After my dad died in 2006, my sister and I had to sort out his bungalow. While doing this we found an assortment of old photographs from the 1940s and 1950s, some of which had names and dates on the back. I knew from what my dad had said that some of the family were in Surrey and, as I had some names, I searched the birth, marriage and death indexes on Ancestry for entries for that area.
At around the same time I asked for help with researching my Lackey family on FTF’s Research Board and member, LangleyValeSue, asked me if I was related to the Lackey family near to where she lived in Surrey. I told her that I thought that I probably was, but didn’t know for sure, so set out to prove it either way.
I found a marriage on the BMD indexes on Ancestry’s site; I was intrigued, as I knew that it was the key to proving or disproving my link to the Surrey Lackeys. I ordered the certificate and impatiently waited for it to arrive. On the day that it came I almost ripped the certificate as I tore open the envelope in excitement. The father of the groom, matched the name my dad had given to me, which meant that I was linked to the Lackey family near to where Sue lived after all and I sent her a personal message through FTF to let her know.
I gave Sue some information about myself, my father and grandfather, and asked if she would be so kind as to pass them on to the family for me, which her son did. In return I was given my dad’s cousin’s email address, with the message that, “he writes quicker and better than he emails”.
However, I sent him an email explaining who I was, that I had been researching my family history, how I had got in contact with Sue and how very pleased I was that I’d been able to get in contact with him.
A few days later, I received a lovely letter through the post from him, detailing family names and birth, marriage and death information, together with his memories of my father when he was younger, as well as quite a few of my grandfather, whom he knew as ‘Uncle Billy’.
He wrote –
I had already uploaded my family tree to the Ancestry site, so provided him with a link so that he could view it. In his following letter he congratulated me on all my hard work and wished me luck with my future research, as well as including some more information on the family. I responded by thanking him for the additional information and asking if he had any family photos or documents which I could borrow, copy and return to him. He replied by email, saying that he would copy them and send them to me shortly.
A week or so later I received, in the post, an A4 envelope full to bursting of old family photos and newspaper cuttings. They are so lovely, I have to admit that I cried! They range from personal portraits to wedding groups, to informal photos of the family in their garden.
I’m now hoping to meet up with him this year. My dad lost contact with this side of the family over fifteen years ago, which is such a shame, but now I am back in contact with them and have their addresses, I will endeavour to stay in touch this time. I think that a big family gathering may be something to add to next year’s calendar.
It has certainly been an interesting and emotional experience getting in contact with living relatives, instead of tracing the dead ones. Whilst the dead give me a headache trying to find them, the living provide me with photos and information!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank LangleyValeSue and her son for their part in helping me make contact with this branch of my family.