When you first start doing your family tree, it's exciting to see how "far back" you can go with your branches. Until last weekend, the furthest back on my direct line was Benjamin Broome, my 9th great-grandfather born in 1646 in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England (grandfather of John Broom in my carpet story), which I thought was a long way back!
Last weekend, I was searching back to see if I could see a link between the Freemans on my Dad's side and the Freemans on my Mum's side (spoiler alert - not yet). Anyway, I was having a search on Joseph Freeman (my 5th great-grandfather born in Gloucestershire, England in 1765) and his wife - Sarah Arkell (my 5th great-grandmother also from Gloucestershire, England, born in 1767). Well, I had her father John Arkell (born 1730 in Gloucestershire, England) and then I found his father Henry Arkell (born 1682, also in Gloucestershire) and his father Thomas Arkell (born 1639, also in Gloucestershire) and we are back to my 8th great-grandfather and the early 1600s!
|Screenshot of the pedigree from Mary Ann Pegler (my maternal great, great grandmother) to Thomas Arkell|
Well, things were starting to get a bit boring with all this Gloucestershire business, when up pops his father, Thomas Walraven van Arkel Heukelom - who was born in 1613 in Ammerzoden, Gelderland in the Netherlands! He must have migrated at some stage because he married Mary Willets in (you guessed it) Gloucestershire in 1638. I wonder what made him move?
Those Netherlands people keep good records because this opened up a HUGE branch of the family tree and links us back to medieval nobility because it turns out the van Arkels were a medieval noble family from Holland! Was I excited? You bet I was! I can trace the van Arkel paternal line back to good old Herbaren van Arkel II born around 1200, somewhere in the Netherlands. He is my 20th great-grandfather!
This post could get bigger than Ben Hur (and possibly I am related to him too), but it gets too confusing and too hard to keep track of everyone. So I'm just going to run through the most exciting branch (and there are lots more posts with other branches just waiting for their story to be told too).
|Thomas Arkell through to Otto van Arkel Heukelom IV|
I kept going back along the branches, amazed there was so much information going so far back.
|Johan van Arkel Heer van Heukelom en Lienden III through to Floris van Lynden II|
My good friend Google informs me that the van Lynden's were nobility too, one of the oldest Dutch noble families!
As an aside, if you can see Lady Agnes van Herlaer in the diagram above (my 18th great-grandmother), she is also Princess Diana's 18th GG, Winston Churchill's 18th GG and some other royals who aren't as famous 18th and 19th GG!!! Me and Diana - blood relatives!
Anyway, I kept going, tracing, finding lots of coats of arms and counts and countesses...
...and going, where lo and behold old paintings of Dukes start popping up and we start to get a French and German flavour happening:
|Thierry II through to Kunigunde de Francs de l'Ouest|
Kunigunde de Francs de l'Ouest (Cunigunda of France) was born in Aachen, Germany in 886. Her mother was Ermentrude of France was born in about 870. Her father was Louis the Stammerer, King of Aquitaine and later West Francia, born 1 November 846.
|Louis the Stammerer|
His father was Charles the Bald, King of West Francia, King of Italy AND Holy Roman Emperor, born 13 June 823. Guess I'm a good Catholic after all.
|Charles the Bald|
His father was Louis the Pious (also known as Louis the Fair and Louis the Debonair), King of Francs and also co-Emperor, born in 778. Debonair. Of course he was.
|Louis the Pious|
And for today, we come to the end of this line - he was the only surviving adult son of Karel I de Grote der Franken - otherwise known as Charles I or Charles the Great or simply Charlemagne, born 2 April 742. He was King of Franks, King of Lombards, and Holy Roman Emperor. He united much of western and central Europe in the early Middle Ages and was also known as the "Father of Europe". He is my 35th great-grandfather!
I know we can go back at least another generation, but for now, I am happy to be related to this famous figure of history and to be back to 742 AD and 35 generations! That is So Far Away, I think!