Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Researching Our Family History - The Syders...Or Are We?

Being raised a Mormon I have an ingrained interest in genealogy. Growing up, everyone around me was researching their Family history, so wanting to know more about my family roots is a natural yearning to me. My side of the family are predominantly from London with ties from Ireland and Wales, and I even had  a Great Grandmother who was a blind florist in London, incredibly she could put together beautiful bouquets from the scent of the flowers. I found out a few years ago that my lot, did at one time originate from Barnstaple in North Devon, which really freaked me out because I have a real emotional connection to that area and I see it as a place of healing. The things we discover from our roots is sometimes quite uncanny.

The Syders started off as a bit of a mystery to us. The Family are a bit disconnected as my Hubby doesn't speak to his Dad, and his Dad had a very strained relationship with his own Father, so asking for information was quite difficult, in fact it was impossible. The main mystery was that Hubby's Grandfather has no father named on his birth certificate, so he was given his Mothers surname 'Syder'. 

We have often thought that really our surname should be something else, but what, we had no idea. We became more and more intrigued and then we discovered a photo of Hubby's Great Grandmother, Minnie Syder. The photo was taken on her wedding day in 1929 and as soon as I saw her Husband, the mystery was solved. It suddenly struck me that he had a strong resemblance to my own Hubby. His eyes, his stance, his broad shoulders and his mouth are exactly the same as my Man's. I think he is Hubby's Great Grandfather. His name is John Pipe.

They married when Hubby's Grandad was 3 years old. John was a bit older than Minnie and was previously married to a woman who passed away shortly before his marriage to Minnie. So, my theory is that maybe they were having an affair when Minnie fell pregnant with Hubby's Grandad, the reason for not naming him on the birth certificate. I could be so wrong, but the close resemblance to my Husband is just too strong to ignore. So possibly, maybe my blog would have been 'The Pipes' instead of 'The Syders'.

Anyway, going back to Minnie Syder, Hubby's Great Grandmother. Over the weekend we made our way over to Stisted, a quintessentially English village in the middle of North Essex. We wanted to visit the house where Minnie was raised and the village where the Syders had lived for hundreds of years previously.

As we sat in the car, outside the house of my children's ancestors I felt a huge surge of satisfaction, peace and tranquillity. I was overwhelmed at how beautiful the area was and as I looked across the road I could see the church where Hubby's Great, Great Grandparents were christened, married and buried. I felt excited as we walked into the church grounds, eager to walk the same steps that the Syder Family once had, years before us.

We have been told by a distant Syder relative that Hubby's Great Great Grandparents, William & Alice Syder were a big part of the local community, keen church goers and Alice was heavily involved in the village 'Womens Group', which I'm guessing was some type of Women's Institute.

Alice Syder Circled
As we stood at the graveside of William & Alice, I felt really emotional as these relatives suddenly become very real. I looked down and as I read the tombstone, I thought to myself "Wow, here is the last resting place of my children's Great, Great, Great Grandparents, and what a stunning setting it is!"

We walked over to the church, and a group of locals were sitting outside enjoying the sunshine. A lovely Lady approached us and asked us if we had travelled far. I explained that we were here researching our Family history and when I told her the name she said "Ohhhh, Old Man Syder! I remember him!" She proceeded to guide us into the church, and introduced us to another lady who also knew the Syders very well. I was so thrilled to hear from people who actually knew them. 

As I stood at the same alter that our ancestors had once stood, probably many times before, I felt a connection to this beautiful place. I felt so at peace. Visiting the village of our Family ancestors was an amazing experience and one I would so recommend.

A special mention to Hubby's cousin Roy who provided us with our family tree, documents, info and photo's. A massive Thanks for all his hard work in searching for our roots. Precious documentation that our future generations will appreciate and enjoy.

Do you know your Family History or have an interest in finding out where your roots are?


  1. That is fascinating and what coincidences that you have lived nearby your ancestors. It must have been so great to speak to people that knew the family too, that's amazing!

  2. What a beautiful post. I can so understand that emotional connection to place that you describe, and believe that we can have 'inherited memories' of places from our ancestors. How wonderful that you were able to feel that more human side of your ancestors, rather than simply names on birth certificates and documents.
    I like your story that you have put to the mystery behind the names too. We have to remember that times were so different then, and things that would be perceived as 'more normal' these days had to be hidden back then.
    A beautiful post about history and so lovely for you to share it with us xx

  3. My husband has been trying to figure out where he came from, but the family used to have a very germanic sounding surname, so it seems they changed it during WW1. This would be OK, but on various records it changes back and forth and gets spelt differently at different times, then going back a bit further they just vanish off the census. We know they should be around because we have various documents that show they were living in a certain area, but their names, no matter how they are spelt just don't exist. We've hit a total dead end.

    My mum's side is much easier - she was born in the house my great, great, great grandfather built - so if any census record show someone living there then they are related!

  4. That was a fascinating read.... and how amazing that you meet people who knew the Syders - I can really understand your feelings of peace at fitting the pieces of the jigsaw together, experiencing that connection to your ancestral line! Just loved that your blind Great Grandmother could put bouquets together by the scents - fabulous! Green fingers and a love of flowers and nature was certainly passed onto you! X.,

  5. My wife's great grandmother was Estelle Syder who married Edward Moore. They lived in St. Louis, Missouri and had a daughter (my wife's grandmother) named Betty Anne Moore (1928-2014). I can't find any records of the Syders until I came here and with the surname being so specific to a particular topography its possible that there may be a connection. Can you find out if there is any record of Estelle Syder in your lineage? I assume she died in St. Louis but there are no birth or death records that I can find and as such I'm at a dead end. Thanks!



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