Religion & Rebellion
One of the biggest surprises for me in the journey to find my ancestral past is the number of religious figures and rebels that run throughout my paternal family.
My immediate family has never been what I would call religious, although we are spiritual; we just do not partake in any organized religion, although we are Anglican. My maternal grandmother's family was, at one time, quite devoted to the Anglican church, but my grandmother once told me that she gave up going to church as she found the congregation to be hypocritical. The story behind that comment, if it was ever shared with me, is now lost to time.
On my paternal side of the family, I knew of no formal affiliation to any church. My father was not a religious man, and any thoughts on religion in general he seemed to keep to himself. His siblings were also not religious, at least from what I remember of them.
The lack of any real discussion about religion within my family is part of the reason why I have found the discoveries in my family to be quite interesting. On my paternal side, we have a very long history of religious figures, dating back to the 1500s. In fact, most of my paternal great-grandfathers were reverends, and a number of these grandfathers were among the first settlers in the United States, dating back as far as the early 1600s. Through my research I have found countless direct ancestors who were religious leaders within their communities, and even a few that remained in England who would go on to have descendants who would become spiritual leaders of the Royal Family.
In addition to this long line of religious leaders, I also have an inordinate number of ancestors, both immediate and extended family (uncles, cousins) who were involved in the War of Independence between America and England. It seems that the rebellious nature of my paternal family which had given them the strength to challenge the constrictive church rules in England also gave them the strength to fight for their freedom once they arrived in America. This was all a surprise to me as my maternal lineage is primarily British, and most of that side of the family remained in England, Ireland and Scotland until the late 19th and early 20th century. However, even with my maternal side of the family I am proud to say that I come from a long line of men, and in several cases women, who have fought for their country, and their continued freedom.
I had always wondered where my stubborn streak came from, and based on both my maternal and paternal lineage, I no longer question my own nature; it is quite clearly part of my genetic make-up.