Ivor Roberts, of Morton, writes about the journey to discover his family tree
Some time ago after watching a genealogy programme on TV, I decided to have a go for myself.
I joined a well-known website and my wife soon became a computer widow as I got more and more absorbed in finding out about my ancestors.
Naturally, I started with my father’s side but to my disappointment I could not get any further back than my third great grandfather, John Roberts born 1780 in Goldcliff, Wales.
Then I started to research my mother’s family and to my great astonishment I discovered in time that my 38th great grandfather (or one of them) was no less than the Emperor Charlemagne, Charles the Great, King of the Franks.
I say one of them because we all have two parents, four grandparents and so on, each generation doubling up as one goes back in time. By the time you get to the 38 generation you have no less than 1,099,511,648,256 38th great grandparents. By now my maternal tree is very large indeed so I decided to call it a day when I discovered Charlemagne. Enough is enough.
It can be difficult researching commoners like me because our records don’t go back very far in comparison with the nobility. Hansard, Bretts Peerage, History of Families, and other national records ensure continuity because it’s the national history. So its much easier once you find an aristocrat in your family tree.
My breakthrough came when I discovered that one of my 10th great grandfathers on Mum’s side was Sir Robert Carr II b.1536. His 2nd great grandfather was Sir Robert Carr I (Lord Sleaford). He married Lady Margaret De Clifford, Baroness Ferniehurst, (Lady Sleaford) and my tree changes to her family and we’re in the big time. From now on everyone in the whole tree are nobles of one kind or another. Knights of the Garter, Dukes, Earls, Kings and Queens of England and Europe. For example, the single branch to Charlemagne contains Lady Phillipa Plantagenet, Countess of Clarence, Edward III, Edward II, Edward I (Longshanks),
King John (of Magna Carta fame), Henry II, Empress Matilda Beauclerc, Henry I, William the Conqueror, and William’s ancestors, the Dukes of Normandy, Herbert I Carolingian, King of France. Pippin II Carolingian, King of France. King Bernard of Lombardy, Pipin I Carolman, King of Italy, Father of Charlemagne. And various kings of Holland, Norway, Sweden etc.
That is only one branch of the tree.
The rest contains some very interesting characters indeed. A few are, Edgar Aithling. Edgar was proclaimed King of England when Harold II was killed at the Battle of Hastings. It was Edgar that submitted the throne to William the Conqueror. How wise was that? Others of interest are Alfred the Great, Ramero Sanches I, King of Aragon, Forne Theign Fitzsigulf, King of Numberholme in Yorkshire, Robert the Bruce of Scotland, Robert John Stewart, King of Scotland, Malcolm of Scotland. Richard I (The Lionheart)- (Great Uncle), John of Gaunt, not to mention all the Kings of France of the Capet dynasty.
All this shows that in terms of lineage, I am rather well connected, but then so are most other people if only they knew it. The achievement for me is not the actual relationships to high ranking and famous people, it’s being able to discover it, and the enjoyment I have had in doing so, especially the many surprises along the way.
But that’s all over now. What does it mean at the end of the day?
Frankly not a lot. I’m no wealthier for being related to all these posh people. I am still the son of a Yorkshire miner and proud of it. In a way its nice knowing what I know about my ancestors, and its been fun finding out, but now that is over. I am left with a sense of anti-climax.
Is that it? I am a direct descendant of much of the royalty of England and Europe. So what? Shouldn’t I be dining on venison, grouse, fine wines etc?
No thanks, I’ll stick to sausage and mash or chips and beans and a good old cuppa (or a pint if you‘re paying.)