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Is your Mort DNA really in your jeans?

Is your Mort DNA really in your jeans?

Nature versus Nurture!

Anyone who has ever watched the Discovery channel on TV or managed to keep awake during school biology lessons will immediately understand what I am writing about. However for those of you whose minds have drifted onto a far distant cloud and this well documented debate has somehow passed you by; I am referring to what makes you what you are. Nature versus Nurture.

How much of what you do, say, act and look like has been a result of your up-bringing, environment and the influences that have surrounding you from the day you were born? This is called nurture. Like many people who originated from Lancashire, my ancestors were farmers, miners and cotton or silk weavers. This wasnít really a family trait but more a case of Ďthe standard mode of employment for the area where they happened to liveí. The son followed the fatherís footsteps and so on and so forth. This is a simple theory and certainly not rocket science!

However one could also argue that there could be a miniscule element of natural selection involved. People who were good at their jobs survived into adulthood and raised children that may have inherited similar traits that made them also successful in the same line of work. Maybe farmerís sons had to be strong, hardy and resilient to reach an age where they could father their own children and so therefore in time, farmerís became known as brawny and well- built. Maybe weaverís faired better with slim fingers and miners survived longer if they were agile and had strong lungs. Pure supposition, but still a realistic if speculative argument.

To take the side of nature rather than nurture being a defining element of our character and characteristics would be to concede that some differing molecule or chemical on a strand of DNA passed down from our ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago has an equal if not greater influence than your immediate surroundings, and life experiences to date?

Most scientists have come to the conclusion that both nature and nurture take an equally strong part in the person we grow to become. We have all read stories about identical twins separated at birth and raised in differing families and yet who became very similar people, often choosing the same careers & experiencing the same major life events in the same years. We probably all know identical twins that were raised in the same family who turned out to be nothing like each other. The jury is open.

What about you? What do you think?

You are logged onto this website because for some odd reason you want to know about your family history. Why? Surely there must be many more interesting things to do with your time on a nice day?

Why are we so curious about distant relations that died long ago? Names in a parish register who we will never meet or know. Ancestors we may not have even liked or understood should we have ever had the chance to meet them?

Isnít it because a tiny piece of our inquisitive brains wonders if there is a part of us that was a part of them? Do we want to know our ancestors because in doing so, we may get to know something of ourselves? Is this the same driving force that causes adopted children to seek out their natural parents, when in fact many of us unknowingly may not be related to our own fathers but we donít have the same drive because we snugly believe we know who we are and where we came from?

Itís an interesting thought, but why should we care where we came from?

The ĎNatureí challenge

What a great opportunity this is to find out if there is anything common place amongst those of us who share some Mort DNA. I use the word opportunity because this is a rare situation to be in and without the wonderful communication tool of the Internet, none of this would not be possible. We all live in the four corners of the globe. We are all total strangers who have been raised in differing environments. There is not one tiny element of nurture to bind any of us together to any commonality. Yet most people who log onto this site probably do share something - a common ancestor!

Have any of you noticed anything common place within any areas of your existing families that seems to affect one line of descent rather than a totally unconnected differing line of descent? If so, we would love to hear all about it even if it is not connected to the Mort line.

I can start the ball rolling with this debate by sharing with you all what I know about my non-Mort other lines of inheritance (by way of examples). It is not scientific, but then few science projects start out as scientific.

Example No 1: My Norris line (on my fatherís side)

My family connected to this line seems to contain a greater amount of musicians than one would consider normal. Definition of this being someone who plays one or more instruments to a high standard and plays in a band (as opposed to someone who just likes music). In fact, I would struggle to find relatives within this family who cannot play music and has never played in front of an audience. Most of my Norris family have at some point written music. Some of these family members have not grown up together and many live in differing continents. Many of them are nephews and nieces who I havenít even met but I have watched them perform on video and they are highly talented performers.

