Friday, April 20, 2012

Who Knew?

I have always wondered about my family lineage.  Where we came from, what our ancestors were like, what they all went through, etc.  That said, I dug little, but very little.  The past few days I have been digging deep.  Very, very deep.

I have discovered a thoroughly interesting family pedigree on both my maternal & paternal lines.  I had always been told we were Irish, Dutch, Welsh, and English on my mom's side.  Told we were Scottish, German, Jewish, French, and French Canadian on my father's.

As it turns out, and I'm in the mid-800's on the paternal side of my maternal lineage, and the late-900's on the maternal side of it, we are very much English, French, and a little bit German, Belgian, and Welsh.  So far not one drop of Irish or Dutch what so ever.  There is a LOT of French though, and not one of my great-aunts or great-uncles seemed to know, because they never once talked about it.  Also, I am thinking they somewhere along the way, started mispronouncing Deutsch as Dutch, as do many Americans.  So, they ended up thinking Dutch when really they're German.

I have begun digging on my father's side as well, and got quite a bit done, though no where near as in depth as the other side of my family tree is going.  We are very German, French, and a bit English.  No Scottish at all, and if we are Jewish they didn't record it, and I'm pretty sure they would have had to at some point in records that the churches kept.  They are, for the most part, very detailed records.  As to the French Canadian, I'm thinking not so much.  I can't find anything at all about any of our family having come to the US from Canada at all.

I have found plenty of excitement though.  Knights, lords, ladies, dukes, duchesses, earls, barons, baronesses, and a whole plethora of castle born and castle builders.  These are primarily in France, Normandie to be exact, and England, though several are on the borderlands of Wales and England, and one in Belgium.  There are photos of several of the castles, some of which are down to foundations, but two of which are fairly substantial and are lovely.  I have found family crests, intrigue, and tales of murder.  Yes, murder.  Also, at least one died whilst defending his castle and family against siege.

Arranged marriages to gain political standings, strengthen one's holdings, and so on...oh you betcha! We had those aplenty.  Seriously.  I have a very distant aunt who was named Hedwig, and as a devoted Harry Potter fan, well, I thought it quite fascinating.  Also, there is a poor distant uncle who was recorded in the church records as William the Bastard.  Yes, really.  That can't have been easy to grow up with.  Just imagine how the legitimate children and his father's wife treated him.  Poor lad.

There is the one who was a crusader, the one who came from Normandie to help settle the Welsh borders and was Lord Marcher.  That means marshal also, and the marshals worked for kings to keep order in the land.  Imagine that.  What I want to figure out is, how did we go from titled land owners in France & England to people who left Europe on ships for America.  Why did they leave?  What happened to those who stayed?  Do I have family in France, England, Wales, and Germany today?  If so, who are they, what are they like?

Oddly enough, I have always loved tales of knights, ladies & lords, castles, dragons, jousting, and so on.  I adore medieval histories and have read about them at length.  I have even written a faux history on myself to prep for a character when I was going to join SCA.  Even more odd, she was living in England in the 1200's and had French lineage.  Seriously.  I did that about 5 years ago now.  Pretty darn awesome right there!

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