What Does and Doesn’t a Y DNA Match Mean?

It’s easy to forget how foreign this landscape looks to a newbie, but the newbies are our next generation genealogists and genetic genealogists.

This week, someone e-mailed me who had tested at Family Tree DNA and asked how to contact their Y DNA match they had found in a project that I manage.  I thought that was a very strange request, since your matches are on your personal page along with their e-mail addresses, so I asked for the name on their kit and their kit number so I could take a look.

As it turns out, they had no Y DNA matches on their personal page, so they were hunting for matches elsewhere.  They had joined the haplogroup E1b1a-M2 project and it’s there that they found their “matches” that they were asking about.  I commend their tenacity in hunting for matches and finding them in a project, even though they weren’t exactly what they thought.

The kit number here is 343629, Lewis.  You can see in the screen shot from the haplogroup E-M2 project page that they don’t match anyone exactly at 12 markers, and their closest match is to Harris above their entry, and they have 3 mismatches at 12 markers.

y match 1

As it turns out, Lewis and Harris didn’t qualify as matches, which is why they weren’t displayed on their personal match page.  This explains why kit 343629 was asking me how to contact their “matches.”

Family Tree DNA has set up match thresholds.  For someone to be listed as your match, they need to have no more than the following total number of mutations difference from your results.

Markers in Panel Tested Maximum Number of Mutations Allowed
12 0 unless in a common project, then 1
25 2
37 4
67 7
111 10

The reason for these thresholds is that DNA mutates at an “average” rate and for someone to have more than this number of mutations in that marker range means, generally, that the match is too far back in time to be genealogically relevant.  For people who do have matches, you can utilize Family Tree DNA’s TIP calculator to obtain an estimate of how distant the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) might be from you and your match.  I wrote about the TIP calculator and the MRCA both, so refer to those articles for more into on those tools.

The next question this person asked is, “How do you tell which markers indicate someone as a close cousin?”

The answer really involves several aspects or DNA testing, and I’m going to answer their question here, in pieces, so that everyone can benefit.

  1. In general, finding family via the Y markers is not about “which markers” as much as it is about the number of matching markers. If you share a common ancestor, the DNA of that man’s descendants will accrue mutations over time. If the common ancestor is before the advent of surnames in the culture in which they resided, then the surnames may not match, but the common ancestor still existed.
  2. In general, 12 markers is not sufficient to determine a common ancestor, although you can rule out common ancestors in a genealogical timeframe, generally accepted to be 500-800 years, by high numbers of mismatches caused by mutations. I would suggest this person test at higher markers because sometimes people do pick up matches at higher levels where more mutations are allowed, especially if the mutations happened, for some reason, in the lower panels but few happened in the higher panels. I do see this when writing the Personalized DNA Reports for people, not often, but it does occur, especially at 111 markers.
  3. You cannot necessarily identify a “close cousin” or any specific relationship utilizing Y DNA testing alone, especially at low marker levels, such as 12 and 25.  Although if someone matches you on all 111 markers, there is a very good chance that you share a common ancestors in just a few generations. What the traditional Y test (meaning not the Big Y test) does confirm is whether or not you share a common paternal ancestor and then it’s up to genealogy and autosomal testing to determine how close that relationship might be. The number of matching Y markers can provide hints and generalities through the TIP tool, but nothing more.
  4. For this individual, in addition to upgrading beyond 12 markers, I would recommend that they take the Family Finder autosomal test because that will provide them with a list of cousins on all of their lines, not just their Y line. Based on their earlier commentary, they are looking for all family, not just their paternal line. If you have Y matches and autosomal matches, through the Advanced Matching tool on your Personal Page you can see who, if anyone, is a match to you on both.
  5. However, all of this said, the combined pattern of Y markers, not individual markers, determine the match or non-match, and it is your personal DNA signature. Think of it as a song and the markers as notes in your own personal DNA song. Given that mutations arise in each person’s line, sometimes the various DNA mutations are rare, and those rare markers together can be utilized to determine how closely one might match someone else, especially if the surnames don’t match. I see this often in African American descendants of slaves because surnames weren’t adopted until after the Civil War ended in 1865. Often the 1870 census is our first opportunity to find these families with a surname, and sometimes they subsequently changed their surname.

One of the things I do for my customers as part of a Personalized DNA Report is to complete a profile for them of the relative rarity of their DNA by marker.  Please note that I don’t do DNA reports for people who haven’t tested at least 37 markers because I don’t have enough information to work with.

In the case of this individual, I compared their 12 markers in my database of haplogroup marker frequency with the following results.

y match 2

Values under 25% are bolded, as they are rarer values and the combination of these rarer values are likely to be your own personal family line rare marker DNA signature.  Said differently, you are more likely to be more closely related to those who carry this rare marker signature than those who don’t.

This person has 6 out of 12 markers that are relatively rare.  Normally, one would expect no more than 3, so this is likely why they have no matches.  This is a good news, bad news thing.  The bad news – no matches today.  The good news is that these rare markers value, combined, are a wonderful personal filter that eliminates matches by convergence.  So, someday, when they do have a solid match, it will be relevant and not just because they have all common markers.

And now for the next question.  How can you obtain your own list of marker frequencies?  Obviously, you can order the DNA Report for $349, or if all you want is the marker frequencies, you can order a Quick Consult for $50 and can obtain all 111 of the Y marker frequencies for any one kit.

Guarantees

Most people just want an answer.  I fully understand that.  Me too, but often, that’s not how DNA testing and genetic genealogy as a whole works.  So the question, “What test can I take to give me the answer?” really doesn’t have a solid, works every time, answer.  There is no absolute, no guarantee.  Sometimes, depending on the question at hand, a regular Y DNA test will do exactly what you want.  Other times, like in this case, not so much.  But you won’t know until you test and there is no way to predict an outcome.  Testing may provide the answer in spades, immediately, and it diggingdoes sometimes.  Other times, you get a puzzle piece with a fortune cookie note that says ”you will undergo more DNA testing.” The answers are tied to DNA testing, yours and other peoples, traditional genealogy research and sometimes, luck.  But it has been my experience that those who work the hardest, test most thoroughly and dig the deepest are most often the ones who experience more occurrences of “luck.”  Keep digging.

As Louis Pasteur said, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”  Not nearly as eloquent as Dr. Pasteur, my old Hoosier farmer Dad would have said, “apply a little more elbow grease.”

I hope this has helped to clarify what a Y DNA match actually does and doesn’t mean, and how to take the next step in finding your family.

My Brother John and My Other Brother John

heart swirlMan, life can really throw you some twists and turns, especially if you’re a genealogist with genetics thrown into the mix.

You see, things don’t always go as planned, nor are they always as they appear to be.  Not every family is the American epitome of the little white house, the picket fence, the station wagon and the collie dog.  Ok, maybe I should update that to an SUV and an electronic fence, but you still get the idea.

In my case, I was born with one sibling…that I knew of.  That was my half-brother on my mother’s side, John.  I obviously knew this man from the literal day that I was born.  In one of the few surviving family pictures, and only one of two with John and I together, John is holding me in a Christmas photo at my grandparents with our first cousins, the year I was born.

john me as baby

John was 13 years older than me, so it’s not like we were ever close.  He was married when I was 5 and really not an active part of my life, so functionally, I grew up an only child.

But I actually had three more half siblings and maybe a fourth, who turned out not to be.  That fourth would be my brother Dave, who was my brother of heart but not my brother of DNA.  I loved him intensely although I only knew him for a few very short years.

So now we’re up to 5 total, with one being not genetic.  We know, for sure that John, my mother’s son is hers, and that my sister Edna is genetically my half-sister.  Lee, we’ll have to assume is accurate because he is gone and there are no children to test, and I have another alleged half-sister that has not been located.

Then, I acquired a step-brother, Gary, when my mother remarried who I also referred to as my brother and in actuality, I acquired a step-sister too, but she had already passed away.  I’ve never thought of her as my “sister Linda,” but technically, I think she was.  I don’t know for sure.  Is a step-sibling who died before your parent married your step-parent your step-sibling????

So, if you need a score sheet.

  • John – half-brother by mother
  • Dave – half-brother by father, who wasn’t genetically
  • Edna – half-sister by father, proven genetically
  • Lee – alleged half-brother by father, you decide based on the photo
  • Sister – alleged half-sister by father, not found
  • Gary – step-brother
  • Linda – step-sister deceased before becoming step-sister

So, my perception of being an only child wasn’t exactly right.

Now, let’s make this next part easy – they are all dead now, with my brother John being the last to go 22 months ago.  Yes, those wounds are still fresh – I lost both of my brothers in 2012, my sister Edna in 1990 and my brother Gary in 1999 tragically.

Yep, every last one of them is gone.  So, I am truly an only/orphan child now.

So, you ask, where did my other brother John come from?

Well, now that’s a story about southern families, and cousins, and love, and why we genealogists are always confused.

You see, I met John, my “other brother” John, several years ago – and yes, via DNA. No, he’s not genetically my brother, although I’m always prepared for a here-to-for unknown sibling to pop up at one of the testing companies.  My father was very much the “ladies man,” extremely handsome and a bit of a rogue and scoundrel.

My “other brother” John’s family and mine are from the same areas of NC – and John and I share a common bond in both the culture and our Native heritage.  And John and I are both Scots-Irish.  John and I both moved away from home for our career.  John and I are both genealogists.  John joined the Cumberland Gap group and became a regular contributor…making suggestions…helping with fundraising ideas for DNA testing…and more.  In fact, “other brother” John and I have way more in common than half-brother John and I did.

We e-mailed back and forth about our research adventures and I did a DNA report for John, so I know his DNA inside and out, pardon the pun.  My half-brother John declined to DNA test.  Over the months and years, my “other brother” John became a close friend, then my cousin, then my brother.

“Other brother” John has been very kind to me in many ways – a very giving soul.  He would take the photos of my ancestors published in my blog articles and “fix” them for me, remove scratches, colorize them, all without being asked.

One day I went to the mailbox.  Inside, there was a box from Japan with beautiful cotton and silk fabrics.  I’m a quilter, and I was just speechless about his generosity – partly because I know how much shipping costs from Japan – not to mention that these fabrics aren’t available here.  He hoped I could make quilts to raise money for DNA testing.  The fabrics were so beautiful that I couldn’t bring myself to cut them.

john2

Then, one day John dropped out of the Cumberland Gap Yahoo group.

I was surprised and worried.  I missed John and e-mailed him and asked him why.

John, it seemed, was experiencing some issues, and those issues would eventually manifest themselves into a cancer diagnosis.

John’s cancer diagnosis was a personal blow, to a friend, to someone I had become very close to – my “cousin,” John.

Now Judy Russell talked the other day in her blog about collecting cousins.  I never realized it, but I’ve done the exact same thing over the years.  Since I was raised as an only child – not finding my half siblings by my father until I was an adult – I began researching my genealogy and collecting cousins when I was 22.  I don’t know that I meant to, but it was such a wonderful adventure for me to meet someone I was related to.  I was always in awe that I had relatives and some of them even looked like me, and like my father who had died when I was young.

When I was a child, I used to ask Santa for a baby brother or sister…every year.  That was, of course, before I understood the mechanics of such things, as my father was deceased.  Still, as a child who wanted a sibling, it didn’t matter and Santa of course, being who he was, could deliver anything.

My heart hurt for John, as my heart hurts for any of my cousin collection when they or their family is sick or hurting.  One of the things I do to express my love and concern are “care quilts,” because that’s what quilters do when we don’t know what else to do.

So, I made John a care quilt…and I cut the Japanese fabric to do it. What better person to use it for?

john quilt

John underwent multiple biopsies, flew from Japan to Massachusetts, underwent surgery, suffered an incorrect diagnosis, became even more ill, was finally diagnosed correctly, and began chemo.  John and his wife are gardeners at their home in Japan.  Clearly, that wasn’t going to happen this year.

I planted pots of plants for John and every day, I take pictures of John’s flowers and post them to Facebook for him.  I know it’s not the same, but it is all I can do.  His miscellaneous “mixed seed” packets have performed amazingly for him.

john flowers

And then, John’s mother died, right in the middle of John’s chemo.  Just when you think things couldn’t get worse.

One day, in the midst of all of this pain, the days and weeks of chemo torment and the emotional trauma, John became my brother.   I can’t tell you exactly what day, but I realized that I love him as a brother, and he, me as a sister – and we simply made it so.  It already was, we just acknowledged it.  Isn’t this was family does? Support one another, especially in times of need?

So yes, I now have my brother John and my other brother John.  Why, you ask, does this matter to you?

Well, because in another generation or so, my granddaughters will tell their kids, “Yes, my grandma had her brother John and her other brother John.”  And then they might chuckle to themselves.  They may not think to mention that one wasn’t my biological brother, and then to add which one wasn’t my biological brother?  And even if they did, they could get it backwards, especially since they are too young to have known my now deceased older brother John.  Aha, a family mystery in the making.  Not a mystery today, but in another couple generations, it may well be – and all the information may be garbled.

Recognize this pattern in any of your family stories?

But it gets worse, because I’m from a southern family on my Dad’s side.  Yes, indeed, I also have Uncle Buster who is not my uncle but my first cousin once removed, and his brother Uncle George.  However, his sister is not Aunt anyone.  No, I don’t know why except I was close to both George and Buster and not the sister.

In the south, any older relative and sometimes non-relatives are called “Aunt” and “Uncle” as a sign of respect, without respect to race.

Furthermore, I also have quilt sisters.  I have Mary who is my sister.  Here we are playing in a mud puddle after gardening in the rain.  Isn’t that what sisters do?

I’ll let you guess from the t-shirts which one is me!

mary puddle

Now Mary has other biological sisters who don’t live here so aren’t my Quilt Sisters.  She’s also from a southern family and has sistens, which are cousin/sisters – cousins who function as sisters.

So in essence, both sisterhood and cousinship are applied selectively and without consistency.  Furthermore cousin can mean anything from literally 1st cousins to “we’re kin but I have no idea how” to 14th cousins 3 times removed.  In other words, it implies some kind of real or fictive relationship – and you, the listener, have no idea what that relationship actually is and there is no standardized gauge to judge by.  Worse yet, the speaker may not either.  Does this make sense?

