Band of the Week - Porcupine Tree


Friday, 23 April 2010


It is the way of the world that are will always be winners and losers, and the winners always come up with ways of consolidating or improving their position. There is no better example of this than the current political climate in Britain. The campaigning for the General Election on May 6th is well under way, and I can't really believe what the politicians are saying with their
promises to do this and that if they get in. I'm sorry, but I have gone beyond this kind of kidology a long time ago. No politician can deliver what you want no matter which party he is in. Politicians rub their hands in glee when they win a seat in Parliament and they know that a gravy train is waiting for them at the nearest station, though now of course they have to be a little bit careful at what they claim as expenses. No, most politicians will always look at personal opportunities first, I'm convinced of it, and the constituent will always come a distant second in the priorities race. Take Labour's time in office since 1997. Don't they remind you of a watered down version of the Conservatives? I remember the time when they won in 1997 very well. I
wrote a letter to Tony Blair on my way to work on a train to Liverpool one early morning in 1995, which I didn't send in the end, going on about how our country needs a Labour government to rid of the hated Tory rule, who had proved that they don't give a shit about the ordinary working people here in Britain. The continous relevations in the tabloids about
Conservative MP's screwing their secretaries and basically just doing what they wanted, and seemingly getting their jobs back after a spot of 'gardening leave' just pissed me off so much.
But it just wasn't the content of the revelations themselves that pissed me off. It was the blantant disregard to decency and honesty, which I believe that Tony Blair and his government would adhere to, and wanted to see in politicians. I must have been quite passionate about politics or the state of the country (which really I suppose go hand in hand) during this time. I believe it must have been the accumulation of 11 years of the Tories in power that produced this frustration and vented onto my writing pad that morning. I don't feel exactly the same way now. The hope I had back in those days has long disappeared and has been replaced by a cyncism that has almost turned to apathy. Apathy must never be reached, though. It's the rock bottom of
human experience, and would surely signal the end of human civilization if it were to become compulsory. That will never happen, certainly not as far as I'm concerned anyway. When you
study history as long as I have you get a sense or feeling on what's important, or should be important. Being apathetic means that decisions are not made and making decisions is what
changes things. Indeed history is the study of human decision making. There's almost a science attached to it. What was one of Newton's laws? For every action there is an equal reaction. Well, the history books are full of actions that provoked reactions, whether equal or not. For an effective government to function there must ALWAYS be winners and losers, the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. Take employment. There can never be jobs with decent, liveable wages for all of us. It's impossible. The competion would be cut-throat, and literaly the stress and anxiety would change our personalities so much that a 'kill' or be 'killed' behaviour would prevail. Imagine a world where everyone has degrees and were highly skilled, and all competing for the same positions. Everyone wants to better themselves, elevate to the next level in wealth and social standing, but its important for our society to work if some never find their way up the ladder. Ever wonder why people do menial jobs? It's because it has been drummed into them that that's all they are capable of, which must have started at school. We are graded and assessed in school and our path in life is pretty much established there. They are needed, because others would not do it. Where would we be without shop workers, for example? Some may say that these kinds of jobs are transient, but I've seen the same people working in the same shops for years, and apparantly quite content to carry on. Not my cup of tea, but it fits into the life plan of some people. So when a politician promises to cut unemployment or create more jobs, he's really saying he's going to cut the unemployment figures down, which are highly interpretable anyway. The words and the delivery he uses are directed at the individual because it's the individual's vote he's after. Analysing the discourse of a politician is quite fascinating. Try and hear what the politician is really saying behind the words that he chooses. They are trained to say the right things, at the right times of course, especially when an election is coming up. Still, a skilled discursive psychologist could literally read his mind.

Health. This one's easy. If everyone was healthy and living longer the population would increase so much it would place enormous pressure on resources. It is a tricky balancing act. Too many ill people and the same can happen, affecting the well being of the economy. The very profitable pharmaceutical industry can't afford to have too much healthy people about, or they would not make as much money. Think about it. People smoking has been an enormous source for raising taxes for years. If everybody stopped smoking imagine the difference it would make to the budget! It's just not in their interest to help people quit. You have to wonder why after all the years and the money pumped in as to why a cure for cancer has not been found. Imagine the effect THIS would have on so many industries if ever one was discovered. I find that strange. How many times have we heard on election campaigns that promises are made to make the health service better? Every one of them! And do they? Even today the health services are in a shambles so despite the billions spent nothing has improved. So, there's another 'promise' that I won't take too seriously either. I got a chance to see the Live Sky debate last night and I encouraged the boys to see it so that they can try and see what its all about. It's Simon's first election and he didn't have a clue who he was going to vote for. I was particularly interested in what Ben's view was, 14 and still in school so not much interest at this stage of his life about the current state of the country. To my horror his first impression was that Cameron appealed to him! Then as he viewed more of the debate he soon realised that Cameron was not for him and that Brown was the one that appeared to make sense. At the end of the debate Simon, on the other hand, told me he was more confused than ever! Which is not surprising because, of course, all 3 of them were saying that they want to do the same thing, but were saying it in different ways. All 3 parties were claiming that they had the 'winning ticket' to a better Britain, but all 3 can't be right! The confusion was heightened for Simon, I think, because they were all pretty evenly matched, so not one of them came out on top, as one of the polls suggested. In hindsight it probably wasn't the ideal debate for a first time voter to be exposed to, especially as Simon has never been interested in politics before. He would rather it all go away, but his politicisation will, I'm sure, change the way he views his world from now on.

Recycling! Recycling! Recycling

Recycling! It's become a new swear word in our house recently. Our local council have really gone to town with the disposing of plastics and other re-useable material and it really has opened my eyes as to how much recycling is thrown away. Almost everything in fact! The trouble is our kitchen can't cope with the amount of re-cycleable rubbish that is generated. No space. So there is always recycleable rubbish, which normally would be safely put away in the main kitchen swing bin, in plastic bags ready to be taken out. Here's us trying to keep a kitchen tidy and there's always plastic or cardboard or tins about! What we need is another swing bin just for the recycling, but we have nowhere to place it. Small kitchen. Now you might think I'm dead against the idea of recycling, I'm not. I actually think it's a good idea, but I think the practice of recycling so much different types of material is unworkable. Certainly in our house. For heaven's sake even plastic has been sub-caterized. All the local recycling areas, which are normally near the supermarkets, won't take black or hard plastic! That will have to go to our main recycling depot at Mochdre, as does the cardboard. So not only we have to recycle the usual tins, cans, glass and paper, which get collected every 2 weeks, we now have to find space for:
Ordinary plastic
Hard plastic,
Black plastic
Juice cartons
There are others but these materials we hardly deal with, such as stone.

