It took me a while to grasp the truth about my ancestor Ebenezer, as whilst he sounded like a character out of a Charles Dickens novel; tight fisted and mean therefore, and also quite possibly of Hebrew origin, the man himself was anything but these things. On delving a little deeper into his history I discovered firstly that he had been born at the start of the reign of King George III in the year 1764, that was some fifty years before Dickens own birth, whose novel about Scrooge had been written later still in 1843. Thus nearly one hundred years would have passed between his christening and the novel: A Christmas Carol’s creation. That left the ambiguity of why a Hebrew name was being given as a Christian name within the Georgian era, clearly it had not been influenced by Dickens less than moral Victorian character. I was clutching at straws at first, but then gradually the puzzle began to fit together and my grasp on the situation began to unfold. England had been through terrible conflict; firstly with Henry VIII divorcing the Pope and Rome, then after the Tudor period was over the Stuarts had ushered in a appalling and bloody Civil War that had been built on the back of all the religious conflict and its reverberating turmoil. After that there had been a Regicide followed by a nine year period in which Britain became a Republic; a Commonwealth in other words, and then there was The Restoration!
Eben-ezer had been a rock, a steadfast dependable helper sent from God; a stone raised by Samuel to commemorate victory over the Philistines in the bible. Much later on those excluded from the Church of England after Charles II had taken back his throne would need to hold firm, they would need to be as dependable as that rock of Samuel’s. These people were the religious Dissenters who had been denied their Civil Rights for failing to swear allegiance to the Orthodox church, at least until those troubled times had passed. They would need to work hard and hold true to their belief until such a time as inclusion would be possible once again. Similarly Dickens character would need to work to earn his right to use the name, and he like the Dissenters would have to prove his worthiness for this religious honour; Scrooge would have to become a victor over the Philistine within his nature in order to be known as Ebenezer; a good man with a charitable heart, as was the case with my ancestor.