Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Arms of Robert Dow, Merchant Taylor of London (1517-1612)

Whilst in London last week I visited the City's historic church of St Botolph without Aldgate and admired its unique memorial to Robert Dow, Master of the Merchant Taylors in 1578 and a generous philanthropist. The only images of this memorial that I was able to find online focused - understandably - on the man himself; the arms of the Merchant Taylors' Company take pride of place atop the whole but at the bottom of this fine monument, and at something of an angle to the viewer, we find his arms as well, and I am pleased to share a photo of them. Dow's family seem to have been an armigerous lineage from Suffolk and his pedigree was recorded in the 1568 Visitation of London. 

The arms are clearly canting, but in view of this it's all the more surprising that there seems to have been so much confusion around the correct form of his surname, even in his lifetime. The published version of the Visitation - which, one hopes, faithfully reproduces the Herald's notes - give it as Dove, and biographical materials about him reference accounts of 'Robert Dove' as Collector of a subsidy. Yet the monument clearly refers to him as Dow. Strype's survey of London indicates that the initial marker, a brass plate erected by his family and heir, referred to him as Dow; but the more imposing monument that we see today, erected by the Merchant Taylors in the 17th century, makes it Dove again. One almost begins to wonder if the letter w was pronounced with a Germanic sound in Jacobean times! In any event, if one happens to be in the vicinity of Aldgate this memorial to a liveryman is well worth a look-in.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A Title Reborn

This week I was pleased to read that the Duchess of Medinaceli has agreed to cede one of her titles, that of Count of San Martin de Hoyos, to one of her grandsons, Luis Medina, who hitherto held no title. I have no personal interest in this matter, but had expressed a general view earlier this year in this blog that when one person accumulates some considerable number of titles, the lesser-known titles cease to serve at least one of their purposes: keeping alive the memory of the accomplishments of their first grantee. When any given title is, in a sense, buried under better-known ones, it becomes very much like a portrait of an ancestor left to gather dust in an attic. I even expressed the opinion that where a Grandee unites several titles in their person, the Crown should encourage them to distribute them among their closest relations - siblings and children - so that the more obscure ones should not fall into total disuse.

The 1st Count of San Martín de Hoyos (1852-1914)

It appeals to my sense of justice to see at least one instance of this being done, and as to whether or not it works, well, the proof is in the pudding. Even though my career brings me into frequent contact with books and articles referring to members of the Spanish peerage, I confess that I had been completely unaware that there ever was such a person as a Count of San Martín de Hoyos. Now I know.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Genealogical Oddities (XXVI): A Rothschild line in 19th-century Barcelona?

Rothschild is one of those surnames that rather leaps off of the page whenever it turns up unexpectedly in research. An entry in the index to civil birth records for the city of Barcelona caught my eye. It records the birth in Barcelona's University district on 16 February 1894 of Juana Elisa Laura, stated to be the daughter of Ernesto Philippe, aged 36, native of Wesel, and Ida Rothschild, aged 30, native of Frankfurt. The child's paternal grandparents are named as Jacob Philippe and Johanna Franken, and Charles Rothschild and Lissete Rothschild.

This in turn led me to a notice published 7 years earlier in Barcelona daily La Vanguardia announcing this couple's marriage. The German text contains a few spelling errors and I think it likely that the typographer had no idea what he was being asked to compose. But the details of the bride and groom, and their parents, match the above birth record except for one point: the bride's mother is named as Selle Salomon. Her husband, here named as Carl Rothschild, is said to have died in London (before 1887).

I visited, among others, the excellent genealogy page on the Rothschild archive site, but was unable to find a match to this Carl or Ida. They note that 'Rothschild was by no means a unique name and there were other (unrelated) families called Rothschild originating in Frankfurt', so this may be the nature of the above record; on the other hand, the names and the references to both Frankfurt and London seem indicative of a link to 'the' Rothschild family.

Red herring or missing link? Either way, a few minutes' genealogical entertainment.