Strange Coincidences?

Ghost In The Machine

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In a group of 23, the odds of two people having the same birthday is roughly 50/50. In a group of 70, there's a 99.9% chance. The maths behind it is explained quite clearly here :

https://betterexplained.com/articles/understanding-the-birthday-paradox/

If you want brainhurty maths, try the Wikipedia page, which goes into far more detail than is decent in polite society.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_problem
That reminds me of another birthday one.

Son 4 - not christened but on his birth certificate, his first name was just the 3 letter contraction of a fairly common name. He was never, unlike his school,mates (and most classes he's been in had 2 or 3 boys with the same forename) used the long version of the name. His surname is my maiden name although his birth dad had a fancy Italian surname. Son prefers mine. His bday is a day in September.

Doing family history - years after naming son - I discovered son and I have a direct line ancestor. VERY unusally for the times (around 1810) he was actually baptised not with the long form of the name but with the short, informal form. (Baptists not C of E so I guess shortened names were allowed). I have read thousands and thousands of parish records and never, once, seen anyone else christened with the name in its short form, in the 19thC. Not once. Only my grt x 4 or whatever it is, grandad.

It gets better. He was my dad's paternal line ancestor so the surname is the same as my son's.

Better still... it is an unusually full birth record. Most from that date give just date of christening/baptism but this one also gave birthdate. Same birthday as my son.

Very weird. Although the odds would be higher you'd share a name with an ancestor - presumably not so high when my son 'should' have had his dad's surname, and also the unusual short form of the first name given as a birth name. Bday too. My brother gave me a photo of our grandad - in this same line of the family - the other day. Grandad would be about 17 in photo. Son is now 19. And everyone noticed for the first time how much son resembles my dad's dad. Strangely, we never noticed before. Weird to think he might be a carbon copy of this man born nearly 200 years before him on the same day of the year with the same 'nickname as name'.

Not sure if I posted it before, but doing genealogy I found another one.

I got into family history in the 1980s when we traced this same branch of my family. We were always told the surname we had was 'made up' - that my dad's grandad on this paternal line was a foundling from an orphanage and randomly took this surname when he was 19. My great grandma never met his family and assumed it was true. When she realised, years after marrying, that the surname she used might not be 'real' she even went to a solicitor to check she was legally married.

Sure enough when we started to do family history - to try and put all the rumours to rest and find out who were really were - there was no-one born at the right time or several years either side, in Leeds, with the same name as my great grandad used in adulthood. Simply not there. So he was impossible to trace. I started doing genealogy in the 1980s when I lived in Birmingham.

Over years we tracked down Leeds orphanages etc and tried to find records. No luck. We gave up on it - thinking we'd never know our real name. Then in 2011, the 1911 census was released. A 'family friend' of my great grandad - we looked her up on the census. She was suppsoed to be his closest friend who knew all his secrets. It was the first census she was on and the first time we could do this. Her middle name was our surname. She wasn't just a friend, but his cousin. I traced her mother and all her siblings sure enough - there we were. The surname we'd been told all our lives was made up was in fact our real surname. But great grandad's dad died when he was a 3 year old and his mum remarried - a Brummie chainmaker. Not many of them in Leeds in the 1870s! And my great grandad had been invisble in the censuses because he grew up with stepdad's surname. Aged 19 he did change his name - back to his real one. He was a notorious conman and told stories all his life.

Turned out he lived streets away, when he was a young married man, to his mum and stepdad. Great grandad's wife and family, including my grandad, didn't even know these people existed. The story about being dumped as a newborn at an orphanage was a total fiction but 3 generations believed it.

The coincidence? I traced Brummie chainmaker. He was born in the exact place where I lived for 9 years. The chainmaker's cottage he was born in had been demolished in the 19thC and replaced by the little terrace where we lived. We lived in the end house. My step great great grandad was born, according to the census - in the end cottage. I had lived for 9 years on the precise site where my step grt grt grandad was born - counties away and in a city of over 1 million people. It was where we'd lived when we started trying to find out who we were. And we were challenged for most of those years by the fact my great grandad had taken the name of this very man and that was why we couldn't trace him.
 

