Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that my maiden name is Nelson. The same can be said for readers of my novel IT HAD TO BE YOU as that nugget of information gets a mention at the back of the book in connection with my tracing my ancestry.
It was the latter that led to a reader emailing me, wondering if we could possibly be related in some way as his name was Rodney Nelson and he had traced his Nelson ancestry to the Scottish and English border country. Just like my Nelson great grandfather, Martin, some of his ancestors were mariners and Rodney’s father had gone to sea for a while, having set sail from Liverpool.
I haven’t been able to get far with my Nelson ancestry as the only information I have found is that on my great-grandfather’s marriage certificate in 1865 and children’s baptismal records. On the marriage certificate I discovered that Martin’s father’s name was Hance Nelson. I had long known that there was Scandinavian blood in the family and have found that there was quite a number of Nelsons who had settled in the Toxteth area in Victorian times. But alas I haven’t been able to link them positively with my great-grandfather, due to my great-grandmother Mary Nelson being widowed within a few years of their wedding. She remarried in 1874 and so the trail went cold on me.
Having received more information about Rodney’s Nelson ancestry it seems unlikely that we’re closely related because while he has managed to trace his Nelsons to Scotland in the time of Robert the Bruce and discovered that the original Nelson, or son of Neill, had come from Scandinavia, I like to think that somewhere in the distant past all us Nelsons are linked.
As far as I know Rodney’s mariner Nelsons have achieved more fame than I can claim to for mine. One of his has had a book written about him called MASTER OF CAPE HORN, the story of a Square-rigger Captain and his world, name of W.A. Nelson, 1839-1929. The author is Hugh Falkus who was a wartime Spitfire pilot, with a love of sailing and an acquaintance with the Nelsons. His book was published in 1982 and although it is now out of print I have managed to purchase a second hand copy.
Interestingly Rodney Nelson was brought up in Carlisle in the English border country. As I was due to go on a week’s holiday to Keswick in the northern Lake District just after we got in touch, I mentioned to him that on a previous November holiday, I had visited my maternal Milburn roots in Culgaith and the hamlet of Milburn up that way. He knew the area well and of course, recognised the Milburn name. The Milburns were one of those Border Reivers families who raided over the border into Scotland way back in the Middle Ages. These days the most famous Milburn I know is known for his skill on the football field and that is all I know.
I enjoyed my visit up in the beautiful Lake District and the weather was kind to us with scarcely any rain. Whilst there we visited Grasmere, famous not only because the poet William Wordsworth lived there for a while but because of its special kind of gingerbread. The recipe of which is the same as that made by - wait for it - a Sarah Nelson in Victorian times. Her maiden name was Kemp and she married a Wilfrid Nelson after a whirlwind romance.
Perhaps we’re related somewhere along the line because I had an uncle Wilfrid, who was born during the Great War!
On a different note when I arrived back from holiday it was to discover an email from my editor who had sent me a copy of the cover for my next book LOVE LETTERS IN THE SAND that will be out in hardback at the end of March 2015. But before then I have a paperback out in February, a reissue of KITTY AND HER BOYS called A MOTHER’S DUTY. More about these books when I blog in the New Year but before then I’ll hopefully be blogging in December.