Friday, 22 February 2013

Pre-Conquest Ancestors

My article on tracing pre-Conquest ancestors has just been published in Your Family History magazine (issue 38, March 2013).

1066 is generally seen as a barrier to family research, with good reason, and I wanted to look at ways that it is possible to track your family back through the barrier. To do so, it will be necessary to find a ‘gateway ancestor’ in your own family tree – someone whose pedigree is known to take you through the barrier. For 1066 this will need to be someone with a drop of royal blood, which providing that it is from the English royal family, will be enough to take you back to the Anglo-Saxon kings (since even William the Conqueror, who was not descended from the Anglo-Saxon royal family married Matilda of Flanders, who was).

I carry out much of my research on the Blount family of Kinlet and a central aim of my research project is to promulgate my research to a wider audience. When writing about family history, I often use them as a case study as, indeed, I did with this article. Interestingly the Blounts, who came to national attention through the birth in 1519 of Henry Fitzroy, an illegitimate son of Henry VIII and Bessie Blount, have their own gateway ancestor: Edmund de Cornwall, son of an illegitimate son of King John. Some kings had a particularly high number of illegitimate offspring, vastly increasing the chances that you are descended from them...

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