Seeking Thomas a Genealogy Story
The cries of tiny Alice Boyd were first heard by her parents John and Eliza on May 9th, 1880. Constable John Boyd held his newborn daughter never knowing 93 years later to the day, her existence could lead to connecting his direct line to the family of one of the richest and most powerful men in Britain at the time and the man who made his ‘Bobby’ career possible.
Bobby’s or Peelers are members of the Metropolitan Police force, which was formed on September 29, 1829, by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel who became Prime Minister of Britain twice in his lifetime. His father was Sir Robert Peel 1st Baronet and one of the 10 richest men in the UK in 1799, thanks to the 23 cotton mills he owned around the country. When Alice was born, the 3rd Baronet of Peel was a Member of Parliament, though less impressive than his predecessors.
When I was a teenager, an aunt told me our family was descended from a member of Sir Robert Peel’s family. Curiosity sprouted while watching a Netflix series starring Sean Bean, called the Frankenstein Chronicles, about a Thames River Cop set in 1928/9 when the Metropolitan police force was a new idea being passed into existence by Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel.
The predecessors of the Scotland Yard, The Thames River Police, were kind of like a private pay for cop organization put in place to stop thievery along the Thames river. The series character Sir Robert is the Sir Robert Peel who created the ‘Bobbies’ and became Prime Minister of the world’s most power country in the 1800s.
As I watched the show, I wondered if my aunt had been correct and if so, which brother or cousin were we descended from?
With today’s technology connecting my computer with the archives, libraries, family trees, and nothing but time on my hands during social distancing, I set out to discover if there truly is a family connection to the man characterized in the series.
Found: John Boyd
Ancestry.com enables you to plug your branch into a family tree already built by someone else. In a couple of days, I had 500 years of names all coming together to create little ol’ me.
I discovered John and Eliza Boyd who were one of the few city dwellers in my tree. He was a ‘Bobby’ in London and she was a Buckingham Palace cook.
For those born mid 19th century to the start of the 20th century there is lots to find and I learned things which changed my idea of what was socially acceptable at that time. What I learned about the people who came before me:
1. I share a birthday with my great-grandmother Alice Boyd
2. My brother shares a birthday with our great-great-great grandmother Jane Ann Peel
3. John Boyd was a ‘Bobby’ #139 in district T - Hammersmith
4. John Boyd’s mom was 31 and his dad was 23 when he was born.
5. Eliza was 8 yrs older than John and they married the year after her father died when John was 21
6. In 1871, 14 yr old John lived next door to Eliza’s father and older brothers in Rowde
7. In 1871, Eliza was living in London working as a cook in Buckingham Palace
9. Poor married women worked and there were career women in 1800s
10. Peels use their middle name
11. Thomas Peel magically appeared in Canada in 1834
By knowing where we come from we can better understand who we are and why we behave the way we do.
Whether we do it intentionally or not, we teach the values of our parents to our children. Many of our behaviours and hot buttons come from our relationship with our parents and their behaviours are based on their relationship with their parents.
What connects me to my grandparents and my great-grandparents are the stories they left their children. The stories written in the annals of BC historical societies. The homes they built. The lessons and values they passed down.
Even the values we choose not to instill in our own children are a connection to our past. By looking back, I can see how the last four generations defined my personal values.
I know my entrepreneurial spirit comes from Robert Peel who was a businessman and merchant. His father-in-law, David Nevin, was a blacksmith, mill owner, and merchant. George Rands owned a garage / gas station, and at one time sold Fords. My dad’s parents owned a grocery store. My mother’s parents and both sets of grandparents owned farms and worked hard to build something they could call their own.
In western Canadian, family culture focuses on the individual of each member more than the family as one unit. We are a highly independent and self obsessed culture compared to other countries who place more value on the family.
The cultural value of the independent individual is rooted in the migration of people willing to leave their homes and strike out on their own. These independent pioneers populated North America and passed the values of independence and self reliance onto their children.
Consequences of Father’s Fathers
The decisions we make in our lives today will affect those whom we create and their children for generations.
Before 1900, my great-grandfather John Lapadat was working on a farm somewhere in Transylvania, Romania when he decided he wanted to go to America. He asked the eldest farmer’s daughter, if she would marry him and go with him to America. She declined to stay close to her parents.
Her younger sister told John she’d marry him and go to America. Their journey to find a better life took them to their own farm outside of Smithers, BC. They had children. Their children had children and their stories were told to their great-great-grandchildren.
When the Iron Curtain descended in 1945, Romania was shut off from the Western World. For over 40 years John and Anna Lapadat’s family knew nothing about their cousins or the hardships they were enduring under communist rule.
When the wall fell in 1989, communication was re-established.
In a letter, the children of the oldest farmer’s daughter told the children of John and Anna to go to their graves and thank them for leaving Romania because life for us was far easier than it was for our Romanian cousins.
Who was Thomas Peel
I can with 100% confidence trace the Peel branch of my family back to Thomas Peel from Paris, Ontario Canada and his wife Jane Ann Peel. Both showed up in Canadian records on the birth certificate of their oldest son, James Peel in 1834.
