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Princes and peasants, which ancestors are you most conflicted about?

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fljustice
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Princes and peasants, which ancestors are you most conflicted about?

Post by fljustice » Thu July 14th, 2011, 7:17 pm

I have cousins who are into genealogy on both sides of the family, so have some pretty complete records going back to the late 1600's and the German Palatine migration to America on my mom's side and a raft of English yeomen on my dad's. I've always been proud of my peasant background and the fact my ancestors migrated to a foreign country, thrived as farmers and business owners and scattered across the entire length of the continent. Of course there were the usual number of black sheep (the most interesting characters.) And America wasn't an "empty land" so my ancestors had to displace native populations. But still, Manifest Destiny and all that Americana made my heart swell. ;)

Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that on my father's side we go back to 1093 and the King of Scotland. There are several "Lords of the Manor" and "Sirs" scattered around, as well. The aristocratic ancestors definitely damage my peasant street cred. On the other hand, I have (a miniscule drop of) royal blood! I wonder how I would look in a tiara?

Seriously, it's got me researching into some time periods I don't normally check out and writing a series of short stories (very loosely) based on some of the family legends. Who's cool and who's not in your family? Any ties to your reading or writing?
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu July 14th, 2011, 7:52 pm

It's fun to know about the people whose genes you have a bit of, but seriously, I'm not conflicted about any of them.

My Mom is descended from a much martyred sect that split off from the Catholic church long before Luther, and her whole family gets very worked up about all the years of oppression. I never could figure out WHAT that had to do with her -- except to give the whole bunch a large chip on their shoulder when it came to anybody Catholic.

Ditto my father's aunts, who were members of the DAR and all puffed up about it. I remember thinking that those old battleaxes were taking a lot of credit for a revolution they had nothing to do with.

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Mythica
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Post by Mythica » Thu July 14th, 2011, 8:06 pm

I have German Palatinate ancestors too! They were Mennonites.

I think all my ancestors were pretty cool. I have no major claims to fame like royalty. There was a rumor that my maternal grandmother's ancestors were related to Dutch royalty but I have found nothing to prove that. Another claim on my paternal grandfather's side was that we are related to the man Pike's Peak was named after but again, nothing.

Most of my ancestors were simple farmers or sailors yet I find them so fascinating, I'm not conflicted about any of them. They have definitely influenced some of the non-fiction I read. I read several books on the Pennsylvania "Dutch" (Germans), the Palatinate immigrants, Mennonites and histories of the areas they settled in. I also read a biography on William Penn since he was the man responsible for the settlement of so many Pennsylvania "Dutch". It all helps me understand my ancestors so much better by understanding their world and their culture.

If I were a writer, I would totally write about my ancestors. I would love to write a love story about my 3rd great grandparents based on the love letters they wrote each other in 1837 which still survive today. I've started to do research on it but I highly doubt I'd ever be able to actually write something. Still, the research is fun and helps me understand them.

I also have a bunch of books on my to-read list (I have a whole shelf on Goodreads called "ancestry research") on the daily lives of people from different time periods and locations. The only thing I can't abide is war and military books - I don't care that I had ancestors who fought in the civil war, I'm not reading a military book on the civil war. Now, I could read a book on what life was like for soldiers in the civil war - from the human side. But military history bores me to tears.

I do have ancestors who came into a lot of money when their wealthy but childless and unmarried uncle died (which is a bit of a mystery in itself - why did he never marry?). But they were unwise with it, never invested and just spent it all. By the time they died, there was nothing left for their children or grandchildren to inherit. Figures. :rolleyes:

Oh yeah, just a reminder, I am actually American - don't be fooled by my location.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Thu July 14th, 2011, 8:22 pm

Although there have been some fairly serious geneaology buffs on my father's side of the family, they have only been able to trace us as far back as a single ancestor who is believed to have arrived here shortly before the Revolutionary War (French and Indian War, perhaps). Where he came from is a mystery; although there's always been a general belief he was French, it's not certain and our last name is certainly not French in spelling, which could mean he came by way of England. Who knows? Another ancestor on my father's side was an Irishman whose arrival in Virginia and descendants are well-documented (they even have a website, or at least they did several years ago). He has, not surprisingly, hundreds if not thousands of descendents in the US today.

(Incidentally, the Irish blood really came out in my father -- he was a cross between Gerald O'Hara and Johnny Nolan. I didn't find out about my Irish ancestry until after my father's death, and it made so much about my dad suddenly make sense :) ).

On my mother's side it's a brick wall any further back than about my great-grandparents. That last name is also very unusual and never seems to show up anywhere.

