Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2002-01 > 1010761346

From: "Luke Potter" <>
Subject: Re: Overall Reliability of Medieval Lineages
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002 15:02:30 +0000

Andy's comment about the probable number of unknown illegitimate lines in
any 'proven' genealogy is fair.

However the point which he has missed is that from a historical perspective
the pertinent issue is not always who an individual's actual genetic
ancestors were, but instead who he thought they were. We have all seen
numerous fictitous pedigrees, such as those created for social climbing
Tudor gentry, or mythical regal pedigrees that disappear into the foothills
of Mount Olympus, and as genealogists have easily cast them aside as
genealogically incorrect. However the historical interest lies in how far
the individuals at the bottom of these pedigrees believed them themselves,
and what this concept of their origins had upon them personally.

A genealogist would be delighted to discover evidence that the
great-great-aunt of an individual named A was a woman named E, but to a
historian studying A, the only relevance of E would be if A actually knew E
existed, or if E had someother direct impact upon the life of A, other than
just genetics. Similarly if A believed that X was his grtx13 ancestor, and
the founder of his family estates/name/family in the New World etc, it is
this which has the personal impact upon individual A, not the fact that his
grtx4 grandmother actually had an unrecorded fling with Jack Jones, and A
was really descended from folk from Snowdonia in Wales.

Genealogy has always provided an individual with a personal perspective on
history. We, at our 21st century vantage point, are just as keen as earlier
generations to examine and find the true descent of our ancestors and
families to create our own perspectives, yet the personal genealogical
perspectives of any one of our actual ancestors may have based upon a
different set of 'truths' and 'facts' and been utterly different from the
21st century perspective which we uncover. From a genealogical standpoint
these 'truths' and 'facts' may later be proved to be fictitious, or from a
genetic standpoint DNA may prove that supposed proven descents are not all
they seemed to be, but from a historical standpoint the interest lies in who
believed what, when, and why!

Luke Potter

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