I'll start to write up some of our family history that I have explored over the last few years. I'll run it as a series under this title. We are lucky to have Grandma's roots in an area that has been so well researched and documented. The Bewcastle Heritage Society publishes the Bewcastle Journal in order to record information about the area which may otherwise be lost. The other mission of this group is to promote the understanding of local customs, history and natural history. On my last trip over to England (2003) I had the great pleasure of visiting Bewcastle. I was able to see many farms which have been in various branches of the family for generations. Of course, I visited both the Parish Church and the Knowe Chapel. (I had purchased the church records of both some years earlier.) And I had tea with three leading members of the society: Barbara Smith, Aurea Telford who is the 2nd cousin of our mothers, and Joan Robson who has done work on the Story line.
I am going to begin with the Storys. Large families and the frequent use of the same christian names may lead to a potential downfall in the work of the family historian. It becomes very easy to make incorrect assumptions as to one's line. However, after poring over church records of births, marriages and deaths for generations of Storys, I focused on one branch that showed many stonemasons. I knew that Grandma's father had been a stonemason, and my instinct told me that this was ours. I was very happy when Joan confirmed that it was true. With this knowledge, I was able to trace our specific Story roots back to the late 1600s. But, I shall start way back with the earliest Storys in Britain. (The work of local historians has helped me in this research, especially that of Mike Jackson and Iver Gray.)
Storys are descended from Storis, King of the Northmen, also known as Scandanavian Stori, Stor or Storius. Stor is Anglo-Saxon and old Norse for great, vast, rough etc. It is known that the first Storys came from Norway and settled in the valley of the Esk, around present day Longtown, in 999AD. In the 1520s, most of the Storys fled from the Esk Valley after being accused of betraying Lord Dacre and the Grahams to the Armstrongs. Some fled to Bewcastle and others to Northumberland. Historical records show Story families in Bewcastle in the 16th century. In the Calendar of Border Papers for 1583, there is mentioned "Robine Story of the Grayne and Adam and Will of Pelahill."