Family history is fascinating for most of us but it takes on a new dimension when a family is lucky enough to have a written account from an ancestor. For those who are fortunate to have a photo, it gives little insight to the smiling faces looking back at us. Primary sources are a valuable way to show where our ancestors lived, or how many children they had, etc. but oral history is an interesting perspective from someone who lived at the time.
This was the case for George Tucker’s life. The 1891 census shows that George was the Hotel Proprietor of The Lamb Inn, in Boutport Street, Barnstaple. A recollection, written by George’s grandson Fred, in the early 1900s, does not paint a particularly nice picture of Mr Tucker. He states George was a drinker. First, last and all the time. He saved up some money and bought an Inn on the corner of Bear and Boutport St. in Barnstaple. Well, after George had drunk all the beer he drank the stock as well, and then he drank up all the money and furniture and he and his wife, Clara Mary and a lot of kids were homeless and penniless. After a time the family moved into a disused pub in Lynbridge. It was no longer used as an pub but had all of the fittings still installed and an underground beer cellar. Fred recalls how he was often locked in that cellar as a child by one of George’s bloody awful children, my uncle, and how he was scared stiff of his grandfather always, everyday of his young life.
George died when Fred was just a little boy, but he recollects the funeral tea was in the upstairs sitting room and that there were picture frames made of red velvet, holding photos of his grandfather. Fred’s writings relating to various members of his family and their ancestors were an absolute pleasure to read and made me wish my own family had a written story tucked away somewhere. Perhaps we should all start to jot down the things we remember about our parents, grandparents, or even our own lives. They might seem inconsequential to us now but who knows, in the future our grandchildren or great children might like a first had account of the lives of their ancestors!
Clara Mary Tucker nee Holloway.