I recently had an email from a well known musical artist who had been adopted from birth. Without disclosing her identity, she had recently discovered the name of her birth parents who were Norrisís. She had always been musical and had no idea where this trait came from until she located me via the Internet. She told me she had spent most of her life wondering why she was musical because nobody in her adopted family had any interest in music. Hey this is not scientific, but it is interesting and it makes one wonder.

Example No 2: My Lee line (on my motherís side)

This is also an unusual discovery. I like running. I have run from being a very small child and long before it was ever considered fashionable to jog around with an iPOD.

In Leigh I am not sure it is yet considered 100% normal to go running along the street unless you are about to miss your bus. Actually that is an unfair statement, since Leigh Harriers are an excellent running club with a formidable reputation.

Both my son and daughter run and in fact my daughter is running the London marathon next year but you could say that this was down to my influence. My older brother also runs and as he is much older than me (he will hate me saying that), we didnít exactly grow up as close siblings. However one could argue that he lives in California and the lifestyle of this American State obviously rubbed off on him.

Then, many years ago my brother was over from Australia and he went mooching around Leigh library. He found a book gathering dust in the reference section written by my motherís cousin ĎEdna Aspen Leeí about the history of Howe Bridge. She mentioned my Great Grandfather William Lee and described her life as she was growing up in the early 20th century. My Grandmother Florrie was also mentioned in the book - what a find? It is sadly now out of print, and I only have a few random sheets from the book which was kindly posted to me by another Lee relative I found via the Internet. However it was a charming and wonderful account of the Lee family life from times past, in this small village between Atherton and Leigh.

On reading part of Ednaís book ĎHowe Bridge Rememberedí I was amazed to learn that the Lee family were a family of runners. I will quote you a paragraph from the book ĎA lot of my leisure time was spent training for running with the other children and Dad. He used to take us to a dirt track in the fields to train us to be good runners to help us win those races in the galas. He had a toy gun which he used to imitate the professional starters. Our family life was surrounded by this entertainment. Dad would select one boy that was really good and would train him in the hope of getting a championship for the ĎAll Lancashire Schoolboys Runners teamí.

Unfortunately this paragraph ended at the bottom of page 21 and I donít have page 22 so I canít share with you what happened to Edna Leeís brother. I have a feeling he was selected for a running club, but that is another story on a missing page.

However, I am sure you get my drift .... so....

Back to the Mort family

I donít know any direct members of the Mort family since my last connection to this name was with my GGG Grandmother who died long long before I was born. It is therefore difficult to know how much of my personal characteristics can be traced to what part of my lineage. Same applies to all of us I guess. It is easier to associate familial trends to the more recent parts of your family tree and with living family members. That is unless you are as lucky as I was and you happen to find a book which describes the lives of your ancestors as I did with my Lee family.

I do know that for myself personally, I have found more people interested in genealogy in the Mort family than in any other surname interest in my family tree. My brothers have often asked me why I write about the Mortís when in fact my father was a Norris and this was my birth name. The Norris family are a fascinating family with ancestral s seats at Haigh Hall near Wigan, Hall Iíth wood near Bolton and Speke Hall at Liverpool. I have a wonderful story about how a former ancestor of mine was killed on the bloody stone at Newton-Le-Willows; ironically just near the house I grew up in. Mabel Norris even has a monument in Wigan dedicated to her called ĎMabs Crossí. There is enough material about this family to warrant a website in its own right. However, I struggle to get anywhere with this musical family, because they are all too interested in strumming a guitar rather than dig deep into their DNA. The Mort family site exists because of lots of Mort family researches who are curious about their ancestors. Long before I became interested in this hobby, there were many others before me who had taken the time and trouble to untangle the Mort heritage and past. That is why I can go back over 500 years with the Mortís and yet only 100 years with the rest of my family tree.

So does this qualify as a familial trait - a curious mind and an interest in the past and history? What do you think- does anyone out there in cyber land have an opinion or am I writing this story to myself?

Also - I donít know many Mortís of today and what they are like, but I have read well documented stories about the Mortís of the past.

