The story of our family...for my sons

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Robert DeVere...Lord of the Greenwood

Robert DeVere, 3rd Earl of Oxford, was named Steward of the forest lands of Fitzooth for King Richard. He was also known as Lord of the Greenwood and Herne of the Wilde. Outlawed for taking up arms agains King John, he was subsequently styled as Robin Fitzooth and became the prototype for the popular tales of Robin Hood.

Friday, October 28, 2011

5,000 and counting...

Today I reached 5,000+ relatives on our family tree. I have learned so much about people and two favorite things. I love my family!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dymoke...Queens Champions


Did you know that the Queen still has a champion? The office of King's Champion or Queen's Champion (as the case may be), was first started in the reign of William the Conqueror. Sir John Dymoke was the first to exercise the office at the Coronation of Richard II, and the Dymoke family of Scrivelsby, Lincolnshire have continued to hold the office up to the present day.

Originally it was the champion's duty to ride, on a white charger, fully clad in armour, into Westminster Hall during the Coronation Ceremony. There he threw down his gauntlet and challenged any person who dared to deny the sovereign's right to the throne. The function was last exercised at George IV's coronation by Henry Dymoke (1801-65),

At the Coronation of the present Queen, a member of the Dymoke family was present, but he did not throw down a gauntlet or challenge anyone…instead he had the honour of carrying the Royal Standard in the Coronation procession. The role may have lost some of its original 'pazzaz' but he is still the 'Queen's Champion'.

Beheaded by Vikings

Sir Thomas Dymoke was made famous by being captured prior to the Battle of Stamford Bridge by another relative of ours ( King Harald Hardrada of Norway ) which took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian forces and the English king's brother Tostig Godwinson. After a horrific battle, both Hardrada and Tostig along with the majority of the Norwegians were killed.

Although Harold repelled the Norwegian invaders, his victory was short-lived: he was defeated and killed at Hastings less than three weeks later...beginning the Norman Conquest my more of our relatives. The battle has traditionally been presented as symbolising the end of the Viking Age, although in fact major Scandinavian campaigns in the British Isles occurred in the following decades, notably those of King Sweyn Estrithson of Denmark in 1069–70 and King Magnus Barefoot of Norway in 1098 and 1102–03.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

King of Wales

Owain Gwynedd (in English, "Owen") (c. 1100–November 28, 1170), alternatively known by the patronymic "Owain ap Gruffydd". He is occasionally referred to as Owain I of Gwynedd, or Owain I of Wales on account of his claim to be King of Wales. He is considered to be the most successful of all the north Welsh princes prior to his grandson, Llywelyn the Great. He was known as Owain Gwynedd to distinguish him from another contemporary Owain ap Gruffydd, ruler of part of Powys who was known as Owain Cyfeiliog. Owain Gwynedd was a member of the House of Aberffraw, a descendant of the senior branch from Rhodri Mawr.

Early life

Owain's father, Gruffydd ap Cynan, was a strong and long-lived ruler who had made the principality of Gwynedd the most influential in Wales during the sixty-two years of his reign, using the island of Anglesey as his power base. His mother, Angharad ferch Owain, was the daughter of Owain ab Edwin. Owain was the second of three sons of Gruffydd and Angharad.

Owain is thought to have been born on Anglesey about the year 1100. By about 1120 Gruffydd had grown too old to lead his forces in battle and Owain and his brothers Cadwallon and later Cadwaladr led the forces of Gwynedd against the Normans and against other Welsh princes with great success. His elder brother Cadwallon was killed in a battle against the forces of Powys in 1132, leaving Owain as his father's heir. Owain and Cadwaladr, in alliance with Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth, won a major victory over the Normans at Crug Mawr near Cardigan in 1136 and annexed Ceredigion to their father's realm.

Accession to the throne and early campaigns

On Gruffydd's death in 1137, therefore, Owain inherited a portion of a well-established kingdom, but had to share it with Cadwaladr. In 1143 Cadwaladr was implicated in the murder of Anarawd ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth, and Owain responded by sending his son Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd to strip him of his lands in the north of Ceredigion. Though Owain was later reconciled with Cadwaladr, from 1143, Owain ruled alone over most of north Wales. In 1155 Cadwaladr was driven into exile.

Owain took advantage of the civil war in England between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda to push Gwynedd's boundaries further east than ever before. In 1146 he captured the castle of Mold and about 1150 captured Rhuddlan and encroached on the borders of Powys. The prince of Powys, Madog ap Maredudd, with assistance from Earl Ranulf of Chester, gave battle at Coleshill, but Owain was victorious.

War with King Henry II

All went well until the accession of King Henry II of England in 1154. Henry invaded Gwynedd in 1157 with the support of Madog ap Maredudd of Powys and Owain's brother Cadwaladr. The invasion met with mixed fortunes. King Henry was nearly killed in a skirmish near Basingwerk and the fleet accompanying the invasion made a landing on Anglesey where it was defeated. Owain was however forced to come to terms with Henry, being obliged to surrender Rhuddlan and other conquests in the east.

