Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A History Of My Family In 100 Images : 4. What God Will And The Missing Berries

The fourth cardinal point of my family history is Isobel's father's family - the Berrys. As with most family trees, there is a branch that yields fewer easy pickings for the amateur genealogist, and with my family - despite the branch name - it is the Berrys. From the point of view of where we now live, they are the most local family - the local parish records show a WhatGodWill Berry being born in 1730 no more than a mile from where we now live - and it is still a family name that is well represented locally. It is just that nobody in the family seems to have saved family photographs, or if they did, they got handed down to someone else. My photograph is a Berry by marriage: it shows Sarah Ann Shaw, the mother of Raymond Berry, who was Isobel's father. In 1905, she married Kaye Holroyd Berry, Isobel's grandfather, and they lived together in the local town of Elland until their deaths over fifty years later.

Despite the shortage of photographs, the Berry/Shaw line is a fascinating element of the wider story of my family, containing some of the most colourful characters and some of the most tragic stories. There are, however,  a further 96 images to go so I will save some of these stories for further down the line.

Let us limit ourselves for the moment to some very basic facts about Sarah Ann Berry. She was born in Ripponden in 1876 and shortly after that, her family moved the few miles over the moors to settle in Elland. Like so many of the young people from these parts at the end of the nineteenth century, she worked in the local woollen mill, and by the time she was twenty-five appears to have given birth to at least two illegitimate children. Following her marriage to Kaye Berry - who himself had a somewhat colourful background - she had two further children, one of whom, Raymond Holroyd Berry, born in 1916, was Isobel's father.

It is a fascinating family history, and one I look forward to exploring in greater depth in the future. The ways that family fortunes ebb and flow over the generations is always an interesting story in itself. When I have looked back at  the parish records and seen that distant relative of the Berry family being christened "WhatGodWill", I have always assumed it was the result of some misunderstanding at the baptism ceremony - "What do you name this child? Oh, what God will". However, on reflection, considering the fortunes and misfortunes that were to await the family in the centuries to come, those ancient forebears were, perhaps, wiser than I thought.


  1. WhatGodWill is an amazing name. With capital letters in the middle just like the weird names people give their children these days. And Kaye is pretty good for a man too. Was it his mother's maiden name I wonder?
    I have several long ago and distant (male) relations called Fade. A mother's maiden name. If my maternal grandparents had used this system my Uncle Hugh wold have been called Quigley! Lucky escape you might say but the poor boy died in 1937 of a ruptured appendix and of course no antibiotics in those days. His poor parents (Jane & Katie knew them very well) never really recovered.

  2. I had an Uncle Pearl, and a grandfather, George Marion (called by both names simultaneously, no space). Name gender is rather fluid, too.

  3. Fascinating stuff family history. Some of the names in the old days are quite creative and interesting. WhatGodwill is one of the best I've heard of.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...