This is a lot of work and I can help feeling that I'm doing the binman's job for him. Most of our rubbish is recycleable so in effect I'm carting my own rubbish to the designated loading off areas! For free! This leads me to the notion of who is benefiting from all this recycling? Someone, somewhere, must be making money out of it. It's less work for the binman, because their main duties down at the depot at Mochdre include directing the public to the proper places to dump their rubbish. The ones on the waggons seem to working really hard whenever I see them every other Friday. And of course the poor old gentleman who I saw the other day working his socks off preparing huge amounts of cardboard for a press of some sorts. He looked really stressed, seeing more and more people coming into his hut with loads more work for him. His attitude seemed pretty good considering these circumstances, to be honest. The rest were wandering around checking if people are going to the right skip. Now and then they would spot some individual misdeameanor and make sure the items were deposited in the right place. To see their worried faces when I had 2 different types of recycleable material (wood and plastic) and I went up to the plastic skip first, and I caught the guy's eyes as he looked to see if I was going to chuck the wood in there as well. I'm being unkind. I would probably be monitoring just as hard if I was in their position. I know it's good for the planet but it is, I believe, used to make products. So, therefore, it is really raw materials for the production of items for selling, presumably for profit, or why would companies bother making these items. So, we can be seen as unpaid manual workers, bringing our, sometimes paid for, old recycling material to be prepared for the production of goods which are going to end up on the shelves of many supermarkets all over the country, possibly abroad, and with a marked up price because it been made from recycleable material! I have become increasingly cynical in my old age and I can't help thinking that there is an angle involved here.
Rant over!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

My ancestors - beyond the Warenne line

To recap from previous posts, I have recently discovered that I have an ancestor named Margaret Puleston, wife of the Baron Lewis Owen of Dolgellau. She was a grandmother of Catrin, wife of my direct ancestor, Evan Morgan, supposed son of Bishop William Morgan, the Welsh translater of the bible.

In my first post on my ancestors I outlined my connection, through Margaret's Puleston ancestry, to the Warenne family, Earls of Surrey, a family originally from a place by the river Varenne in Upper Normandy. The first Earl had familial links with William the Conqueror, through his mother Emma. William fought with the Conqueror at Hastings and thus became amply rewarded by being given many lands in the shires of England. Indeed earlier, in 1054, Warenne had aided the Conqueror, then Duke of Normandy, at the Battle of Mortemer. The then King of France sent his brother Odo and Count Rainald to lead an army against the barons of various provinces in Normandy, led by Robert Count of Eu. Their defeat resulted in William de Warenne being given Roger de Mortemer's lands.

It appears that this William de Warenne married Gundrada, claimed by many to be a daughter of William the Conqueror. Others claim that she was a step-daughter of William's, a child of his wife's Matilda's first marriage. Others say that she was no relation, but what is certain is that both William and Gundrada founded the Priory at Lewes where they were interred. Their coffins were re-discovered in October 1845 through work on a railway line and created great interest in local papers. The archaeologist Mark Antony Lower appears to believe she was a daughter of the Conqueror. He was one of the archaeologists consulted at the time. He certainly was a favourite of William the Conqueror, or he wouldn't have been so richly rewarded, so it's not so strange that he would not be allowed to marry a member of the Conqueror's family. David Charles Douglas, a critic of this theory, suggests that Gundreda couldn't be the daughter of Matilda because she would have been too young. He cites that Baldwin V and his bride Adela, Matilda's parents, did not comsummate their marriage until 1031, and 1049 was the year that William the Conqueror declared his intent to marry Matilda. It was quite normal in thise times to have marriages between minors. As an extreme example Elizabeth de Vermandois, who I will write about later, married her first husband, Robert de Meulan, at the age of 9. With Robert being 35 years her senior, this was unusual to have such an age difference, but it wasn't unusual to start having children at 14. There was apparantly a dispute with Rome over the legality of the proposed marriage. Edward Freeman, notable writer of the history of the Normans, argued that this 'complication' with the marriage was due to the fact that Matilda was already married. In fact she also had at least 2 children, namely Gerbod, his father's namesake and an Earl of Chester, and Gundrada. Why did William pursue Matilda when it would surely be easier to marry another equally worthy princess? The main reason seems to be in Matilda's lineage. Through her father Baldwin V she was a descendant of Alfred the Great, and William wanted to strengthen his claims to his intention of being King of England. On the surface this seems quite calculating by William, but by all accounts he loved Matilda and apparantly remained faithful to her during their marriage, a rare occurance especially within royal marriages. So, he appears to be one of the lucky ones, to have love AND wealth AND success!

Returning to Gundrada, the reason why some believe that she was related to the Conqueror in some way is because of a reference on a deed to the foundation of the priory of Lewes in Sussex. There is also a charter, the Cottonian manuscript, which is in the British Museum, where he refers her as his daughter. There is also the issue of Gundreda not being mentioned by the well known historians of the time. It is a pattern excercised by early genealogists of failing, or not bothering to record daughters even with the highest families in the land. In support of this, another of the Conqueror's daughters, Agatha, who married Alphonso, King of Galicia, was also omitted from accounts of Norman historians.

If the evidence does indicate that Gundrada was Matilda's daughter, if not William the Conqueror's, then it opens up a line towards Alfred the Great, through Matilda's father Baldwin V (see below).

Baldwin V - Baldwin IV - Arnulf II - Baldwin III - Arnulf I - Baldwin II m. Aelfthryth, daughter of Alfred the Great

Baldwin V married Adele of Flanders, a grandaughter of Hugh Capet, a great great great great great grandson of Charlemagne. It's really take your pick from the rulers of Medieval France from here, and there are too many individuals to mention here.