Ok, here’s a much better picture.  Mary and I have a wonderful time no matter what we are doing.  Here we are at Mary’s son’s house.  I introduced her son to my friend who became his wife about 15 years ago, so I think I have some kind of honorary relationship to them too. When my mother was alive, our family always had Christmas on Christmas Eve at her house, but now, we spend Christmas Eve with Mary and her family.

me mary quilt

Mary and I aren’t blood sisters, although Mary has not DNA tested (yet) so we might be cousins.  In this picture, we’re hemming my original brother John’s care quilt that I made for him when he received his cancer diagnosis in 2010.  This is what sisters do.

However, my other Quilt Sister, Kathy, is indeed my cousin. Yes, for real, genealogically and biologically and genetically, all three.  So she’s my cousin and my sister.  But you see, I didn’t know any of that when I first met her quite by happenstance through our careers.  Talk about serendipity!  We discovered that we shared Brethren ancestors, quite by accident, sitting at a conference room table waiting on late meeting attendees one day.  It was after that she became a Quilt Sister.  Here Kathy and I are holding Mary’s 50th anniversary quilt that we helped to make.  This too is what sisters do.

kathy mary quilt

Is it any wonder as genealogists that we are constantly trying to figure out why the DNA of family members doesn’t fit exactly as we think it should?  Maybe some of the “undocumented adoptions,” or NPEs, non-parental events, aren’t really.  Maybe they are just the much loved “other brother” John – the brother by choice, or the quilt sister, or maybe Uncle Buster or my other “Cousin George” (not to be confused with Uncle George) who isn’t my blood cousin at all but my good friend Anne’s cousin.  But since Anne is another sister of heart, then Cousin George is my cousin too, pictured with his quilt, below, given as a thank you for his supportive role in the Lost Colony Research Group and DNA projects.  This is how relatedness works in southern families.  Bless all our hearts!

???????????????????????????????

And I haven’t given you the entire “family” list – there are more.  I am so fortunate to have many members of my family and family of heart.  I’ve gathered many to love.

Aren’t we lucky that love is the one commodity we can give as humans that is only limited by the size of our heart.  Giving more doesn’t diminish what others receive, and it enriches us.  Why, we can collect and add to our family our entire lives!!!

What a confusing legacy we’re leaving for future genealogists:)  Just thinking about that makes me laugh!

And as for my brothers John….all I have to say is that I’m so glad their names weren’t Derrell, because I already have my cousin Daryl and my other cousin Derrell, and they are both females.  Nope, not kidding!

Welcome to the family John.  Had no idea what you were getting into did you:)  All I can say is, well, bless your heart!

john 1

King Edward I, (1239 – 1307), Longshanks, Hammer of the Scots, 52 Ancestors #34

king edward i

Last week, when Valerie Bertinelli was featured on WDYTYA, I whined on Facebook about how jealous I am that not only is there ALWAYS a parking place in front of the library or archives in the series, but the celebrity’s records are always just waiting for them, while, mine, if there at all, are buried so deeply they require an archaeologist to excavate them. 

My husband said to me, “You just have to find a gateway ancestor, like Valerie, and then your pedigree will be done too.”  I told my husband that all my gateway ancestor would lead to is likely a prison cell.  My ancestors, at least some of them, were none too well behaved and let’s say that sometimes the only records they left were related to prosecution of some type.  Thank heavens they at least did that!!!  My family is always colorful, and interesting, and infamous…but seldom famous. 

As you all know, I write one of these “52 Ancestors” articles every week, generally late at night, and I often mutter rather unspeakable things at Amy Johnson Crow in the process.  Let’s just say that doing this series forces you to go back through your records, all of your records, for each ancestor, and to be sure they are in order.  Now, on the surface this is a good and admiral thing to be doing, but in the middle of the night, it just doesn’t seem so.

This week, I was working on my Bolton and Clarkson lines out of Claiborne County, TN and I noticed a rather large article on the Brooks family that my now deceased cousin, Bill Nevils, had written.  Bill was a retired Episcopal Priest, which is a story all by itself, especially being from Claiborne County in the Bible Belt south.  After his retirement, he moved home to “take care” of his mother, Thelma.  Now I met Thelma and Bill some years ago and let me tell you, I’m not at all sure it was Bill taking care of Thelma.  When we arrived, this little 90 year old lady had just finished mowing the yard with a push mower (and not because Bill wouldn’t, because she insisted) and came in to make lunch for us, and not one single hair out of place.  Fittingly, Bill had written the article about the Brooks family in tribute to his mother, Thelma.  Little did we know that Thelma would outlive her only child.  Not only that, after Bill’s death, she wrote me a lovely letter after I sent her a sympathy card.  She was celebrating Bill’s life, not grieving his death, although of course she was saddened by his passing. 

So you can understand why, when I saw this article, I paused to read it.  I mean, I’m already down to about 4 hours sleep so what are a few more lost minutes.  I was reading Bill’s lovely tribute to his mother and just kept reading when the article, of course, shifted to genealogy.  It was a “People’s History Book,” after all.  I should have stopped reading, but I was tired and just kept skimming.  I read that Thelma was descended from King Edward I.  I thought to myself, “Oh, Thelma is related to Valerie Bertinelli.”  And I kept reading, when I started recognizing familiar names.  And then more familiar names, and then I realized that the family that Thelma descended from that descended from King Edward I was my family too.  I read it a second time, because I was sure I had misread it.  Then a third time.  Then I went to bed, because I was sure I was hallucinating due to lack of sleep.

I read this again the next day, in broad daylight, after at least 4 hours sleep, and it said the same thing. 

Bill was a fastidious researcher.  He listed sources.  I checked them.  Bill, it seems, was right.  I was shocked and couldn’t quite believe my eyes.

And the great irony was that this line, this article that felled the wall, was right on my own shelf AND HAD BEEN for years.  Just like those celebrities at the archives, just waiting for me with no parking space needed.  I have to retract my whine. 

I have suddenly, for some unknown reason, developed a fascination with King Edward I, British history and royal genealogy.  Edward’s father, Henry III is at the bottom of this first tree and the top of the second tree.

brit royals 2 crop

brit royals 1 crop

How I wish I had known this before I went to England last year.  I skipped Westminster Abbey entirely and that is where Edward is buried, and was crowned.  I did visit Westminster Abbey in 1970 when I was in London, and I has absolutely NO IDEA that I had any history of any kind in England, let alone an ancestor buried in Westminster Abbey.

westminster abbey

What’s worse yet, is that Edward’s  coronation “chair” is in Westminster, and I could have seen it. 

edward's coronation chair

King Edward’s Chair (also known as St. Edward’s Chair), the throne on which English and British sovereigns have been seated at the moment of coronation, is housed within the Abbey and has been used at every coronation since 1308. From 1301 to 1996 (except for a short time in 1950 when it was temporarily stolen by Scottish nationalists), the chair also housed the Stone of Scone upon which the kings of Scotland are, or were, traditionally crowned. Although the Stone is now kept in Scotland, in Edinburgh Castle, at future coronations it is intended that the Stone will be returned to St. Edward’s Chair for use during the coronation ceremony.

The Stone of Scone would have been located beneath the seat of the chair.  A replica is shown below.

stone of scone

The photo below is of the coronation chair, before the stone was re-kidnapped and then broken in half.

coronation chair with stone

The stone and the coronation chair is show in this drawing from Westminster Abbey in 1855.  The Stone of Scone has a rich and mysterious history all of its own. 

coronation chair 1855

King Edward was born during the night of June 17/18, 1239 at Westminster Palace and died on July 7, 1307, the son of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence

He married Eleanor of Castille in 1254, between October 13th and November 1st, in the church of the monastery of Las Huelgas at Burgos, the capital city of Old Castille in northern Spain, shown below.  This was an arranged marriage.  Edward was only 14 years old and Eleanor 12 or 13, although their first child would be stillborn the following year. 

las huelgas

He and Eleanor perhaps walked in these protected cloisters, before or after their marriage, discussing their dreams for the future.

las huelgas cloister

Eleanor died on November 28, 1290 at in the house of Richard de Weston, the foundations of which can still be seen near Harby parish church.  Her body was taken to Westminster Abbey for burial where she and Edward were crowned August 19, 1274.

westminster abbey front

Eleanor had survived 16 pregnancies, but likely died of malaria or complications thereof.

Tomb effigy of Eleanor of Castile, Westminster Abbey

Grieving his Eleanor terribly, he had twelve “Eleanor Crosses” constructed at each location that her body stopped on its way from Harby, Nottinghamshire, to London for burial, including Charring Cross in London.  Three remain today, although none entirely.  There were originally massive crosses on the top of each monument.  The one at Northampton is shown below.

eleanor cross

After her body had been embalmed, which in the 13th century involved evisceration (removal of some of the internal organs, including the bowel,) Eleanor’s viscera were buried in Lincoln cathedral, and Edward placed a duplicate of the Westminster tomb there. The Lincoln tomb’s original stone chest survives; its effigy was destroyed in the 17th century and replaced with a 19th-century copy.  I must admit, having an ancestor with parts buried in two locations is a first for me.

eleanor tomb lincoln cathedral

Eleanor’s tomb in Lincoln Cathedral.

Edward and Eleanor had the following children:

  1. Daughter, stillborn in May 1255 in Bordeaux, France. Buried in Dominican Priory Church, Bordeaux, France.
  2. Katherine (before 17 June 1264 – 5 September 1264) and buried in Westminster Abbey.
  3. Joanna (January 1265 – before 7 September 1265), buried in Westminster Abbey.
  4. John (13 July 1266 – 3 August 1271), died at Wallingford, in the custody of his granduncle, Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Buried in Westminster Abbey.
  5. Henry (before 6 May 1268 – 16 October 1274), buried in Westminster Abbey.
  6. Eleanor (18 June 1269 – 29 August 1298). She was long betrothed to Alfonso III of Aragon, who died in 1291 before the marriage could take place, and in 1293 she married Count Henry III of Bar, by whom she had one son and one daughter.
  7. Daughter (28 May 1271, Palestine – 5 September 1271), probably buried in Dominican Priory Church, Bordeaux, France. Some sources call her Juliana, but there is no contemporary evidence for her name.
  8. Joan (April 1272 – 7 April 1307). She married (1) in 1290 Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, who died in 1295, and (2) in 1297 Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer. She had four children by each marriage.
  9. Alphonso (24 November 1273 – 19 August 1284), Earl of Chester.
  10. Margaret (15 March 1275 – after 1333). In 1290 she married John II of Brabant, who died in 1318. They had one son.
  11. Berengaria (1 May 1276 – before 27 June 1278), buried in Westminster Abbey.
  12. Daughter (December 1277/January 1278 – January 1278), buried in Westminster Abbey. There is no contemporary evidence for her name.
  13. Mary (11 March 1279 – 29 May 1332), a Benedictine nun in Amesbury.
  14. Son, born in 1280 or 1281 who died very shortly after birth. There is no contemporary evidence for his name.
  15. Elizabeth (7 August 1282 – 5 May 1316). She married (1) in 1297 John I, Count of Holland, (2) in 1302 Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford & 3rd Earl of Essex. The first marriage was childless, but by Bohun, Elizabeth had ten children.
  16. Edward II of England, also known as Edward of Caernarvon (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327). In 1308 he married Isabella of France. They had two sons and two daughters.

My ancestor was their 15th child, Elizabeth.

Edward and Eleanor as Parents

It has been suggested that Eleanor and Edward were more devoted to each other than to their children. As king and queen, however, it was impossible for them to spend much time in one place, and when they were very young, the children could not travel constantly with their parents. The children had a household staffed with attendants carefully chosen for competence and loyalty, with whom the parents corresponded regularly. The children lived in this comfortable establishment until they were about seven years old; then they began to accompany their parents, if at first only on important occasions. By their teens they were with the king and queen much of the time. In 1290, Eleanor sent one of her scribes to join her children’s household, presumably to help with their education.

In 1306 Edward sharply scolded Margerie de Haustede, Eleanor’s former lady in waiting who was then in charge of his children by his second wife, because Margerie had not kept him well informed of their health. Edward also issued regular instructions for the care and guidance of these children.

Two incidents cited to imply Eleanor’s lack of interest in her children are easily explained in the contexts of royal childrearing in general, and of particular events surrounding Edward and Eleanor’s family. When their six-year-old son Henry lay dying at Guildford in 1274, neither parent made the short journey from London to see him; but Henry was tended by Edward’s mother Eleanor of Provence. The boy had lived with his grandmother while his parents were absent on crusade, and since he was barely two years old when they left England in 1270, he could not have had many worthwhile memories of them at the time they returned to England in August 1274, only weeks before his last illness and death. In other words, the dowager queen was a more familiar and comforting presence to her grandson than his parents would have been at that time, and it was in all respects better that she tended him then.

Similarly, Edward and Eleanor allowed her mother, Joan of Dammartin, to raise their daughter Joan in Ponthieu (1274–78). This implies no parental lack of interest in the girl; the practice of fostering noble children in other households of sufficient dignity was not unknown and Eleanor’s mother was, of course, dowager queen of Castile. Her household was thus safe and dignified, but it does appear that Edward and Eleanor had cause to regret their generosity in letting Joan of Dammartin foster young Joan. When the girl reached England in 1278, aged six, it turned out that she was badly spoiled. She was spirited and at times defiant in childhood, and in adulthood remained a handful for Edward, defying his plans for a prestigious second marriage for her by secretly marrying one of her late first husband’s squires. When the marriage was revealed in 1297 because Joan was pregnant, Edward was enraged that his dignity had been insulted by her marriage to a commoner of no importance. Joan, at twenty-five, reportedly defended her conduct to her father by saying that nobody saw anything wrong if a great earl married a poor woman, so there could be nothing wrong with a countess marrying a promising young man. Whether or not her retort ultimately changed his mind, Edward restored to Joan all the lands he had confiscated when he learned of her marriage, and accepted her new husband as a son-in-law in good standing. Joan marked her restoration to favour by having masses celebrated for the soul of her mother Eleanor.

Looks like spoiled children are nothing new to our life and times.  I would simply view her as “spirited” or perhaps she simply took after her father who, it seems, had a bit of a temper himself.

