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American couple traces ancestry back to Nantwich

Did you spot the local news this week? Apparently, an American couple’s quest to discover more about their ancestry saw them travel thousands of miles to Nantwich’s Crown Hotel.

According to the report in the Crewe Chronicle, when the hotel’s owner Phillip Martin spotted the name ‘Crockett’ in his guestbook, he knew instantly his visitors would be among the most memorable to date.

The name has been associated with the Grade II listed establishment since before 1572 and is surrounded by tales of murder, conspiracy and a fire which all but burned Nantwich to the ground.

And, last week, Phillip came face-to-face with the 13th great grandson of Robert Crockett – the hotel’s landlord of more than 430 years ago. Amazing!

Russell Crockett and his wife Janet’s visit from Salt Lake City in Utah followed several years’ worth of research into his ancestral line, with them making the Nantwich connection last year.

Speaking to the Crewe Chronicle, Russell said: “I knew that it’s been a long time since the Crocketts left England…in 1631, and we have it traced all the way back to the United States. It was a little iffy where they came from exactly in England but I was able to make that connection a couple of years ago.

“They actually, my ancestor, had left Nantwich and went to Devon, got married in Devon and had three kids there, they were all boys, and they left Devon and went to America.

“So, first I tracked it to Devon to a little town called Stoke Gabriel – so we went there – and then here we are.”

It was through Google that Russell learned of the The Crown Hotel. He discovered that his ancestor Robert Crockett had been the landlord at the time of the Great Fire of Nantwich in 1583.

The blaze destroyed the building and much of the town but it was quickly rebuilt with the help of a donation from Queen Elizabeth I.

While Robert lived until he was in his eighties – dying in 1623 – Russell’s research also uncovered an ancestor that had more of a grizzly end.

A man named Roger Crockett – who Russell thinks was Robert’s brother – born in 1541 and believed to have been murdered in Welsh Row in 1572 following a dispute over the ownership of a nearby field!

Well, this has to be the family tree research story of the decade!

Russell continued: “After it…his wife decided that she wanted to prove that he was murdered and that it was a planned thing, so she took his naked body and hung it in the town square here on market day so that people could see what had been done to him and how badly he’d been treated.

“There was a court case and so she did that so she could influence people, but she lost.”

Thanks to Phillip, Russell and Janet have been able to fill in many of the missing gaps in their family history.

Janet told the Chronicle: “Researching your family history just makes you really realise what some of your ancestors went through.”

Russell added: “I think it’s just a real feeling of satisfaction knowing that you’ve figured things out about your family. It grabs you and pulls you in so you want to learn more.”

Read more of this amazing story on the Crewe Chronicle.

Main image: Courtesy of Jonathan White

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