Author: Lucy Neame, South Australia

This is the recording of a man’s “seed” or offspring through the generations via a direct male line. The same surname or “bloodline” can only survive through the male. Once the female marries and has children, she is then the “vessel” through which her husband’s or partner’s line is carried down. Therefore, when you are recording your “family history”, it is important to stick to this formula. When recording the ancestors from your mother’s side, the formula remains the same (follow only the father’s lineage). A common practice during the late 1700 to early 1800’s which still survives to the present day is to preserve and acknowledge the female ancestry by using her family surname as a middle name e.g. John Austen Neame., John Bennet Neame. Those wishing to pursue all branches of their family tree, of course, must also follow these guidelines. How far you go is an individual choice.

As stated in the previous paragraph, the male line is the dominant factor in genealogy. It is through this line only that we record our “family history”. For the female this means that for her personal history i.e. the line of her father is the only one of relative importance. Until the day she dies, she will always be the product of her father’s loins and her history is tied in with his. Once she marries of course, she takes on a new surname. However, the children from this marriage will then carry her husband’s surname, and their personal history is then tied in with his.

If the woman does not marry, and chooses to have children which she raises as a single parent, they will often only carry the mothers’ surname. However, to be correct in the recording of these children’s “family history”, it is important to record the name of the father on the birth certificate, or at least to be able to tell them at a more mature age in their lives. It is only through this information that they can truly discover their “roots”.

Start with yourself and work backwards, through your father, grandfather, great grandfather etc. etc. Record dates and places of births, christening/baptism dates and places, marriages and deaths, places of burial etc. including all children wherever possible as these will help you in tracking the movements of the family unit. Keep in mind that up to 200 years ago, people married, lived and died in the town where they were born. If they did move, it was usually within a 50 mile radius for work purposes, so please also check all church registers within surrounding villages and towns. Try and find out their occupations, as this will help guide you in tracing Census Records etc.

The recording of genealogical information for adopted children needs to be treated a little differently to normal family history. To be ethically correct (or purist in your recordings), the family tree should stop with you – the adopted parents. Because these children are not “sprung from your loins” their history is tied in to an unknown lineage. This is especially important when you are supplying information for future generations. An example of this is for medical reasons. As some conditions are hereditary, there may be illnesses quite common within the adopted child’s family history, which are not common within your own. Any medical information supplied at the time of adoption needs to be preserved and passed on to the child’s medical practitioners as early as possible.

Once adopted, these children carry your surname. And so, for LEGAL reasons and in the case of inheritance, adopted children are treated in the same way as natural children. i.e. the adoptive parents have made a legal commitment to raise that child as their own. In doing so they have agreed to give that child their family surname, to supply food, shelter, lodging, education, support etc. This adopted child then, has the same rights of inheritance as any natural children. However, when recording their family history, for their own offspring, they should start a new family tree if no information regarding their natural parentage has been uncovered. Most adoptee's, at one time or another, have wondered about their natural parents, and some have successfully sought to find them.

In order to find the answer to this age-old question, we need to cast our minds back to the dawn of civilization. In the time of the cave dwellers, people congregated together in “tribes”. These tribes usually consisted of extended family groups, the oldest male or most dominant male, being the declared leader. The group would then consist of a number of females used for breeding purposes, followed by sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents etc. etc. When the group became too large, or conflict occurred, they would split and form a new “tribe”.

In these ancient times, and especially during the search for food, meetings between groups would often become quite violent. It was not unusual for all the teenage, and adult males in a particular family group to end up being killed or severely maimed during these clashes.

Unrelated, young healthy females were very often captured, held hostage, raped and impregnated by the dominant males. Any offspring born before the usual nine month gestation period were slaughtered at birth or left to the elements. Even back then, births were timed with the seasons. As with the laws of the jungle, which still abides today – men did not want to willingly feed and raise someone else’s seed. As societies developed, the tribes split up into family groups, and the “family unit” developed.

In reality, none of us can be truly certain of the purity of our bloodline as no one was around in the time of the caveman who was educated enough to observe, record and pass on this information. Therefore, the history of mankind is mixed and intermingled due to war and migration. This in itself is actually a good thing as it means that the human species is becoming stronger by the “mixing of the blood”, and a lot of conditions due to “in-breeding” have slowly disappeared. As evidenced by the heading on sanguinity, many an indiscretion may have passed through history unnoticed and unrecorded. Many more of us however, may owe our existence to the ”violation” of our female ancestors.

The recording of genealogy, or ancestors, dates back to the bible. Some elders mentioned in the bible, even married and had offspring with their own daughters. As with the original tribe dwellers, men wanted to pass on the rights of inheritance to their “seed” or offspring. The world was divided into many “kingdoms” and tribes, each one fighting over lands and rulership. Therefore it became increasingly important for a man to know his roots and acknowledge his children. In the ancient world, it was only the eldest male of a tribe or family who could inherit titles and lands (remember the Bible story of Esau who was cheated out of his birthright). In today’s society, this is something as simple as, the drawing up of a Last Will and Testament.