Madog ap Maredudd died in 1160, enabling Owain to regain territory in the east. In 1163 he formed an alliance with Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth to challenge English rule. King Henry again invaded Gwynedd in 1165, but instead of taking the usual route along the northern coastal plain, the king's army invaded from Oswestry and took a route over the Berwyn hills. The invasion was met by an alliance of all the Welsh princes, with Owain as the undisputed leader. However there was little fighting, for the Welsh weather came to Owain's assistance as torrential rain forced Henry to retreat in disorder. The infuriated Henry mutilated a number of Welsh hostages, including two of Owain's sons.

Henry did not invade Gwynedd again and Owain was able to regain his eastern conquests, recapturing Rhuddlan castle in 1167 after a siege of three months.

Read more:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Capt. Michael Pierce...Indian Fighter

Michael Pierce immigrated to the New World in the early 1640s from Higham, Kent, England to Scituate, in what later became Massachusetts. The ten year period from 1630 to 1640 is know as The Great Migration. During this period, 16,000 people, immigrated to the East Coast of North America.

Captain Michael Pierce was the brother of the famous Colonial sea captain, William Pierce, who helped settle Plymouth Colony. Captain Michael Pierce played a significant role in the Great Migration. Historical records show that this one sea captain crossed the Atlantic, bringing settlers and provisions to the New World more frequently than any other. He had homes in London, the Bahamas and Rhode Island. He played a central role in the government of the early colonies. He was killed at Providence, one of the Bahama Islands, in 1641.

There were actually four Pierce brothers who made their mark on the New World: John Pierce (the Patentee), Robert Pierce, Captain William Pierce, and Captain Michael Pierce. All were grandsons of Anteress Pierce, and sons of Azrika Pierce and his wife Martha.

Pierce Family Moves to Scituate. Michael and Persis Pierce's first child, a daughter, was born in 1645 and named Persis in honor of her mother. Unfortunately, their first child died in 1646 at one year of age. The new family settled first in Higham, but moved in 1676 to Scituate, where the Pierce family continued to reside for most of the next century. Scituate is located some 10 miles north of the original Plymouth colony. It was settled as early as 1628 by a group of men from Kent, England.

Michael Pierce resided on a beautiful plain near the north river and not far form Herring brook. He assisted in erecting the first saw-mill. The mill was the first one erected in the colony. It is believed that Samuel Woodworth (1784-1842) wrote the song, "The Old Oaken Bucket," concerning this river and mill in Scituate. Samuel Woodworth's grandfather, Benjamine Woodworth (another relative of ours), witnessed the signing of Captain Michael Pierce's will, on January 1675.

Unlike his famous brother, Captain William Pierce, Michael Pierce was not a sea captain. He attained the title, Captain, from the Colony court in 1669. Historical records show that he was first given the rank of Ensign under Captain Miles Standish, then later, in 1669, he was made Captain. These titles reflects his role as a leader in the local militia formed to protect the colony from the Indians.

Captain Michael Pierce's memory is well-documented in American history. He is honored for the brave manner in which he died in defense of his country. The exact manner in which he died is repeated in more than 20 books and letters detailing the military history of the King Phillip's War. This war took place between 1675 and 1676, and remains one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history. It was also a pivotal point in early American history. Although the English colonists were ultimately victorious over the Indians, it took the colonies over 100 years to recover from the economic and political catastrophy brought about by this conflict.

The battle in which Captain Michael Pierce lost his life is detailed in Drakes Indian Chronicles (pp. 220-222) as follows:
"Sunday the 26th of March, 1676, was sadly remarkable to us for the tidings of a very deplorable disaster brought into Boston about five o'clock that afternoon, by a post from Dedham, viz., that Captain Pierce of Scituate in Plymouth Colony, having intelligence in his garrison at Seaconicke, that a party of the enemy lay near Mr. Blackstorne's, went forth with sixty-three English and twenty of the Cape Indians (who had all along continued faithful, and joyned with them), and upon their march discovered rambling in an obscure woody place, four or five Indians, who, in getting away from us halted as if they had been lame or wounded. But our men had pursued them but a little way into the woods before they found them to be only decoys to draw them into their ambuscade; for on a sudden, they discovered about five hundred Indians, who in very good order, furiously attacked them, being as readily received by ours; so that the fight began to be very fierce and dubious, and our men had made the enemy begin to retreat, but so slowly that it scarce deserved the name, when a fresh company of about four hundred Indians came in; so that the English and their few Indian friends were quite surrounded and beset on every side. Yet they made a brave resistance for about two hours; during which time they did great execution upon their enemy, who they kept at a distance and themselves in order.

For Captain Pierce cast his sixty-three English and twenty Indians into a ring, and six fought back to back, and were double - double distance all in one ring, whilst the Indians were as thick as they could stand, thirty deep. Overpowered with whose numbers, the said Captain and fifty-five of his English and ten of their Indian friends were slain upon the place, which in such a cause and upon such disadvantages may certainly be titled "The Bed of Honor." However, they sold their worthy lives at a gallant rate, it being affirmed by those few that not without wonderful difficulty and many wounds made their escape, that the Indians lost as many fighting men in this engagement as were killed in the battle in the swamp near Narragansett, mentioned in our last letter, which were generally computed to be above three hundred." Monument in Scituate. Today, in Scituate, there is a Captain Michael Pierce Monument and a Captain Pierce Road.

