17 December 2009

UK: 41 generations from Mt. Everest

Tracing the Tribe knows that genealogists are very focused people. We know what we want and try to find it. Some might even say there are a few who have a touch of OCD.

According to the Oxford Times (UK), there are others who pass even that line, such as a British explorer who brought 45 containers - via yak (see below right) - to a Mount Everest base camp so he could continue tracking his 41 generations of ancestors.

Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes did just that as he missed a deadline for his new book, "Mad Dogs and Englishmen: An Expedition Round My Family." He's well-known for 30 international expeditions such as climbing Mt. Everest, crossing the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps, and was the first to complete a polar circumnavigation of the Earth.
“The papers came boxed up in 45 containers and were transported by yak to the base camp. I was able to complete the book by writing in between acclimatisation exercises on the mountain. The pages were handwritten and a senior BBC producer who was with us kindly allowed a BBC photographer to photograph the pages. They were then emailed to my home on Exmoor to be typed up and sent on to my publisher,” he said.

The resulting book is a remarkable record of the extensive Fiennes family going back 41 generations to the family’s French roots to Charles Martel (715-741), who was grandfather to Charlemagne.
It helps to have a family castle where your people have lived for 20 of those 41 generations and which also contains a huge family archive.

In the article, Fiennes says many documents were found in sections of the Castle. He was somewhat shocked - and never suspected - that the family history would go back to his ancestor, Eustace of Boulogne, in 1066.

If you like nursery rhymes or have recently read them to a younger descendant of yours, you might have read "Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross." The family received the title Baronet of Banbury after an ancestor rescued the town. A line in the rhyme has come down as "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross to see a fine lady upon a white horse," although Fiennes' mother told him in the 1940s that it should be "to see a Fiennes lady upon a white horse."

The Fiennes lady was Celia Fiennes (1662-1741). Her father, Gen. Nathaniel Fiennes, was almost hanged by Cromwell for losing Bristol to the Royalists. The adventurous woman did something women of that day did not do - she explored the countryside, riding sidesaddle to every English county. "The Diaries of Celia Fiennes" was published in 1887.

Read the complete story at the link above.

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