Revival

A lot has happened in the past year or so, and that’s an understatement. I won’t bore you with the details, o beloved Internets, as anyone who’s even remotely interested in me knows much of the story already. Instead I will bore you with revival of the blog. It’s going to be more active, although it will also be more mixed.

Due to recent family events, I’ve been doing a lot of family history lately – mine and Rohan’s. His is much more interesting than mine – I’m solid English and French, whereas he has Irish peasantry, Scottish royalty, Italian nobility, convicts, and the first Jewish settler in Hobart :) There will be some genealogical discoveries talked about here in the future. I’m delighted by some of the details I’ve found; it’s so interesting and reassuring to see your ancestors as real people and find out what they were doing.

Along the way I’ll be talking about some of the resources I’ve used and how helpful I’ve found them.

Here’s one of my first discoveries. I had my DNA tested with 23 and Me and have been a happy customer – so happy that I’ve done Rohan’s and my brother’s DNA as well and have just ordered a kit for my mum. it is a consolation to discover that I have pretty healthy genes, but one of the conditions 23 and Me reports that I have an elevated risk for is atrial fibrillation, which is a type of irregular heartbeat. Since my test I’ve discovered that my dad has atrial fibrillation, so I’m pretty sure it was inherited from his side.

The other day Findmypast.co.uk uploaded a bunch of new British Army service records, and in there I discovered my great-grand-uncle, Archibald Bruton Meachen. In 1898, at the age of 19, Archibald enrolled in the militia. A surprising amount of information is available from these military records – I know Archibald’s height and weight, hair and eye colour, and even his chest measurements, as well as that he had a tattoo of a heart with a crown and anchor. But the connection of most interest to me is that in 1899 he was discharged as medically unfit for further duty. The cause? “Disordered action of heart”. I know that later “DAH” became a very common diagnosis covering all kinds of symptoms of post-traumatic stress and panic attacks, but Archibald had not been in the theatre of war and his record makes it clear the disorder is not a result of his military service. I suspect therefore that this is an earlier manifestation of the genetic propensity to atrial fibrillation.

Archibald went on to marry and have children, and died in Norfolk at the reasonable age of 63; he was luckier than two of his younger brothers, Charles Edgar, killed in action, 1915, in Flanders, and Herbert Edward, killed in action, 1917, in Mesopatamia (now Iraq).