Read more:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nicholas Pierre Gouverneur

Nicholas Pierre Gouverneur immigrated to New Netherlands (New York) from France, married a girl from Holland and became active in the community. He helped the poor, and joined Jacob Liesler in a rebellion that divided New York (the poor vs. the rich). He was captured during the rebellion and sentenced to death. Escaping to Boston, then finally to Holland he eventually made it back to New York, and became a freeman and landowner of large tracts of land in Harlem and Brookland.

The Rebellion

Jacob Leisler (ca. 1640 – May 16, 1691) was a German-born American colonist. He helped create the Huguenot settlement of New Rochelle in 1688 and later served as the acting Lieutenant Governor of New York. Beginning in 1689, he led an insurrection dubbed Leisler's Rebellion in colonial New York, seizing control of the colony until he was captured and executed in New York City for treason against William and Mary.

Leisler was born in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, in March 1640, the son of Calvinist French Reformed minister Jacob Victorian Leisler. He went to New Netherland (New York) in 1660 as a soldier in the service of the Dutch West India Company. Leaving the company's employ soon after his arrival, he engaged in the fur and tobacco trade, and became a comparatively wealthy man. He married Elsie Tymens, the widow of Pieter Cornelisz. van der Veen in 1663. While on a voyage to Europe in 1678 he was captured by Moorish pirates, and was compelled to pay a ransom of 2,050 pieces of eight to obtain his freedom. Previous to this voyage he engaged in a theological dispute with the Rev. Nicholas van Rensselaer in Albany, who had been appointed to the Reformed pulpit by James, Duke of York (later King James II). Leisler had also endeared himself to the common people by befriending a family of French Huguenots that had been landed on Manhattan island so destitute that a public tribunal had decided they should be sold into slavery in order to pay their ship-charges. Leisler prevented the sale by purchasing the freedom of the widowed mother and son before it could be held. Under Thomas Dongan's administration in 1683 he was appointed one of the judges, or “commissioners,” of the court of admiralty in New York, a justice of the peace for New York City and County, and a militia captain.

The English Revolution of 1688 divided the people of New York into two well-defined factions. In general, the small shopkeepers, small farmers, sailors, poor traders and artisans allied against the patroons (landholders), rich fur-traders, merchants, lawyers and crown officers. The former were led by Leisler, the latter by Peter Schuyler, Nicholas Bayard, Stephen Van Cortlandt, William Nicolls and other representatives of the aristocratic Hudson Valley families. The Leislerians claimed greater loyalty to the Protestant succession.

In 1688, Governor Dongan was succeeded by Lieutenant-Governor Francis Nicholson. In 1689, the military force of the city of New York consisted of a regiment of five companies, with Leisler as one of the company captains. He was popular with the men and was probably the only wealthy resident in the province who sympathized with the Dutch lower classes. At that time, much excitement prevailed among the latter, owing to the attempts of the Jacobite office-holders to retain power in spite of the revolution in England and the accession of William and Mary to the throne. When news of the imprisonment of Governor Sir Edmund Andros in Boston was received, the Leislerians took possession, on May 31, 1689, of Fort James (at the southern end of Manhattan Island), renamed it Fort William, and announced their determination to hold it until the arrival of a governor commissioned by the new sovereigns.

Read more:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Revolutionary...Jose Antonio Navarro

José Antonio Navarro (February 27, 1795 – January 13, 1871) was a Texas statesman, revolutionary, politician, and merchant. The son of Ángel Navarro and Josefa María Ruiz y Pena, he was born into a distinguished noble family at San Antonio de Béxar in New Spain. (modern-day San Antonio, Texas). His uncle was José Francisco Ruiz and his brother-in-law was Juan Martín de Veramendi. Navarro County, Texas, is named in his honor.

Navarro was proficient in the laws of Mexico and Spain, although basically a self-educated man. A native Texan, he had a vision of the future of Texas like that of Stephen F. Austin, and a lasting friendship developed between the two. Working together, they would become the founding fathers of Texas.

An early proponent of Texas independence, he took part in the 1812-1813 Magee, Gutiérrez and Toledo resistance movements and later served as a leader in the Texas Revolution. Working with the empresarios of the period, he helped Stephen F. Austin obtain his contracts and would himself become a land commissioner for Dewitt's Colony and, soon after, the Béxar District. In 1825 Navarro would marry Margarita de la Garza and they would raise seven children. During the 1830s Navarro represented Texas both in the legislature of the state of Coahuila and Texas and in the federal Congress in Mexico City. Always a champion of democratic ideas, Navarro, collaborating with Austin, worked to pass legislation that would best benefit the people of Texas.

Navarro had been at the Convention for Texas Independence, when he received the somber news from Juan Seguin, of the Alamo's fall. With James Bowie (his nephew by marriage) now deceased, José Antonio would secure the release of the surviving Navarros, two women and a child, who were being held by the Mexicans at the Músquiz house. They would be removed to the Navarro family home. The surviving noncombatants thereby avoided the forthcoming humiliation from Santa Anna. He would be one of the original signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836.

In 1841, Navarro reluctantly participated in the failed Santa Fe Expedition of President Mirabeau B. Lamar, where he tried to persuade the residents of New Mexico to secede and join with Texas. He was put on trial, sentenced to death and imprisoned there for years. He was given the choice of freedom, but refused to renounce Texas and there remained a prisoner. He finally escaped with the help of sympathetic Mexican Army officials, sailing back to Texas.

