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From the website 'Postasecret'

Three of a kind!

Three of a kind!
Three aunts in the 1930's

Displayed at St Marys Church Angle Pembokeshire

Displayed at St Marys Church Angle Pembokeshire

Before 1907, it was forbidden for a man to marry the sister of his deceased wife. This prohibition derived from a doctrine of Canon Law whereby those who were connected by marriage were regarded as being related to each other in a way which made marriage between them improper. This doctrine was reflected in the Table of kindred and affinity in the Anglican (Church of England) Book of Common Prayer. Prohibition of marriage between certain degrees of kindred outlawed what is known as incest; prohibition between degrees of relationship by marriage (affinity) as opposed to blood (consanguinity) seems to have reflected an analogous taboo.

The best way to learn about your family history is to ask questions. Talk at family gatherings and record your family's health information—it could make a difference in your child's life.
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When someone has a genetic disease the DNA is weakened
therefore they are predisposed towards suffering from further diseases
Prof Robin Eady - St Thomas' Hospital London

How a Family Tree can Save Your Life

How a Family Tree can Save Your Life
Finding out which conditions afflicted our forebears can tell us more about the risks we face
Digging about in our recent family history can only bring benefits to us and our children

Women who go grey early should blame their genes rather than a stressful life, new research suggests.
The findings challenge the notion that stress and other aspects of lifestyle such as diet and smoking are key factors in becoming grey.
Indeed, the research indicates that irrespective of how stressful a woman's life is, there are greater forces at play which are more likely to cause her hair to grey

Many of the women from Harry Bird's line ( and some of the men ! ) went grey early

Same grandfather - different grandmother!

Same grandfather - different grandmother!


Vera Louise Bird born 1901 daughter of Joseph Newton Bird and Nettie Lee
married Alfred Walker born 1894.
Their son Henry Newton Walker died in Potchefstroom South Africa survived by his wife Di
and their son David. Their two younger sons died earlier - Michael in 1977
at the age of 21 of muscular dystrophy and Peter in a motor accident in 1982.

Mrs Henry Newton Bird founded the Muscular Dystrophy Society in South Africa click for link

EARLY DAYS OF THE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY FOUNDATION OF SOUTH AFRICA The Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, as we know it today, started in a very small way. Harry and his wife Diane made contact with the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Great Britain after their son Michael had been diagnosed with Duchenne MD. In Michael they saw qualities of determination, understanding, humour, loyalty, patience and faith. Harry and Diane realized that families had no idea of what lay ahead of them when a child was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. Families needed to talk to someone and pour out their thoughts and feelings, and get advice on how to handle a child with muscular dystrophy.

They imported information pamphlets and Christmas cards, which they sold for the Great Britain MD organisation, and after a couple of years felt that the funds were needed in South Africa. They went on selling our own Christmas cards, held various functions and received donations from organisations.

In 1974, Harry and Diane Walker founded The Muscular Dystrophy Research Foundation (MDRF) of South Africa. The Walkers established the Foundation together with Wally Gough, Chairman of the Rotary Club of Potchefstroom, and representatives of the then Cripple Care Association. They felt there was a need to reach out to other parents and families in a similar situation and to support research into MD with the ultimate goal of finding a cure.

The Walker family is still actively assisting children with Duchenne MD and their families. The firm Walker Daly Inc. still assists the Foundation with auditing services. Harry Newton Walker, with his courage and determination, touched all of us who came into contact with him. The MDF of South Africa is very grateful to him and would like to thank the Walker family sincerely for everything they have done for us over all these years.

The colours used on this website were chosen especially to accommodate those in the family who suffer from colour blindness so they can enjoy it as equally as other members of our family and friends
The condition affects one in 20 men and one in 200 women, the most common form is red-green deficiency where the subject may be unable to distingituish between the two colours It is almost always passed down on the X chromosome, for men present on a single chromosone and for women present on both X chromosones .

