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From a Mayflower Pilgrim to a Hereford Pilgrim.

Having ran away from home in Dundee at 14, surviving in and around the West country of England until 16, then enlisting into the armed forces at 17…I gave no thought as to who my real parents may be, or indeed if the parents that I ran away from were the real ones?

At the age of 46 things changed. I received information as to who my real parents were. Without going into the long details, I found out that through the coming years both my real parents had since died. I found half siblings, and that alone was awesome.

Five years ago when I came to America, I thought that the only attachment that I had with my new home, was the fact that I was married to my gorgeous American wife. However, having dug into my family tree before hand, and finding out that my great grandmother on my father’s side had been born in Sweden…it has now become apparent that unknown to my half siblings, it was Sweden… Maine, USA… and not Sweden the country.

That single fact then kicked off almost 5 years of research, leading to the exciting findings where I am at with the family tree today. Not complete by a long long way…but two branches of my grandmother’s side leading to awesome results.

One of the strongest confirmed branches,  is from her father, my great great grand father, who was a man named John Charles Brown. Leading back to a generation, my great great great grand father was the younger brother of John Brown the abolitionist! If that wasn’t awesome and surprising enough, my 6x grand father is Captain John Brown, who fought in the War of Independence against the British back in the mid 1750s. And if that wasn’t awesome and surprising enough yet again, my 10x grand father is Peter Browne, a named passenger on the Mayflower, and signatory of the Mayflower Compact. A single man who sailed on the Mayflower arriving in New England back in 1620. He came from Surrey, England from a family of Irish or Scottish origin. Went through an extremely harrowing experience, and lived to tell the tale along with only a handful of the original Pilgrims that managed to survive, and go on to lead a married settlers life in the new world.

There are almost as many people claim that their ancestors came over on the Mayflower, as people who claim that they were on THAT balcony (Iranian Embassy seige, London, England 1980)! Well, it’s great to be able to now claim both…even given that I was actually above that balcony on another floor.

I’m absolutely humbled and honoured to come from such stock, given that only a few years ago I had no clue as to who I really belonged to at all?

Not only at the age of 64 am I looking at my life in a completely different light now. But I’m also determined to track down the other branches of my ancestry, and pass onto my children and grand children, as much as I possibly can about factual genealogy and history of their family from my side, before I too become a past statistic of the tree.

DNA testing was a huge helping hand in the research. It was able to confirm and link to many parts of the tree so far, it’s a superb belt and braces in research.

A word of warning for anyone attempting to find their ancestry. The internet is full of inaccuracies, so are other sources where supposition as opposed to fact comes into play. It’s easy when following such a common name to run up blind allies, or play yourself into believing that this route is the way to go. Backtrack often, backtrack again, and again. Approach from the other end too and match back up to the present day. Approach from births, deaths and marriages, and brothers and sisters, just to be sure that it all links up? Don’t be like me, but from the onset…write everything down on paper in an orderly fashion, it’ll help when looking back, and It’ll keep your blood from boiling.

It’s difficult painstaking work, hours and hours of research, sending for paperwork, talking on the phone, computer work, reading books in libraries…but boy is it all worth it!

Published by: bobshepherdauthor

Bestselling author Bob Shepherd has spent nearly forty years operating in conflict areas around the world. A twenty year veteran of Britain’s elite 22 SAS Regiment with nearly two decades of private security work to his credit, Bob has successfully negotiated some of the most dangerous places on earth as a special forces soldier and a private citizen. Bob comments regularly on security issues and has appeared on CNN International, BBC, SKY News, and BBC Radio. He has also authored numerous articles and books including the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller The Circuit. In addition to writing and lecturing, Bob continues to advise individuals operating in hostile environments. For more of his insights on security and geopolitics visit

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