Everyone living in the world today has royal ancestors who lived somewhere, sometime. Everyone - regardless of race, nationality or personal circumstances. The mathematics of genealogy and demography (below) force this assertion. Thus, there is no exclusivity in claiming royal lineage, but it is fascinating to contemplate documented lines of descent.
Venturing beyond a limited number of generations invites formidable hazards. The possibilities of concealed illegitimacies of birth, unrecorded adoptions, mis-identified paternity and mistaken maternity (particularly among the re-married) are far greater than many of us appreciate, making it difficult to validate genealogical findings conclusively. Moving into the American colonial period, inadequacy of records and conflicting data become increasingly problematical. Pre-17th-century research then confronts further obstacles in the paucity of surnames and the fabrication of illustrious pedigrees.
The likelihood of compound error, arising from mistaking the identity of just one ancestor, is so great that the integrity of any extensive family tree, including this one, can never be regarded as absolute. Accumulating DNA evidence, moreover, may someday disprove even the most carefully documented ancestries.
Within this context, genealogies of royal families and other nobility have been the ones most carefully preserved and scrutinized through the centuries. They have also been the ones most embellished.
Royal genealogies invariably yield a labyrinth of inter-marriages among the crowned heads of Europe as they extend backward in time. Researchers have extended many of our grandparents' ancestral lines well beyond the twelve generations included in this tree, encountering this consanguineous maze that defies intelligible structure.
Royalty aside, no tree can be charted very far historically without somehow exhibiting an increasingly complex network of ancestral repetition, as the result of widespread inter-marriage among distant (and not so distant) cousins. This is inevitable. If a tree should be (impossibly) extended without such duplication beyond 29 generations or so, with ancestors doubling each generation, the people in it would outnumber the estimated population of the world in 1300 AD. By that time, any tree's then-living ancestors would in fact include many of the people resident in the same geographic vicinity.
So, it can be affirmed, for example, that most, if not all, people of European descent share Charlemagne (died 814) as an ancestor, whether or not they have identified their particular line(s) of descent. To emphasize the point, Charlemagne was a descendent of 5th-century Merovingian kings. Some people imagine that those kings were descendents of a married Jesus and Mary Magdalene, who fled pregnant to southern France soon after His crucifixion and resurrection, a tale popularized by the novel 'The DaVinci Code', in which the heroine is portrayed as a modern Merovingian descendent. If this legend were true, millions of us would be descended from Christ, through Charlemagne and other Merovingian offspring.
Ultimately, according to genetic evidence, we are all one family - quite literally. Every one of us is descended from "Mitochondrial Eve" who lived some 150,000 years ago in Africa. As family trees fade into the millennia, they become inter-twined within a tangled forest of ancestral mix:
The Skipwiths, one of the few 17th-century immigrant families to America that is legitimately entitled to a coat of arms, claims a regal ancestry that goes as far back historically as we may permit ourselves to believe.
With apologies to those who are strictly serious about genealogical research and may not share a fascination with early European history, two lines of the Skipwith ancestry, pieced together from published materials, are presented below.
The first takes a winding route, through 60 generations of European nobility, back to Roman Emperor Claudius and to Mark Antony, triumvir of Rome.
The second takes a more straight-forward route, through 69 generations of English nobility and royalty, back to the biblical Adam and Eve. Ancestors listed between Alfred the Great and Noah were recorded by the mythological Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, written about 891 AD, within the framework of early Christian interpretation of biblical chronology that placed Adam's birth at 4004 BC, gave 2348 BC as the year of the Great Flood, and gave 1571 BC as the year Moses was born - some notables having lived incredibly long lives.
