Genealogy: a hobby of mine…

My dad and my mom used to tell me family stories, some of which I used to think were tall tales…

I eventually found out they were mostly true, only the details being slightly bent in the oral history.

I found out, for instance, that my father came from a family that had been very determined to keep family records, before and after coming to America.

And that my mother had a grandmother who’d lived a real western adventure.

And that my parents both grew up in Oklahoma during the wild days, just after the state came into the Union.

The outlaw Cole Younger, associated with Jesse James, had a nephew who worked on my mother’s parents’ farm. And it was this gentle-spoken young man who introduced my mother to my father. Cole Younger himself had been in prison in Stillwater, MN, and had been released, to spend his final years in Missouri. Most of Cole Younger’s family had been killed in the violence of the post-Civil War period in Kansas—it was a bad place and a bad time. But one of his brothers or sisters apparently lived long enough to have a son, whose name was Bill or Bob, as my mother recalls, who worked on the family farm in Anadarko OK, and who apparently visited his uncle in Stillwater. When my father admired my mother from a distance, Younger, acquainted with both, managed an introduction. My father worked at the Anadarko ice house, and my mother began to insist on doing the drive into town after ice that summer. They were secretly married in El Reno OK, and didn’t tell relatives on both sides until some months later.

My maternal great-grandmother was the survivor of an accident that drowned or separated her family as they were crossing a major river on the move west. Her name was Missouri Duff. But in my searching census records, I found her on an old census report from before the accident, and I found, in the next census, her mother and a brother living in a town near the Missouri river. Evidently they’d survived, her father and other children had drowned—and she’d survived, taking the name of Missouri and moving first to Kansas and then to Oklahoma, to grow up and marry with never a notion she had living relatives.

My grandfather was a cowboy turned salesman as Indian Territory became settled towns. His mother was Louisiana Carolina Boone, and my father named me after her. She was one of those Boones, and she came into Indian Territory out of Texas with her husband, my great-grandfather, and ended up living with my grandfather, then taking care of my father when he was very small.

When she died, my father went to live with other relatives, an uncle, and only came home to live with my grandfather when he married my step-grandmother, a spectacularly gracious lady, in every sense of the word.

Well, I got all the family stories—including the night St. Elmo’s fire turned up on a herd of cattle when my grandfather was riding herd in an impending thunderstorm: horns and hooves glowed—the herd spooked, and if you remember the song “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” it must have been like that.

A part of my family is Dutch, and used to own a major slice of New Jersey and Manhattan: they became bankers, and one a Supreme Court judge—but half that family broke off and went down to Virginia and the Carolinas. That was my half, poor as church mice, and working in farming, from Virginia to Nebraska during the Civil War and down to Kansas in the Bleeding Kansas days, then on into Oklahoma.

But when I got seriously into genealogy, I began to fill in the pieces of various things. I found Missouri Duff’s missing family. I found how we connect to Daniel Boone’s father, Squire Boone, and how we connect, though part of the Boone family fiercely disputes it, through a dubious union, to the de Bohuns, one of the kingmaking families in England. Whether or not the Boone line does connect—I’m related to the de Bohuns down another line as well. And here’s an interesting point: these families keep connecting and reconnecting: geographical closeness, and social circles: availability of potential good matches, strengthening economic and political ties, in an era of arranged marriages. When you have a nest of connections that keep reiterating, I think it likely that relationship is true.

A great number of my forbears came over from England: read: ran for their lives to get out of England during the English Civil War. A lot of them were Charles I’s supporters. My ancestors were not fans of our Pilgrim fathers, quite on the other side of the political fence.

I’ve been able to trace relations  going back and back and back…a lot of lines through those English emigres…

And here’s the kicker. It turns out Jane and I are related to each other—back in England. One of her folk married one of the de Bohuns,  both of us in direct descent.

One of the really fun things is going through Wikipedia finding out about these people. Mine had a penchant for getting involved in royal politics and getting caught on the losing side—many were very creatively executed in a very brutal age.

Fortunately, they managed to reproduce before meeting their nasty end.

