Monday, December 27, 2010

Tudor Trevor

My first encounter with the name Tudor Trevor was in the early 1990s in a reference titled: "Annals and Antiquities of The Counties and County Families of Wales", by Thomas Nicholas. It was first published London, 1872 and reprinted by the Genealogical Publishing Co., 1991. It has served me well in my Welsh genealogical research particularly for my surname JONES. There are at least 32 JONES families listed in the index. The JONES surname was connected to the TREVOR surname among several families, and this became the starting point for many of my tree climbing branches. Extensive information is given on several TREVOR family groups on pages 395-396, Vol.I; p. 411, Vol.I; pp. 415-416, Vol.I; pp. 456-457, Vol.I; and the most detailed connected to the surname JONES pp. 354-356, Vol.I. This reference started me on many adventures.

A second reference used frequently in my JONES family research was discovered on the self of a rare book store. It is entitled: "The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales..." by Sir Bernard Burke. It was first published in 1884. The JONES surname is found on pp. 546-549, with 108 Jones families listed. On page 1035 is found:

"Tudor Trevor (Lord of Hereford, Whittington, and both Maelors; founder of the Tribe of the Marches, surnamed TREVOR, from the place of his birth, co. Denbigh, son of YNYR AP CADFORCH, Lord of Whittington and both Maelors, in Powys, by RHEINGAR, his wife, dau. and heir of LLUDDOCA AP CARADOC VREICHFRAS, Lord of Hereford, in South Wales."

Little did I know that after more than 20 years of genealogical research, this would be the source of my Y-chromosome. Much more to come.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Human Needs

Oxygen, water, food (sugars, fats, proteins), clothing, shelter, security, and social group, are all foundational to our human existence. The environment that surrounds one is often helpful or harmful in helping to provide for these basic human needs. This was especially true for our family's small piece of the world. The two previous posts have shown the water, and rocks which make up most of the environment in which our Jones family came to live. By itself, the weather would have changed around the priority for some of the items, making clothing and shelter perhaps more important. [During winter months especially!]

It has been estimated that about 5 hectares (a hectare is 2.47 acres) are needed to support one human. Of course this assumes the land can be planted or grazed upon. The map to the right shows roughly the land that might be best to live upon in our little part of the world. The water (ocean, lakes, rivers, and streams) would certainly provide a plentiful source of food and water. The land is another story. What parts could you farm or raise livestock upon? The geography appears to divide the land into regions that are separated by hills and mountains. There are four major land divisions that could support social groups (families). I have shown these by Roman numbers I, II, III, and IV. As family groups would increase in size, the demands on the land and sea would also increase. The families that gain control of the areas of "plenty" would have an advantage over others. As time would tell, these four geographic areas became the major settlement areas of our land.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Last Choice

Mountains, mountains, and more mountains seemed to form the character of the land. Surrounded by ocean (sea level) on three sides, the land quickly rises to over 600 feet. [see last post] Here billions of years ago, the first limestone, sandstone, and slate were formed. [Known as the Cambrian period which is thought to represent the earliest geologic period.]

The map to the right is my attempt to show the tallest mountain peaks and their geographic locations. The center of the compass is located approximately in the central Beacons. The highest peak is 2097 feet and in 1586 a writer named Camden called the Becons "Arthure's Hill". To the north shows the general distribution of the mountain peaks which slice the land into ridges, hollows, moors, lakes, forest and streams. The highest peak is Yr Wyddfa [Snowdon] which in the Welsh is Eryri meaning "abode of Eagles". Snowdonia refers to the whole group of mountain peaks that form a distinctive ridge which separates this part from the rest of the land. The mountain ridges run various directions, some north to south, some northeast to southwest, some east to west, producing a very narrow coastline and a quilt like pattern of land which could support farming and agriculture. You can certainly understand how the land provided areas that could be settled (family tribal groups) yet separated from one another by mountain ridges rather than by miles. You can also understand how this land might be the last choice in which to settle your family.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Straddling The Fence

From the passing of Vortigern around 480 AD, until the arrival of Tudor Trevor around 900 AD, there was a great deal of change in the home of our grandfathers. The Saxons by their military conquest and colonization, drove the Britons who did not want to comply into the highest parts of the island. The most western part of the island is shown in the picture to the right. The green areas roughly shows the land above 600 feet. This land then rose rapidly to peaks of 3560 feet in the northwest, following a central ridge to 2906 feet in the south central area. Surrounded by ocean on three sides, and two rivers on the other, this rock and water world became the home to our Jones family. The two rivers almost joined on the eastern side, but had a narrow land bridge which connected the more fertile plans to the east and the limestone ridges to the west. This land bridge became the battle ground for many during this 400 year period.

The Welsh language had its beginning during the years 500 AD - 600 AD. It became a distinctive branch of the Brythonic language tree separating from the Irish and Scottish tongues. Understanding the geography of the land helps one understand the multiple tribal divisions that occurred during this time period. This land produced a large number of isolated pockets of settlements which were able to survive among the rugged terrain. One of these tribal groups became our Jones family.

