Marriages mix genes

Until the 20th century, people rarely moved outside their immediate village area to find a marriage partner. Only in extreme cases of hardship did whole familes up and move to another town. Prior to 1900 it was unusual to find a family moving even 20 miles, the marriage partner was usually found within a 2 or 3 mile circle.

I am the end product of my 4 grandparents. It is intriguing to see that the 2 Welsh grandparents and the Scottish grandparent had come from families who had moved within small local distances (that is within circles of 15 to 18 miles) and that the Irish grandparent had come from a family that moved more, but still within a 40 mile radius.

As time has advenced through the 20th century and on into the 21st, movement has become easier, and we have all become more peropatetic. My parents met and married in Italy during World War II. I met and married my wife in Oxford when we were at university there, and our own children were born in Switzerland while I was working there for a multinational.

The Irish parts of my roots moved fairly constantly because of problems outside their control. From central Tipperary (Moyaliffe) to Northern Tipperary (Shinrone) 23 miles to avoid the Whiteboy problems in 1790s. From Shinrone to Woodlawn (Galway) 31 miles because of the famine around 1850. My great-grandfather Thomas Grant moved 88 miles from Woodlawn to Dublin to join the police in 1870. My grandfather moved the same distance, 88 miles to Belfast following the partition of Ireland in 1922.

The Scottish part of my roots may have originated in Aberdeenshire in the middle of the 18th century, but I pick up the story with an Adam Proctor living just outside Edinburgh in a village 5 miles from the city centre in the late 1700s. The next generation was living in Edinburgh city centre. The next generation, William Proctor, became a Presbyterian minister, and married the daughter of another Presbyterian minister (Rev John Steeman) who lived in Stirling, 31 miles away. This union obviously came about through contact and movement within the church. The Rev William Proctor, practised his trade in Penang (it seems to have been obligatory to put in missionary time overseas), then in Oban, before moving to Dublin to convert the Irish.

The Pughs came from around Llanfachrech, Dolgellau. They moved the 8 miles to the slate mining area around Corris around 1850. It was a combination of moving to the South Wales coal mines during World War I and fathering my mother out of wedlock, that appears to have moved my grandfather the 40 miles to North Wales around 1920 (his wife's family came from there).

The Evans came from North Wales, A family of tailors. They moved from the Lleyn Peninsula 30 miles to Anglesey in the early 1800s. Then around 1860 from Anglesey, they move 6 miles to the slate quarries round Llanddeiniolen. Then 6 miles to Bangor around 1900.

Family Fan Chart