The Mirror featured a story both online and in print on the quiet Derbyshire village of Eyam, a village that was rocked by the bubonic plague in 1665, leaving them with no other alternative but to place the entire village into lockdown.  The Mirror reports that 260 of the 700 residents died, but it was their courageous decision to quarantine Eyam that stopped the spread of the plague to nearby towns and cities.

Some of the present-day villagers in Eyam are direct descendants of the survivors of the 17th century plague.  It is even believed that Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, is himself an ancestor of Elizabeth Hancock, a villager who tragically had to bury her husband and six children within eight days.  It was at this point, the Mirror asked Finders International to step in to make a search of the parish records and draw the Hancock family tree.

Founder and MD of Finders International, Danny Curran, said: “Our early stages of research have found one of his ancestors, John Hancock born in a neighbouring village in 1690, just 25 years after the plague.”

It is very possible that there is a direct link from Matt Hancock to Elizabeth Hancock and the team were able to trace back to 1690 within 10 hours.  But finding accurate records from the 17th century can be very time consuming and often fruitless. Many records are damaged or missing.  Only around 800 parishes have registers that survive back that far and many original records have not been kept as well as they should have.  Deciphering inconsistent and illegible records has unique challenges.

You can find the full online article here.

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