LIVERPOOL’S oldest family FOUND
Photo: Mr Anthony George and wife Pauline
A missing chapter in the history of one of Britain’s finest Tudor mansions has emerged – thanks to a competition to find ‘Liverpool’s Oldest Family’.
When Anthony George, a retired joiner from Rainhill, near St Helens, submitted his family tree with proof of scouse lineage going back to the reign of Henry VIII to 1543, it raised eyebrows as a possible winning claim.
But the documents he provided have stunned archivists as it shows his ancestors the Graces renting Speke Hall, circa 1740s–1790s, one of the few families to ever do so and who until now have been listed as unknown farmers.
The Grade I listed mansion fell into disrepair in that period and was eventually bought in 1795 for £73,500 by Liverpool merchant Richard Watt. The Grace family also had a wood named after them, which is now where Liverpool John Lennon airport stands.
Mr George’s roots have indeed proved to be the longest in Liverpool – being the only family who entered the competition with proof of their roots going back to the 16th century. The grandfather-of-six can actually boast 15 generations of Liverpudlians in his family.
He can officially trace his family back on his mother’s side to 1569 at All Saints Church in Childwall with the baptism of Katherine Wodley on February 21. However, parish records only began in 1565 and Thomas, her father, is listed in his marriage of that year as being born in 1543.
Thomas Wodley is the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great-great-grandfather of Anthony George. Sadly Anthony knows little of his mother’s life as her mother died in a workhouse in the 1913 when she was three.
On winning the claim to be ‘Liverpool’s Oldest Family’, Mr George, said: ‘’We knew we could go back a bit but we thought lots of people could go that far. I’m stunned, it’s a huge honour to be invited to be part of Liverpool’s 800th celebrations. We love Liverpool, it’s such a special place and to be connected to Speke Hall is particularly thrilling – even though my ancestors let the place go a bit!
‘’We’ve had so much fun looking into the family’s past. Your family history is so important in giving you a sense of who you are. It’s made me realise I should have asked my mother more questions but it has brought me closer to my children.’’
The Liverpool-born 68-year-old, who with his cousin Primrose Agbamu has been researching his family for three years, will represent the people of Liverpool on the city’s 800th anniversary celebrations on Tuesday, August 28.
Mr George, his wife Pauline, and cousin Primrose and her husband will accompany Liverpool’s Lord Mayor in his carriage to lead a civic procession through the city centre.
The family will also have the best seats to watch the mammoth birthday pageant, will be VIP guests at a celebratory dinner in Liverpool Town Hall – along with Liverpool legends such as Ken Dodd – and ride on the Mersey Ferry to watch a spectacular fireworks finale at 10pm.
By earning the title of ‘Liverpool’s Oldest Family’, the George family also win a fantastic heritage weekend in the city this Autumn, which includes:
* 2 nights at Hard Days Night Hotel. The world’s first Beatle’s concept hotel
* VIP tour of the prestigious Turner Prize at Tate Liverpool. Opens October 19–Jan 13 2008
* Free annual family membership to the National Trust
* VIP tour of National Trust-owned attractions – including Speke Hall (!)
* VIP tour of St George’s Hall – which re-opened on April 23 2007 after a £23m restoration