Meet the Royals

It’s been said that if you search long enough through your family tree, eventually we all end up being related to royalty.

Joshua Taylor, president of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, writes that “In the US, millions can trace their ancestry back to European royalty through ‘gateway ancestors’ — early colonial Americans with documented lineage to royal lines.” Today, “these ancestors often have millions of living descendants who can claim royal descent. The odds are increased the longer a family has been in a country or region.”

And we’ll never be royals, it don’t run in our blood. That kind of lux just ain’t for us, we crave a different kind of buzz.

Lorde, 2013
Phillip 2, Duke of Savoy
(1438 -1497)

Last week I wrote about my Great Grandfather and some of his life as a pioneer in Colorado, US. And the family album has entries for ancestors stretching back to the settling of Connecticut in 1658.

There is very little written about my Father’s family (my Great Grandfather came over from Germany in the late 1880s). However, on my Mother’s side of the family there is a wealth of information to be gone through. Her ancestors were among the founding fathers of our nations, tracing lineage back to Thomas Ranney of Connecticut in 1658. All that has been documented in our family book, “The Ranney-Willis Family 1658-1967.” But it is the Ranney side of the family that seems to gone on forever into the distant past.

What if I looked on FamilySearch and, using their family tree software, scrolled back through ancestors who might lie outside of the materials available to our family’s researcher back in 1967? I wondered if I might indeed find some royal connection or titled ancestor, a coat of arms or a family crest waiting to be framed and hung on our walls.

Phillip II, Duke of Savoy was the first name to pop up in my search. Aha! Royalty indeed! Phillip was born February 5, 1438 and died November 7, 1497. Philip II apparently had 6 wives and possibly 34 children, though there seems to be considerable overlap in the dates and perhaps some were counted more than once.

Louis, Duke of Savoy (1413-1465)

Louis Duke of Savoy, was born February 24, 1413 . He died January 29, 1465 (reigned 1440-1465). What I found of particular interest was that, in 1452 he received the Shroud of Turin from Margaret de Charny, who had inherited it from her father, Geoffrey II de Charny.

Geoffrey had inherited it from his father, Geoffrey I de Charny of Lirey, France, who had received it as a dowry from his wife, Jeanne de Vergy of Besancon, France. The history of the shroud from the 15th century is well recorded. In 1578 the shroud was transferred to Turin and held by the House of Savoy until 1946, at the end of the Kingdom of Italy and bequeathed to the Holy See in 1983.

The Shroud of Turin, from Wikipedia.

The ancients seem to have been a prolific lot with many wives and children being recorded. Humbert II had 17 children. Thomas I had 16 children. Philip II apparently had 6 wives and possibly 34 children, though there seems to be considerable overlap in the dates and perhaps some were counted more than once. But with progeny running all over the castle, it’s easy to see how, generations later, it wouldn’t be hard to find a royal ancestor.

My search along the genealogy trail grows cold with Count Humbert I of Savoy, 980-1042. But really, who needs to go back over a thousand years tracing their ancestry if they aren’t, well, Royals?

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