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How it all began!

by Sheila R Weston (nee Trenbath)

This was written in the early 1990s

I can't remember how old I was when I first became acquainted with my Trenbath ancestors, but I grew up with the knowledge that my father possessed a very old copybook which had belonged to one William Trenbath a long time ago. This was brought out at Christmas time and the yellowing vellum pages were looked at with reverence. Names and dates in the book included 'John Trenbath September 12th 1737',' Wm Trenbath September 2nd 1737' and 'Wm Trenbath came to Northwich 1761'. Over the years I became more and more fascinated with the book and its contents: Platitudes like 'Tyranny is vile in a schoolmaster, for youth should rather be trained courtesee than compulsion', sums like 'The rule of three direct - if 8 labourers do a certain piece of work in 12 days, in how many days will 16 do the same?' and recipes like 'Mrs Cornwallis Receipt for Orange Wine'.

Time passed and I went to College, qualified as a Pharmacist and moved to London, where I met a young staff nurse and her husband who were Family History fanatics. They invited me out one evening, and showed me stacks of papers of long genealogical charts. You know the type of thing! No computers in those days and everything was handwritten. They had traced one line back to an ancestor who had been burnt at the stake as a witch. I was hooked!

The following Saturday morning found me in Somerset House in London, where the births, marriages and deaths were found in those days. I had to pay (was it) 3/6, and fill in a form saying what name I was researching and which five years of records I would like to look at. This was very restrictive compared to the present records at St Catherine's House, to which the public have free access without charge.

But it was 25 years, which included marriage and bringing up a family, before I was able to continue my research. At some point in the 1960s my Aunt had acquired a family tree from her American cousins, which showed our descent from William Trenbath (b 1723, d circa 1780) and Ann Damer (d 1770), but there was no indication of what sources had been used. I began to check the information and add to it. Trenbath (particularly with the 'N' in the middle) is a comparatively uncommon name - 1 in zzz of the population, according to xxxx - so I was able to work my way back through the indexes to 1837, with extra information from the IGI. But how could I discover more about John and Richard of the Copy Book? Having found that my grandfather's birth was registered as TreMbath, I was beginning to appreciate the problem of name-variants. And all those William Trenbaths etc in the Cornish IGI!

Somewhere, I saw a suggestion that one should look at the telephone directory for the area in which the family seemed to be concentrated in the nineteenth century to see if there were any living descendents with the same surname. I sent a short circular letter, giving a little information about my research and here I struck gold. Out of nine Trenbaths in the directory, all but two replied, and one of these was interested in Family History, as well as being editor of the Local History Journal. Joy of Joys! He had far more information than I had collected, and sent me fascinating reams of papers, which I spent days reading and rereading. It transpired that we were descended from different wives of Thomas Trenbath, who died in 1850 in Witton, Cheshire. I think that we are 31/2 times cousins, if there is such a relationship!