Of Royal Descent (Just like Oprah!)

So, in the process of researching THE DAMN BOOK*, I have become obsessed with tracing my family tree. Call it procrastination if you want. I’ll prove you wrong, one of these days.

I started this months ago. Sitting in my bedroom at the Bethsaida volunteer house, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I took to the internet to research my Scottish ancestors. Makes total sense, doesn’t it? To aid my search, I bought a membership to Ancestry.ca, and all the resources they provide.

If you haven’t used a site like this, here’s how it works: you enter the info you know, and the site searches its records databases and the trees of other members to offer hints as to who these people are, who their parents & grandparents might be, and who else you may be related to. It is so addictive. I played with it for months on end, building a beautiful tree. Then I reached a bit of a plateau. Ancestry had no more to offer me, and neither did my family records.

Of course, in a process like this there are so many chances of making errors – particularly when you make a leap and decide that your great-aunt Sue must be this other person’s great-aunt Sue, and so you link your tree and share info, without realizing that this other person’s great-aunt was actually Sally, not Sue and so you are off in a very wrong direction.

Add to that the fact that the Scots were far from creative with their baby naming (John, Malcolm, Angus, Norman, Flora, Margaret, repeat…) and you are bound to go wrong somewhere.

So, a few days ago I logged in, started playing around, and noticed that there were almost 100 years between the birth of one Norman MacLeod and his son. Something was not right. So I looked and looked and there appeared to be two generations in a row of Norman MacLeod’s who married Janets, and I had picked the wrong one. Did some digging, fixed it up, and suddenly the hints were coming fast & furious. In the process, I also discovered another great website on the genealogy of Clan MacFarlane. So much information!

So, amazingly, with the help of both sites, I have traced the ancestors of my Paternal grandfather (a.k.a. The Duke) back to the 12th century. Seriously. All the way back to Olaf “the Black” Godredson, born in 1117. I could have gone farther, but was out of time. I will go back.

Who was Olaf, you ask? Only the King of Man and the Isles. The Duke is right. He could have aimed much higher.

One expects you all to treat one with more respect, henceforth.

*Perhaps attitude is a problem here. I’ll never finish THE DAMN BOOK at this rate.


4 thoughts on “Of Royal Descent (Just like Oprah!)

    • Based on the story of an ancestor before & after Culloden. It was originally supposed to be about her moving to Canada, but as I started to research, this part of the story was more interesting.

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