Thursday, 4 August 2016

Grace Darling, 19th century national heroine

In this post I noted that one of my maternal great grandmother's sisters' name was Margaret Grace Darling Ross. I've always assumed that these were family names passed down through either the Ross or Smith families. I even used them trying to research further back.

Then I heard from an English friend this week who was reading my blog. She presumed I knew that Grace Darling was an English national heroine. Er, no, and kicked myself yet again to never make assumptions in family history. (Borrowing a line from Game of Thrones, you know nothing Margaret Dougherty.)

Off I went to research Grace Darling (1815-1842), aided by my friend's inclusion in her message of this link detailing Grace's story. In 1838, Grace and her lighthousekeeper father, William, were responsible for the rescue of nine passengers who survived when the paddlesteamer Forfarshire hit rocks at the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland in a gale enroute from Hull, England, to Dundee, Scotland and sank.

Grace Darling
Grace quickly rose to fame as word of her exploit spread far and wide. People wanted to fete her constantly, and it grew too much for her. She died, probably from tuberculosis, four years after this event.

Were many young girls in Scotland named to honour Grace? Or was there still some remote family connection to the Forfarshire? Did my 2nd great grandparents Alexander Ross and Isabella Smith honour the memory of Grace because a family member had been among the Forfarshire's crew or passengers? Had a family member helped to build the Forfarshire in Dundee in 1834?

What I do know is that my great great aunt, Margaret Grace Darling Ross, included the name Darling in at least one of her own daughters' names, Jessie Darling Mary Gillies (1880-1931).

The things you learn.

The never ending story continues...

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