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“The neatherds of Normandy, and the Flanders weavers," writes Thierry, “could, with a little courage and good luck, become brilliant barons in England, and their names, which on one side of the Channel were common and unknown, became noble and glorious on the other. Would you like to know, says an old French chronicler, what were the names of the great arrivals under the conqueror William ? Here follow the names as they were written, but without the christian names, which are often missing, or altered : Mandeville and Dandeville, Omfreville and Domfreville, Bouteville and Estouteville, Mohun and Bohun, Biset and Baset, Malin and Malvoisin. ... In one of these lists the names are given in groups of three : Bastard, Brassard, Braynard ; Bigot, Bagot, Talbot; Toret, Trivet, Bonet; Lucy, Lacy, Percy. . . . Another list of the conquerors of England, which was long preserved at Battle Abbey, contains names of a low and equivocal nature, such as Bonvilain and Boutevilain, Trousselot and Troussebout, L'Engaine and Longue Epée, Oeil de Boeuf and Front de Bæuf.”
Five or six generations are certainly sufficient to satisfy the ambition of any man, and so long an interval is not even necessary to acquire universal respect for names, which are connected in the history of the country with instances of courage, genius, or patriotism. The celebrated family of the Russells does not require to bring down its genealogy from the Lords of Rozel, and it is sufficient to assume that it is descended from John Russell, Constable of the Castle of Curfew in 1221. Shak. speare, by bringing the names of the Talbots, Stanleys, Cliffords, Nevilles, Greys, Blounts, and Vernons on the stage, did more for them than the whole College of Heralds. Gibbon is of opinion that the Spenser family should regard the Faërie Queene as the finest part of their arms, and says that the romance of Tom Jones will survive the imperial eagle of the house of Hapsburg, of which the Fieldings declared themselves a branch. No one in France would now deny that the Book of Maxims is the finest pearl in the ducal crown of the Rochefoucaulds, and the Memoirs of St. Simon have imparted greater lustre to his name than his presidency in parliament or in the chapel of Versailles.
Heroic deeds, adventures, misfortunes, and perhaps unusual crimes, generally do more than peaceful virtues to render a family remarkable, and distinguish it from the great mass. Many lords and baronets have gained a title of honour through sentences passed on their ancestors, or by plundering monasteries, in which the Pophams, Horners, and Thynnes played so great a part. If we find the Burdetts holding knightly rank since the reign of Edward IV., it comes from the fact that Sir Robert Burdett was condemned to death for conspiring against the life of that prince. If the Fulfords are denied any share in the Crusades, they can at least display the written capitulation by virtue of which they surrendered their castle to Fairfax after a gallant defence. The crest of the Stanleys cousists of an eagle feeding a child. Tradition tells us that a child of the Latham family, who surrendered their seat of Knowsley to the Stanleys, was exposed on a mountain, and owed its life to this strange nurse.
The motto of the Leslies, "Grip fast,” was given them by Margaret, cousort of King Malcolm Canmore, because, when crossing a swollen ford she fell from her horse, and was on the point of drowning, when
Bartholomew Leslie seized her by the girdle, and brought her ashore. Richard de Percival followed Coeur de Lion to Palestine, and sat his horse even after he had lost a leg in action; another scimitar-cut lopped off an arm, but for all that he kept his seat, and held his bridle between the teeth. For this reason this family has as device an armed man with only one leg. This emblem may be seen emblazoned on the windows of their seat at Weston. If this story be true, we cannot doubt the one told by Lamartine, that General Lesourd, at the battle of Waterloo, after receiving six sabre-cuts, got off his horse, had his arm amputated, mounted his horse once more, and attacked afresh at the head of his troops.
Many bourgeois and even peasant families can trace their genealogy back far into antiquity. We are told of a pastrycook in Brighton, that he has a farm in Sussex, which has been in his family since the reign of Henry I. The direct descendant of the woodcutter who helped to carry William II., when shot, into a neighbouring hut, is still living in the vicinity of Southampton.
In very many cases traditions must not be absolutely rejected, for they are often the sole and best testimony to facts which could not be established in any other way; but when family pride speculates on the credulity of people, it is surely permissible to doubt. We are not bound to believe everything that the bards and minstrels have sung in praise of their masters, whose genealogists they have eventually become. As they were paid to glorify their patrons and keep them in good humour, they did not hesitate to adorn the truth. If we were to believe these poetical chroniclers, nearly all the chiefs of Scottish clans were descended from kings, and their ancestors were contemporaries of those monarchs whose portraits or caricatures decorate the walls of Holy Rood; for instance, Fergus, who is said to have ascended the Scottish throne exactly six years after the death of Alexander the Great. Among the Scotch genealogies that of the Stuarts is most amusing, for they are proved to descend in a direct line from Cecrops, King of Athens. Unluckily, these genealogies of the bards constantly contradict one another, and some clans- for instance, the M'Ivors-are divided between two rivals, both of whom claim the supremacy. A Glengarry wrote to the second Lord Macdonald to demand the dignity of head of the clan, but received the following laconic answer: “Until you can prove to me that you are my chief, I remain yours, MACDONALD."
