“When a man and lady love each other very much…”
You know the rest. We all got the lecture. All fauna on this Earth is spectacularly randy. It took a lot of fornicating for you to get here. I mean… generations.
Either way, who over the last few centuries did the deed to infect the planet with this thing on the right? That’s me.
I got a free trial on Ancestry.com, and expected to find nothing. What I did in fact find was the most irritating time consuming site since dicking about on Happy Wheels. Here are some of the most interesting finds to me. I was sent onto this site to find out more about my great-great-great grandfather Arthur Blissett, a professor of music. At some point I’ll write a piece on the musical generations found on there in my mother’s family.
However, with the extra time that I didn’t have, I had a nose around my father’s side of the family, and found some very unusual snippets.
LEONARD POLLARD: A CENTURY-OLD MYSTERY SOLVED
Nicholas Pollard -> Sean Pollard -> Brian Pollard -> Leonard Pollard
Leonard Pollard was something of a mystery, due to the fact that rumour had it that he truly stemmed from a ‘Holmes’ family, and therefore I should be Nick Holmes. Was there really such a scandal in our family? As it turns out, apologies to OK! Magazine… there wasn’t.
Leonard was the last of ten children (though two sadly died as infants, such as Herbert, who lived just two weeks) from parents George Pollard and Mary Anne Parker. George sadly died while Leonard was very young, and Mary re-married a Horatio(!) Holmes. This meant that the fuss centered around how Leonard chose not to follow his mother’s surname change later on. It might be slightly anti-climactic, but it’s a happy ending nonetheless.
It’s interesting. For decades, older relatives have been reluctant to discuss the matter, as it was glossed over, yet in just a few minutes I was able to find that there was nothing to worry about after all.
Another fact about Horatio: he was a widower who also had ten children in a previous relationship. Therefore, Mary and Horatio had twenty children and stepchildren between them!
WELL… THIS SUCKS…
Leonard Pollard (1905) -> George Pollard (1855) -> William Joseph Pollard (1830)
Leonard’s father George was a first mate (also listed as a ‘seaman’… laugh it up) according to an 1881 census, a mariner in 1891 and a master mariner in 1901. Curiously, there doesn’t seen to be any record of his death, so if OK Magazine fancy fabricating a love affair involving eternal youth or zombies to revive the Pollard problem, then feel free.
I did however find a marriage certificate documenting the marriage of William Joseph and a Mary Hibbs in 1853. Aww. To kick the search engine into gear as it figured out who the next generation may consist of (“Oh, you mean THAT William Joseph Pollard!”), I continued along the path of the Hibbs family, who had an extremely fruitful, and at times a very tragic past.
WILLIAM AND JOANNE HIBBS (1632-1686)
Mary Hibbs (1830) -> Joseph Hibbs (1786) -> Joseph Hibbs (1762) -> Joseph Hibbs (1732) -> Johnathan Hibbs (1700) -> David Hibbs (1660) -> William Hibbs (1632)
Branching off of the Pollard name, you will find my 9th great grandparents, William and Joanne Hibbs. Unfortunately, England, under the Roman Catholic rule of James II, didn’t take too kindly to their religious beliefs – they were Quakers, and therefore Protestants.
While it can’t be found whether the Hibbs did anything too out of order, or were simply caught believing something that wasn’t Catholic (though records suggest they were imprisoned just for not being Catholic), the tale did not end well for them.
According to some of the legal documents, listed in the ‘Suffering of the Quakers’, he suffered a lot of violence in 1660. The legal document states: “… William Hibbs asking him the same question, he came out of his pulpit, and in his rage laid hands on William, thrust him into a pool of water and dirt, and when he came out again, threw his hat into the same, and with much violence and fury, kicked him in the belly, saying, that ‘if he had his rapier, he would have run him through’. His servant also ran a pitchfork into William Hibbs’ foot, so that he was not able to go, nor rife into the ground without help.”
Ouch. However, things only got worse for Hibbs. On 6th May 1686, William was executed, and it’s suggested that Joanne suffered the same fate. Beheaded in the Forest of Dean. They are now credited on Ancestry as ‘religious martyrs’. One of their sons, Jonathan, also met the axe in 1687.
For fun (I needed something a little jollier), I decided to see how much further I could go with the Hibbs name. This took me through another William Hibbs (1600), Alexander Ibbs (1547) and Hebba Ibbs (1520). I was also surprised to find a man called ‘Faith’ back here, born in 1550. I this was one very religious family, backed by how Alexander Ibbs was an Anglican priest of St Andrews Church.
