chrisdolley (chrisdolley) wrote,

Tarzan: My Long Lost Cousin are opening their doors for three free days - which is both a mouthful and a bargain this person couldn't refuse. So, I might be knee deep in family records for the next three days.

But I do have a good excuse.

I started researching my family tree back in the 70s, tracking down parish records, travelling all over the country until ... disaster. I'd traced my family back to the tiny village of Betchworth, relatives were on every page of the parish register until ... a torn page. And a note in the margin saying that all the pre-1760 entries had unfortunately been destroyed when a dog (unnamed) decided that the parish register trunk was just the kind of place to give birth in.

Naturally I suspected a conspiracy. A ruse to hide a secret marriage between one of my forebears and a Prince of the Realm. I didn't realise how close to the truth I'd been.

Close that is in a lateral, several-generations-removed kind of way.

I wasn't exactly related to the Royal Family. I was related to Tarzan.

For those who find this hard to believe, here's the evidence: In 1105, in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, Robert d'Oilli, constable of Oxford Castle married Edith Sigulfson, daughter of Lord Greystoke.

And we all know who Lord Greystoke is.

My only problem was proving the link between the Norman baron whose father fought with William at Hastings ... and the illiterate brickworkers living in 1760 Surrey.

But I'd seen Alex Haley's Roots. Could I produce my own book Branches - one man's search to prove his link to the King of the Jungle?

So began my hunt to find Kunte Cnut and Chicken Godgifu. Or failing those, Cheetah.

It's pretty well documented that the origin of the Dolley name is via D'Oyley and d'Ouilly. And I've even visited the village in Calvados where the name comes from (It's called Pont D'Ouilly now and before that Ouilly le Basset)

But that vital medieval link still eludes me. Maybe I should try Africa?

A Royal Postscript: just to show how close I was to finding a royal ancestor (other than the King of the Jungle) Edith Sigulfson was Henry I's mistress and bore him a son, the Baron of Okehampton. So royal blood flows in a cousin, several bastards removed.

Tags: family, genealogy, humor, humour, oxford, royal, tarzan, tree

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