The succession in the male line rendered it highly desirable for every Scot to settle all his degrees of relationship, even the most remote, for a number of accidents might unexpectedly render him heir to rich estates. In spite of this law and custom, however, many large fiefs have been lost by the male line of their former holders. The royal branch of the Bruces is extinct, but the present Bruces, the Earl of Elgin and the Marquis of Aylesbury, are descendeu from Robert Bruce, to whom King David II. gave the castle and estate of Clackmannan, as his loving and faithful cousin. The name of the Grahams, who have become Dukes of Montrose, appears for the first time in William de Graham, who is produced as a witness in a deed of the year 1128. He was doubtless a respected person : at any rate, a title seven or eight generations old is an inheritance with which the descendants of the great Montrose may surely be satisfied.
June-VOL. CXXVIII, NO, DX.
Very curious is the origin of the emblems which the Kirkpatricks of Closeburn bear in their coat-namely, a bloody dagger, with the motto, “I mak sicker.” The story of its origin is as follows: Roger Kirkpatrick met Robert Bruce just coming out of the church in which he had stabbed Comyn. “I believe I have killed him," said Bruce. “You only believe it," Kirkpatrick replied, “but I will mak sicker.” And, entering the church, he dealt Comyn the death-blow on the steps of the
All Europe knows at present that the Countess of Montijo, mother of the Empress of France, is a Kirkpatrick. When the former lady was about to be married to the son of a Spanish grandee, she was requested to produce her genealogy, and Charles Kirkpatrick procured it for her, duly attested by the Scotch heralds. When the document was laid before King Ferdinand VII., he exclaimed, “Of course we permit young Montijo to marry the daughter of Fingal.”
If we were asked what country has seen the most marked changes in the fortunes of its nobility, we should unhesitatingly say Ireland. That unhappy island has been subjected to confiscations unexampled in history, and every fresh proscription entailed the downfal or disappearance of families, which had up to that time been powerful and celebrated by the native bards. A proof of the systematic misfortune that has weighed down the Irish families is found in the list of Irish peers, which only contains four old Irish names: O'Neil, O'Brien, O'Grady, and O'Callaghan. Still Ulster believes that, with the exception of the O’Laughlins, the five or six royal families that divided the island between them have all representatives. The last of the Maguires, Princes of Fermanagh, was killed in 1660 in a battle with the English troops. A few years ago a legacy was left to his direct heirs, and so many Maguires came forward that the payment of the legacy was declared to be impossible.
The great Norman families that took part in the conquest of Ireland have been preserved better in proportion to their number than those which conquered England. The present De Burghs, the St. Lawrences, the Butlers, Westmeaths, Talbots of Malahide, Brabazons, Fitzgeralds, and Fitzmaurices, are descended in a direct line from brave barons, who founded their family in the twelfth century. John Constantine de Courcy, Lord Kinsale, premier baron of Ireland, is descended from Sir John de Courcy, who was made Earl of Ulster in 1181. When this John de Courcy was attacked by twenty armed men in the churchyard of Downpatrick, he tore up a heavy oak cross, and, with this improvised club, killed twelve of his opponents. He also displayed his courage and enormous strength in fighting for King John, who, in return, gave him the hereditary privilege of remaining covered in the presence of the sovereign. When Almeric, the twenty-third baron, on the arrival of Wil. liam III., made use of his privilege, the monarch inquired what such free and easy conduct meant; and when he received the explanation, he remarked, ratherly bitterly, “Your lordship can keep on your hat in my presence, if you think it becoming, but I hope you will take it off to the queen.” When Louis XIV., after the battle of Fontenoy, came up to the spot where the captured English officers were standing, the latter all raised their hats, with the exception of Lord Courcy. After the king had heard the cause of this strange behaviour, he said, with his studied politeness, “ My lord, will you dine with me?" "I am not hungry.” “I do not ask whether you are hungry, but whether you will dine with me," Louis XIV. replied, and turned his back on the ill-bred nobleman.
The most powerful of the Anglo-Normans who settled in Ireland were the Fitzgeralds and the Butlers. There was a time when the Butlers held eight peerages in the various branches of their house, and the Fitzgeralds, who were settled in the centre and south of the island, compared themselves to a tree whose branches overshadowed it. The Marquis of Kildare published, in 1858, a history of his family. Would that any equally skilful pen would write the annals of the Earls of Desmond, which are so rich in romantic episodes. Changes of fortune are exceedingly numerous in this family. The sixth earl was disinherited by his uncle for marrying a girl of low birth : the great Earl of Desmond exclaimed, as he was being borne from the field on the shoulders of Ormond's soldiers, “ I am in my right place, on the neck of the Butlers.” Eventually the last earl, who had an income of 40,0001. from his estates, staked everything on an insurrection, and perished miserably through the treachery of a renegade.