Link to Genetic Interest Group site - Do the test ! click


Many of the world's most common diseases have a hereditary component, e.g. diabetes mellitus, hypertension, ischaemic heart disease and cancer. Many neurological and psychiatric diseases are either monogenic hereditary diseases, or else a hereditary factor plays a major role in their causation. Similarly, blood diseases are either caused by a monogenic hereditary factor, or hereditary factors play an important role in their causation.


Collecting your family's medical history can be important for your child's health. You might not realize that your father's diabetes or your cousin's cystic fibrosis could affect your child.

Family members share genes, and they may also have similar behaviors, such as exercise habits, and cultural factors, such as the foods they eat. They also may live in the same area and come into contact with similar environmental factors. Family history includes these factors, which can all affect health.

Family history can help your child's doctor make a diagnosis if your child shows signs of a disorder. It can reveal whether your child has an increased risk for a disease; if so, the doctor might suggest screening tests. Many genetic disorders first become obvious in childhood, and knowing about a history of a genetic condition can help find and treat the condition early.

Most people do not think that chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes affect children, but children with a strong family history of these diseases can show signs in childhood. However, having a family history of a disease does not mean that your child will get that disease. Children with a family history of chronic diseases can benefit from developing lifestyle habits, such as exercising and eating healthy, right away. These habits can benefit the entire family and might help prevent or delay these conditions.

Record the names of your child's close relatives from both sides of the family: parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Include conditions each relative has or had and at what age the conditions were first diagnosed. For relatives who are deceased, include the cause of death and the age at death.

Regrettably this is something that has not been done in our family as far as I am aware , as we have many genetic diseases amongst us .... Janice

Three generations

Three generations
"I've got my father's eyes, my mother's nose and a little kink in my hair that I recognise in a picture of my grandmother" But it's not just looks that get passed on: our susceptibility to disease is also inherited.

Since the beginning of human history people have wondered how traits are inherited from one generation to the next. Although children often look more like one parent than another, most offspring seem to be a blend of the characteristics of both parents. However until 1865 there was no scientific way to predict the outcome of a cross between two particular parents.
Just as children can inherit their hair or eye colour from their parents, they can also inherit genetic diseases. Some children only inherit one defective copy and one normal copy of a gene thus becoming a 'carrier'. This is one reason why some diseases disappear in one generation, only to reappear in the next.

link to an informative website


It is said that Harry Bird had 'genetic' problems, including only one lung. Also one or two of his children 'suffered' which may have contributed to the death of one of his daughters whilst giving birth. The four main problems which we know of today are Colour Blindness , Rhesus Negative blood, Dyslexia and Cardiovascular Disease which have been passed down to the present generations. We also have Diabetes in the family and Psychological Problems. We have no idea if the Goldsmith or Mazasitisz or Childs families had problems which could have added to some of the conditions that some members of the family suffer from today.

Norman Bird had various 'genetic things' like Harry his father, weaknesses etc and was never able to work hard and hold down a job for very long. He often had 'pains in the head.' It was wondered by his brothers and sisters whether this was 'genetic' as other members of the family had the same trouble.

According to some of the Bird children Gertrude also had 'genetic' problems and symptoms, this is why she had no more children. No one knew anything about these sort of things in those days
We have not been able to confirm these stories.

I looked at the genetics part of your website briefly. One thing struck me - Mum and I are both rhesus negative, so that is a family trait that has survived. I've only just found out that my mother has a small kidney - as does my daughter. I wonder, is this another inherited trait from the Bird or May clans??"
Edwin Bird's granddaughter

I could be cross with him for NOT being my grandfather in any normal way. What do I have of him? Colour Blindness - thanks a bundle Pop Bird! :-)

Colour blindness is not correctable, since it is caused by an inherited defect of the light sensitive pigment in special cells called cone cells in the retina at the back of the eye.
Sometimes there is a reduction in the number of these cone cells as well. The commonest types of hereditary colour vision deficiency are green and red deficiencies.
The condition is much more common in males than females, although women can carry the defect and pass it on to their children without being affected themselves.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is also related to certain inherited genetic risk factors. For example, some genetic diseases cause children to be born with an abnormal or deficient immune system. In addition to developing serious infections due to reduced immune defenses, they have an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma .

