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Thread: Tracing to Aristocracy

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by A Norfolk L-M20 View Post
    My ancestry appears quite unusual, in that not only is it quite localised English, but very rural working class. We're the people that never emigrated away, those that always remained. When I started researching 30 years ago, I soon found heraldric trees in dusty volumes in Norwich Library. I started to write down the names of those that shared my surname, and quite expected that somewhere, at some time, I'd come across links to titled families. After all, genetic folding would support that.

    Thirty years on. I now have the names of over 380 alleged direct ancestors. All but two, appear to have been SE English. Stretching back on the oldest lines to the 16th Century. Not one aristocrat, titled gentleman, noble, royal, or squire. Most of them presumably the poor descendants of the English medieval peasantry.

    Yet I hear so many Americans claim lines to European royal families. And this is my hypothesis, (open for redress) ...

    Genetic drift. Many North Americans can claim some descent from the early English colonial settlers. Many, many Americans share these lines, even if only a small percentage of their ancestry. The reproductive success of that wave of settlement on later generations. These lines are incredibly well researched and shared. Once an American genealogist hooks a family line into them, the lineage will stretch back.

    A lot of those early English colonial settlers were actually quite well connected. Both puritans and planters often came from petty bourgeoisie if not wealthy families, that could afford to finance the emigration. They were not generally from pauper families. The poor - the majority of the population of England at that time, could not afford to escape their poverty. The indentured servants were poor, but they had a much poorer survival and subsequently reproductive rate.

    Therefore, unless someone better versed knocks my hypothesis over, many Americans with colonial roots will indeed be better placed to find aristocratic and subsequently royal connections than this poor East Anglian pleb.

    By the way, John, perhaps a subject for a new thread, but I know exactly what you mean about the validity of older genealogies. English peasants didn't adopt hereditary surnames until the High Medieval - and the Welsh, much later. Parish registration didn't start until the Reformation, and yes it took some time to become established, with the following centuries of religious strife and civil war. Even then, many parish registers are damaged, illegible, missing (tales of parson's wife's using them to kindle the kitchen fire), or have actually not yet been deposited in archives. Of those that have, many have not yet been digitally photographed, or are not available online. The transcriptions are often very erroneous.

    It gets better from the 18th Century, when we can start to correlate individuals with more and more records, including the later 19th Century censuses. I have said that for the poor, unless you are particularly lucky and they are very localised, with an unusual name - that stretching much earlier than around 1720, the certainty and confidence factor rapidly diminishes. For that reason, sometimes as genealogists, we have to accept that reduction in correlative evidence and confidence, to reach back through the 17th to 16th Centuries. I'm saying that it becomes a bit more hazardous to get things right. We might find John X baptised about the right time in a nearby parish. But we can't be certain that there were several other John X's in the area at that time, about the right age. We just picked the one with a record that we can find.
    From a Norwegian perspective I can add a few observations regarding immigrants and wealth/background.

    I have noted that the "poorest" of my immigrant ancestors from Germany, UK etc, usually assimilated much faster than those from supposed wealthy background. They would often take a Norwegian name, or "Norweganize" their name upon arrival, while those from a wealthy background would often cling on to their name (especially surname). These "wealthy" surnames are also found among modern day Norwegians, which is a testimony to the prestige that has been associated with those names. I am sure you would find a similar pattern in America and other places...

    I have also noted that during the 15-1700's, people with these prestigious names, often had far more children than those from "common" families, at least that seems to be the case for my family. So over time they came to dominate the genepool. This is likely why I seem to have inherited DNA from my English/Welsh Grey line, which is from the early 1600's (in fact I think I am related to the same persons through multiple ancestral lines).

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  3. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by evon View Post
    I have also noted that during the 15-1700's, people with these prestigious names, often had far more children than those from "common" families, at least that seems to be the case for my family. So over time they came to dominate the genepool. This is likely why I seem to have inherited DNA from my English/Welsh Grey line, which is from the early 1600's (in fact I think I am related to the same persons through multiple ancestral lines).
    I'm agree. I see the same things in the records: wealthy families did have a trend to have more children, and often far more surviving children with offspring than poor people. The result is a higher frequency of such ancestors in our genealogical tree.