In 1835, Navarro built the Celso-Navarro House, relocated to the Witte Museum in San Antonio, where it houses some administrative offices. José Antonio Navarro became a member of the Republic of Texas Congress from Bexar County, Texas. Attempting to keep a balance of power in Congress, he worked closely with Senator Juan Seguin to promote legislation that would also be favorable to the Tejano citizenry of Texas, who were quickly becoming the political minority . Education was one such priority, lobbying to bring academic institutions into the San Antonio area. In 1845 Navarro was instrumental in drafting the first state Constitution of Texas, ensuring future political rights for all peoples. He would support annexation of Texas to the United States. Elected to the Texas Senate, he served three terms, before retiring from politics in 1849.

Read more:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

First Mayor of Chicago

William Butler Ogden (June 15, 1805 – August 3, 1877) was the first Mayor of Chicago.

Ogden was born in Walton, New York. When still a teenager, his father died and Ogden took over the family real estate business. He assisted Charles Butler, his brother-in-law, with business matters related to opening a new building for New York University, attending the law school for a brief period himself. In 1834, he was elected to the New York state legislature, where he helped build the Erie Canal.
Ogden designed the first swing bridge over the Chicago River and donated the land for Rush Medical Center.

Ogden was a leading promoter and investor in the Illinois and Michigan Canal, then switched his loyalty to railroads. Throughout his later life, Ogden was heavily involved in the building several railroads. "In 1847, Ogden announced a plan to build a railway out of Chicago, but no capital was forthcoming. Eastern investors were wary of Chicago's reputation for irrational boosterism, and Chicagoans did not want to divert traffic from their profitable canal works. So Ogden and his partner J. Young Scammon solicited subscriptions from the farmers and small businessmen whose land lay adjacent to the proposed rail. Farmer's wives used the money they earned from selling eggs to buy shares of stock on a monthly payment plan. By 1848, Ogden and Scammon had raised $350,000—enough to begin laying track. The Galena and Chicago Union Railroad was profitable from the start and eventually extended out to Wisconsin, bringing grain from the Great Plains into the city. As president of Union Pacific, Ogden extended the reach of Chicago's rail lines to the West coast."

In 1853, the Chicago Land Company, of which Ogden was a trustee, purchased land at a bend in the Chicago River and began to cut a channel, formally known as North Branch Canal, but also referred to as Ogden's Canal. The resulting island is now known as Goose Island.

Read more:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Church of the Clan Stewart

Paisley Abbey was founded when Walter Fitzalan, the High Steward of Scotland, signed a charter at Fotheringay for the founding of a Cluniac monastery on land he owned in Renfrewshire, approximately seven miles from Glasgow. Thirteen monks came from Much Wenlock in Shropshire to set up the priory on the site of an old Celtic church founded by St. Mirin in the 6th century. In 1245, the priory was raised to the status of an Abbey, answerable only to the pope in Rome. The Abbey was dedicated to St. Mary, St. James, St. Mirin (the 'local' saint who had first brought Christianity to this part of Scotland in the sixth century) and St. Milburga (the 'local' saint of Wenlock). Under royal patronage, the Abbey became wealthy and influential and evidence exists of extensive trade between Paisley Abbey and commercial centres throughout Europe. The Abbey was also a centre of learning and it is believed that William Wallace, who played a prominent part in the Wars of Independence in the 13th century, was educated by Independence in the 13th century, was educated by the monks of Paisley Abbey. Much of the original building was destroyed by fire in 1307 and restored during the fourteenth century. The sixth High Steward, Walter, married Marjory Bruce, the daughter of the famous Scottish king Robert the Bruce (who had defeated an English army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314) in 1315. In the following year, Marjory died at the Abbey following a tragic riding accident nearby, but the baby in her womb was saved and he became King Robert II of Scotland, the first of the Stewart monarchs. For that reason, the Abbey claims to be the 'cradle of the Royal House of Stewart. Our present Queen is descended from him. In fact, the Abbey is the final resting place of six High Stewards of Scotland, Princess Marjory Bruce, the wives of King Robert II and King Robert III for whose tomb, Queen Victoria provided a canopy in 1888.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spanish Armada and Sir George Beeston

The Spanish Armada (Spanish: Grande y Felicísima Armada, "Great and Most Fortunate Navy") was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English involvement in the Spanish Netherlands and English privateering in the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Our relative was Sir George Beeston, Admiral of the 200 tonne "Dreadnought". I'm researching to see what the "Dreadnought" actually did, but once again our genes are in the thick of it. The fleet's mission was to sail to Gravelines in Flanders and transport an army under the Duke of Parma across the Channel to England. The Armada achieved its first goal and anchored outside Gravelines but while awaiting communications from Parma's army, it was driven from its anchorage by an English fire ship attack, and in the ensuing naval battle at Gravelines the Spanish were forced to abandon their rendezvous.

