Sunday, 26 February 2012

Genealogische Kuriositäten (XIV): Eine Deutsche Familie zwischen Madrid und Mexiko

Es gibt Leute die scheinen zu denken, dass man nur seit der Erfindung von Flugzeuge reist und eine internationale Familie zu besitzen gehört nur an moderner Managers. Wir, die Familienforscher wissen es, dass die Realität anders ist. Als Beispiel dient dazu ein Schreiben von 1717 beurkundet von einem Madrider Notar.

Gerardo Adrián Voetz y Villalón, Madrider Einwohner, wollte einige Maßnahmen in Zusammenhang mit der Einnahme einer Erbschaft im Wege leiten. Um genau zu sagen, es geht um die Erbschaft von Juan Palmers Einwohner von Nijmegen, Niederlanden (erscheint im Protokoll als Nimweghem), in wessen Testament am 28. Dezember 1700 sein Vater  Gerardo Voetz - Kölner Einwohner - geheiratet mit Teresa Antonia Hee, (beide im 1717 gestorben) - als Erbe eingesetzt wurde.

Gerardo Sohn wollte anerkennen dass sein Bruder, José Tiburcio Voetz Villalón, ein Recht auf die Hälfte der Erbschaft hat; wer damals als Schatzmeister und Königliche Amtsrichter in der Stadt Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Pachuca in Neue Spanien (heute Mexico) arbeitete.

Dieses merkwürdige Dokument bindet Personen von 4 verschiedenen Ländern zusammen und schnitt mehr Fragen an als beantwortet.

QUELLE: Protokoll des Notars Domingo Munilla y Zuazo, 1717; Historisches Archiv der Protokolle von Madrid, Akte 14222.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Four English Gents in 16th-Century Seville

I spotted a curious notarial instrument yesterday while working in Seville. Recorded in April 1570 before notary Juan Pérez, it appears to be either a Power of Attorney or some type of authorisation needed to fulfil an earlier agreement, recorded before another notary in the same city. Notary Pérez employed several different scribes and the parties to this agreement got the short end of the stick - a scrawl that was hardly exemplary by the standards of the time, and today would require concerted effort to decipher, effort for which I did not have time at the moment. In any event, what caught my eye was that all of the parties to the agreement were English, referred to as gentlemen by the scribe, their names given as Thomas Foller, Thomas Estevenes, Gualter Leeson and Guillermo Ratiforte; I suppose they would be known to their friends and kin back home as Thomas Fowler, Thomas Stevens, Walter Leeson and William Radford. In any event the only one who actually signed the record was the first one, signing clearly and firmly Thomas Fowller with a squiggle at the end. Definitely an 'Hmm-what's-this-lot-doing-here' moment. 

SOURCE: Notary Juan Pérez, Records for 1570, Legajo 2237, Pp 221V-22V, Archivo Histórico de Protocolos, Sevilla

Friday, 17 February 2012

Genealogical Research Tips from Donald Rumsfeld

'...We know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know.'
---Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary for Defence, 2002

The famous quote above, not at first glance relevant to genealogy, is applicable to a particular blind spot which may affect researchers as the use of digitised sources online becomes ever more prevalent.

The easy availability of scanned versions of out-of-copyright publications, works often difficult to locate outside the libraries of a few cities, could lead one to the assumption that everything useful that was published before a certain date is now available somewhere on the internet. Of course, sweeping statements are a hazard in any case, but the falsehood of this assumption is particularly acute when considered in the light of the original size of the books scanned.

It seems that most automated book scanning equipment will not accomodate works larger than a certain page size. This is a particularly vexing problem for genealogists, as many early works in the field - such as groundbreaking county histories and volumes of pedigrees - seem to have been printed in the Large Folio size and so a great many of them, even while safely out of copyright by a century or so, have not received the same treatment as contemporary or newer works, simply because of their size. Researchers who may be initially surprised at not locating  - through Google books or  - certain pedigrees, charts or antiquarian content, from works legally safe to be freely made available online, should investigate the original size of the publication using reference catalogues; and if it was Octavo or larger, then it's probably pointless to keep searching online - back to the 'Physical' library.

