Thursday, January 21, 2021

 Did William the Conqueror Kill
Any of Your Ancestors?

In the fall of 2000 when I was living in Houston my mother came to town for a visit. On a Saturday morning I had a sudden thought, “I ought to take Mom to the Clayton Library today.” When I asked her she said, "Sure, I’d love to go." Three hours later we were doing family history research in Houston’s Clayton Library, one of the best genealogy libraries in the country.

Clayton Library has a collection of over 15,000 family histories from throughout the entire USA—all placed on shelves in alphabetic order by last names. We went our separate ways down different aisles. Just a few minutes later Mom broke the silence saying, “Francis Marion Woodruff. Francis Marion Woodruff. I’ve been looking for you for 20 years.”

With the addition of Francis Marion Woodruff (1837-1912) to our family tree I was eventually able to trace our Woodruff line back to Matthew Woodruff (1616-1682). I had hit a jackpot. Matthew Woodruff is a common ancestor of Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) and of my great-grandmother, Nettie Lee Woodruff. Wilford Woodruff’s family has been avidly doing family history research for nearly 200 years. By adding Wilford Woodruff’s ancestry to our Woodruff line, we can trace our ancestry back to Roman times prior to the birth of Christ.

I am, for example, a 27th great-grandson of William the Conqueror (1028-1087) and his wife, Matilda of Flanders (1031-1083). I am also a direct descendant of most of the Plantagenets.

Looking back through these names you get the idea that European royalty were truly the jet-setters of medieval times. One generation would be born in England, the previous generation in Italy, the one before that in Russia, the one before that in Egypt, and the one before that in Paris.

One Saturday I sent a copy of my updated genealogy file to my cousin, Lynnie. I pointed out that both she and I were 27th great-grandchildren of William the Conqueror.

The following Monday evening Lynnie called me. She had told three of her fellow teachers in the teachers’ lounge that morning that she is a 27th great-granddaughter of William the Conqueror.

“Who’s that?” two of them asked.

Lynnie was practically speechless. Her immediate thought was, “Helloooo! You’re educators! You should know who William the Conqueror was.”

In typical Lynnie fashion she related, “I just told them, ‘Well, he probably killed half your ancestors’…and then I thought, ‘Thank goodness...fewer idiots in the world!’”

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Orem, Utah—January 21, 2021—©2021 Daniel Kemper Lubben

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