We are in the same ball park when we look at Elizabeth de Vermandois's lineage. She was the wife of the second Earl of Surrey and another ancestor, William de Warenne, who died in 1138. Her father was Hugh Magnus, of Vermandois, a crusader, who died from wounds sustained in a battle against the Turks at Tarsus. His parents were Henri I (1008-1060) and Anne of Kiev (died 1075) a Russian princess whose mother was Princess Ingegerd of Sweden. Again the possible connections to ancestors is numerous. A lot of them lead back to Charlemagne.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

My ancestors - The Whitney lineage

I hadn't intended in writing about the Whitney family line at this point in my family research but all week I have been fascinated by what I've found. My great whatever grandmother Eleanor Whitney married John Puleston, son of Madog Puleston, who was the son of Lowri sister to Owain Glyndwr. Her father was Robert Whitney, so I was intrigued by what I could find on his family. A family tree can be seen here from my website. Robert married twice, which has been firmly established, to a Constance Touchet and Elizabeth the daughter of Sir Thomas Vaughan of Hergest. In what order is still undetermined but research tends to lean towards Constance being the first. The most frustrating aspect of research into this particular Robert Whitney is the fact that it can't be assertained which of his children are attributed to the wives. Eleanor was definately Robert's daughter but who was her mother? It is such a shame because Constance's ancestry leads directly to King Edward III!

Apparently a crusading family (members of the family went on crusades that is), and the use of the name Baldwin as a christian name (no pun intended) is certainly a clue. A Sir Randolph de Whitney went with Richard I on a crusade and was attacked by Saladin's brother and 2 others. By some miricle he survived which he attributed to the virgin Mary, and when he got home he built a chapel dedicated to her at Whitney in Herefordshire. He probably wasn't a direct ancestor but a fellow called Thurstin the Fleming was. According to 'A Book of the Wye' he was involved in the Battle of Hastings and was given Wigmore and inherited Pencomb in Herefordshire by marrying Agnes, daughter of Alured of Merleburgh, as well as Whitney, which became the surname of Thurstin's decendants.

One of those decendants was a Sir Robert Whitney, born 1348 at Whitney who certainly led an eventful life. In 1368 he accompanied the Duke of Clarence, with an entourage of over 200, for his marriage to the daughter of the Duke of Milan. He was also sent to France to meet the King of Navarre In the political turmoil that engulfed England in the latter years of the 15th century, Sir Robert, a supporter of Richard II, decided to abandon him for Henry Bolingbroke (Henry IV). This decision led to his death against the forces of Owain Glyndwr(a proponent of Richard) at the Battle of Bryn Glass (Pilleth) in June 1402, along with his brother and other relatives.

There was a Eustace de Whitney, born ?, who was married to Elizabeth de Freville, daughter of Sir Alexander de Freville, and researching her has opened up a lot of connections, and she can be regarded as a mini gateway ancestor. Elizabeth's mother was Joan de Cromwell (now there's an interesting name!) whose ancestry I haven't looked into yet, and her mother was a Margery de Marmion. She is often mentioned as Mazer. This connection opens up my ancestry to the Marmion family, descended from the Norman lords of Fontenay le Marmion. They were hereditary champions of the crown, which as far as I can make out is a role that is filled tb those who occupied the manor on Scrivelsby in Lincolnshire. It required the holder to challenge anyone who protests to the coronation of the new king. It is purely ceremonial and not been actually acted out as far as I know. The Marmion family carried it out in Normandy and they carried it on in England until 1377 when the male Marmion line died out. An earlier Marmion, Robert, had made an enemy of the earl of Chester, and whilst surveying the approaching earl's forces towards his castle fell and broke his thigh. Prostrate on the ground and obviously in pain, he was despatched by being beheaded by one of the earl's men.
They also gave away lands and became patrons of various abbeys, mainly because as atonement for the wrongs they committed. More than once I have read about monks being turfed out off of their land so that the new landlord can build his castle as a means of defending his new aquired land. Pretty much after they realise that what they've done isn't going to make God happy, so they quickly try to make up with the clergy and give them money to build monastries and abbeyies on the land that was theirs in the first place. Of course these buildings would occupy a small part of the land gained, most of it was still in the lord's possession. It's a con trick that still occurs today.

Monday, 8 March 2010

My ancestors - the Warenne line

Having discovered that Margaret Puleston was my 'gateway ancestor', I carried on researching the numerous marriages along her ancestors' lineages. In my last post I described the discoveries of Margaret's Welsh connections. The research in all her Welsh forbears is incomplete because there are more lines to investigate. This post will concentrate on 2 lines that are generated from my Puleston line.

The son of the murdered
Sir Roger de Pyvelisdon, sheriff of Anglesey, was Richard de Pyvelisdon, who was appointed successor to his father by Edward I. According to Robert Sewell's site, Richard had married an Angharad, a daughter of a Warren from Warren Hall, Salop. This 'Warren' has been cited as being either William or Griffith de Warren, and the existence of both Richard and his wife are quoted in Burke's Peerage. Many websites and public family trees state that Angharad was a daughter of William de Warenne, the son of John de Warenne, the 7th Earl of Surrey, which cannot be true. William only had 2 children, John and Alice (John being the future 8th earl and last of the line) and born several months after his father's death at a tournament in 1285. So where was the connection? It's also not certain if Angharad was her name. It could have been Agnes or Ankaret, and this last name I have seen frequently in my researches. It sounds like a variation of Angharad, so I would be more inclined to believe her name was Ankaret. However, the important thing is that she came from a Warren Hall, which there is now no trace. It took a couple of days of painstaking going through hundreds of PDF pages of books I downloaded from the internet, but I finally found a reference for a Warren Hall. It came from a book published in 1782, which is available for download on the Ancestry website, written by the Rev. John Watson, called "Memoirs of the Ancient Earls of Warren and Surrey and their Descendants to the present time". I quote from this book;

"Earl William (the 6th earl) had also a natural son, called Griffin de Warren...From what mother this Griffin came, is uncertain; but that he was the son of this earl, appears from Vincent's Cheshire in the Herald's office, where is a pedigree of him, and his descendants, with the arms of the families they matched with. He married Isabel sister of Robert de Pulford...By the said Isabel the said Griffin had John de Warren, who married Audela, the daughter and heiress of Griffin de Albo Monasterio (we now call Whitchurch, Shropshire ). This John was Lord of Ichtefeld, in right of his wife, whose father obtained it, by marrying Audela...In one of the Harleian Mss. No.2131, it is said, that in the county of Salop, two miles from Ichtefeld, was an ancient castle, situated on a terrible morass, by a river side, which in times past was inhabited by the earls of Warren and Surrey, and was called earl Warren's castle. Near the same, situated on a little hill, was an ancient house called Warren's Hall."

