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Years ago, I took an introductory course in tracing family history that was offered by the Toronto branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. The instructor advised that we should be prepared for the black sheep that would be unearthed during the researching of our family tree. It took some time, but I did eventually find a rather naughty relative in my family tree.

One of my great-great-granduncles was a man named George Howes. He was born about 1816 in West Winch, Norfolk, England. According to the 1841 and 1851 census enumerations, he was an agricultural labourer. Other than that, I knew nothing about George.

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A Gardener in the Family

Cactus speciosissimus with caption

One of my favourite pastimes is gardening – reading horticultural journals, browsing through seed catalogues, and especially getting my hands dirty. So I was intrigued when I discovered an 1851 census record for my 3xgreat-grandfather, Thomas Gee, that gave his occupation as gardener.

I had a pretty good idea what my farmer, agricultural labourer, and market gardener ancestors did for a living. But Thomas’s occupation, gardener, was a bit vague.

He was born 23 January 1799 in Sutton, Lancashire, England, which is now part of the city of St. Helens. It was an industrial area, and Thomas’s father, John Gee, was a glass blower.

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