We’ve all heard the maxim about “two ships passing in the night,” which, as it turns out, has a great application in genealogical research. When you first begin working on the family tree, it doesn’t take long to realize how many hundreds and even thousands of direct ancestors you have. But at the same time you realize that the world’s population was much smaller in bygone eras than it is now. The farther back you go, the fewer people there were. So it’s just a matter of time until you see that ancestors from your family tree had interactions with those of, say, your spouse’s family tree.
The most recent example I ran across involved some ancestors in Cheshire, England. I was working on my husband’s family tree at the time with a special focus on the Venables (or De Venables) family who held lands in Cheshire. They had come over to England with William the Conqueror back in the eleventh century and had been given the title Baron of Kinderton, Kinderton being a small portion of what is now Middlewich, Cheshire, as I understand it. I followed the Venables family through time to the fifteenth century when suddenly I noticed a marriage between Elizabeth Venables (1416-1470) and a fellow Cestrian, Sir Adam Bostock (1412-1475). A little bell went off in my brain as I remembered having worked on the Bostock line on my own family tree some months previous. So, I began back-tracking in my father’s line until I found him: Adam Bostock from the town of Bostock in Cheshire. Turns out Adam was not a direct ancestor. Ancestry.com calculated that he was my second cousin 18 times removed while Elizabeth Venables was my husband’s second cousin 16 times removed! So, I like to imagine Adam and Elizabeth enjoying a stroll in the Cheshire countryside in the spring of the year, totally oblivious to the fact that their DNA would appear in another couple strolling hand in hand 500 years into the future in a distant land not even known to them. Amazing.