When Ian Campbell had his National service medical they found he had Scoliosis ( lateral deviation of the backbone). His father's sister Nancy had it badly.

Dyslexia may appear to be a modern complaint but its biological basis suggests a long history. In addition to Einstein biographers have detected dyslexic traits in Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt and Mozart. The word is derived from the Greek words for poor use of letters or language, it is also known as 'word blindness' describing people with good intellect who use words in the wrong places and often distort them. Dyslexia often occurs with other disabilities, dyslexia cannot be cured but its effects alleviated. Present day personalities with the disorder include Jamie Oliver, Eddie Izzard, Richard Branson and Anita Roddick.

Looking back I strongly believe my mother was dyslexic and perhaps another of her sisters as well. She never read anything and found great difficulty in writing . She blamed the family for forcing her to use her right hand whilst growing up by tying her left hand behind her back. She said this made her confused and disorientated. Of course we now know it was common practice in those days Janice

It has recently been discovered that younger members of the family suffer from Celiac Disease ( intolerence to Gluten). It is unkown whether any of the older generation had the condition although many of them suffered with various stomach disorders and other symptoms.
Celiac disease is a common disorder. Its prevalence has been estimated at about 1 in 100 people worldwide Celiac disease tends to cluster in families, but the inheritance pattern is unknown.

A useful website for dyslexia click to view


New England Journal of medicine

Theories have ranged from over anxious parents reacting negatively to their child's developing speech to left handed children being forced to write with their right hand.

This is the first study to pinpoint specific gene mutations as the potential cause of stuttering.

This also runs in our family

Meeting Tirana, Albania - February 2008

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Few gene mutations are bad for you. In fact, some mutations can be beneficial. Over time, genetic mutations create genetic diversity, which keeps populations healthy. Many mutations have no effect at all. These are called silent mutations.

But the mutations we hear about most often are the ones that cause disease. Some well-known inherited genetic disorders include cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, phenylketonuria and colour-blindness, among many others. All of these disorders are caused by the mutation of a single gene. New research just being published indicates that Dyslexia also has a genetic link.

Most inherited genetic diseases are recessive, which means that a person must inherit two copies of the mutated gene to inherit a disorder. This is one reason that marriage between close relatives is discouraged; two genetically similar adults are more likely to give a child two copies of a defective gene.

Scientists estimate that every one of us has between 5 and 10 potentially deadly mutations in our genes-the good news is that because there's usually only one copy of the bad gene, these diseases don't manifest.

Cancer usually results from a series of mutations within a single cell. Often, a faulty, damaged, or missing p53 gene is to blame. The p53 gene makes a protein that stops mutated cells from dividing. Without this protein, cells divide unchecked and become tumors.

Largely ignored in the UK, family health history is a national obsession in the USA. The medical profession has stressed the importance of knowing your family history as " the cornerstone of efforts to prevent disease and save our lives" The more information each person can collect the more useful it will be. In November 2004 the US Surgeon General urged Americans to use family reunions as an opportunity "to trace illnesses suffered by parents and other blood relatives"
An awareness of family health history may prove a useful tool in health prevention and promotion.

" I don't know anything about one whole side of me. I've been diagnosed with skin cancer, which I've been told is probably genetic. I wonder if I have inherited it from my father. Do I have half siblings out there ? Does my love of music and writng come from my father's side? Could I be Eastern European or even Jewish? Some of these questions impact on my own children"
Letter to The Guardian 20.01.2007


A link to Aspergers and Autism website

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A strong genetic link has been found in antisocial and borderline personality disorders, these have been found to affect members of our family.

A good website click to view