The Armada managed to regroup and withdraw north, with the English fleet harrying it for some distance up the east coast of England. A return voyage to Spain was plotted, and the fleet sailed north of Scotland, into the Atlantic and past Ireland, but severe storms disrupted the fleet's course. More than 24 vessels were wrecked on the north and western coasts of Ireland. Of the fleet's initial complement of 130 ships, about fifty failed to make it back to Spain. The expedition was the largest engagement of the undeclared Anglo–Spanish War (1585–1604)

Read more:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Marcus Aurelius...Stoic

Marcus Aurelius (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180 CE), was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 CE. He ruled with Lucius Verus as co-emperor from 161 until Verus' death in 169. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors", and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. During his reign, the Empire defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire; Aurelius' general Avidius Cassius sacked the capital Ctesiphon in 164. Aurelius fought the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatians with success during the Marcomannic Wars, but the threat of the Germanic tribes began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. A revolt in the East led by Avidius Cassius failed to gain momentum and was suppressed immediately.

Marcus Aurelius' Stoic tome Meditations, written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration.

Read more:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Scipio Africanus defeats Hannibal at Zama

So far this is the farthest back we go...but I've only just begun. Imagine being the general that defeated Hannibal...Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (236–183 BC), also known as Scipio Africanus and Scipio the Elder, was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic. He was best known for defeating Hannibal at the final battle of the Second Punic War at Zama, a feat that earned him the agnomen Africanus, the nickname "the Roman Hannibal", as well as recognition as one of the finest commanders in military history. An earlier great display of his tactical abilities had come already at the Battle of Ilipa. See more at:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mayflower's Indentured Servant

John Howland (c. 1591 – February 23, 1672/3) was a passenger on the Mayflower. He was an indentured servant who accompanied the separatists, also called the Pilgrims, when they left England to settle in Plymouth, Massachusetts. John was one of the first ten men to set foot on Plymouth Rock. He signed the Mayflower Compact and helped found Plymouth Colony.

Having outlived John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony, to whom he was indentured, Howland became freeman in 1621 and perhaps inherited some of Carver's estate. In 1626, Howland was one of eight settlers who agreed to assume the colony's debt to its investors in England in exchange for a monopoly of the fur trade.[3] He was elected deputy to the General Court in consecutive years from 1641–1655 and again in 1658.

Howland married fellow Mayflower passenger Elizabeth Tilley, and together they had ten children and 88 grandchildren. The couple founded one of the three largest Mayflower progenies and their descendants have been "associated largely with both the 'Boston Brahmins' and Harvard's 'intellectual aristocracy' of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."

John Howland died February 23, 1672/3 at the age of 80, having outlived all other male Mayflower passengers except John Cooke, who died in 1695. The location of his grave is unknown, but it presumed that he is buried on Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Elizabeth Tilley outlived her husband by 15 years. She died December 21, 1681, in the home of her daughter, Lydia Brown, in Swansea, Massachusetts, and is buried in a section of that town which is now in East Providence, RI.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hanged, drawn and only hurts when I laugh

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby...and our connection is Sir Everard Digby.

The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James's nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed. His fellow plotters were John Wright, Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, Robert Wintour, Christopher Wright, John Grant, Sir Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands in suppression of the Dutch Revolt, was given charge of the explosives.

The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, on 26 October 1605. During a search of the House of Lords at about midnight on 4 November 1605, Fawkes was discovered guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder—enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble—and arrested. Most of the conspirators fled from London as they learnt of the plot's discovery, trying to enlist support along the way. Several made a stand against the pursuing Sheriff of Worcester and his men at Holbeche House; in the ensuing battle Catesby was one of those shot and killed. At their trial on 27 January 1606, eight of the survivors, including Fawkes, were convicted and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

Details of the assassination attempt were allegedly known by the principal Jesuit of England, Father Henry Garnet. Although Garnet was convicted and sentenced to death, doubt has since been cast on how much he really knew of the plot. As its existence was revealed to him through confession, Garnet was prevented from informing the authorities by the absolute confidentiality of the confessional. Although anti-Catholic legislation was introduced soon after the plot's discovery, many important and loyal Catholics retained high office during King James I's reign. The thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot was commemorated for many years afterwards by special sermons and other public events such as the ringing of church bells, which have evolved into the Bonfire Night of today

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Theodosius II pays Attila the Hun 700 pounds of gold...

Theodosius II (Flavius Theodosius) was born in AD 401, the son of Arcadius and Aelia Eudoxia. Already in January AD 402 he was proclaimed co-Augustus by his father. When in AD 408 Arcadius died his son succeeded to the throne without any violence.

With Theodosius II still an infant, the regency of Constantinople fell to the praetorian prefect Anthemius. The very rule of Theodosius II and Anthemius began with a crisis. A serious grain shortage led to riots in the streets of Constantinople. But Anthemius soon got the situation under control again, and now, after the death of Stilicho, even established good relations with the western empire.
A new treaty confirmed peace with the Persians and the cities along the Danube and the Balkans were granted aid to help them recover from the devastation by the Goths.
An invasion by the Huns, led by King Uldin, was repelled in Moesia.

And after seeing Rome sacked by Alaric, Anthemius took to extensively fortifying Constantinople, in AD 413 building the great 'Wall of Theodosius' which protected a city which had long outgrown the original Wall of Constantine. In AD 414 Anthemius handed over the regency to Theodosius II's sister Aelia Pulcheria who, only fifteen at the time, was proclaimed Augusta.

Pulcheria was a devout Christian, so much so that many saw her demands of chastity and asceticism as attempts to turn the court of Constantinople into a nunnery. Then in AD 416 Theodosius II, at fifteen years of age, was declared ruler of Constantinople in his own right. However, Pulcheria continued to administer his government on his behalf for his entire reign.

