Curling Wisps & Whispers of History

Vol. 1: Thanet to Tasmania

by LucyAnn Curling

Book cover

If family history is about gathering as many ancestors as possible, this book fails: it focuses on just three generations of the author’s paternal side, between 1780 and 1826. At first nothing stirs the still waters of centuries of East Kent farming tradition. Men organize parish affairs, women follow domestic routines, boys attend a boarding school in Ramsgate, and only grandma seems interested in socializing or travel. Why then did Thomas Oakley Curling uproot everything and take his family on a marathon five-month voyage to Van Diemen’s Land? Why leave one child behind? And where does Sir Charles James Napier fit in?

The genealogical quest starts naturally with a family heirloom, but soon tangential questions emerge, as multiple threads are collated and woven into one story. ‘Georgian & Regency ancestors’ might sound remote, removed from our reality, but the individuals’ letters draw us into their world, and copious illustrations punctuate the text, animating the environments in which they lived. For fellow seekers there are also abundant indices, references, and lists of archives.


"a superbly-produced family history, using an impressive range of sources and archives … Well-illustrated, and with no less than one hundred pages of appendices covering many ancillary topics, this is an essential read for anyone who has Curling and Oakley ancestors in their family, as well as everyone who has an interest in life in Kent in the 18th and 19th centuries. A highly-recommended read; roll on Volume Two!" (Kent Family History Society)

"It is a very impressive piece of work, full of research and brimming with interesting insights not just of these Curling family members but of life in the early 19th century. I found it particularly fascinating to read about the pressures to emigrate – and the risks therein. I think the appendices are a great idea: allowing the story to rattle along and readers to explore around it at leisure. The illustrations are a superb addition to the whole package." (Tim Albert)

List of names

For genealogists or other enthusiasts researching family trees in and around Thanet or Canterbury, with also some from early Tasmanian settlers, here is a copy of the main surnames in the index:

Abbot, Ahenden, Alban, Amos, Anastasia, Ashenden, Austen, Baldock, Barnes, Bathurst, Bayliss, Becker, Belsey, Benbow, Bigge, Bolivar, Bootle-Wilbraham, Bowring, Boys, Bradley, Bray, Brazier, Breton, Bridale, Bridges, Brown, Browne, Bunbury, Bunce, Burney, Bushby, Carns, Carter, Castle, Cavel, Clayson, Clowes, Cobb, Coleman, Coleridge, Collard, Connolly, Cooper, Coutts, Covell, Crab, Curling, Curlyng, d’Arcy, de Kerouaille, Delmar, Desse, Devon, Diggs, Dilnot, Dixon, Dowling, Drake, Duihampton, Elmham, Elwyn, Evans, Evernden, Fielder, Fletcher, Forster, Frederick, Freeman, Friend, Frost, Fuller, Funnell, Garnett, Gillow, Gleig, Gouger, Gregory, Hailly, Hardwicke, Harvey, Hasted, Hattoon, Hayter, Hedges, Hobbs, Holland, Holmes, Honywood, Hovell, Hudson, Iggulden, Ilchester, Jarvis, Jenkinson, Kelly, Kennett, Kerouaille, Kett, Kingsford, Kirkwood, Kite, Knapford, Knatchbull, Knopwood, Laing, Leman, Lennox, Lettsom, Liverpool, Long, Lord, Maitland, Mantell, May, Menzies, Middleton, Moore, Morris, Musquito, Nairne, Napier, Neame, Neptune, Ney, Nicolay, O’Brien, Oakley, Okely, Page, Palmer, Paramore, Parkinson, Peale, Pedder, Pett, Planter, Pullen, Radnor, Rammel, Ratcliff, Reynolds, Richardson, Risley, Rob, Robson, Rolland, Ross, Rowcroft, Sackville, Schunzar, Scott, Sebright, Sharp, Siblain, Silva, Simms, Smith, Sole, Solley, Spencer, Stavordale, Stewart, Stieglitz, Swinford, Tapp, Temple, Thornley, Turner, Waddington, Wedge, Wellard, Weller, Wellington, Wesley, White, Willard, Wilmot, Wolstenholme, Yates, Young

Format Royal Octavo hardback, colour
Published 7 August 2022
ISBN 978-1-915174-02-4
Length 274 pages
Available All good booksellers, including Amazon. For other options see our contact page.