PeteS

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Ghost, a remarkable set of coincidences there. These things do make me think that there is some sort of ancestor memory involved. Yours is a bit like my own story where unbeknown to me (and considering that I could have ended up anywhere in the country with my job) I physically retraced the steps over the past 40 years taken by my mother and father from their birth places ending up now by coincidence(?) less than a mile from where I was born. My mother ended up in a care home she visited regularly 60 years previously in her profession. Many many inexplicable coincidences (?) involved in those steps.
 

escargot

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My mother ended up in a care home she visited regularly 60 years previously in her profession.
Not meaning to be flippant! but two buildings local to me were repurposed from maternity homes to care homes. So it's likely that people will be returning to their places of birth to die.

(One of the buildings was originally a workhouse and to have been born there still carried a stigma up to the 1960s.)
 

PeteS

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That would be true to some of course, but at the time my mother decided that she needed to be in a care home she lived 80 miles away from this location.
 

Ghost In The Machine

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Ghost, a remarkable set of coincidences there. These things do make me think that there is some sort of ancestor memory involved. Yours is a bit like my own story where unbeknown to me (and considering that I could have ended up anywhere in the country with my job) I physically retraced the steps over the past 40 years taken by my mother and father from their birth places ending up now by coincidence(?) less than a mile from where I was born. My mother ended up in a care home she visited regularly 60 years previously in her profession. Many many inexplicable coincidences (?) involved in those steps.
Yes, Pete, something weird going on. What you say about ancestral memories... my brother named his daughter and I named one of my sons with fairly old fashioned and unusual names; names no-one else their age had, really. Years later I found niece's name and my son's were used and re-used for over a century in a branch of my dad's family.

That house we lived in, that turned out to be built over the place my step great great grandad was born... we loved that house. It felt like our's from the day we moved in. Of all the houses we've lived in, that one built over the chainmakers' in Birmingham, is our favourite. We got that house by a total fluke - we had no kids at the time and were probably only entitled to a high rise flat, but this house had been badly converted so it only had one bedroom so they let it to us as it was no use for a family. I've always regretted moving out. We should have bought it. (Council house from the time when large city councils often bought up entire streets so the whole terrace, although built late 19thC, were council houses). I loved the garden, too. We were really happy there but then I got itchy feet and wanted to go abroad so we gave it up.
 

tuco

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I have a couple of strange coincidences involving two cars I owned, the first was with a citroen c15 van I bought about 15 years ago. It had had a hard life prior to me owning it (like all my cars), but was mechanicaly sound, would start first time every time in any weather, except once. I had owned it about 3 years when one day in a hurry to be somewhere I turned the key and nothing, not even a click, so I popped the bonnet (hood), got out and as I lifted the bonnet saw the 6 foot lenghts of wood on the roof rack I had picked up the day before, now I knew they were up there but had fogotten I'd undone the rope to take a couple of bits off until I looked up. Couldn't find anything wrong in the engine bay so took the rest of the wood off the roof and tried starting it again- started first time. As I drove away I thought about how within 100 yards of moving I was on a busy main road and could have hurt or maybe even killed someone with the unsecured wood flying off when I braked. Kept the van for 3 or 4 more years and in all that time it never failed to start ! very spooky.
 

Mythopoeika

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I have a couple of strange coincidences involving two cars I owned, the first was with a citroen c15 van I bought about 15 years ago. It had had a hard life prior to me owning it (like all my cars), but was mechanicaly sound, would start first time every time in any weather, except once. I had owned it about 3 years when one day in a hurry to be somewhere I turned the key and nothing, not even a click, so I popped the bonnet (hood), got out and as I lifted the bonnet saw the 6 foot lenghts of wood on the roof rack I had picked up the day before, now I knew they were up there but had fogotten I'd undone the rope to take a couple of bits off until I looked up. Couldn't find anything wrong in the engine bay so took the rest of the wood off the roof and tried starting it again- started first time. As I drove away I thought about how within 100 yards of moving I was on a busy main road and could have hurt or maybe even killed someone with the unsecured wood flying off when I braked. Kept the van for 3 or 4 more years and in all that time it never failed to start ! very spooky.
Your van was watching out for you. Good van.
 