So, it appears that there was an off-shoot from the main Warren lineage which started with the illegitimate son of William de Warenne, the 6th Earl of Surrey and Warren, namely Griffin de Warenne. The Earls of Surrey had lands practically in all the counties in England, and Shropshire was one of them. This, of course, means that I have a direct line from the 6th earl back to the first one who was given the title from William the Conqueror. In the book there is a family tree which has Griffin de Warren at the top and a further 13 generations below him. The Warren that fits into my family is the grandson, also Griffin, who married Winifred daughter of William of Broxton. I have been unable to find anything substantial about William Broxton, only that he owned land. Broxton is near Chester, about 11 miles away to the south of that city and checking on Wikipedia there is a Broxton Hall, owned by the Egerton family in the 17th century. The Egertons derived their name from the de Malpas family, specifically David de Maplas or le Clerk as he was known. A daughter of David married another Puleston descendant of mine which will be explored later.
This Griffin was born around 1240, and Angharad is said to be born about 1264, so he is the likley candidate to be her father. Let's now look at the information I have found on the lineage from the 6th Earl of Surrey.

William de Warenne, 6th earl of Surrey was born in 1166. He was known as William Plantagenet because he was the son of Hamelin Plantagenet and Isabella de Warenne. Hamelin became the 5th Earl by marrying Isabella who was the daughter and heir of the 3rd Earl, also called William de Warenne. Incidently, Isabella's first husband was William of Blois, King Stephen of England's son. Most of the earls were called William so it gets confusing at times. Hamelin also took on the Warenne name so was called Hamelin de Warenne! Hamelin's father was Geoffrey Plantagenet, Duke of Anjou, and an unknown woman, but is suspected to be Adelaide of Angers. Geoffrey is more known for being the father of King Henry II, through marrying his mother Matilda the daughter of King Henry I. Geoffrey's father was Fulk V of Anjou, who, after the death of his first wife, went to Jerusalem and became its king by marrying Melisende, daughter of Baldwin II of Jerusalem. According to Wikipedia, Geoffrey's lineage goes back throught he other Dukes of Anjou, including Geoffrey I known as Greymantle, but I'd like to check whether Wiki has got it right.

Going back to the Warenne's, the 3rd earl married Adela, or Ela, as she was known, whose ancestry include
Robert of Belleme, the 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Agnes of Ponthieu. The 2nd Earl of Surrey, also you've guessed it, William, died in 1138 and was married to Elizabeth de Vermandois, daughter to Hugh Magnus, duke of Vermandois, who was the son of Henri I of France. Sometimes Elizabeth is known as Isobel in some books, but there is no doubt that she is the same woman who married William. Now I regard Elizabeth as another gateway ancester because looking into her ancestry opens up a treasure chest of connections with various royal houses in Europe. For instance her paternal grandmother was Anne of Kiev, daughter of Yaroslav I (nicknamed The Wise) of Kiev, himself a son of Vladamir I (known as Volodymyr the Great). The story goes that Henri could not find a suitable wife from the eligible pool of royal daughters because of consanquinity issues (they were too close as kin to him). So the safest bet for him was to marry Anne. Her mother was Ingergerd, daughter of King Olof of Sweden. Wiki goes further but I'll stop there. I think Wiki has got it right with these connections because they were such well known personalities.

Going back to Henri I of France, his father was
Robert II of France, son of Hugh Capet and Adelaide of Aquitaine. Henri mother was Constance of Arles and her lieage goes back to Charlemagne, founding father of both the French and German royal houses. I'm pretty sure that given these links to various monarchs in Europe, there are other lines leading to Charlemagne, but I need to double check my research to make sure that the lines are in order. Hugh Capet's paternal grandmother, Beatrice of Vermandois also has a line to Charlemagne (her great grandfather was Bernard of Italy, a grandson of Charlemagne.

The 1st Earl of Warenne, William, married Gundred, a daughter of
Matilda of Flanders. Matilda is best known as the wife of William the Conqueror, but it appears that she was married first to a Flemish gentleman named Gerbod. In some sources Gundred has been cited as the Conqueror's natural daughter, but it is likely that she was his step-daughter. There is no doubt that William was close to the Conqueror because he was given land near the battle of Hastings. Lewes Priory in Sussex was founded by the first Earl of Warenne. Also, de Warenne was associated with the family of Gerbod and inherited lands from that family. Matilda's father was Bladwin V, Count of Flanders and Adele, daughter of Robert II of France and Constance of Arles. Here we have another link to Charlemagne on Constance's ancestry. Also, Baldwin V's paternal grandmother was Rozala of Lombardy, who is also cited to be a descendant of Chalemagne! Is everyone related to Charlemagne? Seems so. Millions around the world are of course. Baldwin's gggg grandfather was Alfred the Great of Wessex or England, through Alfred's daughter Aelfthryth. Wiki has his line going back to the early 6th century, to Cerdic, King of Wessex. Again, I don't know how authentic Wikipedia's information is but this linege but must be easily available somewhere, and therefore well known. The information can actually be found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which ws translated by the Rev. James Ingram and published in 1823.

