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We start in the little village of Thornham Magna on the Suffolk side of the border between it and the county of Norfolk about 7 miles south of Diss. There, about the year 1725 Joseph Ling was born, my great, great, great, great grandfather.
To date we know nothing of Joseph's parents. He was married on October 21st, 1754 to Elizabeth Hovels in the village church of St. Mary Magdelene, an ancient flint church with a squre turreted tower. Joseph died in July 1780 after Elizabeth had born him 8 children, Joseph, william Sarah, James, John, Peter, Mary and Lucy, between 1756 and 1771. Infant mortality was high in those days and Peter and Lucy lived for only a Few months.
The two eldest both married. William to a girl called Mary and Joseph the eldest to Elizabeth Girling. It is Joseph and his line of children that we will pursue.
He was baptized on Feb 29th,1756,a leap year so officially had a birthday every four years, in the Thornham Magna parish church of St. Mary Magdelene. Elizabeth, his wife came from Stradbroke a larger village nine miles east fo Thornham and past Eye a bustling little town that was the centre fo the pillow-lace industry. They were married on Feb 19th, 1786.
Joseph was a blacksmith and he started or procured a forge in his wife's home town which he made his home for life. It is very likely that Joseph 2 obtained his backsmithing skills from his father Joseph 1 of Thornham Magna. A blacksmith apprentice would usually be the fathers eldest son who would start work no later than 14 years old. Because we know the next four generations of sons were blacksmiths, Joseph of Thornham Manor was surely one too. Just north of Thornham Manor is the tiny village of Thornham Parva, from the Latin "parvus", meaning small. It has a unique small thatched church with a thatched roof. Between the two Thornhams a mile apart was the forge that may have served both. Today on that site is a small school of crafts for handicapped adults.
Joseph 2 and Elizabeth lived happily in Stradbroke until his death on Sept 5th 1811 Elizabeth died. Their marriage had lasted 25 years. they had 5 children, born in their first ten years, Joseph 3, Elizabeth, Susan, Jonas and Willam all baptised in Stradbrokes parish church of All Saints on the corner where the road to Hoxna and Diss joins the road from Eye to Laxfield and Halesworth.
There was now a third Joseph, he was born on Christmas Eve and like his father and grandgather before him he learned the Smithy's trade and took over when his father died and when he the eldest son was 25. Brothers Jonas and William were 15 and 8 years old.
The road leading north to Hoxne and Scole, the two villages greatly in the news in 1992 when the larges ever hoard of Roman gold and silver coins and ornaments was found, continues on to Diss just over the Suffolk border and in Norfolk. Carry on north two miles and you come to the village of Shelfanger. Diss then was a centre of jute and worsted cloth making.
Shelfange was the home of the Horne family and Deborah one of the daughters was woooed and won by Joseph 3 when for reasons we don't know, he left Stradbroke 10 miles to the southwest. What happened to the Stradbroke forge? Brother Jonas was old enough to work in it but not to run it. Almost certainly the three Joeseph Lings did not own their own blacksmith shops. They had full appreticeships, became trained journeymen working in the forges belonging to others but were not necesarily master blacksmiths, self-employed with their own smithy. This will explain why three generations of Joseph Lings all lived their full lives as blacksmiths in three different but neighbouring villages.
This is Dedidicated to my father David Campbell Ling. Born in Diss in 1915 on 9 april 1915. He passed away sadly on January 29th 2002. I am going to do my best to finish what he started and any help would be greatly appriciated. Caroline Ling Sellars

Updated January 27, 2003

Caroline Ling Sellars
MISSION, TX 78572-8471
United States

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