Several months back a 5th cousin showed me her mother’s family Bible. The Bible was large and beautifully bound. It has a leather and timber cover. Included in the Bible is a records section with coloured, gold embossed pages. This section was for recording births deaths and marriages.
|Allan family bible has been handed down over the years|
It is a real heirloom passed down from the original recipient of the Bible to her daughters, granddaughters etc over several generations. It records a line of the family of Allan descendants from the famous cricketer Francis Erskine Allan AKA Bowler of the Century 1849-1917
At a brief glance, it has at least 4 generations and as the family expanded with added generations of babies it became more unwieldy with backs of pages used and writing getting tighter.
|....and all the descendants|
I guess it also used to store more than names over the years. It would seem logical that the Bible would have become a receptacle used to slip in newspaper clippings, obituaries, funeral cards, actual documents, letters, cards, pressed flowers or even handwritten jottings.
Recently I was emailed some more simple notes recorded in a less regal family Bible of the Smith family of Bethnal Green. Much less grandiose but nonetheless important these bore information on my great grandmother‘s brother, his wife and their children.
|George Smith m Lydia Eaton|
|George and Lydia's family recorded at the front of the bible|
I’m grateful that a distant relative took the time to scan and share and even more grateful of the tradition of recording the family tree in the family Bible.
I’ve two other “Bible stories”. One is about a book passed down from my great grandfather Thomas Gadsby. It is “A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship” by William Gadsby printed in 1874 by a J Gadsby. All that was known originally was that it was a gift to Thomas Gadsby in 1911 upon his departure from England to Australia. It’s a bit water damaged and has no family histories but it was a cause for further research. Yes indeed William Gadsby was a famous Minister and prolific hymn writer 1773-1844. His hymns are still sung today. Research has shown that it was his son John who published it. William’s my 4th great uncle so he was Thomas’ great Uncle. Whether this was a family heirloom or just a practical gift it is in safe hands with a succession plan complete with relevant stories about it’s importance.
|This Hymn book came to Australia in 1912|
|The oldest living granddaughter has custody and its future has been secured|
|This cherished hymn book enriches our family story|
Another bible found amongst my father’s things belonged to his Aunt Jessie. It had a message “from cousin Tom 1911”. She had a brother Tom but who was this cousin? Further research found Jessie, a young widow living with half first cousin Thomas and his mother in the 1911 Census just before she left for Australia. So it ended up being a rather helpful inscription.
Lately I’ve seen some genealogy Facebook posts where people have bought up Bibles with family trees found in op shops and bookstores and advertised them to try and restore them with their original family. Who can resist a quick search on Ancestry to find a current tree? Whether it is intentional or not it’s such a crime to throw away this incredible record. It probably says more about today's value of owning a Bible. How generous of these folk to buy the unwanted books and use all of their research skills and genealogical know how to find a new family home for these treasures.
The Old Testament tells us that “you should not covet your neighbour's goods”. I will admit to some serious family history envy. I’d sure like my own copy to have and to cherish. Oh well after years of research my tree is too large to fit in my Bicentennial Edition of the Good News Bible.
Hint of the Day: Items to be saved should be identified and perhaps "gifted" to the most likely eventual custodian of the family records.