There are other links stemming from my Puleston ancestry to investigate, and one in particular is of interest. Remember the
Roger de Pyvelisdon from my last post who was hung by the Welsh for daring to collect taxes for Edward I's war with France? His wife was Agnes, daughter of David de Malpas, known as le clerc because he was an administrator for the earl of Chester, probably Ranulf, who inherited the earldom from his father Hugh Cyfeiliog. David's wife was Margaret daughter of Ralph ap Einion, whose wife is also said be related to the 4th earl of Chester Ranulph de Gernon. There were 2 David de Malpas so more research needs to be done to make sure that I have the right line. According to my research David's mother was Beatrix, an illegitimate daughter of Hugh, Earl of Chester. On the web site her name is unknown, but in Collins' Peerage Vol.5 her name is stated as Beatrix. Her husband, and father of David de Malpas, was William le Belward. William inherited the baronetcy of Malpas from his mother Lettice, daughter and heir of Robert, Baron of Malpas. So David was a grandson of Hugh, earl of Chester. I've read that Beatrix was illegitimate, but nevertheless a real catch anyway because illegitamacy wasn't so bad in them days. Hugh's father was Ranulf de Gernon, 4th earl of Chester, and his mother was Maud of Gloucester. Maud's father was Robert 1st Earl of Gloucester, one of many illegitamate sons of King Henry I, reputedly with Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, another direct ancestor (see last post). More research is needed on my possible connections to Hugh. earl of Chester, to confirm yet another wonderful lineage, though the link from Agnes to her father David le Clerk to William le Belward and Beatrix to Hugh seems pretty solid.

That's it for now. More next week.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

My ancestors - the Welsh line

In the last 3 weeks I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to delve into my family history like I have never delved before. The information I have gathered is, in a word, amazing, and it seems unbelievable that ordinary me could be related to such notable figures in history. And not only Welsh history but European. My research has led me to the geat Welsh leader Rhodri Mawr, as well as French kings such as Henri I and Hugh Capet. As to the English monarchy I get as close as to a half brother to Henry II (Hamelin Plantagenet) and Henry Tudor. However, for this post I am going to write about my research on my Welsh anscestors and show how I got there.

It all started when I bought the book 'Bywyd ac Amserau Yr Esgob Morgan' by
Charles Ashton, published in 1891, from Abebooks on the internet. This is the book that I had been after for many years because I needed it to confirm my family link to Bishop William Morgan, something that I knew but wanted proof. And there it was. A family tree, just after page 115, showing my great great great grandfather Owen Evans and his wife Jane Hughes, and his parents being Margaret Morgan and Owen Evan of Ty'n Ddol, Ffestiniog. Margaret's lineage was exactly as I thought it would be, her father being William Ellis Morgan. It was his brother, John, whose papers that Ashton was relying on, and the tree descended all the way to Bishop William Morgan. At last I can feel sure that I am truly a descendent of this great man's family, though others had known this but I wanted to see physical proof for myself. It was at this point that I noticed that Ashton had indicated on the tree that the bishop had a son, Evan Morgan, also a man of the cloth. Now this has been a contentious issue with genealogists as some claim that he was a nephew of William Morgan rather than his son, which to be fair Ashton points this out. I had always assumed up to now that Evan was his nephew because I hadn't seen any evidence that William had a son. He was married twice so the chance of producing at least 1 child must be high, you would think. Ashton's reasoning is based on the known appointments and places that William Morgan had been. For instance, it is known that he was at Cambridge University from 1564,and was there for, I think, 7 years. Considering that Evan's first appointment was at Llanrhaiadr-y-Mochnant in 1588 (taking over from William in fact), Ashton deduces that he was likely to have been born around 1564. If he was born after William came back from Cambridge, Evan would have been 16 taking up this first post, a highly unlikely scenario. However, his does not rule out the possibility that Evan was the son of one of William Morgan's brothers, but Ashton was basing his research from the famly papers held by John Ellis Morgan, a gggg grandson to William, so it seems more likely to be correct. If this is the case then William Morgan was married to Ellen Salesbury, who was related to that other famous translator, William Salesbury. Her family tree is also included in Ashton's book and he has managed to trace it back to Adam de Salzburg, a relative of a Duke in Bavaria. Because of the uncertainty of the parentage of Evan, I cannot for certain rely on my connection to Ellen's ancestors. However, the Salesbury (or Salusbury) connection re-emerges later in my research.

So, Evan Morgan seemed to be the logical choice to research, and I was lucky enough to use Ashton's research again. In his book he states that Evan was married to Catherine daughter of John ap Rhys Wynn of Caer Ddinen, and Mary, who was a daughter of
Baron Lewis Owen (or Lewys ap Owen). This seemed an interesting path to follow so I started looking on the internet for these people.

I must point out here that there are literally thousands's of out of copywright books available for either download or to view, for free from Google books and, which have fantastic information for genealogical purposes. Well worth checking if you have relatively well-known people in your family history. There is, of course, a reliance that the information written in these books are correct, but they do seem to have based their research on primary sources (original manuscripts) so we must assume that they are.

I quickly found
Lewis Owen. He wasn't hard to find because he was regarded as one of the most well known men in Merionethshire in the time of the Tudors. He was appointed deputy-chamberlain of North Wales and baron of the exchequer at Caernarfon. He was also sheriff of Merioneth in 1545-6 and 1554-5, and MP for Merioneth in 1547, 1553 and 1554. On October 11th or 12th, 1555 he was murdered by the 'Red bandits of Mawddwy' at a place still called 'Llidart y barwn, near Mallwyd in Merionethshire. Apparantly it was a revenge killing because Lewis had caught, tried and hung a few of the bandits just before. His wife was Margaret Puleston, daughter of Robert Puleston, rector of Gresford and Whitford (Burke's Peerages). From another source, she is said to be not only the daughter of Robert but also the niece of Sir John Puleston of Hafod y Wern, Bersham. The first Puleston from Hafod was a Madog Puleston (Annals and Antiquities of the Counties and County Families of Wales, Thomas Nicholas,p. 455, vol.2) and his father was Robert Puleston who married Lowri, sister to Owain Glyndwr. As a proud Welshman, this connection gladdens my heart! To have Owain as a distant uncle is fantastic. I discovered more when I looked into the family of Owain's mother, Ellen. She was the daughter of Thomas ap Llewelyn, whose ancestry I will discuss later. Thomas had another daughter, Margaret, who married Tudur Fychan ap Goronwy of Plas Penmynydd, Anglesey. At this point I knew that there was going to be another important connection. Penmynydd is synomenous with the ancestry of Owain Tudor the grandfather of King Henry VII, and so he turns out to be my 4th cousin, 16x removed. There are a few more lines to investigate in this period, which I will no doubt look into in time.