King Edward I

king edward i drawing

Drawing of Edward I taken from the various carvings.  He seemed to be a very handsome man, but his drooping eyelid was not portrayed in the drawing.

Edward I was known as Edward Longshanks and the “Hammer of the Scots.” The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father’s reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons.  In 1259, Edward briefly sided against his father with a baronial reform movement, supporting the Provisions of Oxford.

After reconciliation with his father, however, he remained loyal throughout the subsequent armed conflict, known as the Second Barons’ War. After the Battle of Lewes, Edward was hostage to the rebellious barons, but escaped after a few months and joined the fight against Simon de Montfort. Montfort was defeated at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, and within two years the rebellion was extinguished. With England pacified, Edward left on a crusade to the Holy Land.

The crusade accomplished little, and Edward was on his way home in 1272 when he was informed that his father had died. Making a slow return, he reached England in 1274 and was crowned at Westminster on 19 August.

He spent much of his reign reforming royal administration and common law. Through an extensive legal inquiry, Edward investigated the tenure of various feudal liberties, while the law was reformed through a series of statutes regulating criminal and property law. Increasingly, however, Edward’s attention was drawn towards military affairs. After suppressing a minor rebellion in Wales in 1276–77, Edward responded to a second rebellion in 1282–83 with a full-scale war of conquest. After a successful campaign, Edward subjected Wales to English rule, built a series of castles and towns in the countryside and settled them with Englishmen.

Next, his efforts were directed towards Scotland. Initially invited to arbitrate a succession dispute, Edward claimed feudal suzerainty over the kingdom. In the war that followed, the Scots persevered, even though the English seemed victorious at several points. At the same time there were problems at home. In the mid-1290s, extensive military campaigns required high levels of taxation, and Edward met with both lay and ecclesiastical opposition. These crises were initially averted, but issues remained unsettled. When the King died in 1307, he left to his son, Edward II, an ongoing war with Scotland and many financial and political problems.

Edward I was a tall man for his era, hence the nickname “Longshanks”. He was temperamental, and this, along with his height, made him an intimidating man, and he often instilled fear in his contemporaries. Nevertheless, he held the respect of his subjects for the way he embodied the medieval ideal of kingship, as a soldier, an administrator and a man of faith. Modern historians are divided on their assessment of the King: while some have praised him for his contribution to the law and administration, others have criticized him for his uncompromising attitude towards his nobility.

Currently, Edward I is credited with many accomplishments during his reign, including restoring royal authority after the reign of Henry III, establishing Parliament as a permanent institution and thereby also a functional system for raising taxes, and reforming the law through statutes. At the same time, he is also often criticized for other actions, such as his brutal conduct towards the Scots, and issuing the Edict of Expulsion in 1290 by which the Jews were expelled from England. The Edict remained in effect for the rest of the Middle Ages, and it would be over 350 years until it was formally overturned under Oliver Cromwell in 1656.

Edward as a Young Man

Edward was born at the Palace of Westminster (shown below) during the night of June 17/18, 1239, to King Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.  Ironically, I visited this location in 1970 as a student and bought a charm of the clock tower, known as Big Ben, which I still have.

westminster palace

Edward was an Anglo-Saxon name, and was not common among the aristocracy of England after the Norman Conquest, but Henry was devoted to the veneration of Edward the Confessor, and decided to name his firstborn son after the saint.

Edward was in the care of Hugh Giffard – father of the future Chancellor Godfrey Giffard – until Bartholomew Pecche took over at Giffard’s death in 1246.

There were concerns about Edward’s health as a child, and he fell ill in 1246, 1247, and 1251.

His illnesses apparently didn’t impair his health, as he became an imposing man; at 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) he towered over most of his contemporaries, and hence perhaps his epithet “Longshanks”, meaning “long legs” or “long shins”. The historian Michael Prestwich states that his “long arms gave him an advantage as a swordsman, long thighs one as a horseman. In youth, his curly hair was blond; in maturity it darkened, and in old age it turned white. His speech, despite a lisp, was said to be persuasive.”

Edward’s features were marked by piercing blue eyes and a drooping left eyelid, a trait that he inherited from his father and is depicted in the 14th century manuscript, below, where he is shown with Eleanor.

edward eleanor manuscript

In 1254, English fears of a Castilian invasion of the English province of Gascony induced Edward’s father to arrange a politically expedient marriage between his fourteen-year-old son and Eleanor, the half-sister of King Alfonso X of Castile.

Eleanor and Edward were married on or about November 1, 1254 in the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas in Castile. As part of the marriage agreement, the young prince received grants of land worth 15,000 marks a year. Though the endowments King Henry made were sizeable, they offered Edward little independence. He had already received Gascony as early as 1249, but Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, had been appointed as royal lieutenant the year before and, consequently, drew its income, so in practice Edward derived neither authority nor revenue from this province. The grant he received in 1254 included most of Ireland, and much land in Wales and England, including the earldom of Chester, but the King retained much control over the land in question, particularly in Ireland, so Edward’s power was limited there as well, and the King derived most of the income from those lands.

From 1254 to 1257, Edward was under the influence of his mother’s relatives, known as the Savoyards, the most notable of whom was Peter of Savoy, the queen’s uncle. After 1257, Edward increasingly fell in with the Poitevin or Lusignan faction – the half-brothers of his father Henry III – led by such men as William de Valence. There were tales of unruly and violent conduct by Edward and his Lusignan kinsmen, which raised questions about the royal heir’s personal qualities. The next years would be formative on Edward’s character.

Back in England, early in 1262, Edward fell out with some of his former Lusignan allies over financial matters. The next year, King Henry sent him on a campaign in Wales against Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, with only limited results. Around the same time, Simon de Montfort, who had been out of the country since 1261, returned to England and reignited the baronial reform movement.  It was at this pivotal moment, as the King seemed ready to resign to the barons’ demands, that Edward began to take control of the situation. Whereas he had so far been unpredictable and equivocating, from this point on he remained firmly devoted to protecting his father’s royal rights.  He reunited with some of the men he had alienated the year before – and retook massive Windsor Castle, built by William the Conqueror, Edward’s 4th great-grandfather, shown below, from the rebels.

Through the arbitration of King Louis IX of France, an agreement was made between the two parties. This so-called Mise of Amiens was largely favorable to the royalist side, and laid the seeds for further conflict.

Wars and Crusades

Between 1262 and 1267, the Second Baron’s War took place in England.  In the end, after being held hostage for nearly a year, the Royalists were victorious and Edward began to plan for his Crusade to the Holy Land.

Edward took the crusader’s cross in an elaborate ceremony on 24 June 1268, with his brother Edmund and cousin and childhood friend, Henry of Almain.

With the country pacified, the greatest impediment to the project was providing sufficient finances. King Louis IX of France, who was the leader of the crusade, provided a loan of about £17,500. This, however, was not enough; the rest had to be raised through a tax on the laity, which had not been levied since 1237. In May 1270, Parliament granted a tax of a twentieth, in exchange for which the King agreed to reconfirm Magna Carta, and to impose restrictions on Jewish money lending.  On  August 20, Edward sailed from Dover for France. Historians have not determined the size of the force with any certainty, but Edward probably brought with him around 225 knights and all together less than 1000 men.

Originally, the Crusaders intended to relieve the beleaguered Christian stronghold of Acre, but Louis had been diverted to Tunis. The French King and his brother Charles of Anjou, who had made himself king of Sicily, decided to attack the emirate to establish a stronghold in North Africa. The plans failed when the French forces were struck by an epidemic which, on  August 25th, took the life of King Louis himself. By the time Edward arrived at Tunis, Charles had already signed a treaty with the emir, and there was little else to do but return to Sicily. The crusade was postponed until next spring, but a devastating storm off the coast of Sicily dissuaded Charles of Anjou and Louis’s successor Philip III from any further campaigning. Edward decided to continue alone, and on May 9, 1271, he finally landed at Acre.

crusade operations

Operations during the Crusade of Edward I.

By then, the situation in the Holy Land was a precarious one. Jerusalem had fallen in 1244, and Acre was now the center of the Christian state. The Muslim states were on the offensive under the Mamluk leadership of Baibars, and were now threatening Acre itself. Though Edward’s men were an important addition to the garrison, they stood little chance against Baibars’ superior forces, and an initial raid at nearby St Georges-de-Lebeyne in June was largely futile.  The area is shown below.

crusade holyland

An embassy to the Ilkhan Abaqa (1234–1282) of the Mongols helped bring about an attack on Aleppo in the north, which helped to distract Baibar’s forces. In November, Edward led a raid on Qaqun, which could have served as a bridgehead to Jerusalem, but both the Mongol invasion and the attack on Qaqun failed. Things now seemed increasingly desperate, and in May 1272 Hugh III of Cyprus, who was the nominal king of Jerusalem, signed a ten-year truce with Baibars.  Edward was initially defiant, but an attack by a Muslim assassin in June forced him to abandon any further campaigning. Although he managed to kill the assassin, he was struck in the arm by a dagger feared to be poisoned, and became severely weakened over the following months.

It was not until September 24th that Edward left Acre. Arriving in Sicily, he was met with the news that his father had died on November 16th. Edward was deeply saddened by this news, but rather than hurrying home at once, he made a leisurely journey northwards. This was partly due to his health still being poor, but also due to a lack of urgency. The political situation in England was stable after the mid-century upheavals, and Edward was proclaimed king at his father’s death, rather than at his own coronation, as had until then been customary.

In Edward’s absence, the country was governed by a royal council, led by Robert Burnell. The new king embarked on an overland journey through Italy and France, where among other things he visited the pope in Rome and suppressed a rebellion in Gascony. On August 2, 1274 he returned to England, and was crowned with Eleanor on August 19th in Westminster Abbey in London.

The Round Table

Edward had a reputation for a fierce temper, and he could be intimidating; one story tells of how the Dean of St Paul’s, wishing to confront Edward over the high level of taxation in 1295, fell down and died once he was in the King’s presence.

When Edward of Caernarfon demanded an earldom for his favorite Gaveston, the King erupted in anger and supposedly tore out handfuls of his son’s hair. Some of his contemporaries considered Edward frightening, particularly in his early days. The Song of Lewes in 1264, a very enlightening, if difficult to read poem translated from Latin about Edward, described him as a leopard, an animal regarded as particularly powerful and unpredictable.

Whereunto shall the noble Edward be compared? Perhaps he will be rightly called a leopard. If we divide the name it becomes lion and pard; lion, because we saw that he was not slow to attack the strongest places, fearing the onslaught of none, with the boldest valour making a raid amidst the castles, and wherever he goes succeeding as it were at his wish, as though like Alexander he would speedily subdue the whole world, if Fortune’s moving wheel would stand still for ever; wherein let the highest forthwith know that he will fall, and that he who reigns as lord will reign but a little time. And this has, it is clear, befallen the noble Edward, who, it is agreed, has fallen from his unstable position. A lion by pride and fierceness, he is by inconstancy and changeableness a pard, changing his word and promise, cloaking himself by pleasant speech. When he is in a strait he promises whatever you wish, but as soon as he has escaped he renounces his promise. Let Gloucester be witness, where, when free from his difficulty, he at once revoked what he had sworn. The treachery or falsehood whereby he is advanced he calls prudence; the way whereby he arrives whither he will, crooked though it be, is regarded as straight; wrong gives him pleasure and is called right ; whatever he likes he says is lawful, and he thinks that he is released from law, as though he were greater than the King. For every king is ruled by the laws which he makes; King Saul is rejected because he broke the laws; and David is related to have been punished as soon as he acted contrary to the law; hence, therefore, let him who makes laws, learn that he cannot rule who observes not the law; nor ought they, whose concern it is, to make this man king.

Despite these frightening character traits, however, Edward’s contemporaries considered him an able, even an ideal, king. Though not loved by his subjects, he was feared and respected. He met contemporary expectations of kingship in his role as an able, determined soldier and in his embodiment of shared chivalric ideals. In religious observance he also fulfilled the expectations of his age: he attended chapel regularly and gave alms generously.  He was also a model, loyal, husband in a time when model husband did not exist and loyalty was not expected in a royal marriage.

glastonbury abbey

Edward took a keen interest in the stories of King Arthur, which were highly popular in Europe during his reign. In 1278 he visited Glastonbury Abbey, in ruins today, shown above, to open what was then believed to be the tomb of Arthur and Guinevere, recovering “Arthur’s crown” from Llywelyn after the conquest of North Wales, while his new castles drew upon the Arthurian myths in their design and location.

glastonbury abbey 1900

Glastonbury Abbey Photochrom photo taken about 1900, above.

glastonbury king arthur tomb

He held “Round Table” events in 1284 and 1302, involving tournaments and feasting, and chroniclers compared him and the events at his court to Arthur. In some cases Edward appears to have used his interest in the Arthurian myths to serve his own political interests, including legitimizing his rule in Wales and discrediting the Welsh belief that Arthur might return as their political savior.

edward round table

This round table was made by Edward and is now hung in Winchester Castle.

Cleanup

Soon after assuming the throne, Edward set about restoring order and re-establishing royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father. To accomplish this, he immediately ordered an extensive change of administrative personnel. The most important of these was the appointment of Robert Burnell as chancellor, a man who would remain in the post until 1292 as one of the King’s closest associates.

Edward then replaced most local officials, such as the escheators and sheriffs. This last measure was done in preparation for an extensive inquest covering all of England, that would hear complaints about abuse of power by royal officers. The inquest produced the set of so-called Hundred Rolls, from the administrative subdivision of the hundred.

The second purpose of the inquest was to establish what land and rights the crown had lost during the reign of Henry III.

The Hundred Rolls formed the basis for the later legal inquiries called the Quo warranto proceedings. The purpose of these inquiries was to establish by what warrant various liberties were held. If the defendant could not produce a royal license to prove the grant of the liberty, then it was the crown’s opinion – based on the writings of the influential thirteenth-century legal scholar Bracton – that the liberty should revert to the king.

By enacting the Statute of Gloucester in 1278 the King challenged baronial rights through a revival of the system of general eyres (royal justices to go on tour throughout the land) and through a significant increase in the number of pleas of quo warranto to be heard by such eyres.

edward long cross penny

Long cross penny with portrait of Edward.