I did find an 1811 baptismal certificate for Jane Ann Normansell in England. Her parents were James Normansell and Margaret Smith. I can’t tell if her parents were married or if her mother survived childbirth.
According to ancestry.ca, no baby boy Peel was born on March 20, 1806 in Gloucestershire, UK, which is where he told the Canadian census people he was born.
Any connection beyond Thomas to England is lost. Proof is important and due to the nature of documents prior to mid 1800s, details are too few to be definitive.
I do not know if a connection to Sir Robert Peel’s family ever existed or if there ever was proof of my aunt’s claim.
Connection & Independence
The people who came to Western Canada had to become independent, self reliant, and resourceful to survive. They had to build new relationships, which did not have the backing of family obligation.
When I mapped out the Havill branch of my tree, I discovered for 300 years they lived close to Exeter and every generation married people from the same small neighbouring towns.
It is more than likely they had an intricate social network which facilitated introductions and opportunities because they were probably related to most of the area’s population.
When James and Mary Ann Havill left Exeter to move to Paris, Ontario before 1830, they no longer had a network of connections to rely upon for support or help.
They went out into the unknown world, with no real understanding of what awaited them. They destroyed their comfort zones and took on uncomfortable challenges they could not imagine possible.
North America was where the ‘extra’ sons from the well to do of British society came to find their own fortunes or were sent to avoid ruining the family name because of their shameful antics.
Their children married the children of those who came here to escape a life of poverty and build a better life for their future children. It was a place of possibility, hardships, and the great equalizer of men.
It is a place where the descendent of a cousin of the richest and most powerful man in Victorian Britain, can also be a descendant of a girl born to a ‘Bobby’ and a former cook in the kitchens of Buckingham palace.
Am I the one connecting them? I don’t know. However, it does make for an interesting story.
Shannon Peel is the owner of MarketAPeel Agency and publishes the APeeling magazine where these stories are first published. Visit her personal site to discover more about her.
What’s next for Racial Equity? Converting interest into Action
When my 15 year old white son watched the videos of George Floyd being publicly exe-cuted by white police men, he said with his head down: ‘by the time I grow up, white men will be the most hated on earth and they will be killed on the streets for this.”
It was hard to debate that point of view.
I wonder what 15-year-old black teens felt as they watched it. What did their black parents tell them about their future? I don’t want to trade places with her.
Here are some facts. Racism was invented by white people, using weapons and violence to oppress in order to gain more wealth and more power.
Racism was born out of fear, turned into greed – which is fear of not having enough. Throughout history, the people who didn’t directly oppress others due to the colour of their skin, did it indirectly by being quiet about it, and silently reaping the benefits. Some of the biggest insurers, such as Lloyds of London, publicly admitted last month that they made their fortune from the slave trade, by insuring the slave ships, and their company is the still the most underrepresented when it comes to diversity in the entire insurance industry.
We know. But we accept it and we carry on with our daily chores and online shopping.
Why do we do this?
White privilege is not about majority - 80% of the world population is non-white.
Economy wise, South America, China, and India - largely non-white regions, hold the majority of the world’s economic power. So how come such a small sector of the population, without a monopoly on economic advantage, hold power when defining the standards of white privilege?
I really don’t know. But why do we allow it?
When we watch the news and other media platforms hatred is running rampant, but is it true? Is there more hatred than compassion in the world as of today?
What I do know is I can simply choose to act. If I don’t even try to make a difference for future generations, I am as cruel and greedy in my violent apathy as the human traffickers were during the slave trade and sadly, still are today.
I have setup the Giveback because at my core essence I know that I have enough, and that there is enough for everyone in the world. We just don’t distribute it evenly.
I also know there are enough people in the world who believe the same. So many people have expressed that they want to help in the aftermath of the BLM movement, but they simply don’t know who needs the most help, where to go, how to donate, or how to proceed.
We need a place to come together and give back our surplus as an investment in our futures and our children’s future. I know enough about finance technology and I wanted to create an exchange for people and nonprofits. The same way we can find food and dates online, we can also match Donors and Nonprofits and Givers and Receivers, people who want to simply connect and know each other.
We can monitor the growth and reinvest and redistribute efforts. Kind of like a human capital portfolio. We have all the tools in the world at our disposal.
And maybe when our children grow up, they won’t need to write articles like these any-more and they can just play and grow and that will be enough.
Discover more about Paula Curteanu’s new venture making a difference.
Parenting the Perfectionist Child
Does your child get down on herself? Is she hard on herself? Is she a ‘perfectionist’ child?
Some parents have reached out to me to ask what they can do to help their child who they believe has perfectionist tendencies. As someone who grew up with a mother with perfectionist tendencies, I picked up those qualities too in many ways. It isn’t easy going into the adult world expecting and wanting things to be perfect from the start, and then realizing there will be many roadblocks, ‘plan B’s’ – which a perfectionist mostly hates, and even failures. -- What? Failure? Aarrgh (running in the opposite direction…Right?)