Going back to Thomas ap Llewelyn (ggg grandfather to Henry Tudor), I followed his ancestry using the various Rootsweb family trees that are available on the net. Now, caution should be taken when relying on these trees because it is research carried out by others and who knows where they have got their information from. On at least 2 occasions I was led to believe that I was related to William the Conqueror because of mistakes made from these trees. There is an awful lot of copying on the genealogical net and a quick search on Rootsweb will reveal identical info on numerous trees. There is also a temptation for some to claim direct ancestry to noble and royal families because it would be difficult to DISPROVE those findings. Not many would bother to check to see they're right. The reason I've taken so long to write this post is because I've checked and re-checked my information, and I want to find the TRUTH about my ancestors, and not find out out later that it was not the case. I am reminded here of John Hurt's experience on the BBC programme 'Who do you think you are'. He always believed that he was descended from Irish ancestery, which he was very proud of, only to find that one of these ancestors had lied about his birth. He was understandably angry and upset because he had always thought that he had Irish blood, which will have had an effect on how he perceived his 'self'. The link between identity and ancestry can be very strong, and to John Hurt it must have felt that his very personality was based on a lie. Some of these submitters on Rootsweb may want to believe they are related to notable people, but I would rather find out who my real ancestors were, whether they were ordinary peasants or members of the aristocracy. They are all important and significant because they produced me and the family I love.

So, I rechecked these Rootsweb claims by reading up downloaded books on the internet and believe I have found the true lineages that I am now stating. By the way, one of the incorrect submissions on Rootsweb was a claim that Owain Glyndwr's great grandmother was a
Catherine, a daughter of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd (Llewelyn the Last) who married Eleanor de Montford, whose maternal grandfather was King John I, and this line leads to William the Conqueror. Llewelyn, as far as I know, only had one daughter, Gwenllian, who was whisked away to a nunnery by the English while still a baby, never to know her true roots. Despite finding a couple of authors writing in the early 19th century who state the existence of this Catherine, I think it's not safe to pursue. If it was true then it would be a fantastic connection to not only King John but also the de Montforts, Eleanor of Aquitaine and the royal houses of France. I believe this to be false, but any direct links to Llewelyn is still possible because I haven't explored all the lineages.

Anyway, the lineage of Thomas ap Llewelyn leads to Gruffydd ap Rhys who married Matilda de Braose, whose family I will write in a future post, who was the son of Rhys ap Gruffydd,
The Lord Rhys. He was Prince of Deheubarth (modern day south west Wales) and Henry II appointed him the protector of South Wales. He, unfortunately, died of plague in 1197 and is buried at St. David's Cathedral. His grandfather was Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of Deheubarth, and he was killed in the Battle of Brecon in 1093, probably fighting the English again. Protecting the borders of Wales then must have been as difficult as trying to save a sinking ship. When one area is patched up there is always another ready to leak through somewhere else. Rhys ap Tewdwr's ggg grandfather was Hywel Dda (Hywel the Good), born circa. 887 and despite this apparent virtuous tag was regarded as quite ruthless. He even ordered the death of his brother-in-law, Llywarch of Dyfed. However, a great reign doesn't get built by being soft. His most well known achievement was the creation of the Law of Wales which was the foundation of Welsh unity and identity. His grandfather was Rhodri Mawr (Rodri the Great)a famous warrior who defended Wales from especially the Danes, who had continuously raided Celtic coasts including Ireland and Brittany. He was killed, together with his son Gwriad, in a battle against the English in 877.

Archives that go further back before Rhodri's time are a mixture of tales of myths and legends. Rhodri was supposed to be a descendent of
Coel Hen (Old King Cole himself) and beyond this to Maelgwn Gwynedd and Cunedda and you are really in fantasy land perhaps. There's one tree on Rootsweb that leads from Rhodri to a Roman called Padarn Beisrudd. It's entirely plausible but difficult to prove. I'm quite happy with what I've found to date, and there are more discoveries to follow. The beauty of finding an ancestor who married into a notable family is that there is an excellent chance of finding more well known personalities. Such families liked to marry off their offspring to other families of equal status or better, and that has been the case with my ancestor Margaret Puleston. Bless her! The Pulestons originated from Pilsdon in Shropshire, but very soon were regarded as a Welsh family settling at Emral Hall, Flintshire. An early Puleston ancestor, Sir Roger de Pyvelisdon, was reponsible for collecting a tax from the Welsh to fund Edward I's war with France. I can just imagine his face when the king told him what he had to do! It's a dirty job bur someone has to do it! Talk about walking into the lion's den. As many I suppose predicted he and his assistants were grabbed and hung on the spot at Caernarfon. His son Sir Richard de Pyvelisdon married a daughter of a Warren from Warren Hall in Shropshire. This line of enquiry provided me with a very challenging research task, and all the reading I did paid off in a big way and will be the subject of my next post.

To finish off some loose ends, some interesting indirect connections.
Through Owain Glyndwr's parents, I have a direct lineage to Gwenllian and Susanna, both daughters of
Gruffydd ap Cynan, and sisters to Owain Gwynedd. He became King of Gwynedd after defeating Trahaearn ap Caradog at the battle of Mynydd Carn in 1081, and appears to have an alliance with my other ancestor, Rhys ap Tewdwr. Gruffydd was born in Dublin and his mother Ragnaillt was the daughter of the Norse king, Olaf Sigtryggsson (Olaf of Dublin). Through the wife of Gruffydd, Angharad ferch Owain ap Edwin, there is a link to the Earls of Mercia. Owain's ggrandmother was Godgifu, Lady Godiva. So, through these lineages I have links to the Vikings. I have discovered other Viking links through Normandy connections as well but that is for another post.

