One of the more exciting things we did over the weekend was to go searching for some signicant places from the Starling family tree. The Starlings were originally shepherds who came from Cambridgeshire, living in a few tiny (and quite picturesque) villages about half an hour outside Cambridge. Dave's dad is a keen family historian and has done a lot of research already; he even gave the kids some abridged and edited copies of the research he has done as part of their Christmas present. So we already knew a fair bit of the family tree - where people lived, where they were buried and christened, and so on. We set off with a map and our family history books, eager to see some of these places where the Starlings lived so long ago.
The first place we found was a little village called West Wratting, which was where Dave's great great great grandparents lived and are buried in the graveyard.
We had heard that the gravestone was missing the last time Dave's parents had visited a few years ago, so we were delighted to discover it was there this time and had been put back (almost) in place.
We then went into the church where we made an even bigger discovery. After we had looked around at the font and furnishings (including an old mortuary carriage and an unusual and quite striking wrought-iron chancel screen), I discovered a folder which had been put together by the local historical society. They had taken the time to catalogue the names and sites of all the graves in the churchyard including the inscriptions on the headstones We were intrigued to discover that a headstone belonging to another Starling was listed. We hadn't been aware of another Starling from the family tree who was buried there, so we were keen to discover it. After a bit of investigation, working entirely from the map, since the inscription was illegible, we worked out that this was the one. It was the grave of Anna Starling, wife of William, and the catalogue put together by the local historians said that the inscription had recorded her date of death as 1723.
After we came home and investigated a bit more, we discovered that Dave's great great great great great great great grandmother (named Anne or Anna) was married to William and died in 1728. We think it's the same person and the '8' on the gravestone was mistaken for a '3'. (She had a son Robert in 1726, so if it is the same person, the true date of her death is unlikely to have been 1723!)
It was a very exciting discovery! And I am beginning to see the lure and addictiveness of family history research.