This week’s prompt for the 52 ancestors series is “Long Line”.

Here’s a long line: (with many millions of other people) I can trace my family back to William I of England, one of my 28th grandfathers. I’m lucky to have forebears whose doings were documented, doubly lucky that the relevant records were preserved. This was their long suit.


Bayeaux tapestry: Duke William raises his helmet so as to be recognized on the battlefield of Hastings. Eustace II, Count of Boulogne points to him with his finger.


Another long line: one branch of my descent has had a long, enduring association with Whitmore, a Staffordshire manor, in the same family for more than 900 years. No long division there.

Whitmore Hall 1841

Whitmore Hall in 1841


And there’s long line as in the line of the surname ‘Long’. I can do this one too (my family tree is wide as well as long):

  • Harriet Frances Jane Long (1857 – 1938) was the mother-in-law of one of my husband’s great aunts.
  • James Long (no dates) was the husband of the sister-in-law of my first cousin six times removed
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882), the American poet, was the father-in-law of my 3rd cousin 4 times removed.

Perhaps occasionally family history feels a bit like long-lining, a commercial fishing technique, where hundreds or thousands of baited hooks are set out in the hope of catching at least something. You can never be sure quite what you’ve dredged up, but it’s a long path that has no turnings, be in it for the long run, every crowd has a silver lining, and for those with Irish ancestors, including me, it’s a long way to Tipperary. Take the long view, go long in the market, and line them up. Just don’t be long-winded.

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