We just watched last night’s Who Do You Think You Are on the BBC with Alex Kingston. She discovered that an ancestress was a lodging house keeper, which was a bit of a euphemism in her case. I’ll not go into any more details here for risk of spoilers!
Needless to say it’s inspired a lot of genealogists to check their family trees for people similarly described. The closest I get in my family tree is John Usher Somner, who in 1871 was running a probably quite expensive boarding house in Coates Place in the West End of Edinburgh. I’m sure boarding house wasn’t a euphemism in his case.
Another bonus for me of last night’s programme was seeing inside Westminster Abbey Library. They hold the family bible that belonged to John Usher Somner’s grandparents, Richard Somner and Jean Veitch in East Lothian. It would almost certainly have been lost over time, but as a fine example of Scottish bookbinding it was acquired by a book collector, and ultimately ended up in the Westminster Abbey collection. If I ever get to London I want to go and see it. I’ve already been in touch with the library to see if it gave any more information about the Somner family, and it did, revealing another child we didn’t know about. But I’d really like to see it for myself.