Family Heritage, reflections

So who do I think I am?

Lady Joan of Wales

The genealogy bug has bitten. I’ve basically replaced scrolling Facebook for hours to scrolling Ancestry. Sometimes with frustrating slowness. Every now and again, I hit a hint and following it, results in a trail of hints. Like a carpet unrolling back through the generations.

I’m fortunate in that my ancestors have all mostly come from the United Kingdom. Very few come from Europe where wars have resulted in huge losses of documents. Many of my dads ancestors were names that echo down the centuries, Percy, North, Montgomerie, Mortimer, Grey just a few to mention. Many married cousins! And I’ve so far found two lines going back to Edward III. My Mother’s Welsh family has been harder to research. Wealth and ethnicity has always had its privileges.

It is not surprising that I have royal ancestors. A huge proportion of Brits do. Each generation doubles the number of ancestors you have. So by the time you get back 23 generations you are potentially related to, 2 to the power of 23, which is 8,336,608, 23rd great grand parents! Probably a number greater than the population of Britain at that time. The number would be less than that, with intermarriage of families.


I lived for four years in a remote community in the Northern Territory. At times it would be weeks before I saw another European face. My community was Allyawarra and Kadich speaking people. They have a strong sense of belonging to a place. The land is their mother. Their spirt comes from the land of their ancestors. I envied that knowing who you are and where you fit within a family and land. When I was pregnant with Fern (who was sung for me, a story I will tell another time). I was told by the grandmothers, her spirit too belongs to Immungara land.

The need to know who I am and where I have come from, is strong in me. As I move from the time of Mother to Crone in my life.

Being able to trace my family back through the generations is a privilege, I’m very honoured to have. I have traced back to Kings and Queens, to peasants, to merchants to paupers in workhouses. I’ve read about lives I never knew about and felt sadness on reading birth and death dates that are the same.

There is a probability that many of these ancestors may not be legitimately mine. Some may have been adopted or fathered by those other than husbands.

My favourite find is rather a naughty Lady. She was the illegitimate daughter of a king, who married a Welsh prince. Her diplomacy skills in bringing peace between Wales and England have been admired. She fell foul of her husband by having a gentleman found in her bedchamber. The gentleman was hung, but Joan was forgiven my her husband Llewellyn The Great. He must of loved her greatly, or feared her half brother, the English King greatly.

Read more about Joan:

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