Not all were saints. I’m related to Hugh the Despenser—-reputed as one of the most corrupt men in England. And to William Marshal, reputed as one of the most honest.

I’ve found answers to family mysteries: the family story is that we came over from Ireland, when most geneologies try to make us German. Well, we’re right: our guy, John Cherry, married to Bridgett Haney, was of British origin, but had been living in Ireland, and his wife was apparently Irish—when they, or he, immigrated to the states. And that was the origin of the story. That family came over from Normandy, but not in the invasion: the name(of, originally de Cerisy, has a ‘de’ (of)—which is the sort of thing that ordinarily denotes some lordly family, but in this case I think it simply means “from the village of Cerisy”, a little place in Normandy, France, no nobility involved, and not one of William the Conqueror’s lot, just a guy from a French village who came to England.

And—a very interesting update: research in French records gives another story—not de Cerisy, ‘from the village of Cerisy’, but de Chery, from the town of ‘Chery,’ in the Centre district of France. It seems that one Jean de Chery held property in Normandy, or had some ancestral rights in William the Conqueror’s land, but that one could not at that time enter Normandy from the rest of France without a royal permit—which Jean de Chery sought from his king, Charles. King Charles, now called Charles the Mad, had once been known as Charles the Good, but he had had a mental breakdown, what they call the glass syndrome, becoming convinced he could shatter, literally, and convinced that assassins were on his track.

Actually, re Charles’ paranoia, it’s not paranoia if they’re really after you, and it wasn’t a bad guess. There were three contenders for the French throne: the Capets, descended from Charlemagne, the Burgundians, who claimed southern central France as their ancestral domain, and had allies clear across France; and the de Courtenays, who contended they should be kings of France. Burgundy was assassinating people who stood in his way.

And there is a document which indicates that the de Cherys were a) in charge of the substantial town of Chery, and b) closely tied to the de Courtenays who were c) increasingly split as to where their fortunes would best advance, in William’s enterprise, or in France, trying to succeed the failing Charles Capet the Mad…that Burgundy was intent on killing and supplanting. There was a de Courtenay branch, the lords of Arrablay, one of whom, I think also named Charles, is documented to have married his neighbor, one Jeanne de Chery; so there were marriage ties between the de Cherys and the vastly powerful de Courtenays.

Burgundy began to gain ground, and while the de Courtenays didn’t sail with William the Conqueror, a number of them went over to England after the Conquest—possibly because they were feeling the heat from Burgundy and Charles the Mad was, well, mad…

The de Courtenays who emigrated to England set up a castle with William’s permission, in Leicestershire, central England.

Well, now we have one Jean de Chery (the male form of John/Jeanne) who at a certain point seeks the permission of Charles the Mad to go visit his properties in Normandy, after which he vanishes from history, and the de Chereis turn up in Leicestershire…attached to the de Courtenay branch that had established in England. It was, thanks to William, *no* trouble to get ship from Normandy to England in that time.

And Burgundy was busy assassinating his rivals, and King Charles was getting crazier, and the de Courtenays in France finally dwindled down to a few, one female unable to pass the title, and virtually powerless, though they still existed.

Part of the de Chereis family moved from Leicestershire and set up in the south, at Maidenhead and Bray, in Berkshire, and those folk by then are spelling it Cherry, and still marrying people of some substance, to judge by the graves, the literacy, and the constant interweaving of spouses of some indication of wealth, even title. Then from Bray, a Cherry (they all tended to be named John and David and Thomas) went over to northern Ireland, and after a few generations, a John and his son David emigrated to Virginia, in a time of religious unrest and civil war. So my little guy from de Cerisy may instead be a much more politically connected guy skipping out of the town of Chery, in central France to go join the de Courtenays in Leicestershire, before the king who was his patron went entirely over the brink.