If we go back to
Rhys ap Tewdwr, he had a daughter named Nest. Reputedly she was so beautiful that men could not resist her, which happened quite often. She was a mistress to Henry I and produced a son. She married Gerald of Windsor and had 5 children with him. Her cousin, Owain ap Cadwgan took one look at her and decided to kidnapped her and her children, with Gerald escaping with his life going down the toilet! Quite appropriate in regards to the way his life was going I think. While in captivity she had 2 more children with Owain, who in real Mills and Boon fashioned was killed by the vengeful husband not long after. She next married Stephen, constable of Cardigan and had Robert FitzStephen. One of her grandsons was Gerald of Wales the historian, better known by his Lain name Geraldus Cambrensis.

More soon.

Monday, 1 February 2010

TV Adverts - Feb 2010

Those I hate
All the Go Compare ads
We buy any
Halifax (pretending to be DJ's)
Those I like
Barclaycard (rollercoaster with Boston's 'More Than a Feeling'
Ford Focus ad

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Back Problems

Ever since I was quite young I have always been aware that being tall will inevitably lead to problems with the back, be it in the form of muscle spasms, trapped nerves or just plain old backache. Growing up with a father who suffered with slipped disks even before I was born has made me realise that it could happen to me. My dad was having back problems from his mid twenties which eventually led to him being in traction at the army barracks cum orthopeadic hospital at Gobowen just after my birth and of course he eventually became paralysed at the age of 48, which of course he never recovered from.
Today I went to Llandudno casualty department to see what could be done for me. Since the late 90's I have had recurring back problems which have eventually gone away and life goes on. Until the next incident, usually overdoing it, lifting and carrying heavy boxes of reams of paper, dragging and folding tables for meetings, storing heavy items up the attic etc. I never used to think about it. I was never one to say no when help was needed, unlike a certain person I have previously mentioned in this blog, you know the knobhead. Well, it appears that I have a prolapsed disk in my lower back, which by all accounts is something physiotherapy can help, but if it doesn't then surgery may have to be the option. I will be going for an MRI scan at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor soon to confirm the prognosis, and then we will know the next course of action. I went directly to the hospital because a) it was near Ben's school therefore convenient, and b) I'm sick and tired of living in pain for half the year, and just putting up with it. A bit of background for you. I had a particularly bad bad back episode in 2002 when I was off work for I think at least 2 weeks. I was folding a table, clearing the room after a meeting when I could feel a tear in my back. In many cases with me in the past, a backache would come out of nowhere, no idea how I got it, it just appeared, and I would just slap on the heat pack (or cold pack, as some believe is best), pop the pain killers, and wait a few days. This was different. I remember very clearly that I could not straighten up (which is very embarassing when I had to go out in public), and most worryingly, a really bad pain in my lower back whenever I tried to walk. I'm rooted to the spot, afraid to take another step. Not a pleasant experience. It's only happened once since this time, but I guess I know what it is now. I'm a little peeved that my GP didn't take the steps that were taken today. I'm probably guessing that my present problem started then, in 2002, and all I got from my GP were pain killing tablets. They worked, and there is a tendency to accept that all is well, until the next time I decide to do something heavy. As an example of how delicate my back is, I was in ASDA yesterday and some thoughless person had left a box of quiche in a basket under the till, too lazy to put it back in the fridge. So, I bent down to get it and felt that something, not major, went. Today I have been in agony and enough is enough. This is no way to live, and despite my fears of hospitals, and what happens in them, I decided to go there and face the inevitable. I'm glad I've gone in and faced up to it, because the prospect of ending up like my poor dad could have been my future as well. I'm not afraid to admit it, but in the waiting room I became emotional, the combination of not knowing what was going to be said to me, and it was the first time back in the hospital my dad had died in 5 months ago. Every now and again he still gets to me. I suppose it's still early, the grieving period. It's hard to believe, actually, that only 5 months have gone since that awful time, and yet it feels a longer time. I suppose a lot has happened in between stretching time to last longer. Anyway, what a difference a week makes! I get a degree one week and a slipping disk the next! The highs and the lows of life. In fact, I look on today as a lucky break and am gaining strength from the positiveness of my action. I've probably been walking around with a slipping disk resting on my sciatic nerve for the last 7 years for God's sakes! I'm lucky I'm still walking, albeit a stooping one and a great impersonation of an extra from the 'Planet of the Apes' film! Wait, I think I've used that gag before!
So, I have now a great excuse to get out of the washing up, and I can feel not guilty watching DVD's!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

What a win at Old Trafford!

As bad as the old year was the new one has started pretty good so far. Leeds beat Manchester United at Old Trafford last week-end and I feel a bit of payback is well deserved for certain Manc fans. I've been a Leeds United fan since 1975 and throughout the years the times I have been ridiculed by fans of Man.Utd, Liverpool and others have been numerous. When on the odd occasion that Leeds have beaten these top teams, I haven't really gloated, not as much as I should have at least. Well, this particular win against Man.Utd in the FA Cup and at Old Trafford has a special feeling to it. Maybe it's because of the recent spectacular fall from grace of Leeds United, which saw them not only relegated to the championship (the old Division 2), but also relegated to League One (the old Third Division) 3 seasons ago, which has prompted much derision from rival fans, and media pundits as well.
Even before the match, the official Manchester United TV channel, MUTV, were saying some really disrespectful things about my team, for instance, stressing on the fact that Leeds are in League 1 and so forth. And boy did I enjoy the post mortem they performed on the match after the final whistle! As Alex Ferguson said in his rather sombre interview in the tunnel afterwards, they really didn't expect that. He knows he can't publicly praise Leeds for fear of losing his grip with Man.Utd fans. If he admitted Leeds played better than his team, he would lose the repect and hasten his exit. Well, expect a bit more matey if you play as crap as that again! Honestly, the performance was truly awful, an embarassment in fact. The game went better than I could ever hoped for, and I can say this with as much unbiasness as I can muster, we played them off the park for much of the game and could have scored a couple more if it wasn't for the width of the woodwork.
This seismic event does bring to mind of a certain person who idolised Man.Utd whom I used to work with. This win is the perfect opportunity to write about what he was like as I saw him. And all the following accounts are true. I'd love to be a fly on his wall, in fact any of his walls because this particular defeat will knarl at his gut for quite some time. I've been looking for an excuse to mention him on my blog for some time, because he was literally the ultimate knobhead! You have all met him, in your own lives that is. There's one in every workplace, whether it be male or female. You know the type, he likes to be your friend to your face but when your back's turned he will say the most awful things about you to other collegues. I know, because the dumb fuck used to say to ME what he thought of others he worked with! So, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that he was sayings things behind MY back as well. I remember him coming to my office clutching a sick note and complaining about an office assistant who had badly strained her ankle, actually accusing her of pretending to get a week off work. No benefit of the doubt, she was lying and that was it. At a christmas party he made a derogatory comment about the condition of a work collegues breasts after she had cancer and a masectomy. You get the general idea how much of a low life this guy is.
Well, fuck you, Mr. Nasty!
I hope he gets the stick that he deserves from his collegues this week. Gosh, where did that come from?! Must have been some buried repressed rage I've been feeling towards him.
Feel a lot better now that I have got that off my chest! Writing is good therapy!
I can remember that he used to take a sickie whenever Man. Utd lost at the week-end to a team like, say, Liverpool, a team well supported by a lot of his colleagues there, and he couldn't face them. As if they would forget after one day!
Be a man and stand up to them!
These things used to bother us when we were kids not now that we are grown adults. Or maybe I've hit the nail on the head there. I'm particularly picking on him because of the hurtful things he used to say about Leeds right in front of me. "Oh, I hate Leeds. I do hope they go down" was one of them, and his vile comments didn't stop with football either. Quite often he would just come out with some personal stuff as well. I could go on with other things he said and did, but I have a life to live. He was just a thoroughly nasty piece of work full stop. Oh, here's another one!
He even said to me that if he had known that I was a Leeds United supporter he would not have hired me! Skills and experience don't matter obviously but who you support is a top priority! Give me a break!
Looking back I should never have helped him out and got that spider out of the toilet so it would be safe for him to go in! Yep, that really happened.

