Foreword by Harry Charie

Keith asked me to reflect on my research on the CHARIE story which is the basis of the website.

All with our unique surname will know the comments - “unusual name/how do you spell it/where from?” I took early retirement from my science work in 1985, and saw the opportunity to widen my knowledge of our tree. From the local Bedford Family History Society I learnt some of the likely approaches , probably breaking most of the rules. The jigsaw took shape. Not too far from the London record centres to search data such as birth-marriage-death certificates from 1837; 19 th century census returns; church baptism and marriage entries; telephone directories; trade handbooks. This skeleton of knowledge was made live and personal by contacting present-day name-holders by letter, phone and visits. I tried not to be too intrusive into their privacy.

By sharing what I knew and posing many questions, more and more fell into place. I started the Christmas letters in 1989, and wrote two booklets for family circulation - our history updated for the Millennium, and our story in World War Two, written in 2002.

Our story unfolded from a mixture of research and the occasional slice of 1uck. Two examples of luck were the papers and photographs found in 1989 relating to great uncle Harry, killed-in-action in France in 1918 (see section 8 in the Millennium booklet ), and second, the article in a Canadian magazine picked up by cousin Alan in l988 (see section 5) . I cannot stress too much how indebted I am to all those people who have contributed in so many different ways to help add pieces to the jigsaw of our ongoing story.

My pen and paper jottings have now been nice1y shaped up by Keith into a 21 st century web site needed to link our scattered clan. Our story is one of steady expansion over two and a half centuries . From a marriage in north London in 1766 there followed moves for work in south London and Birmingham . Some folk stayed put in areas which today are still home to their descendants. Other adventurous spirits sought new lives in Canada , Spain, South Africa, Scotland, Cyprus and recently my elder son Ian and family moving to near Boston, USA . For the most part the stories of these emigrant families have yet to be told. Margery & I had great holidays in Canada to meet the clan.

Pre-WW2 it was a regular treat for sister Ethel and I to be taken by tram to visit great-grandma Elizabeth in Kennington, south London . One day in 1935 great-gran pointed to a painting of a bearded man, saying: "He's the Frenchman." (Sadly the paintings were lost in an air raid). It didn't mean much to a 5-year old, but now I see that was a seed which helped the growth of my interest. Dear old gran raised a family of 8 as a widow, survived 2 world wars, and was still cheerful on her 100 th birthday in 1946, a truly inspirational lady. I earnestly hope that someone in our family will be able to prove and detail the story of our supposed Huguenot ancestors, and learn more of their craftsmanship with jewellery. Has anyone got family-made heirlooms?

A family story is not only a backwards look to the past, much is happening now that must be recorded for future generations. I can vouch for the buzz of excitement in finding relatives in north London and Birmingham , and learning their news. Our story has its fair share of human drama - witness the opportunity I took to unite mother and son Florence and Leslie after 40 years estrangement.

Please play your part in supporting Keith to keep everyone in touch. Share your news; ask your questions, someone will know the answers. Yes, ours is a special clan of very special people - all of you, young and old, spanning four generations worldwide. It has been a joy and a privilege, to chronicle the past, long may the unfolding story continue, and the Charie clan flourish over many more generations.

 

Harry Charie

September 2006