Both of these lines commence with our tree's 16th century Skipwith couple who lived in Leicestershire, England: Henry Skipwith (died 1588) and Jane Hall (died 1598)
William Skipwith and Alice Dymoke, died 1549, daughter of Joan Griffith and Lionel Dymoke, died 1519, son of Thomas Dymoke (died 1470) and Margaret de Welles, daughter of Joan Waterton and Lionel de Welles, died 1461, son of Maude de Greystoke and Eudo de Welles, died before 1421, son of John de Welles (died 1422) and Eleanor de Mowbray, daughter of Elizabeth Segrave and John de Mowbray, died 1368, son of John de Mowbray and Joan Plantagenet, died 1349, daughter of Henry Plantagenet and Maud Chaworth, died 1322, daughter of Patrick Chaworth and Isabel de Beauchamp, daughter of Maud Fitzjohn and William de Beauchamp, son of William de Beauchamp and Isabel Mauduit, daughter of William Lord Maudit and Alice de Newbery, daughter of Waleran de Newbery and Margery of Hereford, daughter of Henry, Earl of Hereford, son of Humphrey de Bohun and Margaret of Hereford, daughter of Henry, Prince of Scotland, and Ada de Warrenne, daughter of William de Warrenne II and Isabel de Vermandois, died 1131, daughter of Hugh "the Great", Count of Vermandois, and Adelaide, died 1118, daughter of Adale Hildebrante and Hubert IV, Count of Vermandois, died 1080, son of Otto, Count of Vermandois (France), died 1045, son of Emengarde and Hubert III, Count of Vermandois, died 1015, son of Gerburga and Albert I, Count of Vermandois, died 987, son of Hildebrante and Hubert (Herbert) II, Count of Vermandois, died 943, son of Bertha de Morvais and Hubert I, Count of Vermandois, died 902, son of Pepin II, Count of Vermandois, died 840, son of Cunigunde and Bernard, King of Lombardy (Italy), died 818, son of Bertha and Pepin, King of Lombardy, died 810, son of Hildegarde and CHARLEMAGNE, first Holy Roman Emperor, died 814, son of Bertha and Pepin III "the Short", King of the Franks, died 768, son of Bothrude and Charles Martel, King of the Franks, died 741, son of Alpaida and Pepin II "of Heristal", Duke of Austrasia, died 714, son of Begga and Ansegisal (Anchises), Markgrave of the Schelde, died 685, son of Doda and St. Arnolph, Bishop of Metz who died a hermit in 641, son of Oda and Arnoaldus, Markgrave of the Schelde, died 601, son of Blithildis and Ausbert, died 570, son of Deuteria and Ferreolus, Duke of Moselle, son of Sigimerus I, son of Basina and Clodius "Long Hair", died 445, son of Pharamond, Duke, and Argotta, daughter of Genebald, Duke, died 419, son of Dagobert, Duke under the Romans, died 389, son of Clodius V, Frankish king, died 378, son of Theodomir, Frankish king, died 360, son of Hastila and Richimir II, Frankish king, died 350, son of Clodomir IV, Frankish king, died 337, son of Dagobert, Frankish king, died 317, son of Walter, Frankish king, died 306, son of Clodius III, Frankish king, died 298, son of Batherus, Frankish king, died 272, son of Hilderic, Frankish king, died 253, son of Sunno, Frankish king, died 213, son of Farabert, Frankish king, died 186, son of Hasilda and Clodomir IV, Frankish king, died 166, son of Marcomir IV, Frankish king (died 149), and Athildis, daughter of Coilus "Old King Cole", King of the Britons, died 170, son of Marius, King of the Britons, died 125, son of Aviragus, King of the Britons (died 74) and Genissa (Venissa Julia), dau. of Calpurnia and CLAUDIUS, EMPEROR OF ROME (reigned 42-54 AD), son of Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus and Antonia Minor (died 37 AD), daughter of Octavia Major and MARK ANTONY, Roman triumvir, died with Cleopatra in 31 BC
Ursula Sherington and Francis Hall, Jr., died 1553, son of Francis Hall, Sr. (died 1534) and Elizabeth Wingfield, daughter of Elizabeth FitzLewis and John Wingfield, son of Robert Wingfield (died 1451) and Elizabeth Goushill, daughter of Robert Goushill and Elizabeth FitzAlan, daughter of Richard FitzAlan and Elizabeth de Bohun, died 1385, daughter of Elizabeth de Badlesmere and William de Bohun, died 1360, son of Humphrey de Bohun and Elizabeth Plantagenet, died 1316, daughter of Eleanor of Castile and EDWARD I, KING OF ENGLAND (1272-1307), son of Eleanor of Provence and King Henry III, died 1272, son of Isabella de Taillefer and King John I, died 1216, son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II, died 1189, son of Geoffrey V Plantagenet and Empress Maud (Matilda), died 1167, daughter