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Published: April 12th 2019
At the beginning of each year I look at my wish list of destinations and then decide, based upon circumstances, where to spend my two or three week vacation time abroad. Linda and I will take separate vacations for the fourth year in a row as one of us has to stay home to take care of our dog Bonnie. Linda will take her three weeks or more to visit family in PA and CT after I get back.
On 1 Feb I bought a ticket from Denver to London and return to JFK for $368.43...cheaper than flying R/T from Denver to the East Coast! This year I plan to take my vacation in three parts: starting on 30 April, the day after Linda's birthday, I will fly from Denver to London.
Once in England I planned to rent a car and drive to Devon for one week. I will spend the first day in the Devon Records Office and then on subsequent days drive to the surrounding towns of East Down, Umberleigh (where I will stay at the Northcote Manor), King's Nympton, Crediton, Newton St Cyres, Upton Pyne, Chagford, and Lympstone to visit the castles, manors, churches and
graveyards where my ancestors lived and died from 1103 until my three times great grandfather Thomas moved from Devon to Newfoundland in about 1814.
For my second week I will then return to Heathrow to return the rental car and take a train to Ashford, Kent to join the Old Way pilgrimage route from Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (the map of which was just discovered!) at Sandling. I will walk to Elham, Barham, and finish at Canterbury Cathedral. I return to London for a few days before flying from Gatwick to JFK, where Rosanna, Evan, Connor and Logan will pick me up for the last week.
However, circumstances put this plan in jeopardy. On Feb 13th I was diagnosed with the aggressive form of prostate cancer. I elected surgery over radiation, and was fortunate to be able to schedule surgery for 4 April. Today my surgeon advised that he was able to remove all the cancer. He gave me the clearance to implement my plan.
As mentioned above, the primary purpose of this trip is to research my ancestry. I have been a subscriber of Ancestry.com since 2002, but not until recently has it been easy to
use to find ancestors with all the hints and links to others' family trees. So in this last year I have been able to track down:
- my fathers' paternal Norwegian ancestors back to my 11 times great grandfather Rasmus Haukanes, wife not known, who was born in 1565.
- my father's maternal German ancestors back to my 10 times great grandfather Jostgen Thomas Weber and his wife Dilgen Kreinen, both born in 1550, and.
- my mother's maternal English ancestors only as far as my two times great grandfather, George Hayter, wife not known, who was born in 1835.
It is on my mother's paternal English ancestors side that I've made the most progress, as once I hit aristocracy I was able to trace the Northcote/Northcott family tree for her maiden name back to my 27 times great grandfather, the Norman knight Galfridus de Northcote who lived at Northcote Manor of East Down in 1103. The tree was confirmed by the Heralds Visitations of Devon in 1620. Their task was to validate the claims of aristocrats by documenting their family trees. From Galfridus on down there was a succession of knights, Sheriffs of Devon, Justices
of the Peace and rich wool merchants until John Northcote (1599-1676) became the First Baronet of Hayne. His son Arthur Northcote (1627-1688) became the Second Baronet of Hayne. Back in the 1960's, prior to my Ancestry research, my Uncle Tom paid a genealogist to trace the Northcote/Northcott ancestry. His research took me up the chain all the way to Galfridus de Northcote. Coincidentally, my Uncle Tom visited Linda and me in 1986, and we toured the south of England together. One of the nights we stayed at an inn in Midhurst. I wondered why he wanted to stay there. It turns out that some of his relatives, the de Bohuns, the Earls of Midhurst and Ballymadden, lived at the Midhurst Castle in the 13th and 14th centuries. Was this a coincidence, or was he tracing his ancestors without our knowing it?
Anyway, I wanted to validate the family tree with documentation. This is where things got interesting! Sir Arthur Northcote Second Baronet of Hayne was married twice; first to Elizabeth Welsh with whom he had three children: John (who was next in line to be Third Baronet of Hayne), Arthur, and Elizabeth, all of whom were born about 1650.
Secondly he married Elizabeth Godolphin, the eldest child of a very aristocratic family, with whom he had nine children starting in 1650; six of whom survived childhood. So what happened in 1650? I could not find any record in the 1650 timeframe of Elizabeth Welsh's death or divorce prior to his marriage to Elizabeth Godolphin or the birth/baptism dates of John and Arthur (Elizabeth died young). So I will be looking for these records at the Devon Records Office. I will also be looking for the baptismal records of both sets of children.
Curiously these sources show that John,his younger brother Arthur, and Arthur's wife Margaret Gay, all died in 1679 or 1680, and that Arthur and Margaret's son Mark was born in 1679 or 1680...all within a year of each other with the precise year in dispute. So in addition to 1650, the events of the years 1679 and 1680 raise a lot of questions. I want to know why there is a question about the year and how and why John, Arthur and his wife Margaret died so young, and why these deaths were so closely spaced as the odds of this happening are small.
The Devon Records Office confirms that Mark married Jane Hannar, who was a commoner and hence forbidden. They do not have a record of Mark's birth/baptism. They suggested that this record had not been digitized yet. I decided to go to Devon to do the research. My hypothesis is that when Mark Northcott married Jane Hannar, a commoner, on 3 May 1708 after they had a child out of wedlock the year before, his aristocratic family disinherited him, with Mark's birth/baptismal records expunged and with Mark having to change the spelling of his last name from Northcote to Northcott in all future records. I want to see the baptismal record, so will look at the original parish records from 1679 and 1680 at the Devon Records Office in Exeter, Devon.
The title baronet of Hayne passed to the sons of Elizabeth Godolphin; Francis who died without progeny, and then Henry, from whom the Baronet title passed down to Sir Henry Stafford Northcote (1818-1887), the Eighth Baronet of Hayne and First Earl of Iddersleigh, the most prominent Northcote (look him up on Wikipedia), to the present day.
Interestingly, I can trace my ancestry through both my Mom and Dad's trees to King Edward I and thus to William the Conqueror. Through my Mom's tree which includes the Courtenays and Bohuns, King Edward is my 21 times great grandfather. Through my Dad's tree, which includes the de Bohuns, King Edward is the father in law of my 3rd cousin 18 times removed. This seems to prove the theory of six degrees of separation...21 generations back quite a few people are related!
So in eighteen days I'm off to merry olde England!
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