Genealogy is the cornerstone on which I built my passion for research and writing. It has not been the sole subject of my work but it gave me the chance to stretch my research skills to the limit of their capabilities and then go a little bit further.
Thanks to a celebrity of sorts in the family tree, I was able to access some amazing records. I could contact someone with only a passing interest in my g-g-g-grandfather Tita Falcieri and almost guarantee a response. And that included places like the archives in Venice, Italy and private collections at the John Murray Archive in London, literally handling original artefacts which have a place in the history of Lord Byron.
I spent many happy hours in the British Library with 160 year old documents from the archives of Ethel Lega Weekes who preserved the papers of her grandfather Lega Zambelli, Byron’s accountant. I’ve transcribed and translated dozens of documents turning my findings into a coherent story.
It got me magazines, newspapers, radio and occasionally tv.
But there is an incredibly personal level to it. I am researching my DNA, the one thing that helped to shape who I am and what my family became. I found in many instances that I had already walked in his footsteps without realising it.
When I moved to Buckinghamshire in 2000 I was just a short distance from where he had met his wife and worked for the D’Israeli family. And we had holidayed as a family when I was a child in the small Lake District town of Ambleside without realising he had been there in 1824.
The connections are small but incredibly poignant when you know it is about you and your history. It’s very very personal.
I was back in London in October for two weeks. And I spent several days there on a pilgrimage back to places I haven’t seen since my research days. Seymour Street, Marylebone where Tita lived out most of his days in England. Back in 1994 I had completed six months as a volunteer at the West London Day Centre in the very same street without realising at the other end of the road he had lived for over 20 years.
I also went to Kensal Green Cemetery where he and his wife Sarah are buried. It’s the end of the story for them, but it left many questions unanswered, only a handful of which I have managed to answer.
You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.