FAMILY HISTORY
How ancient bloodlines flow down the generations

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas 1951

Ancestry is such a fascinating subject and more and more people these days are taking an interest in their familial roots, and in the lives of their ancestors. Many people are unfortunately seduced by the hunt for famous forebears, they all too often feel cheated if nobody of note turns up in the records, but such a shallow quest is to deny the rich tapestry of lives that makes up a family tree.

In the modern world with its vacuous fascination with so-called celebrity and stardom, it can be all too easy to forget the ordinary folk who built this country with their hands, and the sweat of their brows. It isn’t superficial celebrities and stars that make a nation but the people who do the real jobs, those who make important productive contributions to society such as, the Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker et al. They are the real stars, the true aristocrats of honest labour.

All of us lead unique and fascinating lives, that are woven around a web of individual circumstances and experiences. Once you begin to dig into the lives of your forebears a fascinating panorama opens up and gives you a window into the events of the past. Sometimes those events are brought vividly to life by old letters, press cuttings or faded photographs.

It can be fascinating and somehow eerie, to gaze at an old sepia image of a direct ancestor who lived 150 years ago. He or she may even be the same age that you are now, but they have long since passed away and may now lay forgotten in a lonely and overgrown place of rest. 

Family history is a reminder of that great circle of life, the wheel of which is always turning. You may wonder what hopes and dreams the person in the faded photograph had, at that very moment in time when their image was captured by the camera lens.

From this page you can navigate to some of our forebears by clicking on the links below. We will add more as we find them and gain a better knowledge of their lives. If you have not done so already, hopefully this page will inspire you to seek out your own ancestors and bring their untold stories to life once again.

Like us you may also discover genetic traits passed down the generations. In our case it is an amusing phenomena known as the 'Carr ears'. There is a distinct shape to our ears that has been passed down through time and I have inherited them via the maternal Carr line. This trait can be observed in photographs going back into the Victorian era. That is as far as we can trace it back though, as no old paintings of any of our direct maternal forebears have yet surfaced. My ancient forebears may be long gone, shadows in the mists of time, yet the ears remain as a physical reminder of their passage upon this Earth.

The CARR family pictured here in Windsor, Ontario, Canada in 1932

The Carrs of Suffolk  

Carr is not a name native to Suffolk. It is actually a variant of the Border Scots surname of Kerr and probably acquired the alternative spelling centuries ago, when spellings were not fixed and people tended to spell words and names as they heard them. In the 16th century, the correct Scots pronunciation of the surname of Kerr would actually have been Carr and to the English ear, that is how it would have been spelt. It can also be found written as Carre, just as Kerr can also be found as Ker.

We do have some gaps in the family tree on the maternal side of the family and are endeavouring to gather concrete factual information to bridge those gaps. We know that our Carr forebears were at one point Kerrs and came down to Suffolk at a particular point in time. We are currently searching for the exact ancestor who got on his horse and travelled from the north to East Anglia. We are getting closer to that goal and that elusive traveller of note will soon be within our grasp I feel sure.

I have an interesting theory about the Suffolk Carrs and their lineage. I am absolutely convinced that all the Carrs in Suffolk descend from that one original adventurous progenitor. All the Carr lines in the county seem to feature two first names in particular that repeat again and again down the generations. These names are Robert and George. 

It is possible that our forebears came to Suffolk via the town of Lowestoft. At the end of the 16th century there are very few Carrs in Suffolk, but there was a cluster around Lowestoft, which at the time was a major fishing port. It is not a stretch to imagine a Kerr arriving in the port from the east coast of Scotland, settling in the town and having a family.

The Christian name of Robert in particular is an established name amongst the Kerrs. George only really gained greater popularity with the advent of the German Hanoverians, who became the new royal family after the death of Queen Anne. The Kerrs, like the Campbells and other notable Families and Clans, were supporters of the German Hanoverians and fought on the government side at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

One very interesting appearance of the Kerr surname with the Carr spelling occurs in 1607, four years after James VI of Scotland also became James I of England. One of the kings pages broke his leg and King James took him under his wing and nursed him back to health. He became a great favourite of the king and in 1613 was created Earl of Somerset. The name of this page was Robert Carr. This noble title became extinct in 1645, when Carr died without male issue.

Robert Carr was actually the son of Sir Thomas Kerr of Ferniehurst, Scotland. Interestingly, he was born in Wrington, Somerset, England. His mother was the sister of Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch. This Kerr/Scott marriage was an attempt to end the bloody and long running feud between the Kerrs and the Scotts. The above example of Robert Carr shows how the Kerr surname did indeed migrate south from its accepted origins in the Scottish Borders and how easily the spelling changed from Kerr to Carr when written as heard by English ears.

The majority of the Carr’s in Suffolk in the 18th and 19th centuries appear to be clustered around the administrative town of Woodbridge and to the south of the larger conurbation of Ipswich, in such villages as Great Bealings, Ufford, Nacton and Trimley-St-Martin. In fact, it appears that over the course of the 19th century, they gradually spread down towards the coast from Woodbridge. They followed a meandering line of progression along the modern A12 and A14 trunk roads, and the dusty country highway that wound its way from Nacton to Old Felixstowe.

It seems that roads feature in our branch of the Carr family as George Carr, the great Victorian coastal defence Engineer of Felixstowe, has a significant road in that town named after him, down by the docks, and there is a plaque on the outside of the Town Hall listing him as one of the original members of the Walton and Felixstowe Board.

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