The Irish gentleman who received the title of the great Earl of Cork himself tells us that he came to Dublin in 1558 with his entire fortune, consisting of 271. in his pocket, a diamond ring, a gold bracelet, a pair of black velvet trunk hose, two cloaks, the necessary changes of linen, and a sword. Two years before his death, in 1641, he was the owner of castles, domains, parks, and other landed property, which produced him an income of 501. a day. Though he was greatly aided by fortune, his cleverness did him equally good service. Over the door of one of his castles may be seen his coat-of-arms, with the motto, “ The providence of God is my inheritance.” He might also have used the motto, “ Aide toi et Dieu t'aidera."
The splendid estates of the Powerscourts were given to their ancestor by Queen Elizabeth, who robbed the O'Tooles of them. He had the flattering audacity to ask this queen, who combined the greatest feminine vanity with masculine strength, for the scarf she was wearing, which he considered more precious than all the dignities and estates she had just given him. He is represented in an old portrait wearing this scarf as a sword-belt. The scarf itself was hung up under the portrait until the aunt of the last Viscount Powerscourt cut it up to cover footstools with. The old lady could never be brought to understand what wrong she had done by such treatment of this historic relic.
To complete our remarks about the Irish pobility, we must refer to the gentlemen who left their country in consequence of the political persecutions after the dethronement of James, and spread over many continental states. In 1692, fifteen or twenty thousand Irish, who had been raised for James II., passed into the service of Louis XIV. Their officers were Catholic gentlemen, and these troops constantly distinguished themselves. When Marshal Villeroi was surprised and made prisoner at Cremona, the Irish, under the command of an O'Mahony, retrieved the fortunes of the day, and drove the battalions of Prince Eugène out of the city. In the list of the knights of St. Louis we find Irish names on every page. At the present day there is a marshal of Irish origin in France, MacMahon, one in Austria, Nugent, and one in Spain, O'Donnell.
The exaggerated pretensions of the gentry of Wales as to the age of their families are based on no solid foundation, and the want of written
documents, and even of at all credible traditions, has led their genealogists into the most improbable fables when they attempt to go beyond the sixteenth century. The family tree of the Mostyns of Mostyn, which has been preserved in their archives for three centuries, is written on parchment decorated with drawings, and is more than seventy feet long, and one foot in width. It begins with the patriarch Noah (why not with Adam ?), passes with but few exceptions through all the princely houses mentioned in the Bible, divides into sundry imperial and royal branches, and at length comes to the Edwards, Kings of England, where it stops. Sir Bernard Burke has performed an equally useless labour by following the Tudors through the mists of the first period of Welsh history, in order to adorn the family tree of an orator and author, who in no way needed such glorification. From the moment when an ancestor of Sir Bulwer Lytton married a real Tudor, we can dispense with her deriving her descent from persons who ruled in Wales in the sixth century, and who had names which it is utterly impossible to pronounce.
Bentham and his scholars asserted that the lords and gentry of the three kingdoms were mushrooms when compared with the continental nobility, and add, that if a people is to be oppressed and plundered by a noble caste, the latter should at least be the real sort. These strong. minded gentlemen have no great cause of complaint, for Great Britain in this respect does not stand far behind other countries.
The asserted superiority of the continental nobility disappears when it is subjected to the same investigation as the British nobility. However far back a family may go, we must come at last to some plebeian who founded its renown and power; furthermore, Gibbon remarks that it is almost impossible to prove a pedigree by names, arms, and authentic documents much beyond the tenth century of the Christian era. It is said that the Dukes of Lewis, in France, boasted of being descended from the princes of the House of Judah, and that they showed an old painting, on which one of these ancestors stands with up-raised hat before the Virgin, who says to him : “ Cover yourself, cousin.” The Dukes of Croy have a worthy counterpart to this picture in a representation of the Deluge, where a drowning man is shouting to Noah, who is on the point of entering the ark, “ Save the archives of the House of Croy.” Nothing, however, surpasses the pedigree of the Valdez in Spain ; it begins tbus: “ First was Valdez I.; his successor was Valdez II.; then came Valdez III. ; about this period God created the world.” A French bishop, notorious for his vanity, is said to have replied to the serious exhortations of his confessor: “Nonsense, God will never have the courage to condemn a Clermont Tonnerre !"
The pretensions of the Montmorency's are tolerably well known. Their nobility does not require to be surrounded by a feigned halo in order to heighten it. One of their ancestors married the widow of a King of France; they gave their country several connetables: one of the marshals of their name was no more and no less than that Duke of Luxembourg, whom the people christened the Upholsterer of Notre-Dame, because his victories had covered the walls of that church with so many flags. There is, however, no certain confirmation that a Montmorency existed before the middle of the tenth century, and their title of first Christian baron cannot be supported or understood, if it be asserted that their ancestor was the first Christian raised to the rank of baron, or the first baron who