Theodosius hammered out a treaty with Attila and his brother Bleda for 700 pounds of gold (double the annual tribute) and had to return all the Hun deserters who had sought safety in Roman territories. The Romans (western and eastern empires) had to swear an alliance to the Huns to never go to war against them. These were humiliating terms, yet Theidosius agreed to them all. Two young Hun adolescent princes who's tribe did not submit to Attila and Bleda's authority were handed over and promptly curcified.

The most notable event of the following years was the decision by the government of the eastern empire to establish Theodosius II's cousin Valentinian III as the western emperor in AD 425. Theodosius II even travelled toward Italy to crown his cousin himself, but fell ill on the way, having to let Helion, his chief minister, crown Valentinian III on his behalf.

The most outstanding feature of the reign of Theodosius II arrived in AD 438, when the Theodosian Code was published. It was a compilation of imperial edicts stretching back over a century, made up of sixteen books. It had been compiled over eight years and had been agreed with Valentinian III.

In the later years of Theodosius II's reign the Danubian provinces suffered enormously under invasions by the Huns. Constantinople itself was more and more believed in danger by the barbarians. Particularly when in AD 447/48 earthquakes destroyed large parts of the city wall and coastal defences. The wall was repaired within a frenzied effort during only two months. And thereafter a new wall with ninety two towers was added between the repaired wall and the moat, thereby creating the famous triple defence which should repel successive invaders for another millennium.

For a brief period Pulcheria, who earlier had forced the emperor's wife Aelia Eudocia into exile to preserve her power, was eclipsed during the AD 440's by the eunuch Chrysaphius Zstommas. But his influence soon waned, leaving Pulcheria to return to the very head of Theodosius II's government. Then, in the year AD 450, Theodosius II while riding near the river Lycus was thrown from his horse. He suffered a severe injury to his spine and died.

Theodosius II had been Augustus for forty nine years and had been the sole ruler of the eastern empire for forty two years. It had been the longest reign in Roman history. And yet in all these years he left the governing of his empire to others.

Clan Sinclair

Image above: Rosslyn Chapel...The Templar/Masonic/Heathen Church

So far, the Sinclairs standout as one of my favorite "lines". Many have died in battle, and Henry I roamed much of the North American coast a 100 years prior to Columbus. The name Sinclair is of Norman (Norsemen) origin from "Saint-Clair-sur-Elle" and was established in Scotland in 1162 when Henry de St Clair of Roslin was granted lands in Lothian. His descendant Sir William became guardian to the heir of Alexander III and gained the Barony of Rosslyn in 1280. His son, Sir Henry fought with Bruce at Bannockburn (as a Templar Knight) and was one of the Scottish barons who signed the letter to the Pope asserting Scottish independence (after the Pope excommunicated the entire country). His son, Henry married Isobel, co-heiress of the Earldom of Orkney and Caithness and thus transported the Sinclairs to the far north of Scotland. Their son, Henry Sinclair of Roslin became Earl of Orkney in 1379, obtained from King Haco VI of Norway. In 1455 William, 3rd Sinclair Earl of Orkney was granted the Earldom of Caithness. He also founded the celebrated Rosslyn Chapel in 1446, where people have been looking for the Templar treasure ever since. In 1470 the Earl of Orkney and Caithness was compelled to resign Orkney to James III in exchange for the Castle of Ravenscraig in Fife. The King was jealous of the semi-royal chief of the Earldom of Orkney which had been inherited by the Sinclairs from the Norse Sea-Kings. The Earls of Caithness were engaged in a long succession of feuds with the Sutherlands, the Gunns and the Murrays, often giving rise to violent deaths. The 2nd Earl, William died at Flodden and the 3rd Earl in a Sinclair Civil War in the Orkneys. The direct line came to an end with George, 6th Earl who through debt granted the title and estates to Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy. In 1676, after Sir John assumed the title, George Sinclair of Keiss disputed the claim and seized the Caithness estates, only to be defeated in 1680 by the Campbells near Wick. Although the claim was lost by the sword, the Privy Council rendered his claim in 1681 and he became the 7th Earl of Caithness. At the time of the '45 the northern Sinclairs were ready to join Prince Charles Edward however after Culloden they disbanded quietly. The Earldom has since passed through many Sinclair families and up until 1986 a Sinclair Earl of Caithness owned the long-ruined stronghold, Castle Girnigo, and the Sinclairs of Ulbster still hold vast estates in Caithness. Septs and dependants of the Sinclairs include Caird, Clouston, Clyne, Linklater and Mason.

PIBROCH: Spaidsearachd Mhic nan Ceàrda.

Every Scottish schoolboy is familiar with the story of the heroic fight with the Moors on a field of Spain in which the Good Lord James of Douglas met his death. In that fight, it will be remembered, Douglas noted that a Scottish knight, Sir William St. Clair, had charged too far, and had been surrounded, by the enemy. "Yonder worthy knight will be slain," he exclaimed, "unless he have instant help," and he galloped to the rescue. Then, himself surrounded by the enemy, and seeing no hope for escape, he took from his neck the casket containing Robert the Bruce’s heart, and threw it forward among the enemy.

