A family that has been associated with the Westerdale area of Ryedale since the 17th century is organising a reunion in the hope of tracing more relatives.

Members of the Featherstone and Bowes families are hoping to find out more about their ncestors at the event.

Margaret Yoxley, one of the organisers, said she and her relatives had dabbled in their family history for a number of years.

"We soon determined that the biggest blanks and mysteries lay on our mother’s side of the family, some questions and links being partially resolved through various on-line family history sites, hunches and by piecing together our own vaguely remembered anecdotal recollections.

"The finding of a photograph of a headstone in Westerdale churchyard, led to the discovery of Great Great Grandparents, Thomas, and Abigail Elizabeth Bowes (nee Featherstone) of Westerdale, with a further inscription detailing the death of one of their sons, killed in action during the Great War.

"During lockdown we had time to revisit the Family Tree and attempted to unravel some of the other associated family relationships. We realised that the Featherstones were a large family and had been associated with Westerdale since the 17th Century, having numerous connections with other local families in the Westerdale, Danby, Ugthorpe and Loftus areas, and that the Bowes element had probably originated in Hutton Le Hole – though there is certainly more research needed there."

"A chance posting of a photograph on Facebook showing a group of Rosedale Miners led to a random contact from someone - who turned out to be our third cousin - none of us being aware of the others existence till then. Shortly after the Covid restrictions allowed, we arranged a meeting in the garden of Rose Cottage, Westerdale - a holiday cottage which amazingly had been rented for many years by our new third cousin - and coincidentally was originally commissioned by the Misses Featherstone (Emma and Frances) who ran the Post Office from there. They were our Great Great Aunts, and I think are still remembered in some quarters.

"That first meeting not only filled in a few technical blanks, but also added some personality to the names on the charts, some information was difficult to process, some was amazing, and it was fascinating to learn that there were still ‘cousins’ in the area and the idea of a family reunion was joked about before all sources of ‘live’ information was gone.

The reunion will take placed on Sunday, July 30, from 10am at Westerdale Village Hall.

Margaret added: "We are inviting anyone with family links to either the Featherstone or the Bowes families, or anyone with an historic interest in, or to, Westerdale to put the date in their diary and come along with family trees, research documents, maps, plans, photographs, and stories – oh and a plate of food if possible, for a shared lunch.

"We look forward to meeting some potential new relatives and friends, and would be grateful if you could let us know if you are planning to join us via the following e mail: lyndac302@gmail.com or a message may be left on 01751 417558."