by Tiggy Johnson
You’ve set aside a few hours to research. You even have a particular ancestor in mind who you just have to know more about, someone you haven’t had enough time to focus on yet. You make your cuppa, sit down at the computer and make a start.
After an hour or so, you’ve found a few tidbits about your ancestor, but nothing major. So you try a different kind of search. Perhaps a broader search, a narrower search, fewer terms, more terms, whatever. There, in your search results, is something that grabs your attention. It doesn’t have anything to do with your ancestor but then, how will you know if you don’t at least skim it?
You start reading, at first just scanning through, looking for information that suggests this fascinating story might be about your ancestor. After ten minutes, you know it isn’t. But you can’t tear yourself away.
You’re torn. You know you should stop, go back to your purposeful search, your goal, try to find something about your ancestor, but you’re trapped. You’ll just read a little more, you tell yourself, then after half an hour of not moving, you try to break the spell by making another cuppa, having a stretch, promising yourself you’ll get back to your search, your ancestor.
But when you sit back down you google terms to find out more about the story that’s distracted you from your goal.
We’ve all done it.
This is how I learned about the Bideford witch trial, where three women – Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards – in 1685, became the last women to be convicted and hanged in England for witchcraft. I won’t go into it here (you can follow the link if you want to know more, or google their names, or terms, etc), but wanted to share how their story has taken me away from researching my ancestors for many more hours than I’d like to count. And I still find myself coming back to it!
Tell me, what exciting event/s have you been distracted by?
By the way, I haven’t proved either way, but I’m fairly certain I won’t be claiming any of the ‘witches’: my Lloyds hadn’t (quite) made their way to Bideford by then.