This caused great consternation among the aristocracy, who insisted that long use in itself constituted license. A compromise was eventually reached in 1290, whereby a liberty was considered legitimate as long as it could be shown to have been exercised since the coronation of King Richard I, in 1189. Royal gains from the Quo warranto proceedings were insignificant; few liberties were returned to the King. Edward had nevertheless won a significant victory, in clearly establishing the principle that all liberties essentially emanated from the crown.

edward groat

Groat of Edward (4 pences).

The 1290 statute of Quo warranto was only one part of a wider legislative effort, which was one of the most important contributions of Edward I’s reign. This era of legislative action had started already at the time of the baronial reform movement; the Statute of Marlborough (1267) contained elements both of the Provisions of Oxford and the Dictum of Kenilworth. The compilation of the Hundred Rolls was followed shortly after by the issue of Westminster I (1275), which asserted the royal prerogative and outlined restrictions on liberties. In the Mortmain (1279), the issue was grants of land to the church. The first clause of Westminster II (1285), known as De donis conditionalibus, dealt with family settlement of land, and entails. Merchants (1285) established firm rules for the recovery of debts, while Winchester (1285) dealt with peacekeeping on a local level. Quia emptores (1290) – issued along with Quo warranto – set out to remedy land ownership disputes resulting from alienation of land by subinfeudation or subletting their land. The age of the great statutes largely ended with the death of Robert Burnell in 1292.

Wars and Castles

Wars in medieval England seem to be a way of life.

From 1276 to1294, conflicts erupted in Wales.  They ebbed and flowed, and were politically motivated as most wars are.  In 1277, 15,000 English forcefully invaded Wales on a punitive mission.  Of those 15,000, 9000 were Welsh.  The Welsh surrendered.  However, in 1282, war broke out again and episodic rebellions would occur until 1294.  In 1284, the Statute of Rhuddlan incorporated the principality of Wales unto England.  Edward then focused on the English settlement of Wales and building castles.

An extensive project of castle-building was initiated under the direction of Master James of Saint George, a prestigious architect whom Edward had met in Savoy on his return from the crusade. These included the castles of Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech, intended to act both as fortresses and royal palaces for the King.

caernarfon castle

Caernarfon Castle where Edward’s son, Edward II, was born.

Aerial view Beaumaris Castle (CD34) Anglesey North Castles Historic Sites

Beaumaris Castle

Harlech Castle - A general view of the castle

Harlech Castle

edward's conwy castle

Conwy Castle

Many of these new towns, built for the English to settle in Wales, were extensively walled, such as Conwy.  The Conwy Castle walls extended to be the actual city walls.

Conwy Castle mockup

This artists rendition reconstructs Conwy Castle and the village in the 13th century.  You can see the remainder of the city walls extending from the castle below to the left, in 2013.

conwy wall

Conwy Castle, with its massive walls was extremely well fortified.

conwy front

Edward’s program of castle building in Wales heralded the introduction of the widespread use of arrowslits in castle walls across Europe, drawing on Eastern influences.

You can see an example, behind my left shoulder, in the ramparts of Conwy Castle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I visited Conwy Castle in the fall of 2013, I had no idea that I was connected in to this castle in quite this way.  I’m incredibly glad, now, that I visited when given the opportunity.

Also a product of the Crusades was the introduction of the concentric castle, and four of the eight castles Edward founded in Wales followed this design.

conwy distance

The castles made a clear, imperial statement about Edward’s intentions to rule North Wales permanently, and drew on imagery associated with the Byzantine Roman Empire and King Arthur in an attempt to build legitimacy for his new regime.

In 1284, King Edward had his son Edward (later King Edward II) born at Caernarfon Castle, probably to make a deliberate statement about the new political order in Wales. David Powel, a 16th-century clergyman, suggested that the baby was offered to the Welsh as a prince “that was borne in Wales and could speake never a word of English”, but there is no evidence to support this account. In 1301 at Lincoln, the young Edward became the first English prince to be invested with the title of Prince of Wales, when King Edward granted him the Earldom of Chester and lands across North Wales. The King seems to have hoped that this would help in the pacification of the region, and that it would give his son more financial independence.

However, even today when talking with the Welsh, there is clearly still tension between the two countries, or parts of the UK.  One Welchman told us that all he knew about English/Welsh history is that there were “bloody English castles all over the place, but we still speak Welsh here.”

The Great Cause of Scotland

Edward seems to have trouble keeping all of the neighbors under control.  Scotland paid homage to England in 1278, but by the 1280s, the question of succession in Scotland came to a head.  As a result of a long series of royal deaths, Edward’s then one year old son, Edward, was betrothed to the three year old Margaret, Maid of Norway, heir to the throne of Scotland after her parent’s deaths.  This brought Scotland clearly under the rule of England.  Her parents died, then she died in 1290.  Fourteen men claimed the heirless throne, but it came down to John Balloil and Robert de Brus.

balloil homage to edward

Edward was asked to mediate this dispute, which he did in favor of John.  However, Edward continued to assert his authority over Scotland, especially militarily.  The Scots took issue with this, especially as Edward pushed the issue, which led to Edward invading Scotland and taking the town of Berwick in a particularly bloody attack. 

At the Battle of Dunbar, in 1296, Scottish resistance was defeated.  Stirling castle surrendered – “the garrison having run away and left none but the porter, who did surrender the keys.”

However, while in Scotland, to add insult to injury, Edward confiscated the Stone of Scone, known as the Stone of Destiny, the Scottish coronation stone and brought it back to Westminster, placing it in King Edward’s chair.  The message to Scotland was clear – they were subjects of England.

Money Issues

Constant warfare drained the coffers and caused Edward to have to raise funds by levying taxes.  In 1275, he permanently taxed wool.

The Jews were another source of income as many English were indebted to and despised them. Christianity forbade money-lending, so the Jews were the financiers of English people.  In 1275, Edward outlawed usury and encouraged Jews to take up other occupations.  In 1279, he arrested all heads of Jewish households and executed about 300.  They still did not convert, and in 1290, following the lead of other European leaders such as France and Brittany, he expelled them in the Edict of Expulsion.  This generated revenue through royal appropriation of Jewish loans and property.

In 1295, Edward summoned 2 knights from each county and 2 men from each burgh to attend Parliament, setting the stage to collect lay subsidies on the entire population.  Lay subsidies were collected on a fraction of the moveable property of all laymen and were occasionally collected for special purposes during a King’s reign.  Henry III collected 4 during his reign and Edward collected 9 in total; three before 1294 and 4 between 1294-1297.  In addition, he seized wool and hides and the burden of prises (appropriation of food.)

Warfare is expensive.

Edward became very unpopular and his policies created a great deal of resentment.  However, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the clerical subsidies ordered in 1294 which demanded half of all clerical (church) revenues.

In 1295, a papal bull from the Pope prohibited the Catholic churches from paying taxes to lay authorities without explicit consent from the Pope.  A compromise was reached which allowed clergymen to pay the tax “in cases or pressing urgency.”

In 1297, the Earl of Norfolk objected to the King’s right to demand military service.  He argued that the King’s ability to demand service was limited to those serving with him, but that he could not sail to Flanders, for example, and send his subjects to Gascony.  In July, Roger Bigod and Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Constable of England drew up a series of complaints known as The Remonstrances which included required military service and extortive levels of taxation.  Humphrey de Bohun was the father of Humphrey de Bohun, the 4th Earl of Hereford, born about 1276 who married King Edward’s daughter, Elizabeth in 1302, and from whom I descend.  Edward responded by levying another lay subsidy which was particularly provocative.

The King left for Flanders with a greatly reduced force and the country seemed on the brink of civil war. 

Ironically, it was the Scots that saved England.  The defeat by the Scots at the Battle of Stirling Bridge (below) provided a threat to the homeland and united the English, the King and the magnates in a common cause.

battle of stirling bridge

Edward signed a confirmation of the Magna Carta called Confirmatio cartarum (in Norman French) and the nobility agreed to serve with the King on the campaign in Scotland.  Edward’s father, Henry III, signed the original 1225 Magna Carta document, below.

1225 magna carta

Back to Scotland

The situation in Scotland had seemed resolved when Edward left the country in 1296, but resistance soon emerged under the leadership of the strategically gifted and charismatic William Wallace.  On September 11, 1297, a large English force under the leadership of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, and Hugh de Cressingham was routed by a much smaller Scottish army led by Wallace and Andrew Moray at Stirling Bridge. The defeat sent shockwaves into England, and preparations for a retaliatory campaign started immediately. Soon after Edward returned from Flanders, he headed north.

stirling bridge today

Stirling Bridge with the Abbey Craig today.

On July 22, 1298, in the only major battle he had fought since Evesham in 1265, Edward defeated Wallace’s forces at the Battle of Falkirk by utilizing longbows, creating gaps in the Scot’s defenses allowing the cavalry to charge.

longbow practice

Edward, however, was not able to take advantage of the momentum, and the next year the Scots managed to recapture Stirling Castle. Even though Edward campaigned in Scotland both in 1300, when he successfully besieged Caerlaverock Castle and in 1301, the Scots refused to engage in open battle again, preferring instead to raid the English countryside in smaller groups.

caelaverick castle

Caelaverick Castle in ruins, about 1900.  The castle, shown from the air today, is triangularly shaped and was built in the 1200s.

caelaverick castle aerial

The defeated Scots, secretly urged on by the French, appealed to the pope to assert a claim of overlordship to Scotland in place of the English. His papal bull addressed to King Edward in these terms was firmly rejected on Edward’s behalf by the Barons’ Letter of 1301. The English managed to subdue the country by other means, however. In 1303, a peace agreement was reached between England and France, effectively breaking up the Franco-Scottish alliance.

Robert the Bruce, the grandson of the claimant to the crown in 1291, had sided with the English in the winter of 1301–02. By 1304, most of the other nobles of the country had also pledged their allegiance to Edward, and this year the English also managed to re-take Stirling Castle.

stirling castle 1693

Stirling Castle drawn in 1693.

A great propaganda victory was achieved in 1305 when Wallace was betrayed by Sir John de Menteith and turned over to the English, who had him taken to London where he was publicly executed. With Scotland largely under English control, Edward installed Englishmen and collaborating Scots to govern the country.

The situation changed again on February 10, 1306, when Robert the Bruce murdered his rival John Comyn and a few weeks later, on 25 March, had himself crowned King of Scotland by Isobel, sister of the Earl of Buchan. Bruce now embarked on a campaign to restore Scottish independence, and this campaign took the English by surprise.

King Edward was suffering ill health by this time, and instead of leading an expedition himself, he gave different military commands to Aymer de Valence and Henry Percy, while the main royal army was led by the Prince of Wales. The English initially met with success; on June 19, Aymer de Valence routed Bruce at the Battle of Methven. Bruce was forced into hiding, while the English forces recaptured their lost territory and castles. Edward responded with severe brutality against Bruce’s allies; it was clear that he now regarded the struggle not as a war between two nations, but as the suppression of a rebellion of disloyal subjects. This brutality, though, rather than helping to subdue the Scots, had the opposite effect, and rallied growing support for Bruce.

Unfulfilled Crusades and the War on the Continent

edward depiction

The portrait above has been reported to be Edward I and also his son, Edward II.

Edward never again went on crusade after his return to England in 1274, but he maintained an intention to do so, and took the cross again in 1287. Like pilgrims, each crusader swore a vow (a votus) to be fulfilled on successfully reaching Jerusalem, and they were granted a cloth cross (crux) to be sewn into their clothes. This “taking of the cross”, the crux, eventually became associated with the entire journey. They saw themselves as undertaking an iter, a journey, or a peregrinatio, an armed pilgrimage. The inspiration for this “messianism of the poor” was the expected mass apotheosis at Jerusalem.

This image from the Jena Codex in the 1400s shows the Crusader’s Cross.

jena codex crusader cross

This intention of leaving on a second Crusade guided much of Edward’s foreign policy, until at least 1291.

To stage a European-wide crusade, it was essential to prevent conflict between the greater princes on the continent. A major obstacle to this was represented by the conflict between the French House of Anjou ruling southern Italy, and the kingdom of Aragon in Spain. In 1282, the citizens of Palermo rose up against Charles of Anjou and turned for help to Peter of Aragon, in what has become known as the Sicilian Vespers. In the war that followed, Charles of Anjou’s son, Charles of Salerno, was taken prisoner by the Aragonese. The French began planning an attack on Aragon, raising the prospect of a large-scale European war. To Edward, it was imperative that such a war be avoided, and in Paris in 1286 he brokered a truce between France and Aragon that helped secure Charles’ release. As far as the crusades were concerned, however, Edward’s efforts proved ineffective. A devastating blow to his plans came in 1291, when the Mamluks captured Acre, the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land.

siege of acre

Medieval painting called “Les Templars” depicting the Siege of Acre.

After the fall of Acre, Edward’s international role changed from that of a diplomat to an antagonist. He had long been deeply involved in the affairs of his own Duchy of Gascony. In 1278 he assigned an investigating commission to his trusted associates Otto de Grandson and the chancellor Robert Burnell, which caused the replacement of the seneschal Luke de Tany. In 1286, Edward visited the region himself and stayed for almost three years. The perennial problem, however, was the status of Gascony within the kingdom of France, and Edward’s role as the French king’s vassal. On his diplomatic mission in 1286, Edward had paid homage to the new king, Philip IV, but in 1294 Philip declared Gascony forfeit when Edward refused to appear before him in Paris to discuss the recent conflict between English, Gascon, and French sailors (that had resulted in several French ships being captured, along with the sacking of the French port of La Rochelle).

edward homage to philip

Edward I (right) giving homage to Philip IV (left). As Duke of Aquitaine, Edward was a vassal of the French king.

Second Marriage

Eleanor of Castile died on November 28, 1290. Uncommon for such marriages of the period, and even though it was an arranged marriage, the couple loved each other.

edward and eleanor

Carvings of Edward and Eleanor at the Lincoln Cathedral.

