The surname Dalbiac seemed to be the link…
Surely every young girl’s diary starts with her writing her name, address and probably age on the front page? Tantalisingly, not this one!
Each entry is very short and I started by typing out all the little diary entries so that I could get more of a feel for the life it portrayed. Also, another aunt has written three books about family history on this side of the family so I had these by my side. I sifted through my aunt’s writing and family trees, trying to find the name of the girl. The surname Dalbiac seemed to be the link, as my aunt’s middle name is Dalbiac and this name appears in the diary. Of course, I was also soon diving around on the internet, following this or that tangent. Louisa Dalbiac seemed to be my girl – she was my Gt Gt Gt Gt grandmother and had married a Peter Luard – Auntie Helen, who gave me the diary, was a Luard – this had to be my girl!
I found Louisa online on various ancestry sites. But I soon learnt that history can be mis-written and re-written with surprising ease, especially inaccuracies and omissions in family trees. My diary-writing girl never married (or had children) and her name is therefore left off a number of online family trees – a side-track grumble on women’s place in history to be researched there!
But, eventually, after much to-ing and fro-ing, I pinned her down: she was my Gt Gt Gt Gt Aunt, SUSANNAH DALBIAC, born 14th May 1762, died in 1842, and aged 14 in 1776.
Her very first entry mentions 5 people and I wondered who they all were: who was Mrs Martin? And, much more to the point, who were Mama, Papa, Lucy and Cousin James?