What’s in a Name

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The people on my father’s side of the family came from Land’s End, the very southwest tip of Cornwall in England — very close to the village where the public television show Doc Martin is filmed.  A year and a half ago, my husband and I took a “Roots” trip and went to visit my ancestral town in the UK.  Let me say right off the bat, it was the best trip we’ve ever taken and we had an amazing adventure — though there were genealogical aspects that were pretty funny. When we got off the plane and went through customs, I was asked the purpose of my visit — and I excitedly exclaimed that my family had come from here.  I was a little deflated when the official replied dismissively with a wave of my passport, “Honey, everybody in the United States originally came from here.”  On we went to the city of Bath for our first night in England — where I stopped in a park and visited with a group of men playing a Bocce ball-type of game that they called “Bowls”.  I said that I was on the way to Cornwall and one man responded with a hearty laugh, “Cornwall!!  People out there have two heads and six fingers,” he told me, adding, “no one loves his sister more than a Cornishman.”  I had been brought up to believe that my surname was a big deal in that area — in fact, my brother told me that going there and uttering it would put me in the same category as being related to George Washington would, here.  I went into the genealogical library in my my family’s original town, only to be told by the librarian that yes, she thought that she might have heard that name once or twice.  Maybe. I laughed and couldn’t wait to come back and report all these findings to my brother — who was skeptical.  I guess maybe he prefers to continue to believe that, rather than the branches of our family tree holding hard working miners, it’s filled with renowned earls and dukes, lords and ladies.




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