The Royal Houses and members of orthodox religions were governed by the laws of sanguinity. This is a church or religious law, which forbids the marriage of close blood relatives. In ancient times, church law took dominance over state law, and a close record was kept of all marriages, especially marriages of state.

For example, to this day, the Roman Catholic Church will not allow a marriage between first or second cousins. Yet, if we study history carefully, we know that this rule has been bent on many occasions over time. The Royal House of England dominates and remains strong today, because of the very fact that they did marry close relatives (keeping it in the family). In medieval England, this law was taken very seriously. Many a King, wanting to rid himself of a troublesome wife, or one who had outlived her usefulness would seek a divorce by citing and proving sanguinity. e.g. Henry VIII sought to rid himself of Catherine of Aragon due to the fact that she was his dead brothers wife, a fact that bothered him least, when he sought to marry her in the first place.

The following article was made public following a recent discovery.

****According to recent information discovered at the library of Rouen Cathedral in France, the real king of England is a man called Michael Hastings (the last Plantagenet descendant), and he is living in the little known remote town of Jerilderie somewhere in Australia. Michael was born in England and educated at Ampleforth Public School. He is the 14th Earl of Loudon, and a direct descendant of George, Duke of Clarence.

The fact is, that King Edward IV who reigned from 1461 to 1483 was not of royal blood – he was the illegitimate son of a French archer. It can be proved that at the time of Edward IV’s conception, his parents were 100 miles apart. Edward’s “father” Richard Duke of York was leading a skirmish against the French at Pontoise, near Paris. His mother, Lady Cicely Neville – based at Rouen – was deeply engaged in the company of a local archer. During the five week period when conception could have taken place, Edward’s “royal father” was a good five days march away.

Such were the circumstances of Lady Cicely’s Pregnancy, that the court was rife with whispers of an affair. King Louis XI of France is recorded as shouting about Edward: “his name is not King Edward – everybody knows his name is Blaybourne! (the surname of a French archer whom many assumed to be the true father).

A concerted campaign was begun by the family, hoping to stifle such rumours. The royal spindoctors even suggested that conception had taken place in May 1440 in Yorkshire, before the royal parents set sail for France. But since we know that Edward was born the following April, this would make the pregnancy 11 months - the longest since records began, and of course a medical impossibility. In addition, Lady Cicely herself let slip the secret in a rage when Edward married a woman she disapproved of.

Threatening to publicise his illegitimacy, she is recorded by the court historian Dominic Mancini as saying: “He is not the offspring of the Duke of York but was conceived in adultery, and therefore is no-wise worthy of the honour of kingship”.

Edward IV was a bastard, and the son of a mere commoner – and thus had no rightful claim to the throne. Instead the monarchy should have passed to Edward’s brother, the Duke of Clarence.

****Information copied from Sunday Mail (Adelaide newspaper) January 4, 2004

The new technology in science and medicine means that we are now capable of producing offspring without the need for marriage or even the normal processes of engaging with a partner. Sperm donors are becoming the new “baby makers” and test tubes are fast turning into the new “womb”. Cloning is a new process, which is also gathering momentum. Consequently we are in grave danger of losing our “humanity”. Children are being born with no “history”.

The bizarre consequences of this technology is the recent case of twins who were separated at birth and married each other without realising that they were brother and sister. Upon discovery of the truth, the hapless couple had to endure the trauma of having their marriage annulled in a secret High Court hearing where a judge ruled their marriage as “legally invalid” due to a “prohibited degree of consanguinity” blood relationship.

The plight of this couple was revealed in the British parliament by former Liberal Democrat MP Lord Alton during a House of Lords debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Lord Alton is fighting for children to have greater rights to know their biological parents. He, and his followers want the genetic history/identity of a child recorded on its birth certificate in the hope of alleviating future distress to others.

So who thinks it is important? Only those with a special interest in the subject, people such as us, who are curious about our ancestors and have a love of history. As I stated in the opening pages: “We are who we are today, because of all that has gone before”. It is a rare family these days that can trace their ancestry as far back as we have (a continuing project on my part) and even the Royal Family’s lineage (as indicated above) may not be as accurate as this one.

Contributor: Lucy Neame
Editor: Martin Neame

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We are very grateful to Alan Neame (family historian and founding member of the Kent Genealogical Society) who for thirty years researched into our family history. He was ably assisted by the significant collaboration of Joyce Gibson nee Neame. It is really thanks to Alan that any of us are aware of the others' existence. Alan travelled the world meeting people and recording their data for the benefit of all of us.