Thanks largely to the researches of my brother Richard from 1994 onwards; we have now become reasonably well informed on some aspects of our family ancestry. At the change of the millennium this work is still in progress, and will be summarized separately. My main intention here is not to present a detailed genealogical account, but to start with my personal experiences, then outline what we know of how any of us came to be available to have personal experiences.

The Eden line

My father’s knowledge of his origins was sketchy in the extreme. He was not a secretive person, just a man of rather few words, and those reserved for matters of consequence. ‘Dick’ to his sisters and ‘Arthur’ to his wife, his full name was James Arthur Israel Eden, there having been a rather brief tradition to put the ‘Israel’ one further Christian name back in each generation; his own father was James Israel Eden and his grandfather Israel Eden. My mother, however, thankfully insisted on a break with this particular tradition. It is my belief that my father was unaware that his great grandfather, the father of Israel, was named James Eden, and that the name James therefore goes back farther in the lineage than the name Israel.

As an only son my father might have been expected in the sexist early Twentieth Century days to have come into possession of family documents and certificates, but this does not seem to have been the case; at the crucial time he was surrounded by a decidedly female-dominated entourage, one of whose members moreover, as I shall later explain, took it upon herself to destroy the family bible.

In the event the only document of any antiquity to reach me was a hand-written marriage certificate from the ‘Parish of St Martin in the Island of Jersey’, recording the marriage on 21 June 1771 of ‘George Froom of Winfreth in Dorsetshire and Elizabeth Brown of Letten Cheney in the same county’. On the basis of having come into possession of their marriage certificate, it did not take much effort to guess that these two were probably Eden ancestors, and in fact we have now established that their youngest child, Mary, married James Eden and produced 12 children, of whom the 11th was Israel. The Frooms were a well-known Somerset family, but as a high proportion of them were called George it has not yet been possible to establish the position of our particular George Froom in…

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