Like his father, Edward was very devoted to his wife and was faithful to her throughout their married lives — a rarity among monarchs of the time. He was deeply affected by her death. He displayed his grief by erecting twelve so-called Eleanor crosses, one at each place where her funeral cortège stopped for the night. As part of the peace accord between England and France in 1294, it was agreed that Edward should marry Philip IV’s half-sister Margaret, but the marriage was delayed by the outbreak of war.

Edward made alliances with the German king, the Counts of Flanders and Guelders, and the Burgundians, who would attack France from the north. The alliances proved volatile, however, and Edward was facing trouble at home at the time, both in Wales and Scotland. It was not until August 1297 that he was finally able to sail for Flanders, at which time his allies there had already suffered defeat. The support from Germany never materialized, and Edward was forced to seek peace. His marriage to Margaret in 1299 ended the war, but the whole affair had proven both costly and fruitless for the English.

Edward married Margaret of France in 1299  and was married to her until his death in 1307.

Edward and Margaret had three more children.

  1. Thomas born 1 June 1300, died 4 Aug 1338, buried in the abbey of Bury St Edmunds. Married (1) Alice Hales, with children; (2) Mary Brewes, no children.
  2. Edmund born 1 Aug 1301, died 19 Mar 1330, married Margaret Wake, had children.
  3. Eleanor born 6 May 1306, died 1310.

It was sweet of Margaret to name her daughter Eleanor, especially as Henry’s health was declining.  Sadly, Eleanor died three years after her father.

Edward’s Death

In February 1307, Robert the Bruce reappeared and started gathering men, and in May he defeated Aymer de Valence at the Battle of Loudoun Hill. King Edward, who had rallied somewhat, now moved north himself.

The ailing but indomitable King , then aged 68, mortally ill but refusing to admit defeat, embarked on horseback on the journey June 26th which was to prove his last. The protracted journey underlines the poor state of his health, he finally had to be carried in a litter. He reached Kirkandrews-on-Eden on 2nd July but struggled on until three days later he arrived at Burgh by Sands (which is pronounced bruff, not burgh,) just south of the Scottish border, where he finally breathed his last, dying of dysentery.  When his servants came the next morning to lift him up so that he could eat, he died in their arms.

king edward's monument

This monument rising from Burgh Marsh marks the location of King Edward I’s death.

Various stories emerged about Edward’s deathbed wishes; according to one tradition, he requested that his heart be carried to the Holy Land, along with an army to fight the infidels. A more dubious story tells of how he wished for his bones to be carried along on future expeditions against the Scots. Yet another says that Edward wanted his flesh to be boiled from his bones so that they could be carried with the army on every campaign into Scotland and that his heart be buried in the Holy Land.  Another account of his deathbed scene is more credible; according to one chronicle, Edward gathered around him the Earls of Lincoln and Warwick, Aymer de Valence, and Robert Clifford, and charged them with looking after his son Edward. In particular they should make sure that Piers Gaveston was not allowed to return to the country. This wish, however, the son ignored, and had his favorite recalled from exile almost immediately.

King Edward’s body lay in state in St Michael’s Parish Church at Burgh by Sands before being taken to London in stages for burial at Westminster Abbey, the mausoleum of English kings. Below, the sculptured head of Edward I from Winchelsea Church.

edward image

He laid in state at Waltham Abbey, before being buried in Westminster Abbey on October 27th in a dalmatic (long tunic) of red silk damask with a mantle or rich crimson satin fastened with a fibula (brooch) gilt in gold.  His grave bears this epitaph ‘Edwardus Primus Scottorum Malleus hic est 1308. Pactum Serva’ (Here lies Edward, the Hammer of the Scots. Keep this vow).

His body was visited there by his eldest son, Edward, Prince of Wales, who had been in Scotland at the time of his father’s death, he was proclaimed Edward II the following day at Carlisle. The new king, Edward II, remained in the north until August, but then abandoned the campaign and headed south. He was crowned king on 25 February 1308.

The map below of Westminster Abbey, from Mark Humphrey’s page shows the location of Edward’s tomb circled in blue and Eleanor’s in red.

westminster abbey map

There are few records of the funeral, which cost £473. Edward’s tomb was an unusually plain sarcophagus of Purbeck marble, without the customary royal effigy, possibly the result of the shortage of royal funds after the King’s death. The sarcophagus may normally have been covered over with rich cloth, and originally might have been surrounded by carved busts and a devotional religious image, all since lost. The Society of Antiquaries opened the tomb in 1774, finding that the body had been well preserved over the preceding 467 years, and took the opportunity to determine the King’s original height.

According to Westminster Abbey, when Edward’s tomb was opened, they found the body wrapped in waxed linen cloth and wearing royal robes of red and gold with a crimson mantle.  He had a gilt crown on his head and carried a scepter surmounted by a dove and oak leaves in enamels.

Traces of the Latin inscription Edwardus Primus Scottorum Malleus hic est, 1308. Pactum Serva (“Here is Edward I, Hammer of the Scots, 1308. Keep the Vow”), can still be seen painted on the side of the tomb, referring to his vow to avenge the rebellion of Robert Bruce. This resulted in Edward being given the epithet the “Hammer of the Scots” by historians, but is not contemporary in origin, having been added by the Abbot John Feckenham in the 16th century.

edward tomb opening 1774

A drawing of Edward’s tomb from when it was opened in 1774.

Ironically, Edward has no decorative tomb, per se, and is buried under a plain marble slab, shown below.  I wonder why ornamentations weren’t later added.

edward tomb westminster

His tomb is shown in the drawing below from “The History and Antiquities of the Abbey Church of St. Peter, Westminster” by Edward Brayley, Vol 2, 1823.

edward tomb westminster drawing

The burial location of Eleanor is shown below at right.  The tomb of Henry III, the father of Edward I is shown at left.  Edward buried Eleanor beside his father.  The Norman-French inscription can be translated as “Here lies Eleanor, sometime Queen of England, wife of King Edward son of King Henry, and daughter of the King of Spain and Countess of Ponthieu, on whose soul God in His pity have mercy. Amen”.

eleanor tomb westminster drawing

Westminster Abbey probably hasn’t changed a great deal.  This drawing below shows the choir in 1848.

westminster choir 1858

Edward’s 26 year old widow, Margaret of France retired to Marlborough Castle after his death and never remarried, she is recorded as saying “when Edward died, all men died for me”. She lived on for ten years after her husband’s death, dying at the age of 36 and was buried at Greyfriars Church, Greenwich.

The King and I

King Edward I is my 23rd great-grandfather, or said another way, I’m the 25th generation downstream from him.  This means that I’m also related to Valerie Bertinelli.  Grandpa King Edward is her 16th great grandfather, so that means that she and are I are 16th cousins 7 times removed, or genetically equal to 19th cousins once removed.  Actually, I think she descended through the same daughter, so we’re actually at least one (and possibly more) generations closer.

Sixth cousins share under 1% of their DNA, So 19th cousins share a miniscule amount, if any.  It’s absolutely possible that Valerie and I share absolutely no DNA at all from King Edward.  In fact, it’s possible that neither Valerie nor I, individually, inherited ANY DNA from King Edward.  But let’s face it, despite the odds of not receiving any DNA from a specific ancestor that long ago, we did inherit DNA from ancestors that long ago, and even longer ago, so it had to come from someone, or we wouldn’t be here today with a full DNA compliment.  In other words, several someone’s beat the odds and their DNA survived.  Seems to me like Edward just might have had some of that survivor DNA to share.

I hope that Valerie will become curious and test her autosomal DNA, and will then have someone work with her to download her DNA to GedMatch where we can drop the thresholds to 1cM to see if we so share even a shred of Edward’s DNA. I’d be glad to volunteer!

I actually did the math, and at 15th cousins, we are down to only one matching base pair from a common ancestor.  But, given that, we also know that autosomal DNA is not inherited exactly at 50% in each generation and that it is inherited in clumps, sticky segments, so, indeed, maybe, just maybe…..

One thing we can do, however, is to check and see if the Plantagenet line is represented in DNA testing for the Y line.  That would be quite interesting.

In August 2013, Bradley Larkin published a paper about the Y DNA of the British Monarchy in honor of the birth of the Prince of Cambridge.

Bradley said: “A review was made of existing genetic genealogy findings that infer characteristics of the Y-DNA of members of the British Monarchy. Nine sustained Y-DNA lineages since the year 927 CE were noted as dynastic groups. Haplogroup and haplotype characteristics of three of the dynasties were presented with two more dynasties noted as testable but unpublished. Cultural and geographical origins of these dynasties were considered as context for their DNA haplogroups. Specimen candidates for further testing were identified noting that some will require Ancient DNA (aDNA) recovery and analysis.”

Bradley identified the dynasties of the British monarchy beginning in the year 927 and ending in 2013, as shown below.

  • Mountbatten/Romanov
  • Hannover
  • Windsor
  • Stuart
  • Tudor
  • Plantagenet
  • Blois
  • Wessex
  • Norman
  • Knytlinga (Viking)

Bradley then researched each dynasty and lineage. If lines have been tested, he provides the results. Several lines have no male descendants, so for those, we would need ancient DNA. The connections and interconnections are fascinating.

To view the detail and summary data about each dynasty, read Bradley’s paper here, especially the summary table near the end.

Now, you do know, that of course my Plantagenet line is one that is not yet represented in the DNA data bases.  However, King Richard III, being King Richard of the Car Park fame, descends from the same paternal male line.  King Richard is, in fact, the great-great-grandson of Edward I, through all males, so Richard should indeed carry the same Y DNA that King Edward I carried.  In February, 2014 the University of Leister announced that they were going to sequence the entire genome of Richard III.  I think that is absolutely wonderful news.

Richard would be my 7th cousin, 16 times removed, or genetically equivalent to my 15th cousin.  He’s more closely related to Valerie, 7th cousins 9 times removed, or equivalent to 11th cousins once removed.

I checked with Debbie Kennett who, being a genetic genealogist and blogger in Britain, is familiar with and interested in all things British, and she indicated that a paper is due imminently reporting the results of Richard III’s DNA testing, including Y DNA. I can hardly wait.  I did not inherit the patience gene from anyone!

It looks like Bradley will be able to update his table, I’ll be able to discover the Y DNA of my 23rd grandfather and so will Valerie Bertinelli.

And I don’t even have to chase down any relatives and try to figure out how to persuade them to test, nor do I have to pay for any testing.  I think this is wonderful.  And I didn’t even have to dig anyone up either!!!  All done for me!  How does this get better?

So, my husband asked me if I’m in the royal line of succession.  I had to admit, I had no idea.  It never occurred to me, and now that I think about it, I surely hope not!  I can’t even curtsey.

I’m not quite sure how things shifted from family lines, or why, since Edward I, so I googled.  I found out a lot about the British line of succession, and while Valerie and I both might be in that line along with thousands of our cousins, I discovered one thing for sure.  I hate to disappoint Valerie, but both of our families have a Catholic marriage between us and the good King Edward I, so even if we were in the line of succession, we’re disqualified now.  Sorry Valerie.  I know you’re crushed:)

So, I think that to celebrate our newly found royal ancestor, Valerie and I need to have a sitting to be fitted for our new royal tiaras.  Every girl wants to be a princess and my granddaughters would think this is THE coolest thing since sliced bread.  I mean, Grandma is a REAL princess.  Ok, 24 times removed, but who’s counting.  Details.  And they are real princesses too, 26 times removed.

So, I kind of like this tiara.  What do you think?

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I don’t think they’ll let me borrow this one with those luscious green emeralds from the Louvre.

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The granddaughters like this pink one.  Now there’s a surprise.

tiara 3

I’m thinking, this is probably about as close as I’m going to get.

tiara me

A couple of years ago, during one the Lost Colony Research Group archaeology digs on Hatteras Island, I fixed the computer in the library, which was refusing to print.  For that, I got to wear the honorary tiara.  It’s a local tradition.  It felt so comfortable, I forgot all about it and then wondered why people were looking at me strangely:)

What fun!

If you descend from the Sarah Ludlow and Reverend Nathaniel Brewster lines in the US, you too descend from King Edward I.  Sarah’s father was the Honorable Roger Ludlow, Deputy Governor of Massachusetts in 1634 and 10th great grandson of Edward I.  He’s the “gateway ancestor” who married Mary Cogan.  The Rev. Nathaniel Brewster, a member of the first graduating class at Harvard in 1642, married their daughter, Sarah Ludlow.  And the rest, is indeed, history.

Maybe you’ll need a tiara too!!!

Challenges with Irish Autosomal DNA Genealogy Research

Dr. Maurice Gleeson gave an excellent (and humorous) presentation this last weekend at the i4gg (Institute for Genetic Genealogy) in Chevy Chase, Maryland. 

gleeson

Although his focus is Irish, this information applies to anyone utilizing autosomal DNA. 

gleeson2

He has very graciously made his presentation available on YouTube.  Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5CQsmu8HMA&feature=youtu.be

Autosomal DNA Matching within Projects

Family Tree DNA was gracious enough to establish projects for genealogists – in fact – that’s one of the first things they did.  However, when they established projects, some 14 or 15 years ago, the first projects that existed were Y DNA projects.  The Y DNA, of course, is passed from father to son, along with the surname, so the projects were called “surname projects.”

Women, of course, are genealogically jinxed because their surnames have historically changed in every generation, with marriage, and sometimes multiple times, with multiple marriages – so which surname project would they join?  The answer is, it varies, and more often than not, the answer is none.  They roam around like homeless nomads.  Mitochondrial DNA tools and data bases lag far behind those of Y or autosomal DNA.

There are four types of projects at Family Tree DNA.

  1. Surname projects
  2. Haplogroup projects
  3. Geographic projects
  4. Mitochondrial DNA lineage projects

Mitochondrial DNA lineage projects have never really caught on, probably because there is no good way to find them, but the other three types of projects are very common and widely used.

In upcoming articles, we’re going to look at each type of project, what it provides, to whom, and any special challenges it might have.

However, there is one universal challenge with projects and that’s how to find and handle autosomal matches.  Autosomal testing didn’t exist when projects were first defined, and now we don’t quite know how to handle autosomal testing and people who descend from specific lines but not through the Y chromosome.  In other words, my paternal grandmother was a Bolton, but it’s not my surname – should I and could I join the Bolton project?  In the past, assuredly, the answer would have been “no,” because the Bolton project is a Y DNA project – but is the answer still no?  That depends on the project and the administrators, and we’ll discuss these types of issues in the upcoming Surname Projects article.

