The mid-term break means a flight to Bristol on Friday and a return to our local community in Somerset where I identify myself as a member of the Crossman family from which my mother came.
It is a family with a long connection to the area. The name is said to be Saxon. The family were yeoman farmers and Parliamentarians during the Civil War. The names in the parish register go back to the 1620s, ecclesiastical records show the presence of Crossmans in the area in the 13th Century.
Stocky by stature and by nature, there has been a tradition among the Crossmans of hard work and independent thinking. Centuries of small farms or artisan work, the family history is unremarkable, but the name is a confident one,
Being associated with the name immediately ties me to countless cousins of varying degrees; it says that I am local. The family name seems also to bring associations with all the other families with whom the Crossmans intermarried through the centuries.
Once, I was told that there was a memorial plaque to Crossmans in Huish Episcopi church. Despite repeated visits and a close scrutiny of every part of the building, I have never found such a plaque.
Perhaps it was a process of assiciation in the mind of the person who made the suggestion that prompted them to think there was a plaque. There is a plaque in memory of Reg and Sidney Slade, brothers from the parish who died in the First World War. Reg died at Ypres in the opening weeks of the war, Sidney two years later.
Reg and Sidney Slade were grand uncles of a family in Huish Episcopi who are my fourth cousins, which, if they were on the right side of the family, would have made them the second cousins of my grandfather, meaning they shared a common great grandfather, Thomas Crossman. (Thomas Crossman died in 1884, died at the age of 47, after falling from the cart he was driving and being run over by one of its wheels).
Would that have been sufficient connection for them to have been remembered as Crossmans?
Looking at a photograph of the plaque, I can work out what connection they might have been to me. Two removes would take me to my grandfather’s generation, so, if they were his second cousins, they would presumably be second cousins twice removed to me.
Precise connections don’t really matter, they are only background details to the sense of belonging to a place.