Jane’s family name, possibly originally Faucher, may, according to one name-origin, have come from the Limoges area of France, then to London, then to the Americas, which is kind of generic information and not easy to attach to individuals, but there is new information, too—indicating a substantial house in England, the house at Fanshawe Gate, which is now a beautiful garden showplace in Derbyshire—and a connection of her very definite ancestor, via records in Massachusetts, to a Fanshawe from the house at Fanshawe Gate who went from that Derbyshire hall down to London: that ancestor married one Eunice Bouton, who seems like a quiet New England lady of French ancestry—until you get into her past, and figure that—ironically enough—that lady’s ancestors run back to the dukes of central France, back before the Norman Invasion. Both these possible connections are still under investigation—but they do answer some interesting questions and fill in some gaps; and they are better connected to specific individuals whose time and place we can say match and intersect. It’s worth more study, at very least. The de Chereis are in Burke’s Peerage.

Anyway, hunting ancestors one of my favorite winter-evening hobbies. I was amazed that I could trace anybody by real, checkable records, but the computer age has made it an easy-chair kind of hobby; you can access, almost instantly, every digitized census report and village record, not just in the States, but in Britain, Italy, France, and now apparently into Japan and Germany, the Netherlands, you name it. They open up more of these every month, and if they ever digitize Creek County, OK, I may be able to open up a whole new part of the tree by finding my paternal great-grandmother. That could happen.

The software system I use  is www.ancestry.com and if you’ve ever wanted to get into this, it’s a marvelous way to learn history: it gets pretty personal when  you know it was your great-great-great-great grandfather in that battle…

For any of you who are in the Ancestry network, our tree is “It’s the Eleventh Century and We’re All Barbarians…”, a quote from our favorite Christmas movie, The Lion in Winter, which is appropriate on so many grounds.

697 Comments

  1. CJ

    It happens a lot. The Boones are a nest of matrushka dolls—every generation and EVERY SON IN EVERY GENERATION has a Squire, a John, a Benjamin, a Polly, a Daniel, an Israel, etc…and it gets repeated and repeated and repeated. Prior to Squire, every generation had a George, and it’s a question how many Georges. Is there a George before George One? Accounts vary. Some say there was.

    Fortunately my own tree, working UPWARD from my great-grandmother who was alleged to connect to Squire, made better sense than trying to work down. She named her grandson Lafayette. Her father was Lafe Boon. We know Lafe’s father was James Monroe Boone, who was murdered in a very recorded incident; and that James Monroe Boone…had a well-established descent from the senior Benjamin Boone. But complicating everything, somebody married a cousin, so when you give the lineage, you have to put a whole batch of people in twice—including this whole matrushka doll affair with all the similar names. It took me months to work through that tangle.

    • paul

      My sister has run into similar problems. My father’s grandmothers were (second?) cousins, Laura Alice and Rebecca Jane Goodbar, both daughters of Joseph Goodbars. Seems every family in the Goodbars had at least one Joseph. Names are more confusing than helpful, she has to go by birthdates, when she can find them!

  2. Confutus

    For finding ancestors, I start with a known descendant (myself) and work backward. But for some purposes, I find it’s also interesting to start with a known ancestor and work forward.
    I have a 4th great grandfather, Nahum Curtis, with about eight children. After his wife died, he married a widow Delia Reed, who had seven of her own..they had no children together, but one of his sons Joseph Curtis married one of her daughters Sally Reed, and one of his daughters Mary Curtis married one of her sons Calvin Reed. Another son Moses Curtis (my 3rd great grandfather) married a daughter of Levi Jackman. By this time, the practice of polygamous or plural marriage had been introduced, and Delia Reed became the second wife of Levi Jackman.
    But wait, I’m just getting started. One of the Merlin Plumbs I mentioned was married to Cleopatra Bellows. His oldest living son was John Henry Plumb, and John Henry married a daughter of Moses Curtis. He also named a son Merlin James Plumb, and one of John Henry Plumbs sons was John Merlin Plumb (and one genealogical data base I use went into an infinite loop when some user ignored dates and identified him with his grandfather). John Henry Plumb was also polygamous, and his second wife was a granddaughter of Nahum Curtis (by way of his eldest son Lyman Curtis)
    Oh yes, my great grandfather was a grandson of Moses Curtis and married a daughter of Merlin Plumb and Mary Ann Clifford. To top things off, the father of Mary Ann Clifford died and her mother married Calvin Reed, as his third wife. He isn’t related genetically, but he certainly got around my family tree.
    Sometimes I’m a bit envious of Heinlein’s Free Traders, who could “state a relationship such as ‘my maternal foster half-stepuncle by marriage, one removed and now deceased’ in one word, one which means that relationship and no other”.

