As I work on scenes and chapters for the third generation in my story - Joshua English's life - I've been stumped because I don't know anything about Mary Holmes. I know she must be some relation of Richard Holmes, but I don't know how. He's about half a generation older than she, so not a father, possibly an older brother but more likely a cousin. Her parents aren't mentioned in the wedding procedures, which often means that they're dead. So, not only is she a genealogical brick wall, but I have trouble filling in her character when I don't even know about siblings, background, anything. Everybody else in the novel has at least had a factual family.
As I draw a big blank with Mary, I'm having an inspirational week with Joshua. Little things, tidbits, that I read in the meeting minutes percolate in my head and sometimes boil over into revelations. For example, his marriage inquiry included Dublin, which means that he lived there at some point. Since they didn't have a schoolmaster in Moate, I was thinking he might have been sent to school there. This week, I had one of those head-on-the-pillow eureka moments: Joshua's emmigration request mentioned that he lived in some other area than Toorphelim (next to Moate). My eureka thought was that he didn't live on his father's farm; he lost his land! Which adds to the drive to come to America.
Joshua was a middle child, so inheritance may have gone to an older brother, John or Abraham. I've been wondering (and looking for) what happened to Joshua's brothers. Maybe, after his mother and John were disowned, the whole family moved to Dublin. But who lived on the family farm? Joshua's father left it in trust to the meeting, but if they gave it back to the family when one or more of the children came of age, they could have sold it.
I know that Joshua came back to live near Moate and married Mary Holmes. His little brother, Thomas, was at his wedding. Joshua had a family and survived the Great Frost. He must have been devastated when his daughter was disowned and brought disgrace to her parents. Without the family farm, there was nothing to keep him from wanting to emmigrate and start a new life.