James Retson Geneology Website

My Website | My Twitter| My Facebook| My Blog | MyLinks| My Work

My Introduction to Geneology

When I was but a lad of 10, a warm summer sunday afternoon I set out on my bike to make a loop from my Home in Salmon River, to Truro, over to Bible Hill, on to out to East Court Road thence on to Murray Siding and back to Home. The trip would take me over 8 miles. In no time flat I had arrived at my great Uncle John's farm on the East Court Road in Bible Hill and spied the old gentleman at the edge of his garden. I got off the bike and ventured over his front yard to say Hello. He was delighted to see me and encouraged me to stay a while while his wife brought me out some refreshment for my long return trip home. He called his wife who immediately returned to the farm house to find some cake.

While wating for his wife to return I started to engage in discussions with respect to our common relatives, his brother -my Grandfather, WR Retson and his wife. I was vaguely aware of some ill will between the families but had no inkling of its exact nature.

"Your grandfather and I came from Scottish stock while both our wives came from old "English stock". Both men came from a long line of dairy men and often coloured their language with that of farmers. Then, he checked himself and indicated that a way back we also had come from England. He went on to indicate that one of our ancestors, a commoner had married a noble woman. They had crossed the border between England and Scotland since her father wouldn’t give the young couple permission to marry. The groom couldn’t write and when his wife wrote out his name she failed to dot the “I” in Ritson and thereafter we became Retson.

I never really got to know my grandmother as she had suffered a stroke while I was very young and was very hard to understand.  I asked him what my grandmother was like before she had the stroke and was enlightened by being informed that she was a puritan who had come from “mixed stock”. I encouraged him on to elaborate, not being entirely sure whether "mixed stock" indicated an English-scottish mix or what.

He indicated that her father was a Baptist evangelist from whom I had received my given names “James Clifford” and as a youngster had been called “the little deacon”. Uncle John informed me that my grandmother had inherited an education on the Bible superior to any Baptist Minister in the Church we attended and for that reason instructed the adult sunday school. All the more strange in that James Clifford had been brought  up in a catholic household and educated with the Bible – a tradition uncommon for Catholics of the day. His father, John Clifford, the catholic, it was rumoured, had killed an itinerant Lebanese salesman. To make matters worse -or so I thought at the time - the grandmother had come from a long line of Hoars (I heard "whores".)

I was quite shocked by such revelations and discussed then with my father when I returned home. My father quickly explained that my uncles was refering to the surname Hoar. He indicated he knew nothing about the family descending from nobility. He explained there had been some ill feeling between the two brothers as Uncle John had taken over my grandfather’s job as Dairy Manager at a local Agriculture college as a result of a change in the local Provincial Government.

Later in life inspired by such stories, I began my genealogy research. I learned that the noble women in my ancestry was a gal whose surname was "Noble". For the rest of my life I have engaged in researching the long line of Hoars, one of the most fascinating lines in my geneology.