However, regardless of the type of project, there is one question that gets asked a lot, and the answer is always the same.

Can I compare my autosomal DNA to other project members?

And the answer is…..drum roll please….yes.  However, not in the way you might expect.

All projects and types of projects, and all tests, except Big Y, SNP and factoids are included in the advanced matching features available on every participants home page at Family Tree DNA.  This means that you can see who you match, within each project you have joined, on each kind of and combination of kinds of tests.

Sign on to your personal page, and under “My DNA,” under either Y DNA, mtDNA or Family Finder, you have an “Advanced Matching” option.

y dna options

Selecting the Advanced Matching Option will show the following options.

advanced matches

Selecting Family Finder and then the project where you’d like to see who you match, in this case, “Speaks,” and then clicking on “Run Report” gives you the following.

speaks ff match

Within the project, you can see who you match, if they have had their Y or mtDNA tested, and if so, the haplogroup, and their estimated relationship range (to you) utilizing Family Finder.

Now, let me tell you what this DOESN’T mean.

It doesn’t automatically mean that you match these people on this same family line.

I want to say that again, and louder, because this is one of the most common erroneous assumptions I see.

autosomal does not

You have to do more work, chromosome matching and triangulation to determine how you match these people, and on which lines.

And it does not, DOES NOT, mean that if you are both members of a geographic project, like the American Indian project, for example, that you are American Indian because you match someone in the American Indian project.  You might match them on a completely different non-Indian line.

It also DOES NOT mean that these people who match you, match each other.  You can determine that, but you’ll need to utilize the matrix tool to see who matches whom.  In fact, in the example above, Stacy and Lola-Margaret do not match each other.

You simply cannot assume.  You know what assume does….

No jumping to conclusions either, no matter how excited you are or how promising a match within that project looks to be.  Conclusion jumping works functionally the same as assume.

If this seems a bit confusing to you, let me explain.

Autosomal DNA tests test and include your DNA that you received from all of your ancestral lines.  It reaches back in time reliably 5 or 6 generations, and often further, in terms of matching to your genetic cousins.

DNA Pedigree

At 5 generations, you have 32 separate ancestral lines, and at 6 generations, you have 64 different ancestral lines.

Y surname projects typically focus on one line, the blue Estes line above.  Mitochondrial DNA is the same, focusing on the red circle matrilineal line above  But your autosomal DNA match within the Estes project could reflect an Estes line match, or any of your 31 genealogical other lines at 5 generations.  People who join projects typically do so because of their relationship with one particular line, like the Estes line – but autosomal has the capability to and does reach across all lines – so just because you match someone in the same DNA project does not mean that’s where your genetic match comes from.  Of course, it’s a wonderful hint, especially if you’re an Estes and it’s the Estes project, and a great place to start looking – but it’s NOT a given.  And of course, in haplogroup and geographic projects, the connection is even less apparent.  The Y DNA and mtDNA haplogroup fields are also another great hint and can quickly eliminate, or suggest, those possible lines.

Are you curious to see who you match in different projects?  Take a look.  You never know what kind of surprise might be waiting.

WDYTYA – How DNA Might Have Been Used – Cynthia Nixon

I do love these Who Do You Think Your Are (WDYTYA) and similar shows, because like most everyone, I love a good mystery, especially a true story – and a good genealogy mystery tops them all.

And, of course, you never know what tidbit might be lurking for your own situation.

We had a hiatus of several months since last season, so I remembered what I liked and forgot what I didn’t.  As a long-time genealogist, I find myself talking to the TV – saying things like, “You can’t assume that,” and other similar comments to rather gargantuan leaps of faith.

I have to remind myself that it IS, after all, a TV show, and a lot of research (I hope and pray) is done behind the scenes but not shown to the audience.  After all, Ancestry.com, marketing king of easy-peasy “just enter your ancestor’s name” and it will all just be here waiting for you is sponsoring this series….so it has to look quite simple and doable for the viewing audience.  I mean, who wants to know that there could be two people in the census with the same name, in the same county….yes…really.

But my real frustration last season came with the knowledge that in many cases, DNA could have been reasonably and successfully used, and wasn’t.  So, this season, I’d like to talk about how DNA might have been used.

Ancestry provides a recap of the Cynthia Nixon episode as does TLC, and it really was a good one with lots of cliffhangers, of course.  For future episodes, GeneaBloggers published a WDYTYA bingo card.  What fun!

This episode begins as a professional genealogist puts together Cynthia’s first several generations via the census and presents her with a scroll of that information.  If you’re playing WDYTYA Bingo, I think you get two points for this.  The rest of the show focuses on Cynthia’s 3X great grandmother, Martha Curnutt.

Marriage records on Ancestry.com show a Martha Curnutt marrying Noah Casto on 15 August 1839 in Missouri. But no Martha and Noah Casto appear in the 1850 census. There’s only Martha, Mary (10), Noah (7), and Sarah (6)—all under the name Curnutt. A quick count shows Noah could have served in the Civil War. And a search of military records yields pay dirt: Noah’s mother Martha applied for a pension in 1881.

That pension record shows that Noah, the father, died in 1842, and further research shows that in 1843, Martha was indicted for murder and then found guilty of manslaughter for killing her husband, Noah Casto, with an ax “between the eyes” while he slept, after he threatened her life.  If you’d like to read a discussion about murder vs. manslaughter, Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, who watched the show with a group of genealogists, wrote a wonderful article about manslaughter and murder and this case.  Be sure to read the comments too.

Cynthia discovered that Martha had apparently been severely abused, based on a newspaper article.  At that time, there was no protection nor recourse for abused women.

More awful still is an unnamed informant’s account that the victim “had been in the habit of treating his wife in a manner too brutal and shocking to think of.” Cynthia is devastated to learn her 3x great-grandmother endured such horrible treatment.

But Martha fared little better in prison. Convicted of manslaughter, she was the only female inmate, was abused by people she was hired out to work for, was subjected to inhumane conditions, and in the fall of 1844 gave birth to a daughter (Sarah) fathered by someone associated with the prison. It was most likely the scandal that would accompany the story of her treatment in a state facility that led to her pardon in 1845.

An article written by a former inmate details Martha’s treatment, including the fact that she was originally allowed to work for the warden at his home, but his wife, Mrs. Brown, abused her so terribly that she ran away, was returned to prison and kept in her cell being given nothing for days, which I presume means no food or water.  That was followed by the fact that “in the fall” she delivered a child.  Knowing the dates of the trial in 1843 and that the child was born in the fall of 1844, it became evident that the child was not her deceased husband’s child, and was conceived in prison.

When Martha was in labor, Mrs. Brown would not help her, nor allow anyone else to do so.  Finally, one (male) inmate was allowed to “attend her,” but nothing, not even clothing or heat in her cell was provided for the baby.  Obviously, the warden’s wife was hoping the child would die, but Sarah didn’t, nor did Martha.  The next month, Martha was pardoned by the governor over the signatures of a long list of politicians and very influential men.  Obviously, since the mother and child didn’t die, there was a scandal brewing.

So, the question is, and certainly the scandal revolves around the identity of the Sarah’s father, the child born in prison in the fall of 1844.

We know Sarah lived at least until the 1850 census, and assuming she lived to marry and have children of her own, let’s talk about DNA options.

If Sarah were a male and had male descendants to the current generation, this would be a relatively easy case to solve….but she is a female and carries no Y chromosome, which would have been passed from the father to a male child, so we can’t test that.

Therefore, our other testing alternative would be to test the autosomal DNA of a descendant of Sarah and see if any portion of the her autosomal DNA matches with descendants of the warden’s family.  This assumes, of course, that Martha was not otherwise related to Warden Brown.

If in fact, Sarah’s descendants do match the DNA of the warden’s descendants, that would be highly suggestive that Warden Brown was Sarah’s father, especially if the amount of shared DNA would be the right percentage to be about 4 generations removed, or roughly third cousins who could be expected to share about 1% of the DNA of their common ancestor.

Not all third cousins will share DNA, or not in large enough segments to be above the matching threshold of the DNA testing companies, but many will, and all we would need would be enough and proof that the DNA in question is indeed descended from the same Brown family.

Here’s my own third cousin match at Ancestry.  He and I tested intentionally, knowing we are cousins, to map our DNA to specific ancestors (at Family Tree DNA) and to see if we match other cousins (at Ancestry.)

ancestry third cousins

Of course, Sarah is not Cynthia’s direct ancestor, the older daughter, Mary is – so finding out who Sarah’s father was does not further Cynthia’s own genealogy.  Plus, testing Cynthia’s DNA would not have been beneficial other than to have a basis for comparison on Martha’s side.  But testing a descendant of Sarah would certainly have answered a burning question about Martha’s time spent in prison – and might very likely have answered the question about why Mrs. Brown obviously hated Martha enough to try to kill her in various inhumane ways; by withholding assistance while Martha was in childbirth, not to mention essentials like food and heat.

Had Sarah’s descendants taken the Ancestry.com DNA test, especially if they had entered the warden’s name as a potential ancestor in their tree, they might well have discovered that they had “shakey leaf” hints that connected them with other people who descend from Warden Brown’s family.  If they were lucky, an actual descendant of Warden Brown himself would have tested and they would match.  In fact, maybe the producers could have found a direct descendant of Warden Brown who was interested in revealing the truth, whatever it was.

However, without a chromosome browser or any other type of comparison tools, they would be unable to prove that the match to that individual was indeed Brown family DNA – and they would have simply have to infer, allow you to believe, that the genetic match was the same as the shakey leaf match.  You can see, above, that Ancestry skates on this issue by saying “it looks like you have a shared ancestor.”  Indeed it does, but that doesn’t mean the shaky leaf ancestor is the one that you share genetically.  However, given the other leaps of faith in the series, I doubt that this “little detail” would have deterred the storyline much.  And indeed, it would have been very interesting.

In order to prove the genetic connection, one could have the people who tested, and matched on the Brown line, download their results to www.GedMatch.com and compare their actual DNA segments there.  They could also transfer their DNA to Family Tree DNA who does have comparison tools.  Of course, that opens the door to DISPROVING the shakey leaf “tree” match as well as proving it, and it’s certainly not in the same spirit or as easy as just accepting, on faith, the “shakey leaf” hint as fact.  DNA Genealogy wrote a nice summary of Ancestry.com vs GedMatch here and why those “shakey leaf” first impressions are sometimes not correct.

Am I the only one who thinks Warden Brown is the most likely candidate to be Sarah’s father?????  Whoever the father was, he was certainly important enough to warrant a pardon for Martha.  That is the one good thing in the landslide of evil that haunted Martha Curnutt.  I hope the rest of her life was much easier.

St. Nicholas’ Church at Shoulden and St. Leonard’s at Deal

pier sunrise day 3

Day three in Deal turned out to be a great day.  It began with another beautiful sunrise over the pier.  I could get used to this and the sound of the ocean.  Unfortunately, it makes me sleepy – not the sun, the ocean rhythmically lapping on the shore.  I think this means I’ve finally relaxed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Each morning, we had breakfast in the pub.  The Clarendon is sort of a B&B above a pub.  Most of the hotels here are just that.  There are no chain hotels, so it’s all local, waterfront and quaint.  Most people eat dinner in the pub – but not us – breakfast.  We’ve learned a lot – like egg sandwiches do not come on toast, but cold buttered bread.  But everything can be made right with a latte.

We didn’t need to be anyplace until noon when St. Nicholas’ church in Shoulden opens. Jim and I decided to walk back to town a slightly different way and explore a bit.  These beautiful old streets are very inviting.  We noticed that at the end of the street there was a visitor information location that had a walking tour map of the historical signs, so we set out to find that map.

deal map

I wish we had found this map two days ago.  It’s available at the Dover Visitor Information Center, and there is a branch in Deal too, in case you ever need one!  Our hotel was on Beach Street, just to the right of the pier.

On the way, Jim found the solution to the driving challenge.

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Actually, Jim and I designed a dual navigation plan.  I give Jim numbers for the left side, like “a foot” or “6 inches” and Jim is going to go very slow and stop if he feels uncomfortable. While that’s not a good plan at home, it is here because people actually park into the street making 2 lanes impossible and impassible, so people stop in the road all of the time here.  It’s very disconcerting actually.  The dual navigation plan actually worked very well and we had no incidents today.  Thankfully.

We did, however, find some local color.

hairy dog mother

You just never know what you’re going to see.

pink english car

England is not boring.

orange pants deal

By any stretch of the imagination.

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Is this a mutant gene?

I keep requesting purple from my hair stylist and she keeps refusing…mutters something about acting my age….

This next photo was actually in London on our way back home the following day.

posh girls on tour

Can you see the back of her outfit?  It says “POSH GIRLS ON TOUR.”

posh girl

We were told earlier in the trip that posh, as it’s used today to mean swanky or rich was derived from the following:

The much-repeated tale is that ‘Posh’ derives from the ‘port out, starboard home’ legend supposedly printed on tickets of passengers on P&O (Peninsula and Orient) passenger vessels that travelled between UK and India in the days of the Raj. Another version has it that PO and SH were scrawled on the steamer trunks used on the voyages, by seamen when allocating cabins.

Anyone who enjoys people watching will love the British Isles.

We found a Subway sandwich shop and bought lunch so we could have a picnic later.  We found out the hard way the other day that many locations have no resources whatsoever, not even a convenience store or a gas station (which means no bath rooms.)  Many of the churches have no heat or toilets, for example.  However, those places that do have public restrooms avoid that confusing Scotland issue where the men’s restrooms have figures with kilts and the women’s have figures with skirts and you can’t tell the difference.

pink door  blue door

Seems so simple – what a good idea.

We still had quite a bit of time after Subway, before we had to be at the churches, so we took a walk along High Street in Deal which was by now becoming quite familiar.

As luck would have it, I found a bookstore.  I’m drawn to these in local places like a moth to a flame, so I had to go in and take a look.  I needed a map anyway, just in case we decided to try to go to Nonington, about 10 miles away.  After looking at the map, we decided not to because the roads aren’t marked and the only way to get there included a lot of back roads.  Our track record wasn’t so good and we decided to stay and enjoy Deal and not play automobile roulette anymore than was absolutely necessary.

