What’s in a Name?

As a school girl, some sixty years ago, I liked to dabble in Family History. My father, whose name was Avery, having sixteen brothers and sisters, almost all older than himself, there was material for a large family tree without going far! I knew nothing then of genealogical societies or record offices and One Name Groups; I had one built in! My interest grew, as did my Tree – upwards and downwards. But it was not until many years later that I took a more serious interest in the family and got my father’s family back to 1580. In those days Registers were kept at the various churches and it was often quite difficult to obtain permission to see or copy them. How thankful we ought to be for our privileges today. Quite a lot of my precious pocket money went on fees.

Way back in the very early Registers I found a certain Thomas Avery who had two sons, one was Thomas and the other Nathaniel; both eventually married and had issue. In each case they named two of their sons Thomas and Nathaniel, and so it happened in the next generation – until it almost became a tradition! After some time I became interested in other names on my Tree. My grandfather, John William Avery 1821-1898, had married in 1841 as his first wife, a certain Martha Lindfield 1826-1874, by whom he had fourteen children, my father being number thirteen. I started to research Martha’s history, and became very much involved, as, like the Avery’s, they had been a strong farming family in and around Hurstpierpoint and Cuckfield. Back in 1711, I was struck in what I could only think was a coincidence. A certain John Lindfield had among his family twin boys whom he named Thomas and Nathaniel. This coincidence really got me thinking. The urge to find out why, really spurred me on! Yes, after a while I got the clues I needed. My grandmother’s ancestors had in fact originated from the Avery tree!. Susan Avery 1645-1718 had married a certain John Lindfield who died in 1681, leaving one son John. It was his children who had been registered as Thomas and Nathaniel. My grandmother had sprung from their eldest brother John. It is coincidences like this that make researching so interesting.

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