of King Henry I and Matilda of Scotland, died 1118, daughter of Malcolm III, King of Scotland and St. Margaret Atheling, died 1093, dau. of Agatha and Edward Atheling "the Exile", died 1057, son of Algitha and Edmund II "Ironsides", King of England, died 1016, son of Aelflaed and Ethelred II "the Unready", King of England, died 1016, son of Elfrida and Edgar "the Peaceful", King of England, died 975, son of St. Elgiva and Edmund I, King of England, died 946, son of Edgina and Edward I "the Elder", King of England, died 924, son of Alswitha and ALFRED "THE GREAT", King of England, died 901, son of Ostburga and Ethelwulf, King of England, died 858, son of Redburge and Egbert, First King of England, died 836, son of Ealhmund, King of the West Saxons, son of Eafa, King of the West Saxons, son of Eoppa, King of the West Saxons, son of Ingeld, King of the West Saxons, died 718, son of Cenred, King of the West Saxons, son of Ceowald, son of Cutha, son of Cuthwine, King of the West Saxons, died 584, son of Caewlin, King of the West Saxons, died 595, son of Cynric, Kind of the West Saxons, died 560,son of Cerdic, Saxon invader of England, died 534, son of Elesa, son of Esla, son of Gewis, son of Wig, son of Freawine, son of Frithugar, son of Brand, son of Baeldaeg, son of Woden, "high Saxon god", died 300, son of Frithwald, son of Freawine, son of Frealaf, son of Frithuwulf, son of Finn, son of Godwulf, son of Geat, son of Taetwa, son of Beaw, son of Sceldwea, son of Haremod,son of Itermon, son of Hrathra, son of Hwala, son of Bedwig, son of Sceaf, "born in the Ark", son of Noah, son of Lamech,son of Mathuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalaleal, son of Cainan, son of Enos, son of Seth, son of ADAM and EVE
We do not know the identities of the first Acrees of our line who arrived in America, much less the identities of ancestors who used some form of our name during the Middle Ages, when surnames first developed. The name is certainly British, but its origin has never been definitively ascertained. Our earliest-known, 18th-century Acree ancestors, living at the time of the American Revolution, spelled their name 'Acre' and regarded themselves as 'Scotch-Irish'. It has been suggested that the name derived in association with the Dacre borderer family, who governed its estates from Naworth Castle in northern Cumbria during the 14th-15th centuries. That family's historic coat of arms, known to heraldry, depicted, on a red background, three silver scallop shells, indicating a pilgrimage to the Holy Land:
In Israel there is an ancient seaport called Acre, known in Roman times as Ptolemais and known afterward as Akko or Accho. It was a notorious stronghold for the European Crusaders who invaded Palestine during the 12th and 13th centuries to bring Jerusalem under Christian control. Some who fought there or were born there returned to England with a D'Acre ('of Acre') appellation, notably 'Joanna de Acre', a child of King Edward I and Eleanor of Castile (listed above).
Eleanor was a daughter of King Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon (Spain), an esteemed yet humble Crusader who was eventually canonized 'San Fernando' for his ascetic piety. In 1254 she wed her English prince as 'La Infanta', a girl of ten. Their marriage evolved into one of royalty's greatest love matches. While they both lived, the two were inseparable and were frequently seen playing chess together. In 1270 Eleanor accompanied her warrior husband on his quest to the Holy Land, where his 'gallant one thousand' came to the rescue of besieged Christian forces holding out behind the walls of Acre. Europe, however, was tired of its Crusades and sent meager reinforcements to maintain Edward's victories. The cruel wars were winding down after nearly two hundred years of suffering on both sides, without lasting accomplishment. The significant interchange of cultures that occurred could only be appreciated centuries later.
After a two-year stay, the couple returned to England with Joanna for their renowned joint coronation. Acre finally fell to the Mamlukes in 1291, ending the Crusades. By the time of her death in her late forties, Eleanor had suffered at least sixteen pregnancies but finally produced a surviving male heir to the throne. Imperious Joanna lived to marry twice but did not give birth to any Acrees.
Copyright © 2001- by Charles Acree. All rights reserved.