“Where are you from?” asked the man.
“Here, this parish; my family are Crossmans of Pibsbury.”
“Not another one!” he exclaimed.
Had he lived in the Nineteenth Century, he would have greater cause to comment on the frequency with which he encountered family members. Maureen Pittard, of Eli’s, the Rose and Crown pub in Huish Episcopi, (who is a fourth cousin, our mutual forebear being Thomas Crossman of Ham Down), has an extraordinary obituary of Harriet Crossman, our great-great-great grandmother.
A REMARKABLE FAMILY The interment of the late Mrs. Harriett Crossman, relict of Mr. Thomas Crossman, of Ham Down, Huish Episcopi, took place on Saturday afternoon last, at the Huish Churchyard. The Vicar, the Rev. J. Stubbs, officiated. A large number of relatives and friends of deceased were present. On Sunday morning the Rev. J. Stubbs preached to a large congregation, founding his discourse on Ecclesiastes xii, 7, “The dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit- to God who gave it”. Special reference was made by the Vicar to the life and character of the deceased. With regard to the late Mrs. Crossman, he said that as far as he could accurately ascertain – and he had taken a good deal of trouble to do so – her family and descendants consisted of 12 children, 96 grandchildren, 38 great-grandchildren, 56 great-great-grandchildren, and seven great-great-great-grandchildren, making in all a total of 259. The Vicar said that this was a proof of the remarkable vitality of the family, which he thought was possibly without a parallel. During the whole of her life the deceased had set a noble example of piety and earnest religious conviction to her numerous descendants, and to all who knew her. Mrs. Crossman’s age was 97 years, and she had seen as many as eight generations. With the exception of failing eyesight, deceased retained all her faculties until the day of her death.
Died NOVEMBER 16th 1897 Aged 97 years
Interred in St Mary’s Churchyard,
Huish Episcopi, November 20th, 1897.
The seven great-great-great grandchildren mentioned would have included some of our grand aunts and uncles, though not my own grandfather, who was born in 1913 and was some fourteen years younger than his next sibling. To have known someone who knew someone who was born more than two hundred years ago might have provided opportunities for endless questions, had there been an awareness of what a rare opportunity it was.
Living in a small rural community means there is a criss-crossing of some branches of the family tree, layers of complexity being added to family research. It’s more a web than a tree, and it’s all the more fascinating for it.