I have a theory that if everyone whose nineteenth century forebears were of white English descent had a portrait of all four of their second great grandfathers at least one would resemble to some noticeable degree Charles Darwin. Naturally, this can never be proven, but, anyway, here is mine, though I accept the whiskers are less impressive.

Second great grandfather William Greatrex in the honeysuckle arbor at Leigh Cottage, Stonnall, Staffordshire.

The line to this elderly gent is via mother’s, mother Florence Carter and her mother Sarah Elizabeth Greatrex (I will pick up the female line later), and her father William Greatrex (1846-1922). The honeysuckle arbor seems to have been the goto backdrop to family portraits.

 “Old man Greatrex”, as mother referred to him, was born at Lower (or Nether) Stonnall, Staffordshire on 9 Oct 1846 and baptised at the parish church of St Peter on 8 November.

st peter stonnall 2 110831 (600x640)
St Peter, Stonnall, Staffordshire

For me, one of the interesting things about family history is that you can find places that one’s ancestors visited, follow in their footsteps, or at least visit places they would recognise. In England, parish churches, and, in places, old public houses, municipal buildings, and homes of the aristocracy and of the nouveau riche of the Industrial Revolution provide visible and tangible links with long gone generations.

William was to be unlucky in marriage.  His first wife, Maria Onion, bore only one daughter, Sarah Elizabeth in 1871, and died in 1873 after just four years of marriage.  On Christmas Day 1882 William married again, to Jane Collins, but just a few months later in the spring of 1883 she died, too.

In 1871, William was a waggoner, at Walk Mill, Cannock.  Later censuses recorded that he was a farm labourer.  Later, he lived at Brook Cottage, Hilton near Lichfield.  The cottage still stands on Pouk Lane.  William lived on to the spring of 1922, when he died aged 75 years.  He was buried on 24 May at St Peter, Stonnall (FreeREG).

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