About two years ago I took an Ancestry DNA test, just to find
out about my genetics and history. Honestly, it was the best decision I have ever made. My results weren’t too much of a surprise. I knew I’d have a lot of Irish in me, both of my Paternal Grandparents and my Maternal Grandmother come from Ireland. But what I wasn’t expecting to discover is that I’m also French! I’ve always felt some sort of connection to France; French is the only foreign language the actually sticks in my mind which is weird. Finding out that I’m part French definitely made me want to explore my ancestry even more.
Although I took my test a while ago, I only started to really trace my family tree a few months ago. I’ve found some really amazing stuff. I don’t want to bang on about my ancestors because I know that reading about someone else’s family probably isn’t that interesting, but I have some cool things (I think they’re cool anyway) that I wanted to share with you.
Through Ancestry.co.uk I have managed to trace some of my ancestors back to 1359 with my 20th Great-Grandfather, Robert Radcliffe! This was amazing to find, I never thought I’d be able to trace my family back over six-hundred and fifty years. When you stop and think about that, it’s so fascinating. I have to thank Ancestry because I have found family members I either never knew existed or I haven’t seen since I was very young.
I found out where the French in me comes from too. My 9th Great-Grandfather, Jacob De Rouffignac came over from France under the reign of the French King Louis XIV. Jacob and his wife Madeleine De Bounafous were Huguenots. Huguenots were French Protestants. There was tension between the Huguenots and Catholics. In the end, my family fled France, away from the Catholics, to England. This is how I’m here! They lived, funnily enough, in a region of West France called Rouffignac.
Not only did Jacob have an interesting life, but his son Guy was also pretty cool too. After Jacob and Madeleine moved to England, the Arch Bishop of Canterbury personally took them under his wing and provided for them. This allowed Guy to be able to become a surgeon. Guy De Rouffignac studied physics at Leiden University in Holland. He moved to Gough Square on Fleet Street, London, where he became a lecturer in human anatomy. This was so interesting to me, I love history and
the history of medicine (we learned about it in school), and to know my ancestor was a part of that is something special to me. Guy had a son called William Rouffignac who was a fisherman, he was the first member of my family to move to Cornwall and settle down.
Going further back in time, I discovered that the Mother-in-law of my 14th Great-Grandmother was the ‘Lady of the bedchamber for Queen Catherine of Aragon’. How cool is that? I love, love, love history, especially regarding the Tudors, so to find something like this out blows my mind. Not only that, but her son, Sir John Roper was the ‘Attorney General of King Henry VIII’. Wow. I was so excited to find out this stuff.
Let’s move up to the 19th Century now. My family is now in Cornwall, where I live. My 3rd Great-Grandfather was called William Triggs. He was a fisherman in a town called Newlyn. In 1896 there were riots between Newlyn fishermen and fishermen from all over Britain. This was because the newcomers started fishing on Saturday nights and Sundays, they’re supposed to be Holy days. The Newlyn fishermen didn’t like this, so decided to take action. The Newlyn fishermen and other Newlyn residents marched to the harbour and boarded the ships of the newcomers, throwing their catches overboard. So petty. When the police got involved, my 3rd Great-Grandfather, William, and two other men assaulted an officer resulting in them being arrested. So badass. They were tried at the same Assizes in Bodmin that Matthew Weeks was for the murder of Charlotte Dymond (I wrote a whole post about this if you’d like to have a read). They were all fined £50 and that was that.
William Triggs’ son, William Harvey Triggs (there are five consecutive generations of William Triggs’), fought in The First World War. After he returned he modelled for a war memorial by the sculptor L S Merrifield. My 2nd Great-Grandfather also modelled for a painting by Newlyn School (well-known Cornish artists attended this school), Stanhope Forbes. The war memorial statue is situated outside of the Bodmin Barracks – I haven’t visited it yet, but I will!
William Harvey Triggs is the father of my wonderful Great-Nan, Stella. My Nanny died when I was really little, I was about seven-years-old, but I still remember her. She died a few years after her son, my Papa, Terry. My Nan used to work as a makeup artist in the ’50s which is pretty cool because I love working with makeup, too. My Papa, my Mum’s father, was a photographer, and I adore photography! Creativity seems to run in my family. I have really fond memories of both my Nan and my Papa; I only regret that I didn’t get to spend more time with either of them. I doubt they knew anything about all the amazing and interesting people we have in our family.
All of these awesome people are from my Maternal Grandfather’s side of the family. I haven’t really tried to explore my Dad’s side or my Maternal Grandmother’s side, I intend to do next so maybe I’ll do another post about that if you want me too! I also have so many other awesome family members on my Mum’s side I’d like to share with you, I didn’t even mention the Oxenden’s!
I’d love to hear if you’ve traced any of your family and what you found! Let me know in the comments.