THE FAMILY TREE
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My father Stanley George ABear spent many months of his retirement years during the 1980s researching the family tree. He managed to trace information leading right back to the 14th Century, and compiled a wallchart which showed all known living and deceased A'Bears.
In 2001 I first met my sixth cousin (once removed) Mark A'Bear, who had already independently compiled a computer data base of A'Bears based on his own research, aided by internet access to genealogy websites. It was with great interest that we sat down to compare our results, and from our findings any discrepancies were soon analysed and resolved to the best of our abilities. An offshoot of this work was the planning of the A'Bear Family Gathering in May 2002, and through these efforts we learned of the research of David Nash Ford, a more distant relative, whose interest and skills in Genealogy had led him to compile his own version of our family history and tree. His work also proved invaluable, and was quickly taken into account.
One of the biggest problems in tracing our ancestry has always been the family name, John. For centuries the first-born child was given this name, and consequently references to "John A'Bear" are all-too-often ambiguous. However, there is now a fair degree of certainty of our descendancy from around 1600 AD. Before then as one goes back in time it becomes more and more difficult to be certain of facts, as wills, deeds and other records give less comprehensive information.
Our earliest recorded ABear in Wargrave was John Attebere, living in 1340 AD. Between then and about 1500 AD little is known, but at some time between these years the name became shortened. It is not known why it changed, but it was around this time that record keeping became more important, and more people began to learn to write. The traditional view is that the name was simply shortened from Attebere, with the 'tte' being replaced by the apostrophe. In the years to come the 'bere' was often recorded incorrectly as 'bear' or 'beare'. Another theory that I have is that maybe with the realisation that Del-aberes and Att-eberes were once the same family, it was decided that they were all "aberes", and the name was respelt accordingly. The Delabere name, however, continued in other regions.Whatever the reason, the new surname was quite prolific by about 1500 AD, so it stands to reason that the family continued to live, work and multiply as yeoman farmers in Wargrave during the intervening period. In 1550 the first known family will of a John A Beyre of the Parish of Wargrave was written. The years of birth of his large family suggest he was born around 1470.
Much later, the family split when, after having three children by his first marriage, John ABear (1671 1743 ) married a second time following the death of his first wife, and had a further six children. Of his first family, one son continued the family line, and by his second marriage two sons continued the family line, though it seems that the younger of these sons only produced one more generation. Therefore had two of our ancestors not survived long enough to have sons, the name would have died out long ago.
So it is that we all have a latest common ancestor in John ABear (1671 1743), my great great great great great grandfather. It is the remains of his surviving son by his first marriage that lie buried in the graveyard of St Marys Church, Wargrave. This is the earliest known A'Bear grave, and his tombstone can still just about be read.
I, myself, descend from the second family, but both branches have proliferated, and ABears are now known to be living in several countries of the world.
HOW THE TREE IS STRUCTURED
The tree is large, and has therefore been broken up into sections:
The earliest section begins with the descendants of William A Beare (c1470 - >1526) and John A Beyre (c1475 - 1550) and continue until the 7th Generation in about 1700. Both William and John were Wargrave farmers, but for the reasons discussed in the accompanying text they were almost certainly not brothers. However, there is a link shown between these branches in Generation 2 due to cross marriage.
For these early generations there is also a mis-fits tree of known family groups of A'Bears that have not (as of yet) been placed.
The second section continues until about 1850.
Shown on the first tree is the continuation of William's descendants, viz 8W, 9W and 10W, and Generation 8J followed by Part A - the descendants of John A'Bear (1671 1743) by his first marriage.
On the second tree is Part B - the descendants of John A'Bear (1671 1743) by his second marriage. Each is shown to lead to the start of various current branches.
The third section continues from 1850 and shows the several branches which originated around this time and continue to this day. Here only deceased descendants have been included.
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