I have been researching my family history since I was 18 (almost 56 now) and along the way have found some famous and infamous ancestors. Now Princess Diana is my 16th cousin, which means I will one day be related to a King of England (Prince William) The Duchess of York and her daughters, Eugenie and Beatrice are also cousins (from Georgiana Spencer-if you have seen the film The Duchess you will know who I mean) Now Sarah the Duchess of Marlborough (her and her husband the 1st Duke of Marlborough had Blenheim Palace built for them by the gracious nation) is my 7th cousin and Princess Dianas 7th gt grandmother -my gt gt grandfather Theophilus Scarrott and his ancestors lived in Woodstock and the grounds of Blenheim Palace and the surrounds for centuries and probably never knew they were related to the Spencer-Churchills. I have always had a thing since a little girl about the 12th century Fair Rosamund, Rosamund Clifford mistress of King Henry II who built her the hunting lodge at Woodstock (Rosamunds Bower) which was pulled down when Blenheim Palace was being built and never realised then that my ancestors, the famous Spencer Churchills and the quaint Morris dancing gt gt gt grandfather William Dore, the earthenware dealer and publican John Scarrott and their ancestors, all lived there. We all share a grandad Richard Yates back in the 1400s.
Now another cousin, my 6th cousin to be precise, was Henry Marten who committed regicide, yes he killed one of our kings, King Charles the first! Henrys father another Henry Marten was a favourite of Kings James father of Charles, so he must have been very disappointed to say the least when Henry acted with Cromwell in bringing Charles 1 to trial, he was one of the most prominent of the commissioners to sign the death warrant ( I have a copy )of Charles. Henry was the first to stand up in Parliament and ask was the King really necessary. I read in historical papers how Cromwell and Henry inked each others faces like schoolboys with the quills whilst signing the death warrant. Charles son Charles II got his own back when was crowned King and put Henry in Chepstow Castle under arrest until he died (about 25 years he spent imprisioned)
Now one of my favourite ancestors is my great great grandfather Mathias Cooper. When I was a little girl my grandfather Thomas Cooper a Romany gypsy, used to tell me how his grandfather Matty used to know Queen Victoria and when Matty died the queen put a wreath of yellow roses on his grave. Well families do make up stories but it all turned out to be true and more, apparently Matty and his family were camped in the grounds of Claremont House,the then princess Victorias family home in the winter of 1836 and in her diaries she writes of meeting them, and wonderfully painted them all! In Queen Victorias sketchbook there are a few of the paintings of them, although she painted lots more of my family.She thought my gypsy family were so quiet, so affectionate to one another, so discreet, not at all forward or importunate and so grateful;so unlike the gossiping, fortune telling race gipsies. She says what she has seen of them assures her that they are a superior set of gipsies, full of gratitude,quiet, discreet She describes my great great grandfather Matty as handsome, dark italian countenance and seems quite young. She notes how clean they are and how they wash their linen, handkerchiefs cloaks etc almost every day (so thats where i get it from!) Matty always wore a clean pair of socks and leggings every day, quite unusual for those Victorian times. Well Victoria became queen a few months later and throughout their lives Matty and the Queen met several times, and when he was older he was employed as rat catcher at Windsor castle, where in books it is written that Matty used to throw a bushel of dead rats at Victoria and her son Edwards feet! Matty taught an American philanthropist Charles Godfrey Leland to speak Romany, and Leland wrote several books in which he mentions Matty whom he calls 'The Professor' I am very lucky that Mattys life was so well documented .These above are all ancestors on my mothers side. On my fathers side are mostly French Huguenots , my 8 x great grandparents Judith Pigne and Daniel Lombard who came to London in the late 1600s seperately and met and married in |London, and my dads Suffolk and Gloucestershire country folk, but we are most probably related to Barbara Windsor through her Suffolk Goldings, and John Constable the artist.
But mostly I like the dear old plain washerwoman Susannah Baxter my great great great grandmother on dads side, who in her 80s was still taking in washing and looking after her grown up grandchildren in Hampstead! I said in my profile in this blog that everything I love has been passed down through my genes, and I love all my ancestors, good or bad, rich or poor, royalty or gypsy, they are my family.
I am a mother who gardens and sews. I love beautiful materials (from my French Huguenot heritage)old ships (from my 3x gt grandfather George Fisher who was a Master Mariner in Lowestoft)old Roses (a love passed on from my dear mother Betsy who was a Romany Gypsy and a great great grandfather James Funnell who was a Master Gardener )lovely old furniture (gt gt grandfather Charles Felmingham was a cabinet maker)Everything I love has been passed down through my genes.