I’ve been working on those tendencies since I was 19 years old and have worked to diminish the effects of these habits on my life. There are adults in their 60’s now trying to unravel their perfectionist habits so they can learn to enjoy life more. This is isn’t easy as we get older, so the sooner we start with young kids, the better off they will be in the long run.
There isn’t one single answer that will ‘fit’ each child because each child is unique. But here are some ways to help your child that will benefit her regardless, and will help to increase the connection in your relationship.
First, what are some signs of a perfectionist child?
•Gives up easily after only 1 or 2 attempts of something,
•Unable to overcome mistakes,
•Has difficulty managing change,
•Self-critical, self-conscious, or easily embarrassed,
•Sensitive to criticism even if it’s constructive,
•Anxiety about making mistakes,
•Procrastinates or avoids challenging tasks,
•Tendency to stay in comfort zone,
•Emotionally and socially inhibited,
•Critical of others,
•Difficulty decision making…
These are just a few.
So what can you do?
Be vulnerable and open; share your past mistakes or poor choices with your child (based on what is age appropriate of course).
It can be hard for parents to open up and be vulnerable with their kids; many parents struggle with showing their mistakes, flaws or poor choices from the past. But sharing these “imperfect” parts of yourself allows you to reach your child on ‘their’ level - you become approachable/reachable - and that is life changing!
If you choose to not share your imperfections, mistakes or poor choices, then your child has only your achievements to ‘measure’ up against. Not because you are asking them to ‘measure up’ and not because she is trying to ‘measure up.’ But because her brain doesn’t have anything else to compare to right now. At least not on that very intimate relationship level than can only be experienced in the parent-child dynamic.
When you step out of your comfort zone and share your mistakes with your child, be sure to share the LESSON you learned from it, and how experiencing the mistake actually helped you. If kids can see the positives around a mistake, a mistake is less threatening.
What did you gain from the mistake?
How did you grow from the mistake?
How has the lesson helped you in other areas of your life?
Here is a story I would tell my child 5-10 year old child about a poor choice from my past:
When I was 7 years old, I made a very poor choice that was disrespectful and affecte d many people negatively.
At the time, my parents had some odd changes in their work schedules meaning they had to drop me off to school SUPER early – we’re talking like before 7am when nobody else was there yet except the janitor. I was advised to sit on the floor in the hallway on the cold somewhat sandy tile floors and wait quietly. I wasn’t offered any toys or activities to do but I may have taken 1 or 2 books with me to read while in the hallway.
If the conditions were for a few days, I’m sure I would’ve handled it. But, it was for a month and it was scary being alone in the cold dark hallway. I remember trying to communicate with my parents about what I was feeling, but in our family similar to many other families just trying to make it in the world, we just did what we had to do.
Feelings needed to be put aside.
I was feeling upset, not in control of the situation, and slightly neglected.And one day, I ‘acted out.’ It was impulsive, which is expected for kids, but I also remember it being oddly thrilling. I walked into the classroom of a teacher I did not particularly like; I threw stuff around, I messed up her papers on her desk, I knocked over a plant, and the worst…. Remember rubber cement that was used in schools in the 80’s? I took the rubber cement wand and painted glue all over the ivory keys of the teacher’s piano!!!
Aaaghh. Talk about vandalism. Oh did I get in trouble.
I was scared for my life. I was grounded, most of my privileges were taken away, and boy did I lose the trust of everyone in school.
My friends teased me also. The secretary Ms. Cormier, who had loved me prior to this, was suddenly very cold toward me.
When might I share this story? When the opportunity arises to teach my child:
What to do when it comes to someone else’s property, belongings, or ‘stuff.’
What is a disrespectful choice.
The negative impacts of a poor choice on me - how does it play out in your life when you make a poor choice…
Sure there were things my parents could have done differently, but it’s likely they didn’t have much of an option – things were different in the 80’s (less flex time at work, tougher workplace policies etc.) In the end, it was a choice I made. Through this mistake I learned:
1) How disrespectful behaviour can cause hardship or pain for people– including myself.
2) My life was negatively impacted – people lost trust in me, I lost my privileges
3) When you break the rules or cross boundaries, the consequences can be severe.
4) How to make better choices that don’t cause harm. And many more lessons!
The point is, when I can share this with my child, my child can say, “Wow Mom. You did that huh? It was a pretty big mistake.” And suddenly I’m not up there, this towering parent who never did anything wrong, who my child can never disappoint.
Ashley Anjlien Kumar is a mother of 2, author, speaker and certified Wisdom Coach™ for Kids. She goes by ‘The Confidence Coach’ and coaches kids all across the country. Have grown up experiencing low self-worth, poor self-image, and self-harm from as young as age 6, Ashley now dedicates her time to empowering kids to develop ‘Sensational Self-Confidence & Soaring Self-Esteem’ in order to live a self-empowered, self-connected and self-motivated amazing life! She can be reached at email@example.com