Tracing family roots is something that is exciting and can be very rewarding. When someone decides to put together a family tree, they learn things that otherwise may never be learned about one's family.
I have had the privilege of talking to my elders, and hearing the stories of yesteryear while being able to place them with a name and place, and even a date or two.
Genealogy is a passion.. I have been doing research for quite some time now, and have learned a trick or two to finding records and other valuable resources. It is my goal to help others find their family members, as I believe that kinfolk are indeed a blessing from God.
You can find some interesting things while digging in the root cellar of my family, one branch of which has a particularly interesting history. There is one group that was traceable back before the year 1000 to a man by the name of Rainald De Bailleul, he is in fact my 28th Great Grandfather and was a Knight that was with William The Conquerer when he fought Harold in the year 1066.
He was then granted the title of Le Sire and was given a substantial amount of land to live upon called Chenistelei in Britain. Rainald's Father & Mother was Roger De Montgomery (Regent Of Normandy) & Mabel de Belleme (Dame d'Alencon).
Earl Roger as he was known, contributed 60 ships to the invasion fleet and was in command of a wing in the Battle of Hastings. He returned to Normandy with Queen Matilda, and the young Duke Robert as Duke William's representative.
He became head of the council that governed the Duchy in Duke William's frequent absences in Britain.
The Montgomery family ancestry was closely interwoven either by blood or marriage with the Duchy of Normandy.
Earl Roger was responsible to Duke William as his chief architect in the defence of the middle marches of the border in his defence against the Welsh. He built many castles including Montgomery, Shrewsbury, Arundel, Ludlow, Clun, Hopton and Oswestry. His son, Robert, described at the Conquest as a 'novice in arms', but who might have been 40 by the Domesday, represented his father, and has created some confusion in the records.
Roger, the father, became the Earl of Shrewsbury and Arundel, and retained his domains at Bailleul.
The Norman upper hierarchy was not large. This elite group consisted of 22 honours or baronies which virtually controlled all of Normandy and contributed largely to Duke William and the invasion and Conquest of Britain.
It is interesting to note, that all of the current Heraldry in the United Kingdom was derived from the use of arms by these 22 families.
The Normans set in place what is known as feudalism, and Heraldic Arms were the means in which these baronies and lands were known. Each man of noble descent was given arms to distinguish him from the others, all of the English Heraldry descends from this ancient tradition.
Arms were granted for service and valour, at that time only people of noble descent held arms, not until much later did the English change this to include anyone whom would pay money to get matriculated.
To some folks this is a travesty and should not be allowed. English law also allows anyone with enough money to buy a false title to lands that is unclaimed to fill the coffers. So there are some unscrupulous folks who actually sell false arms to un- suspecting people who only want to have some family tradition.
This family line of Montgomery is known to be among the most ancient of families on Earth. The name first appears in Normandy in the 9th Century, it is known to be the translated form of the Latin name "Mons Gomerici" Which means Mountain of the Biblical Gomer.
Gomer was in fact the first son of Japeth, son of Noah. The first known use of this name in the Latin form is Roger Gomerici, who was the son of Ivar Ragnarsson of Dublin (34th Great Grandfather).
If you continue back even farther down this family line, you soon come to Radbart of Russia (38th Great Grandfather) who was born in the year 638 in Garderige, Russia.
Radbart married Aud Ivarsdottir who was the daughter of Ivar Halfdansson of Sweden.
Rolf "The Granger" Ragnvaldsson (30th Great Grandfather)
All Of these men were kin to the famous Rolf "The Granger" Ragnvaldsson & Poppa De Valois of Bayeaux 1st Duke & Duchess of Normandy, (30th Great Grandparents).
To say that I was impressed with the records kept on these families is an understatement!
The following list is a record of Rainald's land holdings granted him by William I (Duke Of Normandy) as listed in the Domesday Book of 1086:
From this ancestor came many famous rulers. For instance John De Bailleul (1292 - 1296) was my cousin descended from my Great Granduncle Hugo, He was also decended from David I (1124 - 1153), as was Robert De Bruce (1306 - 1329).
Sir William Wallace (Braveheart) was a strong supporter of John Bailleul.
After John was imprisioned by Longshanks, Sir William implored France to help him overthrow Edward for his release, this in fact led to Wallace being hanged and quartered.
On August 23, 1305 William Wallace was accused and impeached by the court justice Sir Peter Mallorie.
William Wallace responded with the following statement:
"I can not be a traitor, for I owe him no allegiance. He is not my Sovereign; he never received my homage; and whilst life is in this persecuted body, he never shall receive it. To the other points whereof I am accused, I freely confess them all. As Governor of my country I have been an enemy to its enemies; I have slain the English; I have mortally opposed the English King; I have stormed and taken the towns and castles which he unjustly claimed as his own. If I or my soldiers have plundered or done injury to the houses or ministers of religion, I repent me of my sin; but it is not of Edward of England I shall ask pardon." - Sir William Wallace (Braveheart) 1305.
Mural from the Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh
The Bailleul family was quite prominent in Europe until Edward I (Longshanks) came into power. Sir William was indeed close to the family, close enough to know that there were descendants of this family that, in the event of John's death, should rightfully inherit the throne.
This is probably the largest reason that Sir William did not align himself with the Bruce family, as he knew quite well there were more qualified heirs. Sir William was not only the Defender of the country, he was also the guardian of the rightful heirs.
He was a true Scotsman through and through. The Bailleul family scattered as a result of the imprisonment of John Bailiol, many as a result changed their names so as to not be persecuted by the English.
Edward went on a rampage to imprision and kill all of the rightful heirs. Family lands held since the days of William The Conquerer were revoked by Longshanks, even though these folks had long been honored in Europe.
This was done so that Longshanks could set an example that anyone who opposed him would be destroyed.
There was one branch of this line, that Longshanks overlooked when persecuting the Bailleul family. This was the Knightley branch whom was so surnamed since the days of Rainald.
Knightley is the English pronounciation of the name Chenistelei. It is from this branch that I and my family descend.
It is probable that Longshanks never knew the real origin of this family, who at the time held extensive lands.
Some of the family eventually came to America in the early 1600's in Virginia around Jamestown, and soon married into the Bunch family, from which I am descended through my Grandmother on my Dad's side.