On the 40th anniversary of my mam's passing I felt I had to do something in her honour and so began tracing the family tree, with the focus on my mam's family name of Hutchinson. My grandad, Harry Hutchinson, had always maintained that we had Scottish roots and despite being a Yorkshire man through and through, when the First World War broke out he made his way to Perth to enlist in the Black Watch. He served until 1915 when he was shot in the leg and on recovery was sent home.
Me ,my brother Mick and my sister
Julie always used to play what we call "Can you remember when?" and I
recall talking to Mick once about Grandad's injury , as I only knew
about it when I saw a copy of his discharge papers.
"But Chris, you
must remember " he said, "He used to roll up his trousers leg and show
us where the bullet went in and the bullet came out" . Now I have a
truly amazing memory and I know for certain he never showed me his war
wound so we concluded that Grandad must have felt such things were not
for lasses to witness. How times have changed haha.
My Grandad was
the kindest, sweetest soul and my greatest fear when I was "exiled" in
Morecambe was that I would come to visit him and he would have been
taken over by an imposter. I could never resist checking to see if he
still had the mole on his neck - just in case . I don't remember many
conversations with him. For me it was enough just to be in his presence.
As a tot I would sit and watch him working in the outhouse, which was
his workshop. He could turn his hand to anything and he always smelled
of a mixture of sawdust and Coal Tar soap. When we went to the Post
Office to collect his pension he would buy me Cherry Lips. I always felt
my Mam was closer when I was around him. He lived to be 82 which for
his generation was a good innings. His brother Arnold perished on the Somme and his name is on the Cenotaph in Dodworth.
I stripped back the years unearthing our family history I became so
acutely aware of how important that bullet had been - as it gave life to
so many of us.
My trail of the tree came to a halt in 1763 with the birth
of George Hutchinson, allegedly the son of George and Mary. Despite
every search there appears to be no such couple but there is Henry and
Mary who went on to have numerous more children. I have to conclude that
the record is wrong and that George's father was indeed Henry, who I
can trace back to Dewsbury. And this leads us also to conclude how
strong our oral history is, given that we still cannot find when or how
we left Scotland. Interestingly, a distant cousin I met in Lancashire
also adds evidence towards our Scottish roots. Her branch of the family
left Yorkshire for Lancashire, when the Linen trade was overtaken by
mining. Ruth was in her 80s when I met her and she had always been told
we were driven out of Glencoe for sheep stealing.