Barry’s family tree covers 700 years of West Norfolk history

Barry Bloy has traced his family tree back to the 14th century. ENGANL00120140701165917
Barry Bloy has traced his family tree back to the 14th century. ENGANL00120140701165917
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A former lighthouse keeper from West Norfolk has been able to trace his family tree back hundreds of years – in fact, all the way to the 1300s.

Wealthy landowners were among the secrets unlocked by Barry Bloy as he researched his family tree.

He also adds an interesting branch as he was one of the last lighthouse keepers in England before the service was automated.

Mr Bloy, 64, of Ingoldisthorpe, has built up a wealth of information about his ancestors after he began to look back at his genealogy during the 1970s and has been able to trace it back to the medieval Titchmarsh.

He is now hoping to take it back even further and would like to hear from other Bloys in the area.

Mr Bloy said: “I can always remember being fascinated by family history as a kid as it is such an unusual name. I always knew there was something different about it.

“To discover my family has been here for 713 years and is still living in this area is amazing.”

Mr Bloy was able to trace the tree back to the 1500s by himself but called in genealogist Diane Spelman and medieval expert Peter Foden.

They have been to take the family back to a Bartholomew Bloye, of Titchmarsh, who was fined in 1308 for trespassing on the highway with a cart in Brancaster.

The trio have also built up a picture of one of Bartholomew’s descendants, Thomas.

Mr Bloy said: “Thomas a merchant and quite a wealth person.

“We have found records of Thomas borrowing large amounts of money from the city of London with a member of the Lovell family. At the time, there was a huge wool industry and we think they were either buying sheep or land for the animals.

“Another Bloy, Geoffrey was an executor of the will for a member of the Le Strange family.”

But not all of Mr Bloy’s ancestors were upstanding members of the community.

He said: “William Bloy was sent to prison in the 1800s for stealing and another was sent to Australia on the convict ships.”

But that was not the only Bloy to go to sea as Mr Bloy had spent a lot of time by the sea manning lighthouses up and down the country.

He joined the service in 1979 after earlier cutting out a newspaper clipping. Within two weeks of sending off his application, Mr Bloy was Portland Bill lighthouse in Dorset.

He worked on Long Ships lighthouse, at Land’s End, and the Longstone lighthouse in Northumbria. Mr Bloy said: “I loved it.

“There were one or two shipwrecks and once there was a ship in Milford Haven which lost its steering and I had to keep an eye on it.

“I left the service in 1995 after it became automated.”

When he wasn’t maintaining the equipment, he was able to spend time fishing and watching the wildlife, such as puffins.