    • tulrose

      Aaack. The mind boggles.

      • chondrite

        One considers Monty Python’s “elaborate system of pulleys and trusses.”

  3. paul

    Well then, boggle this!

    Sancho IV of Castile married Maria de Molina
    issue
    Ferdinand IV of Castile,
    Beatrice of Castile.

    Denis (Dionysis) of Portugal married Elizabeth of Aragon
    issue
    Alfonso IV or Portugal,
    Constance of Portugal.

    You guessed it:
    Alfonso married Beatrice
    issue
    Maria of Portugal.
    Ferdinand married Constance
    issue
    Alfonso XI of Castile.

    Alfonso XI married Maria, double first cousins
    issue
    Peter of Castile.
    who has only 4 great grandparents!

    Peter is my 20th great grandfather.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabella_of_Castile,_Duchess_of_York)

  4. paul

    Peter’s daughter, Isabella of Castile, married Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, fourth son of Edward III.

  5. CJ

    Lol—shall I give you my personal theory as to why the American Boones so hotly deny that there was a George Zero, ie, before George One?
    Georges 1-3 were Quaker. The batch that emigrated to the Colonies came as Quakers, though they became generic Protestant and participated in wars, etc, after breaking with the Quakers. There was some strong and rather irrational prejudice against Catholics in certain areas of America, and I’m suspecting the attitude rode the wooden ships along with the rats—that people who’d emigrated in the era of religious strife, passed down attitudes in a major way. I’m also suspecting that George Zero was Catholic, and that this is why the Devon folk, Quaker, with a propensity to stick to their own, only counted George One.

    Genealogy has opened up a real interesting notion for me—that to a certain extent the English Civil Wars are STILL being fought in the USA, because the polarized attitudes that arrived over here, who don’t know WHY they hate (fill in blank) except that their granddad held that attitude—are still set in the most difficult of all beliefs to shed—those they grew up hearing.

    • paul

      I’ve been thinking about your proposition all afternoon. Xenophobia bears its own witness to being at least 2,500 years old, let alone the English Civil War.

      I believe ancient peoples, whether agricultural or hunter-gatherer, were at least as observant as we. And cultural mythology, taboo, what have you, have bases in observational cause and effect.

      So what is it that would make people afraid of strangers? What do they bring with them? I can think of three things off the top, absent blatant aggression.

      1) technology/new ideas: certainly can be destructive, but with a long incubation period. Cause and effect aren’t so very likely to be associated.

      2) genes: generally a good thing among isolated peoples, e.g. Arctic and South Pacific. But unlikely to be perceived as a benefit since, again, the time span for an effect is long and association is unlikely.

      3) pathogens: relatively immediate effect, generally bad or worse, rapid association. Good enough reason for xenophobia, IMO.

  6. CJ

    Don’t forget religion—particularly religion that gets its power from making people sinners if they violate the norm, the religious laws, the rules, or to entertain so much as thoughts of doing so. Eternal damnation is a big stick, and leaders of sects engaged in ‘purifying’ their ranks and gaining rabid followers are particularly good at that. The reaction of the followers is often to be noisy and aggressive about following the canon, with the motive of being thus thought ‘pure’ and therefore safer from becoming the target. That’s played out in history under the cloak of religious sect or political movement from way back.

  7. GreenWyvern

    I’m with CJ on this.

    In the 16th, 17th, and even 18th centuries almost all conflicts in Europe were intense struggles between Catholics and Protestants. There were internal religious conflicts in many countries, as well as religious conflicts between countries. (That’s not to say that nationalism didn’t often play a role as well.)

