A recent blog about ancestors on the male side of my family reminded me that there was an interesting story to tell about the distaff side, too..........
My elder son met and married a lovely girl in the USA and, in time, I learned that (like many in America) her family has far more detailed records of their ancestors than most people on this side of the pond have of theirs. For example, insofar as my own ancestry is concerned, without delving into the various web-sites available on the internet these days, I would be hard-pressed to identify anyone on my father's side from anytime earlier than the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Fortunately, my mother's ancestors in north Wales were much easier to trace; not least because they remained in the same region. Furthermore, they had occupied the same property (and an earlier building on the same site) since the eighteenth century.
Now, it's not particularly unusual for a dwelling to remain in the same family for several generations because the generally accepted rules of inheritance meant that ownership passes from father to eldest son and heir. For over two hundred years, however, my mother's ancestors adopted a rather unusual system where the youngest daughter inherited the property. Instead of her leaving home when she got married, her new husband moved into the property and they continued to care for her parents for as long as they lived - at which time the new family became the owners.
This is rather well demonstrated in this photograph which was taken around 1885 and shows three generations of the family. The smallest of the little girls is my grandmother - and, with the passage of time, as the youngest daughter, she would become the matriarch. She's standing next to her father. Her mother is the lone figure to the left of the house and the elderly man in the foreground is her father. I suspect the man on the horse may be an employee of my great, great, grandfather who I believe may have been a carter. Over the years, other ancestors have included a farrier, a carpenter, and a bespoke tailor (my own grandfather).
When I lived there, as a small child during WW2, I had been under the impression that the property was a farm. It was, after all, self-sufficient with a cow, a pig, several hens, some sheep and a large vegetable garden. However, although the grounds covered about the same area as two or three football pitches, it would be more accurate to call it a smallholding.
Sadly, for a variety of reasons - not least the fact that the final youngest daughter (my aunt) didn't marry - the tradition came to an end a few years ago.