This blog is called descent from adam: a tale of downward social mobility because I once told my wife that I had just found out via Google that I could trace my ancestry back to Adam and Eve. She pointed out that at least my slide down the social mobility snake helps someone else step onto a ladder. Having subsequently found other origins I now think the possible descent from Chaos of Greek mythology seems to make more sense.

The originally idea behind this blog when I set it up in back in 2008 was simply to use it as a note/scrapbook to chronicle what I’d was finding out about my family history. As my obsession grew, it became a lighthouse, signpost and sometimes a gathering place for others fascinated by their ancestry. Their contributions further fuelled my fascination, but as I found out more I became lest interested in the genealogy of who begat whom, where and when. Instead, I began to realise that it was actually the sharing of stories, photographs and pictures with others that I really enjoyed.

The blog has now become a repository for a random selection of anecdotes, discoveries, encounters, observations, notes, and reflections where my family history just provides an excuse to experiment with creative non-fiction writing.

For those of you that are more interested in family history then I will be updating the related links section of this site, so that you can find the resources that I have used to date to find out more about my ancestors.


15 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi, a friend pointed me towards your site (I think she said you’re her husband Steve’s fifth cousin) – Maitland came up as a common name whilst chatting about family history with her. It looks as if you’re related to William Maitland (d. after 1450) son of Sir Robert Maitland of Thirlstane and Maria Scrimshire, my link is through his younger brother James eventually down to Anna Gertrude Fuller-Maitland (my gt-gt-grandmother b. 27 Feb 1844) who married Rev. Adam Henderson Fairbairn in 1864.

    Kind regards, Sue

    1. Hi Sue … great to hear from you. My closest Maitland relative was my great grandmother Alice Marie Maitland aka Elsie. She was born on the family tea plantation in what was then Ceylon and died in around 1950. That was a few years before I was born, so I never met her but I have recently made contact with some of her brother’s grandchildren who are about the same age as me. They send me some fantastic photographs. I’m having a bit of a pause on the family history front as I seem to have so much else to do, but I’m sure I’ll be back to some more research soon.

      Best and cheers


  2. I came here because I was looking for information about my uncle Godfrey Bird and his architect forebears in the far east, and what I found was your picutre of my first cousin Derek’s christening – my mother, too , was born in Hong Kong.
    How are they related to you?

    1. Stephen … Derek Bird is not related to me. His godparents were my great aunt Valda (née Kirby) and her husband Sandy Godley. They are also in the photo. Valda died in a Japanese POW camp. Sandy escaped, re-married, and his son Simon has been in touch through this blog.

      I met Derek again recently at the funeral of my nephew, who was killed in Afghanistan. There’s another connection because Flavia Nunes is the mother of Derek’s wife. Flavia is also my younger sister’s godmother.

      A small world indeed.

      Best Justin

    1. Will … thanks for getting in touch, and that’s a great set of paintings your wife has. My grandmother was a Wright. Her mother was Lucy (Fox), Agnes’s sister.

  3. Justin – my wife’s g g grandfather was Theophilous H Davies and I am researching his family as I write – I would be very interested in anything you might have that would help. Tim

  4. Hello there. I have a photograph of Nina Maitland and George Kirby in Ceylon with my great great grandfather Norman Rowsell who was also a planter there. I feel certain they were friends and wonder if you might have more info on Norman? In any case email me if you want the photo!

  5. Hi there, I am a Fitzherbert Wright and have an almost fully traced back family tree (some mystery blanks).

  6. Hi! I would be interested in being in touch with you. I am also a greatgreat grandchild of Sir Douglas and Mary Fox (Judith Isabel Wimbush (nee Fox) was my great grandmother and Richard Knyvet Wimbush my grandfather) – and at the weekend found their grave in Sevenoaks where I now live. Bizarre. Am now intent on finding out more about the family, and came across your blog. Please do get in contact! Antonia

  7. Hi! I came across your website while looking into the history of my house in Chilliwack, BC, Canada. It was built in 1911 by Peter Belhaven Hamilton Ramsay and called Woodmuir. I am interested to learn more about him and his family, and if possible the house I now live in. My family has been here for 25 years now, and I can give any information or photos that I have found as well. If you could get in contact with me that would be awesome!



  8. Hi Justin, My 3rd great grandmother was Margaret Bertwhistle b.1799 in Lincolnshire d. 1843 St Lawrence, NY. Her son William Telfer married Pluma Stetson, a Mayflower descendent and a descendent of London Merchant Adventurers. Pluma is associated with the Fox family through Elizabeth Vassall Fox. Her husband Henry Vassall Fox was a Member of Parliament during Napoleon’s sentence. Elizabeth Vassall Fox sent Napoleon specialty foods and books while incarcerated until he died; he remembered her as Lady Holland of Holland House, London. She was second in his will receiving the engraved snuff box, a gift from Pope Pius upon his being named Emperor of Europe. The snuff box is in a Museum of History now. So, here is another link to the Fox family, Henry had to take the Vassall name to be a part of Elizabeth’s inherited wealth. When she was in her twenties she and the Duchess of Devonshire traveled into the continent and met Napoleon and family in Italy.

  9. Hello, Whilst researching the husbands family I came across the Marsden family of Blackburn, His uncle married Muriel Dorothy Marsden. Daughter of Benjamin. Ben and his Brother Charles went as Master weavers to Ahmedabab India. They became mill owners there and their offspringwere also in that business in India.Their sister Prudence married William Birtwistle Riley in 1901. His mother was Alice Birtwistle who had married William Henry Riley. in 1878. Alice was the daughter of Micah (of Stanley st at that time) . So two Cotton Milling families connected by Marriage. Benjamin and Charles were conducting business in India in some form up to at least 1960. My research has come to a dead end with the family until I find some new way to unearth Information from India and of course being non-conformist doesn;t help. I did see Charles received an Honour in 1947 for his work?? in India. I thought that you might enjoy the social link bewtween these 2 enterprising Blackburn families.

  10. Hi Justin, thank you for sharing your research on this site. It is wonderful to find someone else researching the Wright family’s history. My fiancé is also a descendant of Francis Wright, through his second son Henry Wright. Do you know of anyone else who is researching the Wright family tree? You mention a Charles Wright? it would be great to correspond.

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