    In England and Scotland there were laws against Catholics holding any position of authority. No Catholic could be a military officer, a governent official, a judge, a lawyer, a member of Parliament, a university professor or student.

    But even to talk of Protestants vs. Catholics is a simplification, because there were different sects of Protestants who hated each other almost as much they hated Catholics.

    Many early settlers in America were fundamentalist Protestant fanatics, who found the ‘established’ church in England too moderate for their liking. They were like Christian versions of the Taliban. Many sects considered dancing to be a sin, banned all music other than hymns, enforced rules on what clothing could be worn, punished non-attendance at church, etc. They wanted to go someplace where they were not constrained by ordinary civil and criminal laws, where church elders could do whatever they liked in their little communities without being hauled in front of a secular magistrate.

    They brought a hatred and fear of Catholics to America with them. Later – after the American Revolution – attitudes in England and Scotland gradually changed, and restrictions against Catholics were lifted. But in America hardline anti-Catholic feelings remained in many communities and continued through the generations.

  8. CJ

    When you consider that there’s an Appalachian dialect that has a relationship to the grammar and expression of Elizabethan English, retaining a lil’ ol’ thing like religious hatred is minor. In regions of this country, also, we have states’ rights vs. constitution arguments that STARTED in Philadelphia in 1776, reached one peak of passion in the Civil War, and they’re still going on. While it is possible to hold an intellectual and reasoned discussion on the topic, the really passionate types do not have a very organized belief, rather an emotional one that’s quite full of charge, and if backed into a corner they just start reiterating memes and ‘could-happens’ that honestly seem taken right out of the debate pre-1860’s…the problem imho being that it IS a topic that needs revisiting as technology changes. We are not terribly efficient, our justice system is anything but just, and our schools are a morass of local mismanagement, religious pressure groups and political influence, with student interests far, far to the rear. Our health care delivery is a national disgrace, worst in the western world, while people opposed to doing anything keep citing ‘facts’ that never were facts in the first place, but if often repeated, convince people by their simple familiarity.
    Periods of rapid technological change challenge systems and require adjustment, or the old power-holders and their followers run amok trying to stop the planet, [consider the burst of information in the Renaissance and the religious wars and the Inquisition that immediately followed] and we are currently having quite a period of rapid technological change.
    Unfortunately we’re still fighting, imho, not only our own Civil War, but the English ones, as well.

  9. brennan

    I recently read a biography of Roger Williams who started Rhode Island and made it the foundation of religious freedom in America even though he, personally, was even more of a fundamentalist radical than the other Pilgrims. Religious freedom to most of the English and American Puritans was not merely the right to worship without persecution but even more so, free exercise of the right to persecute dissenters with the full power of both Church and State. Williams’ life was forfeit to the Anglicans due to his outspoken and radical Puritanism and to the Boston Puritans’ religious tyranny because he insisted that only the church could be Pure and any entanglement of religious and secular authority would inevitably contaminate the church due to the corruption endemic in the State as a purely human institution.

  10. paul

    But surely inbred xenophobia must be more fundamental to how our brains work than religious intolerance.

    I thought about including religion in my “cultural mythology” list, but decided against it. As you imply a lot of stuff is overlain on it, like politics and power, which aren’t predictable. The issue of “morals” seems to have big chunks of my observational cause and effect.

    Whether you think eating pork is a moral issue depends on whether or not your culture evolved in an area where there is a plentiful supply of firewood for cooking. If you have the fuel to cook pork well enough to kill the Trichinella spiralis, you never thought it was an inherently bad thing to eat–it’s just a matter of the proper recipe. 😉

    Whether you think wearing clothing is a moral issue depends on whether your culture evolved in a hot desert or cold arctic environment, or a tropical one. We wouldn’t have melanotic skin if God had expected us to hide from the sun in clothing. It’s dictated by “Hadley Cells”! 😉

    No, I think if we hadn’t an inbred inclination to xenophobia, fear of the strange, alien, and foreign, there wouldn’t be this abreaction. We don’t evidence it only on religious grounds, after all–there’s racism. The question is origin. Chimpanzees will go to war. Bonobos won’t. Does it go that far back, or does it come from observations when we became H sapiens?

