Having spent a considerable amount of time over the past few months, often late into the night, scanning old photographs and typing copious notes, I have now produced a Dodson Family History. This document of 50 pages includes 9 generations of the Dodson family commencing with George Dodson (1761-1839). There are notes on each descendant in the direct line including pictures and copies of documents. I have sent hard copies to Margery and Muriel in Canada and to my mother in Shannon. My cousins Arlene, Jackie and Anita and their children and grandchildren can add the details for their generations by utilising the FTM software and I can supply a CD of the Dodson Family History.
I will be bringing a copy with me when Theresa and I visit Paul in Australia from 19th March to 21st April 2006.
Theresa and I travelled by train from Woking to London to meet David, my mother’s first cousin, on 19th Sept 05.We met at the Family Records Centre in Myddleton St. This was the first time we had met in over 60 years although to be honest we cannot remember the first occasion. We are both in a family photo taken in 1943 to celebrate the diamond wedding anniversary of George and Emma Jones at Forest Gate. I am a baby in my mother’s arms and David is sitting at the front of the family group.
We had a lot of catching up to do. David is retired and living with Angela and has been doing a considerable amount of work on the Jones family tree. He has spent a lot of time researching records in the FRC and the London Metropolitan Archives and exploring graveyards in the Greater London Area. We visited the FRC and the LMA which are adjacent to each other and he outlined what records are available in each. We had an enjoyable day together. Since I returned to Ireland Dave has identified 62 Buckea family members, some of them related to Elizabeth Buckea (mother of Emma Jane Jones). This should keep us both occupied for some time to come.
Theresa and I were delighted that we included Yaxley on our itinerary. We met Margaret Long, a wonderful lady, in her home and she made us very welcome. We discussed the Dodson family over tea and she was able to provide a copy of the photograph, taken c1900, of the Blue Bell Inn (Landlord George Dodson c1860-1895). Also a map of Yaxley c1904 showing the various pubs and a copy of the liquour licences issued in 1878. Also an extract from George Dodson’s grand- father’s will (also George Dodson) made on 16th Oct 1826. We discovered that Margaret and Eric Day had co-authored a beautiful pictorial history of Yaxley entitled ‘Portrait of Yaxley’ which was now out of print but she had a copy which she showed me.
Margaret brought us to St Peter’s Church where we met Church Warden Stephen who gave us an expert insight into the history of this fine building. We viewed the baptismal font where so many Dodson children were baptised over a period of a hundred years. When we left Margaret it was with regret and with an invitation to come and visit us in Ireland. We will meet again.
We then had an opportunity to see the present house formerly the Blue Bell Inn situated on The Hill beside The Green. I walked around the area and took some photographs and thought that I must be walking the same paths as George Dodson’s family including Florence my great grand- mother over a century ago. I will visit Yaxley again next year.
FOOTNOTE: I received a phone call from Margaret when we were back in Ireland to say that she had sourced a copy of the book ‘Portrait of Yaxley’ for me and that made the whole trip worthwhile.
While on holidays in the UK Theresa and I visited Bath on Sat 24th Sept 05. We followed the directions given by James and having parked the car we met James Dodson on the street. He brought us back to his appartment on the ground floor of one of those magnificent Bath terraces. He opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the meeting of two branches of the Dodson family after a period of over a century. We then spent several hours exchanging family information and found that James is 67 and has 4 children. He grew up in Thrapston in Northamptonshire and his father Samuel Warren Dodson died when he was 8 months old. His grandfather Samuel Dodson was a brother of Florence Dodson my great grandmother. James is a zoologist who has retired from lecturing for some years and is pursueing his interests in archaeology and history. He provided lunch in his appartment which we thoroughly enjoyed. Theresa was impressed by the beautiful sash window with working shutters which looked out over a green with the river beyond. Having recorded our meeting on camera we took our leave. Thank you James for your hospitality and we look forward to you coming to Ireland to stay with us possibly in May next year. I know we will return to Bath. A great Dodson family day all due to Margaret Long in Yaxley who put me in touch with James. Thank you Margaret.
I joined the Huntingdonshire Family History Society in Dec 2004 hoping to make use of the society records and member services to further explore the origins of the Dodsons of Yaxley. Little did I think that within 6 months I would get an e-mail from Margaret Long in Yaxley alerting me to the research she had carried out on behalf of James Dodson in Bath. Having made contact with James I was astounded to find that his grandfather Samuel Dodson was a brother of Florence Dodson my great grandmother. In other words we are both directly descended from their father George Dodson and mother Margaret Smith who lived in Yaxley. We are presently exchanging e-mails and I hope to meet James Dodson when we are in England in Sept.
When Theresa and I were in London in 2004 we visited my mother’s first cousin Don Jones in Dagenham. This led to a contact with Don’s brother David who was also researching his own family history. Since then we have been in contact by e-mail sharing information on the Jones family. David has carried out most of his research on the ground in London, which he has shared with me, while I have had the benefit of my mother’s memories of her mother (Elizabeth Jones) and great grandparents (George Jones and Emma Jane Collins). My mother’s collection of photographs has also helped to fill in the gaps. I have yet to meet David Jones and we hope to get together when I am in London in Sept.
It was with some apprehension that I approached the War Cemetary in Bari. This was the end of a long promised journey. Such a peaceful place, so many headstones, all these young men, what a waste. Theresa and I searched for Arthur’s grave, pausing to read the incriptions, over 2000 in all, and suddenly there it was beside his friend Jack Holt. They both died together in Sicily in April 1944. As I knelt beside my father’s grave, such mixed emotions, the regret at not knowing him, the desire to find out all about him, the need to make sure his sacrifice was not forgotten. I thought of the words spoken at a remembrance ceremony attended by my mother and recorded by her.
“They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them”