing mystery.  Why didn’t they marry ? what did she die of ? was Fred her son born 3 years before my granddad stillborn ? What was their house like and even, what did she look like ? If someone has written down her autobiography and treasured photographs,  we would see the person in front of us not just these scraps.  This is why for me we must do all we can to record or help people record their live’s story, so that when we are dust, our grand children can still know us because