In any event, while in the bookstore, I discovered, quite by accident while perusing a history book, the reason why we could not find Richard Estes’s tomb in St. Peters at Westcliffe.  We were in the wrong church, AGAIN, but the name was right.  However, the church being referred to in Richard’s 1506 will was St. Peter’s in Dover which no longer exists.  The original St. Peter’s in Dover church was mentioned in the 1200s, but they know nothing more of it until in 1827 when the church needed to be either remodeled or expanded.  Someone needs to show them the 1596 Symonson map where Dover very clearly has a church, shows the location and a drawing of the church itself, albeit small.

dover 1596 map

In 1895, St. Peter’s was destroyed and a new, larger church built either beside or on top of the old one.  It’s unknown whether any part of the old church was utilized in the new one.  The church was rededicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, so the name changed.  That church was again destroyed during WW2, so it has been rebuilt yet a third time.  So if indeed Richard Eustace was buried in the floor, that floor no longer exists.  While we’ll never have a photo of that tombstone, we now know why we won’t, and why there is no St. Peter’s church today in Dover.  At least that mystery is now solved!

At noon, we drove to St. Leonards, parked, and picnicked in the car, then walked to Shoulden about a quarter mile away, shown below.  That explains why our ancestor, Robert Eastye, might have been married there – it’s so close to his home church and Anne Woodward would have been a local gal.  St. Nicholas Shoulden was probably her church.

St Nicholas Sholden

I’d love to peruse those Shoulden records for the Woodward family line.  Take a look at this beautiful church in the article about Anne Woodward.

shoulden

The bride would have come in from the rear of the church, through these doors, and walked down this aisle.

shoulden door

 

This door, dating from 1795, is not in use today except for special occasions.  The original, pre-1795, door was on the other side of the church, today, the back, because the original road was routed on the other side of the church, where the cemetery is today.  The original doorway has now been enclosed and is the vicar’s vestry, shows as the little add-on with a chimney in the photo below.

shoulden back

Regardless of how one entered the church, the inside, especially the nave, probably looks much the same now as it did then, except for carpet, of course.  This church dates from the 1200s with one portion in the north wall believed to be from the 1100s.

St Nicholas Sholden interior

The church is beautiful, inside and out.

shoulden cemetery

It’s very likely that the ashes of Anne Woodward’s ancestors lie in this churchyard.

In Europe, I often think about the discussions in the US about exhumation and DNA testing of forensic remains for genealogy.  While I only know of one instance where this was actually done for genealogical purposes, and it was couched as an archaeology/history project because it involved a famous historical figure, Jesse James, it could never be done in Europe with graves that have been shared, not once or twice, but for centuries, and with unknown persons.  The only way exhumation would be viable is if a crypt was involved, protecting the remains from contamination from those who had come, or gone, before.  Either that, or exhumation would have to occur within a timeframe that would involve the decomposition of tissue, but not the decomposition of bone.  Still, there would be enough doubt that it would call into question the validity of non-confirming results.

shoulden cemetery2

Robert Estes married Anne Woodward here at Shoulden on December 2, 1591.  Their first child, Matthew, born in June of 1692 would be baptized in this church, but subsequent children born 1596-1616 were baptized in Ringwould.

Did they look out these same windows, daydreaming, or perhaps thinking about things that needed to be done after church?

shoulden window

This ancient oak in the churchyard, struck by lightning and half burned speaks to the age of this church. It’s possible that this oak was here when the original church, probably celtic and pagan, first met outside under an oak on a hilltop.

shoulden oak

We told the ladies at St. Nicholas Shoulden goodbye and walked back to St. Leonard’s along the ancient Sandwich Road, the same pathway, then road, our ancestors undoubtedly trod for generations.

St. Leonard’s Church in Deal

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We are so fortunate that Ruth Doughty, the archivist, historian and verger of St. Leonard’s was not only available but spent the afternoon with us at the church.  What a font of knowledge.  I’m guessing that Ruth is in her mid-80s as she was christened in 1930 in St. Leonard’s.  She is a fixture, loves the church and absolutely belongs there.  She made this an incredibly amazing day!  I hope you’ll come along, because even if this isn’t your family church, an awful lot of the history pertains to churches throughout England.  Besides, you never know when you’ll discover an Estes in your tree or in your DNA matches!!

St. Leonard’s, shown below, is extremely difficult to photograph from a distance due to its location on a busy round-about.

st leonard roundabout

I have always felt like St. Leonard’s was the home church of the Estes family.  I know that my ancestors migrated down the road to St. Nicholas at Ringwould and Robert was married at Shoulden, but the first Estes records are here, and the heart of the Estes family seems to be in Deal.  Some family straggled a few miles away but many returned and there is Estes history at St. Leonard’s for generations.

From the Friends of St. Leonard’s website, here are a couple of drawings of St. Leonard’s in earlier times.

st leonard's 1

This is probably close to the church the Estes ancestors knew.  We know it’s before the 1819 addition.

st leonard's 2

This last drawing, with the color, looks more modern and is similar to a black and white print dated about 1820.  We can also see the 1819 addition.

st leonard's 3

St. Leonard’s is on a high mound, possibly originally a pagan moot hill, or meeting place.  The sides of the hill are walled, so you enter by either ascending stairs or walking around the wall to the front or side door.  You can easily see the wall in the 1800s print above.

Ruth Doughty, before her retirement, was a printer.  She graced us with copies of her prints of St. Leonard’s.  Below, thanks to Ruth, the oldest known image of St. Leonard’s, clearly before the north addition in 1819.

st leonard oldest sketch

The church is surrounded on the 2 street sides with a wall.

st leonard wall

Inside the wall, a walkway is paved about half way around the church, the other half being cemetery. However, gravestones are interspersed everyplace and one can rest assured that there are graves in every possible location, given that this church has been in existence since at least 1180.  Some historians believe that some form of worship has occurred here since Saxon times.

st leonard front

The front door of the church is shown below, original to the rebuilding of the church tower in 1686.

st leonard front door crop

We were meeting Ruth at the church at an appointed time, and we were a few minutes early.   I spent the time perusing the cemetery.  In a few days, we’ll meet Nicholas Ewstas, the first documented Estes ancestor in Deal, and we’ll take a tour of cemetery in his article.

Because the church is so old, it has been constructed, and reconstructed, many times over the centuries.  This shows in its eclectic layout, which I think gives it an extremely unique character and very interesting historical perspective.

It’s easiest to see the original outline of the church and the additions from the back outside.  The entrance is under the cupola in the tower at the west end of the church.  The nave is to the east with the cross above the triple windows.  The south addition from the 1200s and the original north addition, also from the 1200s, can be seen easily as they are not finished with flint.  The second north addition, at right, with more modern white lattice windows can also easily be discerned.

st leonard rear

You can also see the layout on this Google Map satellite view.

st leonard aerial

Directly across the street from the north entrance is the beginning, or end, depending on your perspective, of Church Path, a mile long path from Lower Deal directly to the north church door at St. Leonard’s.

st leonard aerial church path

The nave and chancel is original to the 1100s.  A hundred years later, the chancel was remodeled, enlarging the north and south aisles and adding doors, which are now gone but can be seen on the outside walls.

st leonard south door

The current tower was completed in 1686 after the original tower fell in 1658, after years of neglect prior to the Reformation, causing immeasurable damage including the destruction of the pilot’s gallery.  The cupola on the tower, which held a lantern, was and continues to be an important landmark to ships on the Goodwin Sands.

Originally, the tower apparently also had a steeple.  The Philip Symonson 1596 map of Kent shows both Sholdon and Deale churches, along with all three castles.  Ringwould, as Kyngewold is visible at the bottom.

symonson 1596 map kent crop

Normally, the main alter of a church is in the east.  In this case, you enter St. Leonard’s church via the west door and the nave is directly opposite in the east end of the church, but to your left, north, a significant extension was added in the 1200s and again in the 1819.  There is a small aisle, or wing, to the south, your right, original to the 1200s, but the largest “wing” is the one to the North which means that the majority of the congregation cannot see what is going on in the Nave.  Because of this, a new alter was installed forward of its normal position in a church, where the chancel, north and south aisles intersect, between the arches, in front of the nave.  Note that these original arch pillars are beautifully carved by a master mason.

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This photo is looking east, into the original nave.  The South extension (to the right) can be partially seen and the portion visible in the photo is the Lady’s Chapel.

The photo below is taken near the door of the North extension, looking completely across the center aisle into the South extension.  Notice all of the plaques and commemorations on the walls, along with the three hatchments at the top.  Also, note the floor burials.  Gregory Holyoake in his book, Deal, Sad Smuggling Town, states that before 1668 anyone who could afford to do so was buried in the church itself.  However, based on the fact that the north extension wasn’t added until 1819, that practice obviously did not cease.

st leonard north wing looking south

Below, the long northern wing is shown with Ruth and I chatting.

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Here’s a direct shot down the North aisle.  That arched door exits to find Moses Estes headstone directly on the right outside.  You can also see one of three galleries above the seating to extend the church’s seating capacity. There are two other galleries as well, one being the Pilot’s Gallery and the other beside the pilot’s gallery, over the entrance to the vestry, above the rood screen’s home.

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In essence, the church started out as a rectangle with the long part east to west.  Small chapels or aisleways were added in the 1200s on the left and right which made it into a cross.  Later the North arm of the cross was extended to be longer than the original triangle, so it’s somewhat misshapen today.  In fact, one of the Bishops said, “This is the most cockeyed church in Christendom.”

Standing inside the church in the area where the original church and the extensions cross, I looked back and took this photograph of the entrance area, which includes the “modern” organ and mariner’s gallery that was rebuilt in 1705 after the 1686 rebuild of the tower, the original tower having fallen in 1658.  The organ was later moved to this location.

st leonard entryway

The next photo is of the entryway, standing in the doorway from the entryway to the chancel.  You can see the doorway arch in the upper left hand corner.

st leonard bellringer stairs

Jim took these lovely panoramic photos inside the church while Ruth and I were talking.

st leonard pano1

You can see that the nave with the three arched stained glass windows is the centerpoint of these pictures where they would be “glued” together.

st leonard pano2

Ruth told us that there are no church records prior to Queen Elizabeth the First’s reign because Elizabeth was the one who gave the directive for the churches to keep track of the births, deaths and marriages.  Queen Elizabeth was born in 1533, ascended the throne in 1558 and died in 1603.  I believe church records began in 1559.

Our earliest proven Estes ancestor who lived in Deal was reportedly born in 1495.  Actually, the present town of Deal itself, on the waterfront, or Lower Deal, wasn’t there then.  It built up after the construction of Deal Castle in the late 1630s, so they probably lived in the little village by St. Leonard’s, if not in Ringwould where they would be found for the next several generations, or maybe someplace between the two locations which are only a couple miles distant from each other.

St. Leonard’s Church, a mile distant from Lower Deal on the waterfront, existed originally to serve the tiny hamlet of Addelam.  Addelam Road is directly behind the church.  The Domesday Book, compiled in 1086, renders the phrase “at Deal” as “ad Delam” which is possibly a latinized version of the Saxon word “aet del ham” meaning “at the valley settlement.”

Even though St. Leonard’s is known as a maritime church today, original inhabitants were concerned with farming, not fishing.  The first written records from 1327 reveal that the rector, a nonresident, offended his parishioners by causing corn to be winnowed in the churchyard and a local farmer, Robert Byng, allowed his sheep to graze in the grounds and was “flogged thrice.”[i]

We do know for sure that in the 1600s the Estes family attended St. Leonard’s.  The early St. Leonard parish registers are reported to be complete from 1559.

One of our best pieces of evidence of our family’s association with this church, is the seating chart from 1618 and the Moses Estes burial from 1708.  There is a 1621 church record that shows the burial of Hugh Estie of Harwitch who was bound from Germinie (Netherlands) in a ship called the Sion of London, according to Neil Gunson in the 1992 Spring issue of Estes Trails.  Additionally, we find earlier mentions of Eastes (1581) Este (1601), Estis (1618) and Eastis (1726).  In 1590, a Henry Eastice, fisherman at Deal, made his will and his widow, Mary was buried at St Leonard’s in 1601, although the burial location is unknown.  Their children were baptized at St. Leonard’s between 1581 and 1589.

Moses’s stone, the oldest Estes gravestone known, is shown below.  It’s not easily readable today, but from earlier transcriptions, he died in March of 1707/1708.  His wife, Ellen, the sister of Abraham the immigrant, was buried in here in 1729, but there is no known headstone for her unless she is buried here, along with Moses.

st leonard moses estes

“Here lyeth interred ye body of Moses Estes who departed this life 19 of March 1708 age 65 years.  Also ye body of Constance Estes his daughter who departed this life November 1708 aged 36 years.”

This Moses is not my ancestor, Moses, son of Abraham the immigrant, but either my Moses was named after this Moses, or they were both named after the same ancestor.  I’d surely love to know who that was.  This Moses Estes married the sister, Ellen, of our Abraham Estes, the immigrant. Ellen and Moses would have been second cousins, both great-grandchildren of Sylvester, “fisherman of Deal” (in 1549) who died in Ringwould in 1579.

In this side view of the church where the Moses stone is found, the sidewalk has been changed.  Today, it crosses Moses’s grave, but initially, before the church wing expansion in 1819, the door was to the right further and smaller, so the grave would not have been in the sidewalk at that time.  Moses stone is directly behind the left hand railing at the top.  At the time of the addition, walking on graves was very common as there are many burials inside the church with the stone flat on top in the aisle.  It was considered an honor to be buried inside the church and only the wealthy or perhaps ministers in the church were buried inside.  This is the side, north, door, not the main entryway.

st leonard north door crop

Visiting the Church

Let’s go inside, just like our ancestors would have done, through the main doorway under the tower.

The doors on the tower entrance are original to the rebuilding of the tower in 1686, including the ironwork and fittings.

st leonard north door close

The outside of the entrance doors and the inside look a bit different.  The door is original with hand wrought hinges, bolts, studs and a lock consisting of a latch and bolt.