tuco

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I have a couple of strange coincidences involving two cars I owned, the first was with a citroen c15 van I bought about 15 years ago. It had had a hard life prior to me owning it (like all my cars), but was mechanicaly sound, would start first time every time in any weather, except once. I had owned it about 3 years when one day in a hurry to be somewhere I turned the key and nothing, not even a click, so I popped the bonnet (hood), got out and as I lifted the bonnet saw the 6 foot lenghts of wood on the roof rack I had picked up the day before, now I knew they were up there but had fogotten I'd undone the rope to take a couple of bits off until I looked up. Couldn't find anything wrong in the engine bay so took the rest of the wood off the roof and tried starting it again- started first time. As I drove away I thought about how within 100 yards of moving I was on a busy main road and could have hurt or maybe even killed someone with the unsecured wood flying off when I braked. Kept the van for 3 or 4 more years and in all that time it never failed to start ! very spooky.
PS Just remembered, the last year of its life I had to start it with a screwdriver as I had lost the ignition key in a fire I had and had to slide hammer the lock. I don't seem to have a lot of luck with ignition switch's (see my post in what were you doing 5 minuits ago)
 

escargot

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my brother named his daughter and I named one of my sons with fairly old fashioned and unusual names; names no-one else their age had, really. Years later I found niece's name and my son's were used and re-used for over a century in a branch of my dad's family.
An obscure masculine name recurred in my maternal grandmother's family for over 100 years. She wanted one of us to use it but nobody fancied it. However, one of my cousins was unwittingly given a female version of it, which I also used for a daughter's middle name. We didn't know what it meant at the time!

No Methuselahs* have cropped up in the next generation but one lives in hope.

*Kidding.
 

tuco

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I posted earlier about a car I owned that seemed to look after me, the next car seemed to want to kill me ! The next car I had after the citroen was a Mk 3 cavalier, a couple of weeks after getting it I had to cross the local level crossing ( called mount pleasent - don't know why as its completely flat and the area isn't very pleasent ) so as normal turned off the engine while waiting behind half a dozen cars. When the gates opened I started the car and moved off quickly ( main line into city center, so the gates don't stay open long ), as I got to the gates the engine cut out and the car rolled to a stop on the tracks just as the lights started flashing, I turned the key and after a few coughs the car started - which made me and the chap behind (who was waving at me in a very unfriendly way) very happy. What I found out later was that if I started it and drove straight away it would always cutout, but if you let it tick over for 30 seconds first it would be ok . Always kept it running at level crossings after that !
 

escargot

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I posted earlier about a car I owned that seemed to look after me, the next car seemed to want to kill me ! The next car I had after the citroen was a Mk 3 cavalier, a couple of weeks after getting it I had to cross the local level crossing ( called mount pleasent - don't know why as its completely flat and the area isn't very pleasent ) so as normal turned off the engine while waiting behind half a dozen cars. When the gates opened I started the car and moved off quickly ( main line into city center, so the gates don't stay open long ), as I got to the gates the engine cut out and the car rolled to a stop on the tracks just as the lights started flashing, I turned the key and after a few coughs the car started - which made me and the chap behind (who was waving at me in a very unfriendly way) very happy. What I found out later was that if I started it and drove straight away it would always cutout, but if you let it tick over for 30 seconds first it would be ok . Always kept it running at level crossings after that !
How terrifying! Did your whole life flash before your pants?
 

tuco

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I posted earlier about a car I owned that seemed to look after me, the next car seemed to want to kill me ! The next car I had after the citroen was a Mk 3 cavalier, a couple of weeks after getting it I had to cross the local level crossing ( called mount pleasent - don't know why as its completely flat and the area isn't very pleasent ) so as normal turned off the engine while waiting behind half a dozen cars. When the gates opened I started the car and moved off quickly ( main line into city center, so the gates don't stay open long ), as I got to the gates the engine cut out and the car rolled to a stop on the tracks just as the lights started flashing, I turned the key and after a few coughs the car started - which made me and the chap behind (who was waving at me in a very unfriendly way) very happy. What I found out later was that if I started it and drove straight away it would always cutout, but if you let it tick over for 30 seconds first it would be ok . Always kept it running at level crossings after that !
PS Ignition switch to starter motor wire on that car burnt out a few years later so as a quick fix I used the horn wire, turn on ignition and press the horn to start, left it like this for a few months and repaired it just before the next mot, for a long time after I would now and again beep the horn and scare myself starting the car.
 