    To be back to nobility, I found several ancestors who were noble, often from low, untitled, nobility. The most recent one died in 1743, and it happens she is 4 times my ancestor (all from one of my great grand father). I have pushed her tree to the XIIIth century for several of her lines, but without connection to high nobility. Several Knights, a Keeper of the Seals and Chancellor (aka Prime Minister) of the French King in 1300 (died at Kortrijk in 1302) and so on, but no verified line to Charlemagne (even if printed genealogies can say otherwise).

    Through another ancestor, married by contract in 1580 to a soldier, it's another story. Calvinist cadet daughter of a judge (who were granted nobility by the king), her maternal grandmother was the heiress of a "baron" from an ancient family, and her own grandmother was a member of the Adhemar family, lords of Montelimar. So, part of the high nobility and descendant of the counts of Valentinois, and through them of many counts, Dukes, kings....

    Recently, I found an indirect proof of filiation for the wife of a poor farmer living in the Flemish speaking part of Artois. I've searched it for years. She was the daughter of a farmer, Oudart Roels. He was a descendant of (probably) another farmer, Gilles ROELS (dead before 1550) and his wife, Marguerite de BERSACQUES, who was noble, sister of Oudart de BERSACQUES, chief almoner (among other things) of Emperor Charles V. They were 2 of the many children of local nobles Philippe de BERSACQUES and Jacqueline de WAILLY, both remote descendants of the castellans of Saint Omer, hence of Charlemagne. I've been lucky with this family because not only Oudart de BERSACQUES last will is known (among many other papers), but he created a foundation for poor members of his family, which still existed in the XVIIIth century. And some of his brothers descendancy became extinct around 1600 meaning disputes about their inheritance. But it means, that journeymen living in the XVIIIth century could have noble ancestors two centuries ago.
    Last edited by ffoucart; 01-12-2018 at 02:16 PM.

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  5. #33
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    Through DNA my paternal line goes back to a king in the 1400s of a kingdom in Ireland. However, I haven't been able to find the connection through records. My mum's family name was supposed to be that of lords. I know that DNA and records will never be able to prove that though since they went into obscurity before my dad's family so there's no one alive today that is known to descend from these lords. For some reason I find it strange to consider Irish nobility to be aristocrats like those in Britain and continental Europe. I probably just need to see some historical films set in medieval or late medieval Ireland to get that picture in my head.
    Ancestry: 96% Ireland, 2% Great Britain, 1% Finland/Northwest Russia, <1% Scandinavia & Connacht Genetic Community
    Paternal ancestor (Y): Martin Kelly b. c1830 in Co. Roscommon (Hy Many)
    Father's mtDNA: Catherine Fleming b. c1831 in Co. Roscommon (H27e)
    Maternal ancestor (mt): Anne McDermott b. c1814 in Co. Roscommon
    Paternal great grandfather (mt): Mary Connella b. c1798 in Co. Roscommon (T2a1a8)

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  7. #34
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    Original Irish nobility was not prone to adopt Protestantism and was depreaved of its lands in the XVIIth century. The king gave their lands to protestants settlers from Scotland, France and so on.

    That's how my great great grand uncle family, the LaTouche, obtained some of their lands (directly or inherited by alliance), if I've understand correctly.
    Last edited by ffoucart; 01-13-2018 at 12:37 PM.

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  9. #35
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    I am very skeptical of claims of descent from nobility, especially those made in Ancestry family trees. Many of these claims can not be backed up by acceptable documented evidence.

    For example one of my matches claims descent from Friedrich von BRANDENBURG-SCHWEDT (House of Hohenzollern) (1710 - 1741).
    However, I have been unable to locate any sources that mention he even married or had offspring.

    Another match claims to be the descendant of a German count. Whilst this family did exist (and still does), the “count“ referenced in their family tree does not appear to have.