One such work, of great value but not online - nor likely to be in the short term - is George Baker's History and Antiquities of the County of Northampton, a work I recently needed for its pedigree of the Knightley family of Fawsley, which turned out to be but one example of the sort of ancient gem one cannot take for granted online. That said, thanks to my digital camera, I am happy to remedy the Internet's deficiency in this regard, and hope others may also find the below pedigree useful in due course!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Otro escudo por la borda

No, si de aqui a unos años el libro más breve de la Biblioteca será uno titulado algo así como Compendio de Heráldica Muncipal Española. Por lo menos, si se limita a escudos entonces vigentes. Ultimamente los escudos parecen estar desapareciendo de las 'imagenes corporativas' municipales con más rapidez que de la fachada de un caserón derribado furtivamente. Ya hace unas semanas el Blog de Juan José Carrión difundía para conocimiento general la supresión del escudo del municipio tinerfeño de Adeje. Ahora, leo que Puerto Real - municipio gaditano en el que alguna vez he recompuesto un linaje, valiéndome de padrones y protocolos debido a la quema de los registros sacramentales - también se suma a la moda

Los árboles que flotan sobre las olas no tienen desperdicio. No sé si tiene algún significado zen o son un invento japonés. Pero, como no tienen raíces, son enteramente apropiados para simbolizar el desecho de un escudo y su frívola sustitución. 

Saturday, 4 February 2012

'Who Do You Think You Are?' Broadcasts My Work on Martin Sheen's Spanish Ancestry

Last night's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? treated the American viewing audience to the family history of one of the nation's best known actors, Martin Sheen. I've been gratified by how well the broadcast was received, and in particular how much interest was elicited by one of the strands of the story - that of a philandering 18th-century Galician magistrate. As I was ferreting the details out of dusty old records I personally thought ithe developing saga was enthralling,  but wasn't sure if others would be as entertained by it as I was.

After so many months of carrying around in my head the remarkable story of Sheen's ancestor Don Diego Francisco Suárez, I am delighted that it has at last been shared with the wider public. Mr. Sheen and his family also seem to have found this branch of his tree to be one of the most interesting ones, saying in an interview that 'They were fascinated with the irony, particularly on my Spanish side, when we discovered that wretched great, great, great, great grandfather Don Diego Francisco Suarez. That was a knuckleball that we weren't anticipating and I took it very personal. That was the one that really grabbed the attention around here in the family and caused quite a bit of eyebrow raising... My great, great, great grandfather prosecuted my great, great, great grandmother. And that was the biggest surprise and the most intriguing part of the whole journey.'

Genealogy can be more interesting than the very best fiction.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Genealogical Oddities (XIII): An indigent (Flemish) Captain

Life after combat has never been easy for the wounded warrior and is not today either, as some of the stories of young men returning from Iraq or Helmand Province show us only too well. But next Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day, if you're in the US) spare a thought for Captain Juan Meyer.

On 27 July 1719 a veteran appeared before a notary in Madrid to execute an affidavit that was entered in the notary's register as a 'Declaration of Poverty'. In fact, it tells more of a story than that. Juan Bautista Mayer (or Meyer, as he signed his name) stated that he was formerly a Captain of the Cuirassiers in the regiment of 'Monsieur Gaitan' in the Army of Flanders. He states that he is in poor health and resides with Lieutenant-General Don Juan Idiáquez, 'in whose home and at whose expense I have lived for a long time now'. Mayer goes on to certify that he is not married, has no children and no close family, and so as he could expect no resources or intervention from any other quarter when the time came, he wanted to explicitly designate General Idiáquez as the person charged with making whatever funeral and burial arrangements for Captain Mayer as the General should see fit.

In other words, Mayer had to make sure that he left someone proper written permission to bury him. Bureaucracy...

SOURCE: Records of notary Domingo de Munilla y Zuazo, Archivo Histórico de Protocolos de Madrid, Legajo 14222.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Heraldry of an Annulled Knight

One may wonder if there are any heraldic consequences to Sir Fred Goodwin's loss of his knighthood, a matter receiving a great deal of media attention today. I've not been able to find any reference to his having received a grant of arms and it may simply be that the great man was so busy in the years following 2004 that he had no time to petition for arms.

In any event, as he was a Knight Bachelor I believe the heraldic import of this turn of events would simply be that he loses the right to adorn depictions of his arms with the badge and ribbon appropriate to said honour. [The heraldic equivalent of a ceremony similar to Alfred Dreyfus' degradation as shown in a famous contemporary engraving - wonder if this could now be re-enacted outside RBS HQ in Gogarburn?]

Sadly, as I say I could find no illustration of Sir Fred's coat of arms from which to depict the removal of said ribbon and badge, so I've had to come up with my own. Not having had my second coffee of the day I cannot yet blazon the full achievement save for the central charge, an increasingly common one in austerity-era heraldry, a clutch of Pounds Squandered. Also I was unsure whether present heraldic practice makes a Baton Sinister or Bordure Gobony more appropriate so to be on the safe side I've used both, no doubt equally richly deserved.