escargot

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PS Ignition switch to starter motor wire on that car burnt out a few years later so as a quick fix I used the horn wire, turn on ignition and press the horn to start, left it like this for a few months and repaired it just before the next mot, for a long time after I would now and again beep the horn and scare myself starting the car.
Happy days! :lolling:
 

escargot

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This morning @Yithian mentioned Tony Hancock. I looked at the Wiki page about him - some grim reading! - and then went on to Sheila Hancock's because while I KNOW she was never married to him I used to believe she had been and still check from time to time.*

Anyway... I knew that she'd been married and widowed before marrying John Thaw. Today I was reminded that both her husbands died of oesophageal cancer, about 21 years apart. How weird.


*Like the dog with the Magic Pie Bush.
 

Iris

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I have an upright freezer in the laundry and for awhile I've been saying that I must defrost it as a couple of the drawers had frozen shut.
Yesterday I came home from shopping and could smell this awful stench.
At first I thought it might have been a wayward mouse hat had died but found that the freezer had defrosted and all the food was spoilt.
I thought the freezer had died and it took me ages to take out and dispose of it all. Anyway I thought I'd better turn it off prior to dragging it out so flicked the switch at the back, only to have it spring back to life. A whizzy duster with a hard handle had fallen down and knocked the switch. I I don't know if I subconsciously had noticed that the freezer wasn't running and so thought about defrosting it but I thought it was a bit of a coincidence.
 

bugmum

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Ancestral naming: my husband's paternal grandfather was originally married to his grandmother's sister, with whom he had a child; she and the child were killed in bombing whilst the grandfather was a POW during WWII, and once he returned to England, he married the younger sister and voila, there's my FIL. When my husband's older brother was born, the ILs picked a name for him, and without them knowing (so my MIL tells me), it's the same name as the child killed in the war. Apparently caused a bit of a stir in the family. It's not the most common name in the world, but it's in no way unusual either. Now, whether my FIL knew the name of his half-brother and chose to make it a tribute, I don't know, but the MIL is definitely of the opinion that it was a huge coincidence.

Incidentally - I have mentioned this before - it was that child's name that enabled me to track down the cemetery records and work out that mother and child were killed in the bombing of Exeter, where we now live. I've visited that grave - strange old feeling to see your brother-in-law's name on a headstone...
 

escargot

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I have an upright freezer in the laundry and for awhile I've been saying that I must defrost it as a couple of the drawers had frozen shut.
Yesterday I came home from shopping and could smell this awful stench.
At first I thought it might have been a wayward mouse hat had died but found that the freezer had defrosted and all the food was spoilt.
I thought the freezer had died and it took me ages to take out and dispose of it all. Anyway I thought I'd better turn it off prior to dragging it out so flicked the switch at the back, only to have it spring back to life. A whizzy duster with a hard handle had fallen down and knocked the switch. I I don't know if I subconsciously had noticed that the freezer wasn't running and so thought about defrosting it but I thought it was a bit of a coincidence.
You'll be fitting a bit of protective gaffer tape to that switch then!
 

escargot

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When my husband's older brother was born, the ILs picked a name for him, and without them knowing (so my MIL tells me), it's the same name as the child killed in the war. Apparently caused a bit of a stir in the family.
Ooh, I had similar! One of my older sisters sadly lost a child to stillbirth. My family don't talk about such things - it's considered morbid - so I didn't even know what sex the baby had been, much less what name had been chosen.

Many years later I called my second son Aidan. Sis was most put out as her deceased son had been called Haidan (or Haiden or Haydan or Hayden or even Haydn or whatever, I never saw it written down) and thought I'd nicked her idea or summat. That's what you get for being secretive.
 

IbisNibs

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PS Ignition switch to starter motor wire on that car burnt out a few years later so as a quick fix I used the horn wire, turn on ignition and press the horn to start, left it like this for a few months and repaired it just before the next mot, for a long time after I would now and again beep the horn and scare myself starting the car.
If I ever move to Britain and own a car there I will want you for my mechanic.
 
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