Pass first in fight," he cried, "as thou were wont to do; Douglas will follow thee or die! " and pressing forward to the place where it had fallen, was himself slain. The William St. Clair who thus comes into historical note, and who, with his brother John, was slain on that Andalusian battlefield, was the ancestor in direct male line of the Sinclairs, Earls of Caithness, of the present day.

Like so many of the great Highland families, the St. Clairs were not originally of Celtic stock. Their progenitor is said to have been William, son of the Comte de St. Clair, a relative of William the Conqueror, who "came over" with that personage in 1066. He or a descendant seems to have been one of the Norman knights brought into Scotland to support the new dynasty and feudal system of Malcolm Canmore and his sons. In the twelfth century there were two families of the name, the St. Clairs of Roslyn and the St. Clairs of Herdmonstoun respectively, though no relationship was traced between them. Sir William de St. Clair of Roslyn, who flourished in the latter half of the thirteenth century, was a guardian of the young Scottish king, Alexander III., and one of the envoys sent to negotiate the French marriage for that prince. He was sheriff of Dumfries and justiciar of Galloway, and, as a partizan of Baliol, was captured by the English at Dunbar in 1294, escaping from Gloucester Castle nine years later. His son, Sir Henry, was also captured at Dunbar, but exchanged in 1299. He was sheriff of Lanark in 1305, fought for Bruce at Bannockburn, and received a pension in 1328. It was his brother William, Bishop of Dunkeld, who repulsed the English at Donibristle in 1317 and crowned Edward Baliol in 1332.

Sir William St. Clair who fell in Spain in 1329 was the elder son of Sir Henry St. Clair of Roslyn. His son, another Sir William, who succeeded to the Roslyn heritage, added immensely to the fortunes of his family by marrying Isabella, daughter and co-heir of Malise, Earl of Strathearn, Caithness, and Orkney. In consequence his son Henry became Earl or Prince of Orkney at the hand of Hakon VI. in 1379. He conquered the Faroe Islands in 1391, wrested Shetland from Malise Sperra, and with Antonio Zeno, crossed the Atlantic, and explored Greenland. His son, another Henry Sinclair, second Earl of Orkney, was twice captured by the English, at Homildon Hill in 1402 and with the young James I. on his voyage to France in 1406. He married Isabella, daughter and heiress of Sir William Douglas of Nithsdale, and the Princess Egidia, daughter of Robert II.; and his son, William, third Earl of Orkney, was one of the most powerful nobles in the country in the time of James II.

The Earl was one of the hostages for the ransom of James I. in 1421, and in 1436, as High Admiral of Scotland, conveyed James’s daughter to her marriage with the Dauphin, afterwards Louis XI. of France. At his investiture with the earldom of Orkney in 1434 he acknowledged the Norwegian jurisdiction over the islands, and in 1446 he was summoned to Norway as a vassal. In this same year he began the foundation of the famous Collegiate Church, now known as Roslyn Chapel, on the Esk near Edinburgh, which is perhaps at the present hour the richest fragment of architecture in Scotland, and in the vaults of which lie in their leaden coffins so many generations of "the lordly line of high St. Clair." Sir Walter Scott has recorded in a well-known poem the tradition that on the death of the chief of that great race Roslyn Chapel is seen as if it were flaming to heaven. At his great stronghold of Roslyn Castle at hand the Earl of Orkney lived in almost regal splendour. In 1448, when the English, instigated by Richard, Duke of York, broke across the Borders and burned Dumfries and Dunbar, the Earl assisted in their repulse and overthrow. In the following year he was summoned to Parliament as Lord Sinclair. From 1454 to 1456 he was Chancellor of Scotland under James V., whose side he took actively against the Earl of Douglas, though Douglas’s mother, Lady Beatrice Sinclair, was his own aunt, and who, in 1455, on his relinquishing his claim to Nithsdale, made him Earl of Caithness. This honour was no doubt partly due to the fact that, through his great-grandmother, the wife of Malise of Strathearn, he inherited the blood of the more ancient Earls of Caithness, the first recorded of whom is said to be a certain Dungald who flourished in 875. A few years later certain actions of Earl William and his son may be said to have brought about the marriage of James III. and the transference of Orkney and Shetland to the Scottish crown. During some disagreement with Tulloch, Bishop of Orkney, St. Clair’s son seized and imprisoned that prelate. Forthwith Christiern, King of Denmark, to whom Orkney then belonged, wrote to the young Scottish king demanding not only the liberation of his bishop, but also the arrears of the old "Annual of Norway" which Alexander III. of Scotland had agreed to pay for possession of the Hebrides. The matter was settled by the marriage of James III. to Christiern’s daughter, Margaret, the annual of Norway being forgiven as part of the princess’s dowry, and the Orkney and Shetland islands pledged to James for payment of the rest. St. Clair was then, in 1471, induced to relinquish to the king his Norwegian earldom of Orkney, receiving as compensation the rich lands of Dysart, with the stronghold of Ravenscraig, which James II. had built for his queen on the coast of Fife.

