Walking in footsteps of history

  • The old home: Kim Durnford Worrall, sixth from left, with her family on the steps of Durnford House; the property built by her great-great-great-grea-grandfather Andrew Durnford the first mayor of St George's (Photograph supplied)
  • Family gathering: Kim Durnford Worrall, fifth from right, surrounded by her family underneath a picture of the first mayor of St George's, Andrew Durnford (Photograph supplied)
  • Fantastic day out: descendants of St George's first mayor were shown around Dockyard (Photograph supplied)
  • Frozen in time: Kim Durnford Worrall looks up at a old picture of her great-great-great-great grandfather (Photograph by Simon Jones)

Direct family descendants of the first mayor of St George’s have visited his old home and walked in his footsteps more than 200 years after he died in the Olde Towne.

Kim Durnford Worrall, together with her husband, Chris, their three daughters and four grandchildren travelled to Bermuda for Easter to learn more about Mrs Worrall’s great- great-great-great-grandfather Andrew Durnford.

Since they arrived last Thursday, the 12-strong family group has been shown around the house that Major Durnford built in 1795, called Durnford House, Dockyard and town of St George’s by local historical experts Dr Edward Harris, Peter Frith and Lynne Winfield. Mrs Worrall, who lives in California, told The Royal Gazette her family had enjoyed a fantastic stay on the island and had gained a new appreciation of their ancestor’s part in Bermuda’s history.

“It was a very surreal experience coming to Bermuda and visiting his home,” she said. “To stand where he would have stood all those years is one of those feelings that sends tingles down your spine.

“The most exciting thing that I really wanted to do was stand on the stairs of his home and get a picture of the whole family.

“Even though the grandchildren are still so young, when they get older they will see this picture and it will give them an insight into their family history.

“Coming back here again knowing of my family link to the island has given me a real insight into the island’s history. Walking around his home and hearing about the town’s history has also helped me to understand where I came from.”

Mr and Mrs Worrall visited Bermuda on business around 20 years ago, but Mrs Worrall had no idea of her family’s links to the island. In the last decade she began to delve deeper into her ancestors and as a result of a chance meeting with Ms Winfield in California in 2009 discovered even more about her Bermudian roots.

Ms Winfield then helped put Mrs Worrall in contact with Dr Harris from the National Museum and Mr Frith from the St George’s Foundation. Together they were able to help Mrs Worrall piece together the family tree and establish the direct link with Major Durnford.

“It has been a fantastic trip,” Mrs Worrall said. “We are very appreciative of all the efforts that Lynne Winfield, Edward Harris and Peter Frith have gone to before our visit but also once we had arrived.

“We had a tour of Dockyard with Dr Harris and a guided walk around Durnford House and St George’s with Mr Frith.

“One of the reasons I had planned this trip was to coincide with my 60th birthday later this week, and my mother’s 90th birthday, and although my mother was unable to travel we have all learnt so much about Major Durnford and our family’s links to Bermuda.”

Dr Harris noted that Major Andrew Durnford was the first royal engineer to begin work on the refortification of Bermuda after the American War of Independence. He built several new forts and modernised others, said Dr Harris, as well as becoming the first mayor of the historic Town of St George.

“It is wonderful to see that some of his direct descendants are now visiting Bermuda and I hope they enjoy viewing many of the sites that their four-times great-grandfather would have been familiar with in his day in the 1790s.”

Major Durnford was born in England in 1744 and served in the Royal Engineers.

He came to Bermuda to look after the construction work of the forts in St George’s and died in the town in 1798.