"John’s occupation was a weaver, and he probably made cloth on handlooms… John was probably an artisan of his day."

Using diligent research and an evident thirst for knowledge of her personal ancestry, author Fortnum has composed this chronicle presenting the highlights of the people and happenings in her mother's family. She knew that the family hailed from two villages in North Oxfordshire, England. In questing for historical references in South Newington and Milcombe, her search for written records of the Page family was launched when she found a reference to James Page, brother of her “seven-times-GGF” (great-grandfather). She surmises that James may have been born a Quaker since there was a Quaker meeting in the area. His surname likely indicated his occupation. His son John, a weaver, had four boys and two girls, the girls having been mentioned in a will found in local annals. The Page surname flowed through the author's ancestry until the generation following that of her grandfather, Harry James Page—a miller whose daughter Muriel, born in 1916, met and married John Fortnum during the time of the Second World War. The author was their child, born in 1948. She still resides in the house where she was born.

The family information as it stands in the public record would seem somewhat scant, but combined with memories going back several generations, Fortnum has brought that intimate history to life. For example, she can recall the familial lore concerning a great-grandfather's daughter who died accidentally, probably by hitting a branch while riding a horse. Her mother Muriel carried a recollection from her youth of how her grandfather had only to ring a bell and grandchildren "would go running to see what he wanted." By his time, the family profession had switched from milling to baking. Perhaps most elucidating are details of the notations of births and deaths, the only form of "news" available at the time. This was because some of her family could not write to sign their names and might use an "x" as a substitute signature. Equally fascinating is the fact that in earlier times women's surnames were not mentioned at all in recording marriages. Additionally, only in the early 1900s did one see references to other news sources like the Banbury Guardian.

As an amateur historian and an obviously determined sleuth, Fortnum makes an admirable work of her family investigations. She ferrets out all extant written records from churches and other sources and matches them with rational assumptions about the family's chosen region, religion, and occupations. She helpfully provides verbal descriptions and some photographs of churches that the family attended, connected with both the Anglican and Primitive Methodist creeds, and even in some cases gives directions for readers who would like to visit these timeworn monuments. These pieces of the ancestry puzzle are of necessity limited by their time frame. However, readers with interest in such lore will see them (as did Fortnum, who has another volume of family history planned) as a path to understanding oneself by exploring a long-ago time. Her work will doubtless inspire others to undertake the difficult but rewarding task of locating and creatively sharing family lore.

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