Letter from Chris Farrow, December 2013


It has been a great pleasure to have corresponded with most of you; and to have met many of you in various places around the world. It is unfortunate that I am no longer able to continue working on the Barcham Chronicle, a task that is far from complete. However, I am very pleased that Judith Constantine will continue to manage the website, and that Trevor Rix has agreed to coordinate the input from the nine contributing correspondents. Hopefully, others will also make contributions to the family history. I thank you all.

The last nine months have been a traumatic transition from an active, fulfilling lifestyle to less active retirement. Downsizing means getting rid of junk and treasured possessions that Hilary and I have accumulated during the past fifty years; selling our comfortable home of the past eleven years and moving from Simcoe, a small rural town of about 16,000, to a retirement residence in London [Ontario] a sprawling city, [population 366,151 from the 2001 census].

Researching my family history, who include the Barchams, and my wife's has been a labour of love for many years. Most of this work is now in storage - about ten cardboard boxes crammed with ring binders containing hard copy of the Chronicle and other relevant documents. In the volumes of the Chronicle and in previous newsletters, I have attempted to provide background context for the vital statistics by including maps, photos and outline descriptions of the places where our forebears lived and their occupations.

However, except for a few surviving letters and newspaper articles, we have no real evidence of what their lives were actually like: their triumphs and misfortunes, welfare and happiness. For example, what was it like for Ann Edwards, a young woman from the Scilly Islands to marry William Ayres Barcham, a master mariner born in Norfolk, to live and raise children in Bermondsey and later Stepney (London) and then to be left a widow when her husband died of fever in Batavia.

Researches are never finished. Archaeologists, for example The Time Team on TV, keep on digging-up interesting artefacts; historians keep finding documents in archives that shed light on people; and astronomers keep expanding the universe. So do amateur genealogists find that family trees keep growing tangled roots and new limbs and twigs.  

By mathematical probability it is hypothesised that everyone is related within six degrees: if one goes back six generations family trees are so intertwined that everyone is connected in some way. For example, DNA taken from Joy Ibsen of Ontario, who is known to be a descendant of Richard III's sister Ann is being compared to DNA taken from a skeleton recently found in a grave under a parking lot in Leicester to determine if they are the bones of the hunchbacked king who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 and buried at the Greyfriar's church. Joy died in 2008, and her three children are the only persons now living who are known descendants of the king.

Since some of the Barchams were seafarers, I have searched Lloyd's Captains' Registers, Lloyd's Registers of Shipping and Lloyd's Lists and found lots of facts about their careers, including accounts of several accidents and shipwrecks. I have also researched the connections between the Allen, Edwards and Tregarthen families of Scilly, and through them there are links with Dorien-Smith who was the proprietor of the Scilly Islands. The acquaintances that our seafaring forebears had are numerous. I have tried to include them in the family chronicles that I have been working on. Family histories are never finished . . .

Adieu, Chris