I'm continuing to climb my way around the branches of the family tree as time permits. Some days I only carve out a few minutes but on others, like today, the block of time is measured in several hours. The fact that I am still finding a wealth of information is both rewarding and motivating.
And fascinating too. For part of this afternoon I was deep into medieval times, tracing one line back to 1327. I was lucky enough to find a book written about Daniel Shed who was one of the earliest settlers of Braintree, Massachusetts, arriving in 1643. Some energizing soul...well, Frank E. Shedd, to be exact...traveled to England and spent untold hours looking in church and manor records to come up with three centuries worth of Daniel Shed's ancestors and then he wrote a book to share his findings. I have a hard time getting my mind around records that old still existing but then it's been almost 100 years since he wrote the book too.
I learned about John Schedde, as the early spelling of the name existed, who on April 5, 1445, was fined 3d for allowing his eaves to drip on the land of his neighbor. Despite the best efforts of Google, I wasn't able to figure out what amount 3d would be but John's wife Alice paid twice as much in 1456 when she was charged with assaulting the maid-servant of George Prentys and drawing blood. It would appear that one should not mess with Alice.
That wasn't the only fine imposed on John, my 15th great-grandfather. His estate paid one in 1467 for him dumping manure under the wall of the Friary to the damage of his neighbors. Perhaps it was a common fine as his son paid one as well for leaving manure on the King's highway to the damage of the Lord of the Manor. That was 1472; don't you just feel Chaucer's Canterbury Tales coming to life here?
One thing Google did help me on was understanding what a "fuller" was. Both John and his son were identified as "fullers" in their will and I had no idea what that meant. A fuller is one who removes the dirt, oils and other unwanted substances from wool and processes it into cloth for clothing. In really ancient times it involved slaves tromping on it in stale urine but the procedure seems to have become a bit more refined by the 1400's. I'm guessing that many of the court proceedings John Schedde was a party to involved money owed to him for wool he provided to others...and with all that wool, he was bound to have sheep manure to dispose of too.
Apparently there's a lot of lawlessness in my heritage because when I finished with the Daniel Shed branch, I climbed out on the Child limb. It's a similar situation in that there is a book detailing the descendants of those with the Child, Childs and Childe names who were the first to come to America from England and fortunately, the book also contains some genealogy of the women who married into the Child families. Like Mary Warren, granddaughter of John Warren who came to America in the Arabella with Governor Winthrop in 1630. 1630. That amazes me in itself. In 1654 John Warren was fined 3 pounds 10 shillings for "neglect of public worship, fourteen Sabbaths." Back then the church was the government and skipping services was an expensive proposition.
Finally, here's a photo I uncovered in my recent forays among the leaves of the family tree.
That's Tarlton Logan, my 3rd great-grandfather on my mother's side. Scary looking dude, huh? Although I haven't uncovered any lawlessness in Tarlton's past, he does look like he should be an ancestor of Charles Manson instead of my easy-going Grandpa Hedrick. It's the eyes, I think, although the hair and beard definitely contribute to the crazy look. My nephews are hopeful enough generations have passed that they won't be inheriting any family resemblance.
As I was explaining to my sister-in-law on the phone the other day, family history is a lot like working a jigsaw puzzle when you don't know what the picture is supposed to look like. The mystery of it all is part of the intrigue in doing it. And I'm fascinated by what I'm learning along the way.