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The Estes ancestors would have known the doors just prior to these.  Born in 1647, Abraham Estes immigrated to Virginia in 1673, after the tower fell in 1658, but before the 1686 reconstruction.  When he knew this church, it was in a terrible state of disrepair.  He would probably have been surprised, had he heard that it still existed after his immigration.  I can imagine that everyone went to see the church after the tower fell, and it obviously fell through the roof if it destroyed the pilot’s gallery.  Abraham would have been an orphan of 11, and a fallen church tower, probably after a storm, was assuredly the talk of the town.

In 1715, several years after Abraham immigrated, a clock was added to the side of the tower.  That was probably the primary method that the residents had to know what time it was, except for sundials.

st leonard clockface

The outer doors lead into a very small entryway at the base of the tower where an inner door opens into the church chancel itself.

st leonard inner door

This paneled entry door dates from the second half of the 1500s or the first quarter of the 1600s, so my ancestors very likely touched this very door, pushing its creaking hinges open to enter.

Inside the small entryway of the church, between the 2 sets of doors, is a room the size of the tower base.  It holds the stairs that lead to the bells in the top of the tower.

st leonard bell ringer stairs

Just inside the outer door, are found the bell ringer’s stairs – metal stairs forming a spiral – or a helix – depending on your perspective.  These are about a foot side-to-side, each – and according to Ruth who used to ring the bells from the time she was a child, into her 60s, this climb isn’t even the frightening part.  At the next level, at the clock face, is a ladder followed by walking across lattice type wood, probably joists, above that.

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By 1638, the church had bells because there is a record entry for the purchase of a rope, and three bells are mentioned.  The bells would have also fallen in 1658 when the tower fell.  It’s no wonder the tower went through the roof.  Five bells were cast for the tower in 1686 and in 1866, a sixth was added.

Interestingly enough, there is a sign right by the steps that they are recruiting bell-ringers.  As a kid, I’d think this would have been great fun.  Maybe not so much now.  I wonder, did my ancestors ring the original St. Leonard’s bells?

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Entering the church body or chancel through the next set of doors was quite moving.  I knew I was literally walking where my ancestors trod so many times, in joy and in sorrow, with newborn babies to baptize and the bodies of loved ones to bury – and sometimes the baby baptized today was the loved one buried tomorrow.  This was the church of hopes and dreams, of tears, both happy and sad.  As I opened the door, I was greeted by the stunning stained glass windows, the Ascension, at the other end of the church in the nave.

st leonard nave view2

For me, in my heart, it was like stepping back in time and actually being with my ancestors in a place that I know was dear to their hearts.  The church was cool, slightly moist, and silent.  It was timeless.

st leonard nave windows

These stained glass windows in the nave were not there when my Estes ancestors lived, but they are stunningly beautiful and bathe the area in a serene blue light.  I wonder what the windows were like when my ancestors attended this church.  Did they bathe the nave in color or were they clear?

Knowing that my ancestors worshipped here is just so overwhelming.  I wanted to internalize it and breathe it all into my soul.  I cannot come any closer to touching my ancestors, unless it’s through their DNA that I carry in my own body.

While Ruth and I talked, Jim went upstairs to where the organ is located today, but which was the mariner’s (pilot’s) balcony before the organ was installed.  That balcony had a rear exit so when those men heard the horn from the sea which meant an emergency, they could leave without disrupting the service.  I bet they ran that mile down Church Path to Lower Deal in record time.  The original pilot’s gallery was destroyed when the original tower and steeple fell in 1658, but it was eventually rebuilt in 1705 among much political controversy.

st leonard organ

The pilot’s gallery might explain why Richard Estes’s wife has a seat below, but he does not.  He could well have been in the balcony or having been born in 1578, age 40, he could have been deceased, but it does not say “widow Estes” like the second Estes seating assignment says.

The seating chart from 1618 shows two Estes family members who had assigned seats.  One, “Widow Estes,” we believe is our direct ancestor, Anne Woodward Estes who would, having married in 1591, been about age 50.  We know she died in 1630, because she had a will.  She was the bride who was married at St. Nicholas Shoulden, just up the street, in 1591.  It’s believed that Robert, her husband, died about 1616, so this would make sense.  If she is not the widow mentioned in the seating chart, then it’s her nephews’ wives, but there are no other records to rely on and no hint that those nephews who were orphaned young (by Robert’s brother Henry in 1590), other than Richard, even survived to adulthood.  This is most likely Anne’s seat, so we can see the church through her eyes.

Judging from the arrangement of the “pews” and the history of the timeframe, these were likely what was known as horsepen or box pews.  St. Leonard’s were removed long ago, in 1860, but we saw several examples in other churches in England.  In essence you bought your “pew” for the family and built an enclosure, example shown below.  Of course, the extravagance of your pew said a lot about your social status.  We also know that at St. Leonard’s, poor people sat along the west wall on “formes,” or stood.  In 1718, there were about 20 poor households.

example box pew

St Leonard’s seating roster from 1618 is shown below.

st leonard 1618 seating

I look at these names and wonder how many of them I’m related to, if I only knew.  Donald Bowler provided this seating chart oiginally to Estes Trails, along with some of the genealogical history of the folks involved.  People below marked with a red X are Estes or related to the Estes family.  In the front, Henry Baker’s wife is shown.  Jone Estes, daughter of Sylvester and Jone Estes, married a Henry Baker in 1763.

st leonard 1618 seating1

st leonard 1618 seating2

The two individuals on the second half of the chart marked with a red X are “Richard Estes wife” on the left and “Estes Widdow” on the right.

This seating information was extracted from Roy Eastes’s book, “The Estes/Eastes Family” and he in turn extracted the seating diagram from the Estes Trails periodical, the March 2001 issue.  Ruth graciously provided a seating chart when we visited St. Leonard’s as well.

The pews are arranged differently today, and the location where widow Estes, probably Anne Woodward Estes, sat, is an aisle way today, as the original pews have been replaced.  But here is the view of the front of the church that she would have seen from that location.  The pews may have changed, but the pillars did not, so it was easy to locate her “seat.”  We are truly looking through her eyes.

st leonard anne's seat

Jim took a panoramic shot of what she would have seen as she looked around.  Of course, the second north wing extension had not yet been built at that time, so the north wing would have ended about halfway down its length.  That’s OK, she couldn’t see much of that wing past the pillar anyway!  She had a perfect view of the Lady’s Chapel though.  Originally, it would have likely been Mary Magdalene’s chapel.  In the Catholic church, Mary Magdalene was always THE Lady.

st leonard anne's pano

Richard’s wife sat on the other side of the church.  Here’s the view, below, from her seat.  Richard, born in 1578, would have been the nephew of Robert through Robert’s brother Henry, a fisherman, who died and left a will in 1590, naming his children.

st leonard estes widow seat

This church has so many amazing details, but there was one disappointment.  The baptismal font currently in use was dedicated in 1851, and it’s beautiful, but the whereabouts of the older one are unknown.  The old font, the one with so much history, would have been the one to baptize our ancestors.

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Ok, so it may not be “my” baptismal font, but this photo is still quite spiritual and inspirational to me.

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However, maybe all is not lost.  I also took pictures of the pictures and paintings in the church, and you’ll note in the painting below, the baptismal font does not appear to be the one shown above, but an earlier one.  So, while we can’t see the original font today, we at least know what it looked like.

st leonard painting bapistry

You can also see the rood screen that would have been in front of the nave, between the chancel and the nave.  This tells us that this painting was certainly before 1851, when the new baptistery was dedicated.  The pulpit was moved forward in 1979 and the screens removed from the nave/chancel and reinstalled near the vestry in the rear of the church beneath the pilot’s gallery.

st leonard screen and gallery

Another painting shows the church before the modern roads, the roundabout and the walls. Just a lovely village scene showing the beauty of the church.

st leonard neighborhood painting

This painting would likely have been from before the end of the 1700s when the walled burial ground, once called Stone Lane, was purchased.  I see no stone wall in front of the church in this painting.

The church has several stained glass windows and they don’t know much about them.  There are two rather contemporary windows, the Crucifixion in the Lady’s Chapel and the Ascension in the chancel.

st leonard ascension2

The Crucifixion.

st leonard ascension window

The Ascension

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The Good Samaritan window is in the middle of the south wall, in the part that was expanded in the 1200s.

st leonard north window

These windows are in the north wall.

st leonard nave window crop

This window is in the nave.

st leonard piscina window

These two windows are in the nave immediately above the Norman piscina.

st leonard sheep window

This sheep is above the Ascension window and looks possibly to be the oldest window in the church.  This could well have been there when our ancestors sat in these pews and listened to the Catholic priests, before the Reformation.

st leonard sheep window2

Every church loves their stained glass.

St. Leonard’s also has several hatchments.  I had no idea what a hatchment was, but the history is fascinating.  Hatchments came into use in the early 17th century and originated in the Low countries. They started as a replacement for the medieval achievement (the carrying of the shield, helm and other accoutrements) at funerals of knights and other nobles. It was customary in this country for the hatchment to be carried in front of the funeral procession, hung outside the home during mourning and then to be placed in the church.

St. Leonard’s has 16 hatchments, dating from 1673, in various stages of restoration.

Here’s an example of one.

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The nave, is, of course, original to the church.  One of the items in the nave is the Norman piscina.  It is at least as old as the church, and the archway looks to have been carved to hold this piscina.  It’s possible that the piscina is actually older than the church.

st leonard norman piscina

A piscina was used to dispose of holy items, such as holy water and sacramental wines.  They were returned directly to the earth through a hole in the basin that drained into the wall of the church which led, of course, directly into the earth.  This was to assure that black magic could not be performed utilizing the power of the sacred and blessed liquids.

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Most of the piscinas were destroyed during the Reformation and its extremely unusual for this one to remain, and for it to be so ornate.  Often piscinas were simply bowl shapes carved into stone with a hole in the bottom in a tiny nook in the wall of the church.

Prior to the Reformation, there were several side alters in which candles to various saints were kept burning.  People often left bequests for the candles of their saint to be lit.  Today, sometimes, we see the remnants of these areas in churches that were originally Catholic.

st leonard sedilia

At the far right of the right arched sedilia, or carved stone seats, dating from the 1100s, a carved head is found at the base.  This is easy to miss, but it may be one of the most historically important items in the church.

st leonard richard

st leonard richard2

This crowned figure is believed to be King Richard, Richard the Lionheart, possibly in chain-mail, or maybe simply bearded, who is said to have spent the night on his way back from the Crusades in 1194.  This is certainly possible, given Deal’s location and Richard’s piety.

richard effigy

You can see the resemblance with King Richard’s effigy, at Frontevraud Abbey, in Anjou, France, above.

Across the nave from the piscina and sedilia are two inset areas.  One, the square, only partly visible above Ruth, would likely have held a statue of St. Leonard to whom the church is dedicated.  St. Leonard is the patron saint of political prisoners, imprisoned people, captives, prisoners of war, women in labor and horses.  He died in 559 and his feast day is November 6 .

This icon, below, of St. Leonard is from St. Leonard’s Church in Streatham and shows St. Leonard, St. Laura and a prisoner.

st leonard icon

The arched inset where Ruth is sitting would have been where sacred vessels were kept.

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The floor in the original portion of the church, is, of course, Deal tile.

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There are several floor burials and memorial plaques throughout the church.

st leonard floor burials

One of the most noted is that of Thomas Baker, sometimes called Barbor.  He was the first known deputy appointed by the Mayor of Sandwich to act for him in Deal.  When he died in 1508, he left money for the maintenance of the church steeple which was apparently already in disrepair, although it didn’t fall for another 150 years.

In 1598, a petition was submitted to Parliament to grant Deal the status of a “borough and market town.” In 1599, the petition, signed by Parliament, was triumphantly posted on St. Leonard’s church porch by Joshua Coppin, who then became Deal’s first mayor.  The new mayor and corporation attended St. Leonard’s with great pomp and dignity every Sunday until St. George’s in Lower Deal was built sometime between 1706 and 1716.

Another notable historical item is the painting commemorating the Great Storm of 1703, hanging on the front of the Pilot’s Gallery, in which 13 ships of Her Majesty’s Navy were wrecked on the Goodwin Sands and 1200 lives were lost.  The ship looks curved, so you can see both the bow and the stern.

st leonard 1703 painting

This model of the Man ‘O War ship is also patterned after this painting.  The model was made in 1949 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the granting of the Deal charter.  Our ancestors would have been very familiar with these ships, as would all people living along this shoreline.

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Every old church has it’s mystery and this one is no different.  This rock, obviously with a Christian, perhaps Celtic, cross of some sort, looking very medieval, was found here, but nothing is known about its provenance.

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One very special area of the church is the Lady’s Chapel.

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It harkens back to the days of Catholicism when this would have been Mary’s Chapel.  This was part of the southern aisle extension in the 1200s.

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The Crucifixion window was added just over 100 years ago, in the early 1900s, and that, of course, makes this area simply stunning.

This Chapel also has its own piscina, to the right of Ruth, above, although nothing like the Norman piscina in the nave.

st leonard lady chapel piscina

I found one particular photo, taken in the Lady’s Chapel, incredibly compelling.  Ruth paused for a moment of reflection and the picture simply speaks for itself.

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At the day’s end, the light was disappearing in the church and it was getting quite chilly.  We said goodbye to Ruth, after she gifted me with several prints of the church and area.  She is a retired printer and rode a bike to work every day.  She doesn’t now, and never has driven a car.  Smart lady!  She is certainly an amazing woman.  St. Leonard’s is very fortunate to have such a caring steward among their flock and we felt incredibly blessed that she spent the afternoon with us.  It made all of the difference in the world.

As a final goodbye, St. Leonard’s gave me a gift too.  I don’t quite know how this happened, but it did.  I decided to take a photograph of this beautiful piece of needlework.  I was worried about the glare on the glass, but little did I realize, until I got home, that the “glare” is really the Lady’s Chapel and the Ascension windows.  Indeed, the only way this could be more perfect would be to discover that it was my ancestor who stitched this lovely Madonna and Child.

st leonard needlework

[i] Deal, A Sad Smuggling Town by Gregory Holyoake, page 24