The earl was twice married. By his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of the fourth Earl of Douglas, he had a son and daughter. Katherine, the daughter, married Alexander, Duke of Albany, son of James II., and was divorced, while William the son was left by his father only the estate of Newburgh in Aberdeenshire and the title of Lord Sinclair, by which title the earl had been called to Parliament in 1449. In 1676 this title of Baron St. Clair passed through a female heir, Katherine, Mistress of Sinclair, to her son Henry St. Clair, representative of the family of Sinclair of Herdmonstoun. Through his daughter Grisel and two successive female heirs the estates passed to the family of Anstruther Thomson of Charleton, while the title of Lord Sinclair was inherited by the descendants of his uncle Matthew. The present Lords Sinclair are therefore of the family of Herdmonstoun, and are not descended from the original holder of the title, the great William, Earl of Orkney and Caithness and Chancellor of Scotland, of the days of James II. and III.

Earl William’s second wife was a daughter of Alexander Sutherland of Dunbeath, and by her, besides other children, he had two sons. To one of these, William, he left the earldom of Caithness, and to the other, Sir Oliver, he left Roslyn and the Fife estates. It is from the former that the Earls of Caithness of the present day are directly descended.

William, the second Earl, was one of the twelve great nobles of that rank who fell with James IV. on Flodden field. So many of the Caithness men were killed on that occasion that since then the Sinclairs have had the strongest aversion to clothe themselves in green or to cross the Ord Hill on a Monday; for it was in green and on a Monday that they marched over the Ord Hill to that disastrous battle. So great was the disaster to the north that scarcely a family of note in the Sinclair country but lost the representative of its name.

John, the third Earl, was not less unfortunate. In 1529, ambitious of recovering for himself his grandfather’s earldom of Orkney, and of establishing himself there as an independent prince, he raised a formidable force and set sail to possess himself of the island. The enterprise was short-lived, most of the natives of the islands remained loyal to James V., and, led by James Sinclair, the governor, they put to sea, and in a naval battle defeated and slew the Earl with 500 of his followers, making prisoners of the rest.

George, the fourth Earl, has a place in history chiefly by reason of the sorrows and indignities he had to suffer at the hands of his eldest son. That eldest son, John, Lord Berriedale, Master of Caithness, induced his father in 1543 to resign the earldom to him. He married Jean, daughter of Patrick, third Earl of Bothwell, and widow of John Stewart, prior of Coldingham, a natural son of James V., and he set out to aggrandise himself by most unnatural means. Among other exploits he imprisoned his father, and in 1573 strangled his younger brother, William Sinclair of Mey. Earl George himself was mixed up in the history of his time in a somewhat questionable way. In 1555 he was imprisoned and fined for neglecting to attend the courts of the Regent. As a Lord of Parliament in 1560 he opposed the ratification of the Confession of Faith, when that document was abruptly placed upon the statute book. He was made hereditary justiciar in Caithness in 1566, but that did not prevent him taking part in the plot for the murder of Darnley in the following year, nor again did this prevent him from presiding at the trial of the chief conspirator, the Earl of Bothwell. Among his other actions he signed the letter of the rebel lords to Queen Elizabeth in 1570, and was accused of being an instigator of crimes in the north.

His son, the Master of Caithness, being dead five years before him, in 1577, he was succeeded by the Master’s eldest son, George, as fifth Earl. This personage, in the days of James VI. and Charles I., engaged in feuds, raids, and other similar enterprises which seemed almost out of date at that late period. It was he who in 1616 instigated John Gunn, chief of that clan, to burn the corn-stacks of some of his enemies, an exploit which secured Gunn a rigorous prosecution and imprisonment in Edinburgh; and it was he who in 1585 joined the Earl of Sutherland in making war upon the Gunns, in the course of which undertaking, at the battle of Bengrian, the Sinclairs, rushing prematurely to the attack, were overwhelmed by the arrow-flight and charge of the Gunns, and lost their commander with 120 of his men. The Earl’s great feud, however, was that against the Earl of Sutherland himself. The feud began with the slaughter of George Gordon of Marle by some of the Caithness men in 1588. By way of retaliation the Earl of Sutherland sent into Caithness 200 men who ravaged the parishes of Latherone and Dunbeath; then, following them up, he himself overran the Sinclair country, and besieged the Earl of Caithness in Castle Sinclair. The stronghold proved impregnable, and when Sutherland retired after a long and unsuccessful siege, Caithness assembled his whole clan, marched into Sutherlandshire with fire and sword, defeated his enemies in a pitched battle, and carried off much spoil. Sutherland retaliated in turn, 300 of his men spoiling and wasting Caithness, killing over thirty of thejr enemies, and bringing back a great booty. The Sinclairs again made reprisals with their whole force. As they returned with their plunder they were attacked at Clyne by the Sutherland men to the number of about 500, but maintained a desperate fight till nightfall, and then managed to make off. On reaching home, however, they found that the Mackays had raided their country from the other side, and, after spreading desolation and gathering spoil, had retired as suddenly as they had come. When these raids and counter-raids with the men of Sutherland were over, the Earl of Caithness found other openings for his turbulent enterprist. After committing an outrage on the servants of the Earl of Orkney, he earned credit to himself by putting down the rebellion of Orkney’s son, and for this in 1615 received a pension. Having, however, committed certain outrages on Lord Forbes, he was obliged to resign his pension and the sheriffdom of Caithness in order to obtain pardon. For his various acts a commission of fire and sword was issued against him, and he was driven to seek refuge in Shetland. It was not long before he was allowed to return, but he did so only to meet his creditors, and at his death twenty years later he left his affairs still in a state of embarrassment.

See more at: