The White Cliffs of Dover

Jim and I discovered when we were booking the DNA journey that the airfare was a pretty big chunk of the cost of the trip. We also like to cruise, and in particular, we love the Mediterranean. However, there were no cruises leaving the right place at the right time for the Mediterranean, but there was one leaving, as luck would have it, the day after we returned to London from the Cotswolds and the Ribble Valley, out of Dover, just down the road. Well, in England, everything is just down the road, as compared with the US. It’s an island, after all.

Woo hoo. Off we go on another adventure.

This cruise lasted 12 days on the Carnival Legend and circled the British Isles as well as stopping in two European ports. My ancestral families were from all over this part of the world, so I can’t go anyplace over here without some kind of ancestral connection. It’s a wonderful problem to have!!!

Our friend, Said, came to get us in his magic carpet Mercedes and we had a wonderful opportunity to chat on the way to Dover.  He also took me to a couple of quilt shops on the way to the boat, although there weren’t many. I did manage to find a couple of things, including a couple of tea towels. Sometimes, you just have to make do.

I had been wanting to see the White Cliffs of Dover for years, and had been looking forward to this for weeks. You see, my Estes family is from Kent, just 8 miles up the road. They were fishermen, mariners, and yes, they would have been intimately familiar with these white cliffs. They would have been a landmark for the sailors and fisherman then just as they are today. The castle is still there guarding those cliffs too, probably looking much the same today as 400-500 years ago, especially if you add a little mist or fog to hide the automobiles and modern roads.

The first photo is of the fort and castle of Dover and the second is a panoramic view of the white cliffs.  In WW2 our pilots used the white cliffs as a sign they were near safety.

White cliffs of Dover

I wonder what my ancestors would think if they knew that some 500+ years after they were fishing here that their 10 times great-granddaughter would come back and would stand right here.

Dover and Me

Of course, my Estes family wasn’t the only ancestral family that lived here. We’ll talk about the Estes line when we return. Yes, Jim and I will be visiting the family lands, churches and villages for a few days when we come back into port. I couldn’t be this close and not visit.

However, I was unsuccessful in determining anything about the families of the women from this area who married Estes men. I’m hopeful that perhaps someone will see this list and recognize a name from this region. I did check the associated DNA projects without any luck.

Robert Eastye married Anne Woodward in Shoulden, Kent, just up the road from Deal, on December 2, 1591.

Their son Sylvester Eastye married Ellen Martin just down the road in Ringwould, Kent in 1625. Ellen was reportedly from Great Hadres or Hardres, spelled both ways, nearby.

Records for these families are found in or referring to Great Hardres (A), Deal (C), Shoulden (C), adjacent Deal, Ringwould (D), Waldershare (between D and Dover), Nonington (E) and last, Sandwich (B), where our immigrant ancestor was apprenticed. Records for the Martin or Woodward family from these locations would be immensely helpful. It appears from the church records that families actually were surprisingly mobile within this area.

Kent map

After boarding the ship, during the welcome reception, we met our old friend, John Heald. He was the cruise director on our first cruise too. Just suffice it to say that, ahem, he remembered Jim. It was great to see John again. He brightens every day and is quintessentially English.

This, by the way, is the lobby area. These ships are “brightly decorated,” to say the least.


Over the years I’ve discovered a couple of things about cruising. First, shawls are very lightweight and can dress even a t-shirt up enough for dinner. Black works with any color. Second, you’ll want to carry a small purse, but it doesn’t need to be any bigger than to hold a lip gloss and your room key. You don’t need anything else on board the ship. This one I’m carrying, my Mom crocheted for me at least 20 years ago, “in case you have someplace fancy to go.” Well, Mom, I do, and you’re along for the ride.

I know this next photo looks like I’m in jail, but I swear, I’m not. This sunset shot was taken from our dinner table out the window. I know, you’re not buying a word of this are you?


Oh yes, another cruise tip…your American Express card will get you out of jail around the world, not that I know personally of course. I do know from the couple that got themselves stranded (twice) and missed the ship’s departure in Istanbul on a previous cruise that your American Express card will purchase plane tickets, limo service, and save your sorry butt when you go into Asia where they tell you not to go! And yes, they did it, not once, but twice, on the same cruise. Let’s just say that the first time everyone felt a little sorry for them, but the second time, they WERE the entertainment until the end of the cruise. A honeymoon they won’t soon forget, or live down.

Now Jim and I have a tradition, and you’re just going to have to suffer through it along with us on this cruise, since you’ve joined us on our journey. Every night, while you’re at dinner, your cabin steward creates a “towel animal” and leaves it on your bed. So every night when we return to our cabin, our towel animal gets posed with something from our day. Yes, I know it’s kind of corny, but it’s a lot of fun and we’ve done it for years now, since our very first cruise. So it’s our tradition!

Oh, and by the way, my first cruise was a genealogy cruise to the Caribbean with my Claxton cousin and his wife who I had met through genealogy and are now my Claxton/Clarkson DNA Project co-admins! Yes, I shamelessly recruited them.

When my cousin’s wife asked if I wanted to go on the cruise, I walked into Jim’s office and announced, “I’m going on a genealogy cruise.” He pronounced, “Well, I’m going with you.” I said, “But you don’t even like genealogy.” He said, “So what.” Well, he has a point. You can’t be bored on a cruise or if you are, it’s entirely your own fault.

Towel seal

Today our towel animal, who might be a seal, is proudly displaying fabric from the quilt shops, along with the business card from the shop and a Carnival pin.

Bon voyage!!!



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3 thoughts on “The White Cliffs of Dover

  1. My Ancestor Edward Darnell was born in Hastings, just down the road from Dover in 1671; migrated to MD. in 1688

  2. Pingback: Visiting Deal, Kent, UK – The Estes Homelands | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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