  11. paul

    Maybe my education has been too Euro-centric, but it has always seemed to me religious intolerance is somehow a “property” of the Big Three Western Religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam. The Big Three Eastern Religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, seem to have rather less of it. So, as there are counter-examples, it seems to me intolerance is not an intrinsic property of religion, per se.

  12. tulrose

    I think I gave you a partial link to the page on Charles II. Here is the home page of the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.

    http://fmg.ac/

  13. CJ

    Lol—that’s a riot.
    Some of my branches are a mess and I know it. I get the occasional anguished letter from somebody pointing out a problem (to me, along with the 38200 to the 18th number of novice researchers who believed the World Tree wouldn’t be wrong—although the 32 children attributed to this one woman did stretch credulity.

    I’m wiser and cannier now. Confronted with 32 children, I go to Wiki on a ‘known’ person and do some weeding of offpsring.

    Several of my own lines try to go back to various Roman connections, and by all accounts, one of them might work: *someone* in the world has to be related to the Romans. But I know Rome really well (Classics major) and I know the Byzantines, the Dacians, the Thracians, the Pannonians, and various of the tribes up in the boonies—where they moved, who they were, how they operated, and ditto for North Africa—where there might have been connections and where likely not. I know where there are records, and where there aren’t, unless they have been preserved through genealogies that never got a chance to lapse: people in charge of Romanized towns and religious sites, maybe, but again—serious grain of salt. I also know Roman naming conventions, and get really nervous when we have names like Ferreolus Tonantius…Latin for ‘thundering iron’ at least at the cores of the diminutive and the descriptive endings: that’s not a normal Roman name, but then, he probably was provincial, the name could be a translation, but there’s a whole lot to ask about his authenticity. We get down to Wiki being an encyclopedia that will accept some things that ought to be questioned, because they do give the popular story. BUT we are also back to the question of Agamemnon. We cannot ‘find’ him by normal means: we just have a very elaborate story. But *somebody* from an incoming tribe, supplanting the older building style, *was* king of Mycenae in its last stage of Bronze Age importance, and myth says his name was Agamemnon and that his brother ruled Sparta. If Agamemnon did not in fact exist, we will have to invent him, so we might as well call him Agamemnon. If the famous gold mask did not lie across his face, it could have, since it was of the right style and period…so ‘mask of Agamemnon’ it is: though it could have been Thyestes. 😉

    When genealogy, history, and archaelogy get together, it makes for some interesting sort-out. I’m not real sure there was a Ferreolus Tonantius, but the description of the little Romanized towns here and there maintaining a quasi-Roman government on their way to the Carolingians is spot-on with what we think may have been the case as Rome lost control of the north and declined, so if Ferreolus Tonantius didn’t exist, he did, in a sense, and had a half a hundred brothers.

    My take on it all, however, is that when the Romans went down, the records went…and nobody is going to get much past a handful of Western Roman field commanders and Eastern Roman (Byzantine) field commanders, mostly of tribal origins. We have no links into Egypt, Africa, and so far as I am aware, none in the Middle East that pre-date the rise of Islam, which did keep good records, but as every king in the West wanted to be descended from Charlemagne, every pasha in the East wanted to be a son of the Prophet…and charts were made to prove the case.

    Chinese records try to go back to the Shang Dynasty, 1500’s BC, equivalent to Minoan Crete, but there are many gaps, and the subsequent wars of the Wei valley and the reign of Shi Huang Ti (200 BC), who burned records wholesale, except those of his own house—followed by those who wanted to wipe HIM from memory—probably lost tons of information.

    New World records were burned by the Spanish. Very little remains. Unless the survivors of the Maya and Inca preserve an oral geneological history they’re not talking about, much of that is lost.

