Recently I've had some extra time on my hands, thanks to the general economy, and market conditions in my industry - network equipment for wireless mobile operators. The North American giants of 10 years ago (Nortel, Motorola and Lucent) are all gone - swallowed by European companies like Ericsson and Alcatel, or replaced by Asian competitors like Samsung and Huawei. My career has been focused on the delivery to market of products, but increasingly those products come from offshore. So while I'm optimistic, it's taking a while to find a new job.
So I've been playing with Family Tree Maker, a piece of genealogy software that aggregates public records online, and allows you to use other people's research to build your family tree is no time. And this is what I found.
My side come from a long time of farm workers in Yorkshire, and further back, Lincolnshire, England. My Father's line for 5 or 6 generations is all local to that area, on the Yorkshire coast near Scarborough. My Mother's line goes back through a great grandfather to the South of England, London and Sussex. Both lines peter out eventually.
My Wife's side is much more interesting:
Line 1 - The Harts. On December 27 1657, Edward Hart, along with 3 others signed a document sent to Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch Governor of New Netherland (now New York), protesting the lack of religious freedom. For this, they were jailed until they repented. Edward Hart was eventually released due to illness, and the document became known as the Flushing Remonstrance, the first declaration of religious freedom in the New World. Edward Hart's descendants moved to New Jersey, where his great grandson, John Hart, became one of the New Jersey colony's representatives to the Continental Congress, and signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.
His daughter Deborah married Joseph Ott in 1786, their daughter Sarah married Matthias Servis, and eventually the Servis's married into the Conovers, a Dutch immigrant family (originally spelled Van Kouwenhoven). Sally's Mother's side are Conovers, plus Mennings, a line originally traced back to Transylvannia, in what is now Romania.
Line 2 - The Norsemen. In 911, a Viking nobleman of Danish or Norwegian origin called Rollo Rognvaldsson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollo) besieged Paris, and on 20 July 911 he lost the Battle of Chartres to the Duke of Burgundy. Rollo then pledged allegiance to the King of France, became a Christian and changed his name to Robert. In return, King Charles made him Duke of Normandy, which Robert proceeded to pacify and unify under his control. Until Robert, Normandy was only nominally under the French King's control, after years of Viking invasions, so the King gave him a title, and a task.
Robert I was the first of six powerful Dukes of Normandy, the sixth being William, who is known to history as William The Conqueror, the first Norman King of England. Robert and his sons and daughters married into the noble families of France and the Holy Roman Empire, merging their Norse bloodline with the descendants of Charlemargne (Charles The Great) and Clovis I (the founder of the Merovingian Dynasty).
The 5th Duke of Normandy, Robert II Curthose, sired a bastard son, Gilbert FitzRobert (in those days, a bastard was given their father's name, with the prefix "Fitz" in front. Thus "FitzRobert" means the child on Robert, and FitzRoy means "son of the King" (Roi)). FitzRobert's chldren eventually come to England with their Uncle, William the Conqueror, and became Lords and Ladies of the English Norman court. After a few hundred years, and after descent through the De Somery line of Welsh Norman Lords, and later the Huddingtons, one Joan Huddington married Sir Roger Wyntour. Her 4th great grandson, John Winter, emigrated to the American colonies, dying in Charles MD in 1715. The Winters married into the Emplfields, and later the Palmers (originally Balmer, from Germany), moving to Pennsylvania along the way. Finally the Palmers married into an Irish line called the Wachobs, ending when a Wacob married my wife's Grandfather on her Father's side. So from that side she has English, Viking and French royalty, plus descent from the greatest Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne. I also found 3 saints, two more revolutionary war solidiers and a lot of "Fitz-somethings" along the way.
So while my side is pulling itself up from our British farm peasant roots, her side is a long descent from the top of the heap.
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