    If people are truly interested in their possible links to nobility, and actually want to do proper research instead of copying information from dubious
    online family trees - they should invest in some books, as well as visit sites operated by scholars such as the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.

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  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by miremont View Post

    If people are truly interested in their possible links to nobility, and actually want to do proper research instead of copying information from dubious
    online family trees - they should invest in some books, as well as visit sites operated by scholars such as the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.
    true, always use sources; and remember there are lots of genealogical magazines too, full of articles that make use of primary sources. If one is very interested in establishing a link to the medieval nobility, why then would one not use good sources?
    Ancestry (approx.): ~88.25% West-European; 6.25% Jewish; ~4.50% Indonesian; ~1.00% (South?)-Indian.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by miremont View Post
    I am very skeptical of claims of descent from nobility, especially those made in Ancestry family trees. Many of these claims can not be backed up by acceptable documented evidence.

    For example one of my matches claims descent from Friedrich von BRANDENBURG-SCHWEDT (House of Hohenzollern) (1710 - 1741).
    However, I have been unable to locate any sources that mention he even married or had offspring.

    Another match claims to be the descendant of a German count. Whilst this family did exist (and still does), the “count“ referenced in their family tree does not appear to have.

    If people are truly interested in their possible links to nobility, and actually want to do proper research instead of copying information from dubious
    online family trees - they should invest in some books, as well as visit sites operated by scholars such as the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.
    I would say that most Norwegians trees from the 1500-1400s that involve Nordic and German nobility are fairly reliable (most Norwegians are descendant from multiple Nordic and German noble houses due to their large number of offspring etc), but there are of course exceptions... While my Grey line is fairly well researched, I do still have some doubts, despite the fact that the university of St Andrews have endorsed the research:

    https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/history...=6545&id2=6545
    During the civil wars in Britain (1639-59) John Grey of Buildwas Abbey lost his lands and was expelled from England. Around 1643-4 he fled to Norway where he married Magdalene Bang, the daughter of a clergyman Gabriel Anderson Bang. Her father was the minister of Fjellberg parish and held several pieces of property. John became known as the count of Netteland, where he died circa 1666.............................................. .............................Statsarkiv, Bergen: L.H. Horton, Ancestral History of the Grey-Lason-Hjortaas family, (California, 1963), p.24.
    Last edited by evon; 01-13-2018 at 04:04 PM.

  13. #38
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    What I enjoy seeing in my family tree is meritocracy.
     


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  15. #39
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    None here. There's actually a lot of false links to royalty and nobility out there, so be careful with your research. Closest I've come is a lowly Ecuyer (Squire), Ruloff de Kype.

  16. #40
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    I think, with all due respect to the skeptics, as a British TV archaeologist once said, that we find what we find - end of. Under genetic folding, we should expect to find at some point, links to aristocracy, if the records survive. Yes there are many, many awful online genealogies, even viral. However, that isn't to say that every paper genealogy is more true, better resourced, better correlated than every online tree. I've not found any aristocracy, not even a squire, but I've found some fantastic stories, and some painful stories. I've long fancied that I may have Elizabethan Stranger ancestry - 16th and 17th century protestant refugees from the Low Countries to East Anglia. Simply by chance, and that they must have contributed to the East Anglian genome. Although concentrated in the towns, their settlement wasn't exclusively urban.

    Then this very week, I found a trail to one. As I said further up the thread, with commoner English ancestry, we lose reliability much earlier than mid 18th Century. But through parish registers alone, and a very French sounding surname, I think that I've found one - a 17th Century Walloon in Norwich. Not exactly rich - but for me, a tremendously exciting find. Only my second "non-English" in the tree, the other being a poor 19th Century Swiss lace weaver in London. To me that is exciting. For others, a link to aristocracy and royalty - which is awesome if you achieve it, if only for the promise of some pretty old heraldic family trees back into the medieval. However, even for my 9th great grandfather Jean Rosiere of Norwich, if he indeed is my ancestor, I'm perfectly happy - but I have no census, no state BMD records to back it up. Genealogy should always in my opinion, tell a story.
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