Adam Mort of Dam House / Astley Manor his sons were lawyers and he was many many things. He owned land, built a church and made a school available for the poor of Astley. He was industrious, intelligent, well respected and one getís the impression that he was equally as caring, compassionate and charitable

Thomas Sutcliffe Mort was also industrious and intelligent as the inventor of refrigerated systems and an innovator of Ďstocks and sharesí.

Many past Mortís were self made wealthy individuals and this must display some inherent entrepreneurial intelligence. My brothers have also been inventors and innovators in their chosen scientific careers coincidence maybe or a strand of Mort DNA making its presence felt? Who knows! Every time you step inside an aeroplane there is a part of the engine invented by my Brother and there is code in the computer systems written by my son that keeps the whole thing up on the air. Is it their Mort DNA that keeps you in the sky? This was obviously achieved on a day when they were not rehearsing with some band somewhere!

I know of many present day Mort descendents who are intellectuals. They are writers, poets and historians. Could intelligence be a family trait?

There are also a few thespian Mortís with acting in their blood. Could performing arts be a family trait?

I donít know enough living Mortís to compare you with past Mortís, but if anyone reading this story is inspired enough to join the ĎNature versus Nurtureí debate, please write in and tell us your story. It doesnít have to be about the Mort family as long as it is topical and of interest.

I will also put a topic about this on the forum just in case Ďsharing of ideas and communicationí happens to also be a Mort family trait. I am not convinced that it is, but we shall soon find out?

In the meantime back to the subject of Adam Mort and his charitable and giving nature. If you havenít already read the story about the Mortís of Chowbent / Alder cottage then you have probably missed reading the following verse about the character of John Mort.

I will leave you the inspiring words about a gentleman you may share a common ancestor with and if you are lucky a string or two of DNA..


The Memory of the Just shall be blessed. This Monument is erected as a Testimony

of Veneration for the Character of Mr. John Mort, the Last male Representative of a highly respectable Family. And long a distinguished member of this religious Society: who ended a life of Usefulness and Honour on the 12th day of January 1788 in the 86th Year of his Age. The leisure he enjoyed from the avocations of business was principally devoted to the Study of the Scriptures, and unlearned in the Subtleties of Scholastic Divinity, his Enquiries were directed by the light of a clear understanding and the unremitting zeal with which he endeavour'd to propagate the principles of Christian truth, furnishes an example to those who are devoted to Theology by profession. His religion did not terminate in mere speculation, the uniform piety he maintained was only equall'd by the ardour of his benevolence, and the simplicity of his manners. By the force of personal Character he retain'd a patriarchal authority in

his Neighbourhood to the last. Tho' born to a liberal fortune, which was improved by a regular and successful industry he disdain'd the purpose of vulgar ambition and studiously employed the bounty of Heaven in relieving the sorrows of nature, and extending the happiness of life. Every public spirited design he was forward to promote; He was open as the Day to melting Charity, and plain-hearted hospitality

was ever found beneath his roof. The habitual devotion of his mind and the consciousness of useful exertions produced that cheerfulness which even old age was unable to impair, nor did he survive either the vigour of his understanding or sensibility of his heart; the fervour of his piety or his generous attachment to the cause of liberty and truth through temperance and exercise, his life tho' long was unembittr'd by sickness; his death was almost instant and without a groan

Reader While you revere his Character endeavour to copy his Example.


Happy old man, who stretched beneath the shade of large grown trees, or in the rustic porch with woodbine canopied (where linger yet the hospitable virtues) calm enjoys!

Nature's best blessing all, a healthy age, ruddy and vigorous, native cheerfulness. Plain-hearted friendship, simple piety. The rural manners and the rural joys. Friendly to life, though rude of speech, yet rich in genuine worth; not unobserved shall pass thy bashful virtues, for muse shall mark. Detect thy charities, and call to light thy secret deeds of mercy; while the poor, the desolate and friendless, at thy gate ,A numerous family, with better praise shall hallow in their hearts thy spotless name."

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