So, I'm basking in the glow of a fabulous and well deserved win at Old Trafford in front of 65,000 Man.Utd fans. I hope Mr. Nasty was there to witness it. I'm sure he was thinking of me as the minutes were ticking away as his team were heading for defeat, cursing my name. I've been cursing the day I ever met this football bigot, but such occurances happen in life and are meant for a reason. Sometimes it's not apparant at the time but on reflection it was a learning curve for me about how shitty some people can be, though of course I have met other shitty types before, but this one would be the last one I would tolerate.
It is safe to say that I have never been nor will ever be such a person.
No-one should ever judge a person by the team they support, it is a laughable criteria! I can be a Leeds United fan AND a nice person to know!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Depression Day

Feeling low happens to everyone. In all the years that I have been on this earth I've had my fair share of low points in my life. Especially in the last 4 years of course. Having had to give up my jobs to be a carer, the financial implications of not being able to work, the lack of contact with friends due to my inability to socialize as often as I would like, are just some of the main frustrations that I have had the misfortune to experience. The recent death of my father just adds to the mix, I suppose. It doesn't help.
Yesterday, I believe that I suffered real depression for the first time in my life. I have always been reluctant to use the word 'depression' in the past because for one thing I thought that I was immune to it because of my optimistic disposition, and secondly, I think the word has been used so flippantly by people, in some cases to describe a disappointment they are experiencing, rather than a condition that prevents normal everyday functioning. I always thought I was low, not depressed; there are always other people far worse off than me who truly are depressed and are going through their own personal hell. Well, I have always being able to lift myself soon after a low period, so that's not depression. However, I felt utter despair yesterday, of which I have never experienced before. I could not shake it off and felt that I was not in control of my thinking. It was almost as if my thought processes were fixed on one path, like a train on a single track unable to change direction. As soon as I woke up my head was pounding and I felt that nothing mattered, which lasted all day. I didn't know what to do with myself, uninterested in anything, prefering to stare into the distance for long periods, in any direction, and just do nothing, paralised in such a way that I was unable to think clearly. If I had received the letter I am expecting about my passing my exams yesterday, it could not have lifted me from my doldrums. I would have tossed it aside, not even being upset if I had not passed. Nothing mattered. It was scary, and the world that I knew was not the same anymore. It was almost as if the depression was everything, perpetuating itself in a neverending loop. I just didn't know where to start to get out of it. Scary as hell.
I could feel emotional pain welling up as the day wore on, and it was after visiting my mum late morning that the banks finally burst. I couldn't control the tears in the car at that point and when I got home I decided I needed a distraction so I watched something on my laptop. I surmise that this emotion I was feeling was linked to my recent berevement, and the thought that he would not be here for christmas. My dad always made us laugh at christmas, his inner child and inhibition ran wild. It won't be the same without him. So, this year will be a testing one for us all.
Eventually, last night, I managed to get the opportunity to talk about how I felt to my wife, and I'm inclined to believe that it must have helped, though earlier in the day I could not see talking as any help to me, and today I have felt a bit better and not so zombiefied. Yesterday I got a little insight to what many truly depressed people must be going through. The most appalling feeling is the concrete realisation that there is no escape from feeling like this; nothing that you or anyone else can do to help you get out of how you're feeling, and that you are trapped as if in a cage and there is no key to let you out.
In my experience, feelings of hopelessness and abandonment are key features of depression. They are biggies, really. We all need people to show that they care for us, in our hours of need, and if we don't it leads to a deteriorating self-esteem, and believe me that's a slippery slope. When you feel worthless and insignificant it's a sorry state of affairs. Hopelessness sets in and I believe this is when you feel you're locked up in that cell with no key. It's important that you find someone with the particular key that will help you get out. Last night, by talking to my wife I found a key, so the power of talk should never be underestimated. Hope. What a wonderful thing that is! Where would we be without it? It gives us the reason to carry on and do the things we need to do, and should never be abandoned. The question is, where do we find hope when things appear hopeless? Luckily, given good guidance, hope can be found in a multitude of places, people's hearts being one. To be kind, honest and supportive restores faith in humanity and perhaps the lack of these qualities creates the hoplessness in the first place.
If anything, this little episode has revealed to me the importance of my time at Aberconwy MIND, a place where I always encounter the results of depression. I meet people there who live with depression every day of their lives. To experience it for only one day is only a short glimpse of what it must be like for them, and I hope I don't get many days like yesterday again.