    Egypt? Even Roman era records went in a chain of disasters, not to mention religious fanatics burning papyri and people using mummies and all their wrappings and records, as fuel…

    So, no, no Nefertiti. Why in hell Nefertiti and not Ankhaton? Prettier?

    We have our own in the US, in Pocohontas. Half the US thinks they’re related to an Indian princess, and half of those are sure it’s Pocohontas…

    Jane has one little batch of folk from central France who really cast a light on what went on between the Carolingians and the Normans: this little tiny set of towns and local lords marrying and double-crossing each other to connect with a more potent family, then counter-moves of relationship, and the whole district finally getting sucked into the Burgundians, if I recall correctly—it’s like a microcosm of greater Europe, and an interesting sidenote of a power grab into Normandy AFTER William moved out and ruled Normandy only by remote control…that’s the sort of thing that just delights me. Who knew? Who thought of what it would have meant for Normandy to go from having an up-close-and-personal king and then having him leave? And who’d have expected somebody from Burgundy to have any interest in a marriage clear up there?

    To me, that’s both interesting and probably true, because nobody has a percentage in ‘creating’ that link for political purposes.

    • tulrose

      Those trees are a hoot!

      I’ld like to go further back with my own family but mid 18th century is probably going to be it. The earliest in my direct line is ca1715 from an age in a burial register. Definitely iffy.

  14. CJ

    Don’t despair. All it takes is some parish record, some family with an oral history or family bible—my own paternal line had all sorts of strange origins attached to it, mostly misleading, with various conjectures in credible-looking published form, and I think yrs. truly may have actually dug up the answer to where we came from…not from an English record, but from the French Wiki, of all places. All it takes is one break, one little, little clue. Ancestry started out firm that we were German. I knew better. I found us as English residents of N. Ireland, with the very solid connection of a guy named David, my third-great grandfather, and John, my fourth, who turn up in our family in Virginia, and David lives to get to Texas. So Ancestry now has that down pat. I did a lot of ‘fishing’ searches after clusters of the name. Found one in Leicestershire, another in Berkshire, in Shropshire, and in Devon. A lookup on historical events (wiki the place and year, eg, England 1715) provided some real cogent reasons for some movements…that helped me a lot: it’s how I found the situation with Charles the Mad and Burgundy, which turned out to matter to my much smaller fish.

  15. chondrite

    DH is firm in the belief that, despite a very few notables in the history, most of our ancestors were of humble origin. It goes along with the thought that no one who claims to be reincarnated is anything but royalty, a warlord, or some other powerful person. DH says that chances are good for our line that it was more like a pea farmer. AFAIK, my ancestors were mostly small craftsmen on both sides — wheelwrights, millers, carpenters, masons, etc.

    • tulrose

      Mine are the ubiquitous Ag-Lab. As late as the 1890’s some of mine were still signing with an X so literacy is not a given. I’m assuming numeracy because you still had to be able to pay for the Saturday night ale. This is in my direct line. Uncles & aunts & cousins who moved out of Norfolk and up into Yorkshire where there was work in industry were more likely to be literate.

  16. CJ

    I had some rowdy sorts who are in Wiki, but just as intriguing are the ones that continue in little towns and villages. This is the village from which many of my mother’s people came… http://www.pontesbury.info/index.php To this day it has about 3500 residents. And on my father’s side http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bray,_Berkshire … and Stoke Canon, Devon, also my father’s side and my mother’s… http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Stoke_Canon

    And likely where my father’s line came from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A9ry and http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A9ry population now about 200 people. It was a shade larger in earlier times, and was probably quite agricultural, supplying larger towns and Paris with foodstuffs.

  17. CJ

    I’ve got the usual lot of horse-thieves and villains in my family tree, but I just found one that really I don’t want to admit. I’ve tried and tried to disprove the link. I have a guy who burned his wife at the stake in her wedding gown; a guy who ordered the massacre of 400 unarmed prisoners, and a few others just too gruesome to mention—and let’s include the pirates in the Hawkins line, affliliated with Drake, as in Sir Francis; but the one that honestly bugs me is Adm. Sir John Hawkins, who originated the Triangular Trade. Talk about a load of human misery. And I’m afraid unless I can find a flaw in that link somewhere closer to me—I’m stuck with the bastard. Died at sea off Puerto Rico.

