Tracing my Boyland and Gray Ancestors

I started this blog to share fascinating stories from history. Not least of those, are my family history posts. I have researched my family’s history on and off for three decades, with more off than on, and usually with an intense burst of activity after travelling to a specific archive or record office. 

This blog is now two-years-old and this is its 94th article! So I thought that I would list together all my family tree articles in one blog post so that readers, including family members, can access all posts easily from the one page. These articles can also be found in RubyHistorian’s ‘Family History’ category, but feedback from those less proficient in using the Internet highlighted that they don’t know how to locate the ‘Home Page’ and ‘Categories’ if following a link to a specific post while using a smartphone.

My second ever blog post on this site, posted in June 2016, is Digital v Physical Archives: a Personal Account, Part 1. It started out as a review of how I used archives and digital sources when searching for my family tree and later for historical research while studying at university. But the family tree information took over, hence the two parts. Its title does not really reflect the contents and could easily be titled ‘Tracing my Boyland and Gray Ancestors’.

Gray History – my maternal line

My second family history post on HistorianRuby was ‘Snapshot of Family History’. I was inspired to write this post about my grandmother’s trip to Australia in the early 1970s after reading letters written to her by mother while she was abroad. My grandmother’s letters to my mother have not survived, but some time after her trip my grandmother handed a bundle of letters to my mother who stored them in a tin box for safekeeping. They were passed to me several years ago after I expressed an interest in them.


My third family history blog post, A Recognition Long Due, was dedicated to my uncle Liam (William Gray) in recognition of his service in WWII. The French government awarded World War II veterans who took part in the liberation of France the rank of Chevalier (knight) of the Legion d’Honneur and its accompanying medal. This is his story.

William James Gray Royal Engineers

My fifth family history blog post was dedicated to my great-grandfather Patrick Gray entitled Patrick Gray: Using Newspapers for Genealogy. I’d been playing around on the British Newspaper Archives website and searched for his name and came across two small ads which mentioned him – or someone with the same name. This article is the analysis of those ads in relation to other known information about him. Of course, once I’d found a person who I believe is an ancestor, I had to write about him.

Boyland History – my paternal line

Killed by Enemy Action: a Family Tragedy was published on 4 December 2017 and is my fourth family history article. It is dedicated to my paternal grandparents and my uncle Joey who was killed during WWII. I was playing around on the British Newspaper Archives website and searched his name, I was desperately sad to find it in the family notices but also glad I did. The interest in it commemorates one of the saddest experiences of my family’s history. Feedback received after I published this article suggested that fourteen-year-old Joey died after allowing a woman and her baby into an air raid shelter before him putting him in danger’s path. 

My sixth family history post, RAF Plane Crash: Irish Sea Rescue Attempt tells the story of how my father tried to rescue the crew of a downed plane when he was working at sea on the SS Brent Knoll. I admit it is not a very good title, I was completely flummoxed when trying to choose something relevant as I didn’t want a mawkish reference to my Dad.

George Boyland from Seaman's Identity Card

My mother told me that afterwards she and my father were invited to dinner with the ship’s captain and his wife as a thank you for his bravery. This story always reminds me of going swimming with Dad as a girl: he would dive in at the deep end and I remember being really impressed at his skill, but as I got older I realised that the giant splash that Dad made is not usually attributed to a technically impressive dive!

This has been a brief review of my family history posts that are now listed together for those interested in tracing Boyland and Gray family history. If you want to read further click on the red links. There is much more to reveal and explore, but those stories are for another day.

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