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Beccles family reunion

PUBLISHED: 12:09 03 September 2010 | UPDATED: 09:18 16 September 2010

MORE than 70 people related to an established Beccles family met at the weekend to celebrate their heritage.

The event at Ringsfield Village Hall was for people related to the Woolnough family that lived in the Beccles area in the late 18th century.

MORE than 70 people related to an established Beccles family met at the weekend to celebrate their heritage.

The event at Ringsfield Village Hall was for people related to the Woolnough family that lived in the Beccles area in the late 18th century.

The event was a follow-up to a reunion that took place three years ago when a man from the Canadian side of the family came to visit his relatives in Beccles.

Twelve Woolners, the modern variation on the original Woolnough name, came to Ringsfield specifically for the event, along with two relatives from America. There were also two sisters from Bristol and Essex who are descendants of Woolnoughs who moved to India.

The event was instigated by Robert Woolner, who came to Beccles for a reunion in 2006. He is a descendant of a part of the Woolner family that headed to Canada in the 1830s. Isaac and William Woolner left Beccles in 1832 and 1834 to start a new life in the country.

It was organised by Margaret Pritchard, a descendant of a third brother who stayed in Beccles.

“It was a quite a multi-national affair in the end,” said Mrs Pritchard. “It was nearly 200 years ago that they went to Canada and after all that time we all connected up again. It was really nice. It didn't know I had all these relatives.

“The Canadians are really into it because there's nothing as old there.”

The group had a meal at Ringsfield Village Hall, where a family tree stretched over more than 12 feet. Robert Woolner gave a talk on the name Woolnough, tracing it back to 1066, and his brother Paul gave a talk on the family settling in Canada. The Canadian link then went to Ilketshall St Andrew Church, where they were shown extracts from the parish register that showed marriages and baptisms of the Woolnough family. They also went on a walk around Beccles where local historian David Lindley showed them the properties around town that the Woolnoughs lived in or owned.

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