The Braham side of my tree is by far the most interesting – apologies to my AgLab ancestors on the other branches.
As a child I was told that my ancestors were involved with the circus and animals. As an adult, having seen no evidence of this, I discarded it as a story told to children. But when I started to research the family tree the truth started to out.
One of the other things that were mentioned was that the name had been changed to Braham from Abraham.
Working backwards I found that the Brahams had been fairground travellers with a variety of acts over the years, and indeed at one point had their own menagerie.
They settled down in the first half of the 20th century.
Trying to track travelling fairground families through the census was a nightmare.
This was pre-Ancestry etc. when you had to use microfilm. Absolutely no chance!
Although I did have an amazing piece of luck when the Mormons released the 1881 census. I went to my local library to see what was actually in the data that they had released.
The library only had the local copy of the index but I looked for the name Braham, simply as a distinctive name, and was amazed to find them.
They were actually here as part of the Mid-Lent Fair – now that was a massive help. But it was not until Ancestry came on line that I could find them anywhere else.
The name change was also an issue because not only had they changed the surname from Abraham to Braham, they had also changed forenames. Sydney Braham had been Simeon Abraham, Selina became Sarah. Also, when my Great Great Grandfather married, he anglicised his mother’s name. She was Hannah Braham, known as Annie. He gave her maiden surname as Stevens.
Working back I connected them to the Jacobs family of glassmakers from London. www.jacobstree.co.uk.
The Abrahams were from Liverpool but had moved there from Plymouth in the early part of the 19th century.
A fascinating family to research, although the fact that up until the mid 19th century, they were Jewish, causes problems with finding records for the early years.