Glyn M. Ashton
They'll never make a Yankee out of me. I am unsuitable in that I lack one distinguishing mark, or rather, one particular characteristic, namely a keen interest in my ancestors. Of course, I sometimes try to half-imagine what they were like as people; and what's more, I occasionally wonder in a superficial, flitting sort of way what their opinion might have been, or is, of me. Rather low, I fear. Could it be some sinful indifference in me that's the reason for my not letting such things cause me pain and uncertainty, as I rush headlong to live as I please?
I went so far, years ago, as to ask my father and mother about their lineage, but I didn't get all that much out of them, because it was the recent past which filled the horizon for them. They gave me a pile of names, but there were only two interesting characters among them — Owen Davies on my mother's side, who was responsible for starting the first Sunday School at Llangurig, and on my father's side, some old country-doctor from Llanidloes who, as a fervent supporter of the Chartists, 1 had let off terrible threats against the authorities. But when the military came to town, he had stayed safe in his medical cabinet, not uttering a word.
The only distinction I can claim is that Davies is the sole Welsh surname in my family-tree, as far as I am aware. The rest are Ashtons, Beedles, Chapmans, Cleatons, and Millses — again, so far as I know. Although there's not the slightest note of music in my head, I can innocently boast of my connection with the musical Millses — my mother's mother was a sister to Richard Mills. 2 My father wouldn't have claimed any relationship between us and the wretched Charles Ashton3, but I don't see how it can be avoided, though it's a distant connection, no doubt. Indeed, on three occasions recently I've come across people from Montgomeryshire, and after much questioning and puzzling, we have come to the conclusion that we are related to one another — distantly, that is. But not 'in a sense', as Dewi Wyn o Eifion4 used to say — 'In a sense, we are all brothers from the same womb.' For if we were to go back far enough, we should all discover that we have many blood-connections about which we knew nothing. A good deal is heard about country people's ability to trace their ancestry back for generations, and to explain the