Wednesday 8 February 2017

What Did My Ancestors Look Like? - The Storeys

I've always wondered what my ancestors looked like. Even long before I started researching my family, I always liked the idea that perhaps I inherited a feature or had a likeness of another family member.

I've been lucky enough to see photographs of most of my immediate ancestors, although some branches remain a mystery, and no one in the family seem to have photographs of them at all. And of course, the majority of ancestors lived in a time before photography existed, or they weren't wealthy enough to afford photographs, or perhaps a camera just wasn't accessible. 

But there are other ways to discover what ancestors looked like and exactly what features they had. For example, certain merchant navy records took note of height, complexion, and also hair and eye colour. They often recorded birthdate and place too, as well as any distinguishing marks a person had. 

Of course, these records are only as reliable as the person making the record, so the following may actually be false. 

I've made a little pedigree chart on Microsoft Word to help display my findings. 

Above are four generations of my Storey family - from my great-grandfather, Robert M Storey, all the way through to my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Adam Storey, who was baptised in March 1794.

That Adam's birthdate was recorded on his merchant navy record as being the 4 March 1793, so that could possibly be a year out. 

The record notes that Adam had a fair complexion, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was just over 6 foot in height. 

His two sons were also listed in the merchant navy records, but they don't seem to have looked very much alike at all. My 3x great-grandfather, Adam born in 1822, had auburn hair and hazel eyes. His brother James, born in 1825, must have closely resembled his father, as he too had brown hair and blue eyes, but brothers shared their father's fair complexion. Adam and James were also around the same height; 5ft 11, and 5ft 8, respectively. 

The next generation is tricky. I have seen many, many photographs of my great-great-grandfather, Adam Storey, born in 1853. He lived such a long life and was so well-known he appeared in many, yet sadly none of the photographs that I've seen have been in colour. Adam was never in the army, nor have I seen any merchant navy records, so his exact details are unknown. However, I can guess. 

His eyes appear quite dark in all the photographs that I've seen, which might indicate that his mother, Ann Renner, had dark features. But perhaps he had hazel eyes like his father.

He is an old man in every photo I have, and his hair is fairly light, which may imply he had light-brown hair, or perhaps he was lighter still and had auburn hair like his father in his younger days. 

Adam Storey
1853 - 1951

I imagine his skin complexion was fair, as one might expect for a Northumbrian man who had lived his entire life on the north east coast. I also believe he was quite tall like his ancestry would suggest.

My great-great-grandfather's first cousin, James Storey the younger, fought in the First World War. However, only his height was recorded. He was 5ft 8 and a quarter, so only a little taller than his father. 

As there are no known recordings of Adam (1853) or James (1878)'s colouring, I have 'greyed' them out in the pedigree above.

I also have the details of my great-grandfather, Robert M Storey, his elder brother, Eddie, and his younger brother, Gladstone. 

In contrast to their ancestors, Robert and Eddie were both said to have dark complexions. They shared brown eyes and brown hair, although Eddie's were stated to have been darker than Robert's. They were around the same height too, Eddie being 5ft 7 and a half, and Robert being exactly 5ft 7. 

It must be noted that both Robert and Eddie's descriptions come from when they enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War. They were both Northumbrian born and bred, so I do wonder if they naturally had fairer complexions. The dark complexion may be explained by warmer Australian climate.

It might have been that Robert and Eddie's mother, Jane Mavin, had dark features, and a darker complexion to the Storey family, but I really don't know.

None of the family members I have mentioned were said to have any distinguishing marks, except uncle Eddie. He had a little red tattooed heart on his right forearm, with the word 'Mizpah' [sic] written inside. 

As for uncle Gladstone, he was a little shorter than his two brothers, but he did have the same brown hair. He measured 5ft 6 exactly. Gladstone also had blue eyes, like his great-grandfather. 

Whereas Robert and Eddie had dark complexions, Gladstone had a medium complexion. This may suggest that Jane Mavin was indeed a shade or two darker than her husband.

I can also add three further generations to this chart. 

My grandma had a fairly dark complexion, with dark hair and brown eyes. I just can't be certain whose traits she inherited as her mother, Robert M Storey's wife, also had dark features.

My father has brown hair and blue eyes, and a pale complexion. 

I myself have a fair complexion, rather pale actually, with fair hair and blue eyes. 

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