  18. CJ

    Well, it turns out there IS a great deal more to this John Hawkins fellow…and he was a character. His father was a well-known British sea captain under probably Henry VIII and probably under Elizabeth I. The career of Captain John Hawkins reads like a novel…
    First, his early career: he was a cousin to Sir Francis Drake. He was, like his father, a captain in the Royal Navy, which was issuing Letters of Marque, and creating privateers, which John Hawkins quite unabashedly was. He sailed off to harass the Spanish Main, and made himself a great nuisance to Spanish slave ships AND to Spanish plantation owners in South America. He would board these ships or raid these plantations, take the slaves to ANOTHER Spanish port and sell them…to the Spanish; he had a deal going with the governor of the port city in question. This was working fine for him until the Spanish Crown happened to replace that governor, and the new governor’s ship sailed into port while Hawkins and his allies were there…he apparently had talked some English investors into outfitting his and a couple of other ships. At this point the jig was up and he was lucky to get out with a couple of ships—apparently without supplies and with ships in not great condition.

    When he did get back to England, his connections to Francis Drake probably kept him financially afloat, and he got a shore-side assignment, succeeding his father-in-law in a Royal Navy office which let him handle ship refurbishment. He was an expert sailor with combat experience, and used what he knew to alter the basic British ship design, raking the masts back a bit, doing other adjustments of rigging to make British warships highly maneuverable compared with the performance of, say, Spanish ships.

    Now the story becomes really strange—because the Spanish knew him as a guy who’d, yes, worked with that Spanish governor, never mind what he was doing; they knew him for a pirate and a scoundrel who was fluent in Spanish and totally corrupt, willing to sell anything (and anyone, literally) for the right price—and a guy with a cousin (Francis Drake) very high up in the British Navy and having the ear of Queen Elizabeth herself.

    So the Spanish reached out and contacted him—somehow—and assumed he was buyable.

    He probably went straight to his cousin Francis and spilled the beans, all the way to the top—and the British found this very interesting. The order came down through a man very close to Queen Elizabeth that he should take this deal and feed the Spanish information, yes, but find out what he could.

    He certainly did. He went on the Spanish payroll, —and found out about the impending Spanish invasion of England, aka, the Spanish Armada.

    He apparently played a very dangerous role, staying absolutely faithful to the British sovereign, turning over enough to make the Spanish believe him, and possibly letting the Spanish use him to find out things that tipped their hand.

    Queen Elizabeth faced the Spanish Armada with 3 admirals in charge of the British fleet John Hawkins had redesigned: Francis Drake, Martin Frobisher, and John Hawkins. The British ships were more seaworthy, more maneuverable in weather (as developed,) and John Hawkins may have been the one who employed fire boats in the reception the Armada ran up against.

    Admiral John Hawkins now became Adm. Sir John Hawkins, because of his service to the Crown, and he and his fellow admirals set sail again for the New World—Frobisher looking for the Northwest Passage, I think it was, and Drake and Hawkins off to the Caribbean in quest of land and gold. Both died during the voyage: dysentery, apparently. His creation of the Triangular Trade, molasses, slaves, and rum, was important in the establishment of the early New England colonies; and in keeping Britain involved in the Caribbean…while the Spanish, badly damaged by the loss of the Armada, began to wane.

    His descendant and most recent heir of the Hawkins title made a public apology in 2004 regarding his slavetrading.

    He probably was pretty much what the Spanish thought he was—a scoundrel, a pirate, and a guy who was out for money by any means—notably if he was off the map in foreign waters. John Hawkins didn’t seem to be spendthrift with his gains—just went back to sea and apparently sold the Crown on his private moneymaking scheme, with all the human misery it entailed.

    So that was Adm. Sir John Hawkins. When he died at sea, his son Richard, who was aboard, took over as captain and got the ship home.

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