MANY Bugle readers are amateur genealogists, delving into the records to trace their ancestry as far back as possible. If you can trace your family line back to the 1700s you are doing well, given the paucity of accurate records before the reign of Queen Victoria. But some are lucky enough to be able to follow the line back even further, while some can claim quite remarkable ancestry.
In our June 19 edition we told Bernard Francis' story, who has traced his ancestors to the royal house of Tudor and from them to the medieval French monarchy, with an offshoot to the family of Oliver Cromwell. We asked if any readers had had a similar result from their research and Samantha Lane of Netherton called in to our offices with her family tree showing a line of ancestry back to Charlemagne.
There is a popular theory that everyone of European ancestry is a descendant of Charlemagne, based on mathematical probability. Everybody has two parents, four grandparents and then eight great-grandparents and 16 great-great-grandparents and so on. If you go back to the time of Charlemagne, around 40 generations, you get to a generation of a trillion ancestors, way in excess of the human population of the earth at that time. This is because our ancestry is not a straight line and rather than a family tree we should think of a family web with many people connecting with each other, effectively making common ancestors a lot more common than you might think.
So, in theory, we could all be descended from Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, the King of the Franks, who was crowned Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day 800.
However, Samantha brought along to the Bugle a family tree that shows that she is descended from Charlemagne. The link comes from Elizabeth Bishop who was born in Bilston around 1864 and married Samantha's ancestor John Thomas Colley in 1884.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Mary Ann Maullin Timmins (born 1829), daughter of William Timmins (b.1788), son of Martha Dudley (b.1761), daughter of Joseph Dudley (b.1722), son of Edward Dudley (b.1690), son of Thomas Dudley (b.1661), son of Edward Dudley (b.1622), son of Thomas Dudley (b. 1592), son of Edward Dudley (b.1572), son of Thomas Dudley (b.1550), son of Thomas Dudley (b.1520), son of Cornelius Dudley (b.1513), son of Thomas Dudley (b.1469), son of John Dudley (b.1413), son of Sir Richard Dudley (b.1376), son of Baron Thomas Dudley (b.1362), son of Richard Lefisher Dudley (b.1327), son of Sir John de Sutton (b.1278), son of Sir Richard de Sutton (b.1266), son of Sir Robert de Sutton (b.1241) son of Matilda of Brabant (b.1210), daughter of Henry II, Duke of Brabant (b.1187), son of Henry I, Duke of Brabant (b.1165), son of Godfrey III, Count of Louvain (b.1142) son of Godfrey II, Count of Louvain (b.1107) son of Godfrey the Bearded, Count of Louvain (b.1060), son of Henry II, Count of Louvain (b.1021), son of Lambert II, Count of Louvain (b. 972), son of Lambert I, Count of Louvain (b.950), son of Rainier III, Count of Hainault (b.924), son of Rainier II, Count of Hainault (b. 892), son of Rainier Longneck, Duke of Lorraine (b. 850), son of Ermengarde, daughter of Lothair I (b.795) son of Louis the Pious (b. 778), son of Charlemagne.
But why stop at Charlemagne? He was the son of Pepin the Short, King of the Franks, who was the son of Charles Martel, or Charles the Hammer, who at the Battle of Tours in 732 halted the Muslim conquest of Europe. Martel was the son of Pepin of Herstal, who was the son of Ansegisel, the son of Saint Arnold of Metz, who flourished at the end of the 6th and beginning of the 7th centuries AD.
While Samantha is proud to be descended from some of the greatest figures in medieval history, she doesn't take the claim too seriously and is more interested in her more recent ancestors. But it is discoveries like this that make genealogy so interesting.
Are you a descendant of Charlemagne too? Have you found any interesting or historical figures in your family tree? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.