Genealogy Bits and Pieces

My younger sister and I have both had a long held interest in genealogy and history. Why, I can’t explain, but we both studied history at university and we have both attempted to trace the family tree. However, in this case most credit ought to go to my sister because she’s the one who’s done the most work.

Both sides of our families have done a good job handing down the stories of our family through the generations. We have a strong picture of where our family came from and how it got here, to Australia. Our ethnic heritage would be best described as Anglo-Celtic. That is, a lot of our ancestors are English, and the rest are a mix of Welsh, Irish, Scottish and French. Our grandmother once told me that some of her ancient ancestors were Spanish people who somehow came to Scotland (something to do with the Spanish Armada in the 16th Century, apparently).

I’ve been assured that there are early representatives of our family mentioned somewhere in the Domesday Book,[1] which was a survey of England published in AD 1086[2]. But I haven’t worked out who or where they are and my understanding is that at some point there was a shift in the spelling – apparently the name is a variant on Solomon.

A member of our family was in the employ of Captain Cook[3] when he sailed to Australia and another member of that same family, my direct ancestor, later turned up on Australian soil as a convict and squatter[4].

On another branch of my ancestry are early English settlers in Melbourne, Australia, and I have been to a few of the family reunions to meet distant cousins who were also descended from that line.[5]

One of the more interesting revelations (to me) in our explorations of our ancestry was my sister’s recent (October 2014) uncovering of a direct line to English royalty – King Henry I of England,[6] son of King William the Conqueror. Somehow my sister has managed to plot out our paternal ancestry in a direct line to them. That is, King William is my grandfather x30 generations[7] (I guess this makes Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II[8] my really, really, really distant cousin… unfortunately too distant for me to be included in any royal inheritance, bummer[9],[10]). One of the things that really surprised me was to discover that Grandad Conqueror – as I now think of him, obviously – was also a Viking.[11],[12] Suddenly I’ve uncovered this branch of Norsemen in my ancestry that I’d kind of hoped were there as a convenient means of explaining my otherwise inexplicable intense fascination with Norse mythology and Viking metal music and Beowulf and all that. What I wasn’t expecting was that at some point my family would be able to trace a name-by-name line to English and Norwegian Viking royalty. So, it’s pretty cool for my sister and I to see where our ancestors fit into history.

Apparently it’s not that unusual for English people to have King William appear in their genealogies but still, I think it’s kind of fun to trace the path our family has taken as it weaves through history. I guess next step would be to find some of the great Celtic warriors somewhere in there.

williamtheconqueror-wikimediacommons

William the Conqueror

References / Further Reading (all links here accessed 20 October 2014)

[1] http://www.royal.gov.uk/HistoryoftheMonarchy/KingsandQueensofEngland/TheNormans/TheNormans.aspx

[2] http://www.domesdaybook.co.uk/

[3] http://www.captaincooksociety.com/home/detail/ralph-jackson-s-diary-part-5-richard-pickersgill

[4] http://friendsofchurchillisland.org.au/xoops/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=05

[5] http://www.headfamilyau.org/

[6] http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/normans_3.htm

[7] http://www.britroyals.com/kings.asp?id=william1

[8] http://www.history.com/news/8-things-you-may-not-know-about-queen-elizabeth-ii

[9] http://www.royal.gov.uk/ThecurrentRoyalFamily/Successionandprecedence/Overview.aspx

[10] http://www.britroyals.com/succession.htm

[11] http://mymedievalgenealogy.blogspot.com.au/2009/04/viking-ancestry-of-william-conqueror.html

[12] http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/dukes_of_normandy.htm

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