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Who do you think you are? Norfolk grandmother surprised to find ancestral connection between Wood Dalling and Australia

PUBLISHED: 11:48 28 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:48 28 March 2017

Marion Lee and her husband Ivan who have been looking at their family history. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Marion Lee and her husband Ivan who have been looking at their family history. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

They are thousands of miles apart and differ in size and climate, but a Horsford woman is chuffed after discovering ancestral links between an Australian city a small Norfolk village.

Marion and Ivan's daughter Sarah, pictured with her husband Rowan Prendergast and their children Alby and Molly. Picture: suppliedMarion and Ivan's daughter Sarah, pictured with her husband Rowan Prendergast and their children Alby and Molly. Picture: supplied

Marion Lee, 65, from Beckside, has learned how her ancestor Francis Barnes who lived in Wood Dalling, near Fakenham, in the early 1800s but was sent over to Australia on a convict ship.

He ended up living in Geelong, now a city close to Melbourne, where he remarried and eventually died on July 18, 1878.

In a twist of fate, Mrs Lee’s daughter, Sarah Prendergast, 39, lives in the Australian seaside town of Torquay - about 30 minutes drive from Geelong.

She originally went out to work in the country in 2002 as a nanny and married her Australian husband Rowan in 2009.

Mrs Lee, a retired county council employee, found out the historical family connection through her daughter’s father-in-law.

The 65-year-old, who visited Saffron Street in Geelong where Mr Barnes lived and died, said: “I’m excited about the family link. I’m fascinated by it. I’m chuffed Sarah’s father-in-law has done the family tree.”

She added: “As we went down Saffron Street at Christmas I started to get this funny feeling come over me.”

Mr Barnes is on Mrs Lee’s father’s line and the first time he is recorded on the family tree is in 1802, living in Wood Dalling.

He married Eliza Butler Nye in 1823 at St Andrew’s Church, Wood Dalling.

They had one child, George, from whom Mrs Lee is descended from.

She has since learned her ancestor was deported to the other side of the world because he protested over farmers’ rights.

In Australia he met Ann Lauder Macara and married her at Scots Presbyterian Church in 1853.

He had another boy, Thomas, with his new wife.

His first wife died in 1887.

Scots Presbyterian Church was destroyed in an arson attack in 2016. Saffron Street has also been modernised.

Mrs Lee said: “I was devastated to find out the church was burnt down. I wonder what the area looked like when Francis lived there. He is part of the tapestry of my family and there is a lot more to discover. I want to know how he lived and how he survived the convict ship.”

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