So I am just an American mongrel, from predominantly English and Irish stock who have presumably been here a long time, with a drop of Native American and an even more diluted drop of French (probably). I am quite certain there is no nobility, much less royalty, among any of my ancestors, and that is fine with me. In my HF reading I'm hardly at all interested in reading about royalty, and even if I knew I had a royal ancestor I don't think that would change. I am much more interested in reading about common people and how they lived than I am about royals, who didn't represent the way life was "really" lived (any more than they do today), and who, as a whole, I don't consider to be all that admirable. But that's just me. :)

MLE, what martyred sect were your ancestors from? Just curious, if you don't mind sharing.
Last edited by Michy on Thu July 14th, 2011, 8:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Posts: 3556
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu July 14th, 2011, 11:42 pm

They were Waldensians. And the funny thing is, altho my mom was very proud of the connection, she didn't believe anything that they did. Go figure.

One day I may write a book with Peter Waldo, the founder, as a side character. The Waldensians have been overlooked as a source of plot-- that all went to the Cathars (Albigensians) and the Huguenots.

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Fri July 15th, 2011, 12:00 am

I dunno much. I mean I know about the last two generations, but nothing more. I would like to know more, but dont you have to sign up for that site and I think it costs money. ancestory.com
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Michy
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Post by Michy » Fri July 15th, 2011, 1:00 am

[quote=""Divia""] but dont you have to sign up for that site and I think it costs money. ancestory.com[/quote] I believe so. Their site is great -- that is how I discovered several very-distant cousins, many of whom are avid geneaologists who were able to tell me just about everything I know about my father's ancestry. Also, one of them gave me some very helpful tips that allowed me to unlock the door to finding out about my dad's service in WWII. Back when I dabbled in it - in the early 2000s -- many of their features were free, so I don't believe I ever had to pay anything for the information I obtained. However, I think that has changed and now you have to pay.

However, another excellent source of geneaological information that is free is your local Mormon church. They are avid geneaologists (they are the ones who run the site Ancestry.com) and usually every one of their churches has a geneaology research room that is open to anyone (you don't have to be Mormon). Back when I was first trying to get info about my dad's family that is where I went -- this was back in the '90s when everything was still on microfilm and microfiche, long before the Internet. I didn't have any success, and ended up giving up, but you might have good luck.

Of course, that was 20 years ago, so everything I've said may no longer hold true, but if you're truly interested in finding out more about your family history I would at least contact them and give it a try.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Fri July 15th, 2011, 1:09 am

Peasant, mongrel stock through and through, which is probably why I grow weary of how much attention aristocrats get at the expense of commoners.

I had a Great Uncle who got very involved in researching the family on my father's side after he retired (this was pre-internet days). In some ways, I think it was great excuse for him to travel and see more of the world. I think his grandchildren inherited most of his research. Have no idea whether they intend to do anything with it. Most of the stories I heard of his research came from my dad, third-hand, so I don't know how corrupted they were. Apparently, he had traced us back to the days of William the Conqueror.

On my father's side our first ancestors came from England in Colonial times, fought in the Indian wars in Florida (several placenames there come from this branch). I don't know a lot about my mother's side, but that they were obviously a mix of Scots and Irish with maybe some Welsh blood thrown in.

I like the idea of reseaching family history for the personal stories and family mythology. I'm not intersted in researching to prove whether I'm related to blue-bloods or the rich and famous.

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Susan
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Post by Susan » Fri July 15th, 2011, 2:26 am

Reading about everyone's family history makes for an interesting thread!

On my mother's side, I'm descended from a brother of a US Vice President and Governor of New York (Daniel Tompkins). I guess this is sort of the prince side. This line was fairly easy to trace and I was able to go back to the 1300s in England. I know that the first Tompkins to come to America (Ralph born 1585 in Monington, Hereford) came over on a ship called Truelove in 1635 and landed in Salem, Massachusetts. I've recently discovered that this line and another line (Canterbury) were Puritans! I was a bit conflicted when I learned this. Reading The Winthrop Woman did not endear me to the Puritans. Does anyone from England know about Monington? Supposedly there is a church there where some Tompkins (Tompykns) are buried.

On my father's side, I am only a second generation American. My grandfather came from Russia and my grandmother came from Ukraine...probably both families were peasants. They came through Ellis Island, so I do have a copy of the ships' manifest. Both came to the US without family (with friends) and apparently my grandmother lied about her age. She said she was older than she really was. I know the names of these grandparents' fathers because that was on the ship's manifest, but that's all I know. I will probably never know anything else about this side of the family. Researching Russia and Ukraine is a lot more difficult than researching England.
Last edited by Susan on Fri July 15th, 2011, 2:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Michy
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Post by Michy » Fri July 15th, 2011, 2:33 am

[quote=""Susan""]This line was fairly easy to trace and I was able to go back to the 1300s in England. [/quote] How very cool that you were able to go back so far.
I was a bit conflicted when I learned this. Reading The Winthrop Woman did not endear me to the Puritans.
I think the Puritans have got a pretty bad rap over the last decades. As much as I like The Winthrop Woman, it does give a very biased picture of the Puritans.

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