THE POLLARDS MOVE TO IRELAND, AND GET FED UP OF IT VERY QUICKLY (1803)
William Joseph Pollard (1830) -> William Wood Pollard (1803)
The Pollard/Holmes kerfuffle, and this shift across the sea was what caused a problem before. It turned out that the Pollards fancied a bit of a break from the UK, and one of the ancestors was born overseas, confusing the website a little.
William Wood Pollard (1803-1864), who was a coastguard, and the last of many many generations to spawn from Cornwall, moved to Ireland, marrying Maria Pentony in 1822, in Dublin. They had seven children together, the first five in Ireland, one of whom was William Joseph Pollard, born in Cork. At some point between 1832 and 1835, the Pollards returned to Kent. Inspired by his father, he too was a coastguard, although aged 31 was listed as a ‘AB Seaman’, and 51 as ‘Station Officer Coast Guard’.
XTIANNE POLLARD (1719-1724/5)
George Pollard (1774) -> George Pollard (1753) -> William Pollard (1726) -> George Pollard (1700) -> William Pollard (1665)
Believe it or not, this isn’t a typo. The spectacular number of Williams and Georges was getting dull, but one young lady, born to William Pollard and Agnis Butler, arrived in 1719 to make things a little more interesting.
She is my 8th great grand aunt. Very sadly, she died at the age of five. If it is any compensation, she had an awesome name. It is presumably a respelling of ‘Christianne’ by a lazy census taker, or artsy parents. Despite the distinctive name, I’m yet to find anything else about her. I spoke to a very distantly related (and very distantly located) Pollard in South Australia, who had been just as intrigued as I had been. She knew little more than me, but gave me a pronunciation of someone she knew with said name, which surprised me.
She was ‘ZHAWN” or possibly “Sean”. That’s my middle name, and father’s name. We found just one more Xtianne on the system – a man! Anything with an X or Z in is cooler, and I found these two people. If I ever needed an excuse to head to the deed poll office. Alright, maybe not.
The George Pollard born in 1700, I think holds the record for the most children from a single couple on my pedigree family tree, with eleven.
DID JOHN POLLARD HAVE A WEIRDLY SHAPED HEAD? (1530-1570)
William Pollard (1665) -> George Pollard (1637) -> William Hugh Pollard (1599) -> Richard Pollard (1556) -> John Pollard (1530)
Meet John Pollard. He is my 13th great grandfather. The final Pollard on record, about whom there is sadly very little to say. He was born in Cornwall. He had seven children (Richard, John, Stephen, Edmond, Grace, Pascho and Sinney) and his spouse is unknown. I could trace the name no further, and so looked up its origins. According to Ancestry, this was the definition around 200 years before it was a term for cutting down trees:
“A nickname for a person with a large or unusually shaped head, from Middle English poll ‘head’ (Middle Low German polle ‘(top of the) head’) + the pejorative suffix -ard.”
Oh, charming. It’s a pity that this pedigree ends here. Luckily, others have traced the name as far back as the 12th Century, with a William Pollard known to have lived in 1181. A likely origin is a derivative of ‘Paul’ and ‘-hard’, fused as a ‘-son’ name would have been, and as the beginning of a time when the surname concept became obligatory due to taxation, a choice of name is quite probable.
This is where I first hit a wall, and had to deviate from the Pollard name, and considering the origin, it might just be for the best. From here on in, I would follow a surname through the male side for as long as the sources could hold, before seeing if the wife’s family extended further. and follow the origins of John’s daughter-in-law, Richard’s spouse – Dorite Wallis.
ELIZABETH DEHOLLAND (1422-1500) AND RICHARD EDGECUMBE (1440-1489)
Dorite Wallis (1568) -> Marye Edgecumbe (1520) -> John Edgecumbe (1500?) -> Piers Edgecumbe (1474) -> Richard Edgecumbe (1440) -> Lady Elizabeth Prestwich, Lancaster Holland (1422)
I couldn’t follow the Wallis family due to the chaos of results in searching due to the number of different spellings used (Wallace, Walles, Walyshe etc., and humorously, there was a Scotland-born William Wallace in there too), so followed Dorite’s mother’s side – the Edgecumbes. This is where things get a little unusual, which is to be expected. At fourteen generations away, things are bound to get obscure, but the odds of finding what I did were rather slim.
