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32 Ancestors

Every person on this planet has exactly 32 great-great-great grandparents, genetically speaking. This website is my attempt to provide the human stories behind the 32 ancestors of my children’s heritage.

The main navigation for the site is the Ancestor Chart. It is always available on the main top menu and also buttons linking to this page are available at the foot of most pages. If you click on the name of any individual ancestor it will load a page of stories and anecdotes about that person.

Since I completed my original 32 ancestors project, I have written more articles about other members of our family. These can be read at Recent Posts.

Click on Name in Box to view Personal Story

How do we make sense of the future, if we don’t understand the past?

When I was a young student of architecture, many years ago, the old joke used to be that architecture students only took books out of the University Library if they had lots of pictures in them. It’s quite true, but pictures are worth a thousand words, so this website has plenty of pictures.

The format and style of this website is intended to be more magazine than book. Something you can browse, rather than read from cover to cover. It is intended as a light hearted look at some of the stories about our ancestors, and is not in any way intended as a scholarly study. 

It is very easy for a family historian to just become a custodian of names and dates. Obviously, the names and dates must be accurate and provably so, but I want this website to try and tell the stories of the lives our ancestors lived between the start and end dates of their lives.

Some of the stories on these pages make uncomfortable reading; slavery, illegitimacy, colonialism, electoral fraud, bankruptcy, child abuse, lunatic asylums, adultery, robbery and murder to mention a few. Where I have used sources that were present at the time, I have resisted the temptation to adapt their accounts to contemporary attitudes and sensibilities. History is not there for us to like or dislike. It is not ours to erase or adapt, because it belongs to all of us.

I realise that other families share some of the 32 ancestors on this website. I would love to hear from anybody who is interested in these stories. I have enabled “comments” on the pages on this site, so do leave a comment. All comments are welcome, particularly those that provide further information or correct errors. Comments are moderated, so there may be a short delay between you posting a comment and it being released to the website. 

Thomson and Thompson

Thompson and Thomson (a spelling lesson)

Anyone familiar with the Tintin books will have heard of the two incompetent detectives called Thompson and Thomson. They were identical except for the shape of their moustaches and the spelling of their surnames. Thompson had a bushy moustache and liked to introduce himself as Thompson with a silent “P” as in “Psychiatrist”. On the other hand Thomson had a splayed moustach and liked to introduce himself as Thomson with no “P” as in “Venezuela”.

In England the surname is normally spelt “Thompson”, but in Scotland the surname is spelt “Thomson”. Our family are from Scotland so we spell our surname “Thomson” with no “P” as in “Venezuela”.

I hope that is all now clear.

Ian Thomson, Bath, UK, 2022


I got the idea for this website from Richard Knott who created a much more ambitious website called 64 Regency Ancestors.  Our family trees overlap and he has kindly given me permission to reproduce the stories he researched and wrote about Nicholas Knox/Mary Butler and Richard Hine/Susan Treeby.