So what was special about these two? There are pictures. Sadly, I can only find a stamp sized picture of Elizabeth, but it’s amazing nonetheless. This was one extremely wealthy and powerful Cornish family, heavily linked with royal assignments. The Richard in question was a courtier and politician, instrumental in the rebellions against Richard III.
HELLARTH DE HESKAYTH (1098) AND HIS SON RICHARD (1124-1150) ARRIVE IN ENGLAND
Lady Elizabeth (1422) -> Richard Holland (1384) -> Thurston Holland (1359) -> Ameria Kenyon (1337) -> Lady Matilda of Winwick, Hesketh (1305) -> John Hesketh (1277) -> William Hesketh (1246) -> William Hesketh (1183) -> William De Hesketh (1150)
However, the images of the Holland family had enticed me. As records are very sparse from around 1700 onwards, if you are able to continue much further, you should expect to find something quite special. While there are three more generations of Edgecumbes, Lady Elizabeth would take me much further into the past.
The Heskeths took me back to 1092, hitting a wall with my heavy metal sounding 28th great grandfather, Hellarth De Heskayth. Having come from Normandy, he seems to have brought the Heskeths to England. Lancashire, to be precise. The final William’s wife, Annabilla, keeps the generations rolling.
THE MYSTERY OF LUCY ‘THOROLDSDOTTIR’ OF BOLINGBROKE (1040)
Annabilla DeStafford (1154) -> Annabilla DeLancaster (1134) -> Gilbert Kendel de Lancaster (1089) -> Christiana DeTaillebois (1073) -> Lucy of Bolingbroke (1040)
Lucy of Bolingbroke, spouse of Ivo Taillebois sounds like a very nice lady, who as an aristocratic religious patron, granted a large chunk of her massive estate to monks, later going great lengths to make sure that her sons maintained these gifts once death popped by. However, whether she wanted to be nice, or just wanted a legacy is open to debate. That said, just about everything about her is open to debate. This mysterious countess brought me a bit of a problem.
The father of Lucy of Bolingbroke has long been debated. It had been long believed that Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia was the father of the mysterious religious patron and countess. However, in recent years, it has been suggested that the father had been Thorold, a sheriff of Lincoln. Historians bicker about this to this day, due to there being confusion caused by two ‘Thorold’s on record. Were they the same man? Were there really two Thorolds? The fact of the matter is that this will probably never be solved.
Sadly, without being 100% sure of Lucy’s parents, nor there being much information or her husband Ivo Taillebois, it was at this point that the pedigree parent division ended, at approximately the year 1000. It was here that I said that I would stop, until I spotted somebody rather noteworthy. It’s not like I had a dissertation to finish anyway…
LADY GODIVA (980-1067)
Lucy of Bolingbroke (1040) -> Ælfgar/Thorold (1002) -> Lady Godiva (980-1067)
Remember how I said that if there are notes based centuries in the past that they must be very important? I appear to have reached that point. Meet either my 33nd great aunt, or 32rd great grandmother – Lady Godiva, the legend of whom is that she rode a horse while naked, through the town, in protest of tax raises. It was literally a publicity stunt. These days such a stunt wouldn’t last anyone a week. It’s lasted her over a thousand years, causing gossip without releasing a single racy music video. Well played Godiva.
Either way, a connection is there. I had decided before that I would only follow pedigree. No cheating by detaching myself with aunts and uncles, however, it’s almost certain that having taken a different route, I would probably end up at the very same royal family.
Speaking of whom…
THE ROYAL FAMILY
Ælfgar Mercia (1002) -> Leofric Mercia (975) -> Leofwine of Mercia (946) -> Ælfwina, Lady of Mercia (905) -> Æthelflæd (869) -> Alfred the Great, of Wessex (849) -> Æthelwulf (King of England) (806) -> Egbert of Wessex (775) -> Ealhmund of Wessex (750) -> ETC…
Quickly, here is a reference to where the trail could end up, if Lucy was born to Ælfgar. It’s not really Nanny/Great Auntie Godiva that we’re really worried about, but Grandad/Great Uncle Ælfgar’s origins. If Xtienne wasn’t strange enough, thing were getting weirder. Now we are reaching territory where letters are used that modern QWERTY keyboards don’t really like. We are now very much in royal territory.
I’ll stop here, but have noticed that people have journeyed further into the Roman Empire (heading into BC territory), but I’ll save that for another day.
It’s been interesting, and might sign up one day, so long as I’ve decided that I’m never doing any work again. It’s dangerous just how time consuming this can be!