By 600 AD the Saxons were knocking on the door. They built their first fence called Watt's Dyke sometime during this period. It began at Oswestry Old Fort and extended north to provide a boundary and cattle fence. As time will tell, this fence straddles much of the land that became our Jones family land. As during the Roman occupation, our family must have maintained a trade business between the two cultures. We survived, and we must have managed to walk this fence.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Infamous Vortigern. What more can one say. Manuscripts published around the time that Tudor Trevor was born ca. 900 AD, continued the accounts of Vortigern. A Welsh manuscript translated by William Cooper contains more stories about grandfather Vortigern. This manuscript, written in Welsh, first sets the stage:

"And when Constantine was dead, there arose a great dispute amongst the nobles of the realm concerning the election of a new king. Some wished to have Ambrosius for their king, but others were swayed towards Uther, whilst yet others wished to make one of their own friends be king."

Constantine III was proclaimed emperor in Britain 407AD and led a revolt against central Rome authority. He ruled from Arles, and Britain revolts from his claims around 409AD. He falls 411AD, thus completely ending any Roman rule in Britain. It was after this year, that the "nobles of the realm" met to discuss what was to be done.

The manuscript continues:

"But at the last, when no agreement could be reached between them, there came Vortigern before them. And he was one of the elders of the land of Britain whose wisdom was deemed the highest."

As far as I know, this is the best words that any of the writers had to say about Vortigern. A wise elder of the land! From this point all else is down hill. Vortigern is given credit for setting up one of the sons of Constantine as the new king. He then gets the Picts to kill this new king because he (Vortigern) really wanted to be king himself. He then leaves the Picts to their own blame who get hung by those Britons who blame Vortigern. This action then excited the Picts to take vengeance upon the Britons, who then need the Saxons to help fight the Picts. When the Saxons succeed, the Britons then rebelled against the Saxons and Vortigern, led by the very sons of Vortigern. This throws Vortigern out of power, only to return after his eldest son is killed by poison from the hand of Vortigern's Saxon wife. The Saxons and Vortigern return to power, only to have the Saxons drive Vortigern to the western most part of the island...where the world ends!

Wow, sounds like one of those soap operas on afternoon T.V. At any rate, when Tudor born at a small hamlet called Trevor (Trefor) around 900 AD came into this world, you might understand how the family would not want to advertise that they were a direct descendant from this Benedict Arnold of the Welsh world!

The Welsh manuscript is called "Brut y Bryttaniait", "The Chronicle of the Early Britons". It is found at Jesus College MS LXI. An annotated translation is given by William R. Cooper MA, Phd, ThD. The story of Constantine III is given in the text by Peter Salway, "The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain", starting p. 303.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Ultimate Taboo

Nennius completes his chapter 37 with these words: "Thus the maid was delivered up to the king, who slept with her, and loved her exceedingly."

The story continues in chapter 38 that Hengist (the Anglo-Saxon chief) became the father-in-law to Vortigern and advised him to accept more Saxons to the island. Hengist then sent for his son and brother who brought "forty ships". Nennius states that the "incautious sovereign" agreed to this.

As if Vortigern needed more to make his name odious to the people Ninnus was writing, he adds in chapter 39: "In the meantime, Vortigern, as if desirous of adding to the evils he had already occasioned, married his own daughter, by whom he had a son." Can you believe it? Incest, the taboo of all time was added to the "evils" that Vortigern committed.

Much more of this story as given by Nennius is found in chapters 39-49. It would seem that Vortigern was advised by "his twelve wise men", to "Retire to the remote boundaries of your kingdom: there build and fortify a city to defend yourself, for the people you have received are treacherous; they are seeking to subdue you by stratagem, and even during your life, to seize upon all the countries subject to your power, how much more will they attempt, after your death!"

It is here, in the "remote boundaries" that Vortigern founds his fortify city in the mountains of Snowdonia.

For those who have an interest in reading the rest of the story, see Medieval-Sourcebook:Nennius: Historia Brittonum, 8th century.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Resigned to Foreigners

"And now the Saxon chief prepared an entertainment, to which he invited the king, his officers, and Ceretic, his interpreter, having previously enjoined his daughter to serve them so profusely with wine and ale, that they might soon become intoxicated."

Here we go. Interesting that Nennius calls Hengist "the Saxon chief" and Vortigern "king". They also needed an "interpreter", thus indicating that their languages were by this time separate and distinct. But the plan was simple. Get everyone drunk and let the hormones fly!

"This plan succeeded, and Vortigern, at the instigation of the devil, and enamoured with the the beauty of the damsel, demanded her, through the medium of his interpreter, of the father, promising to give for her whatever he should ask. Then Hengist, who had already consulted with the elders who attended him of the Oghgul race, demanded for his daughter the province, called in English Centland, in British, Ceint, (Kent). This cession was made without the knowledge of the king, Guoyrancgonus who then reigned in Kent, and who experienced no inconsiderable share of grief, from seeing his kingdom thus clandestinely, fraudulently, and imprudently resigned to foreigners. Thus the maid was delivered up to the king, who slept with her, and loved her exceedingly."

Quotes taken from: Medieval Sourcebook: Nennius: Historia Brittonum, 8th century

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Made Themselves at Home

Writing in his "Historia Brittonum" around 942 AD, Nennius continues the story of our grandfather Jones Vortigern. In paragraph 36 he writes:

"After the Saxons had continued some time in the island of Thanet, Vortigern promised to supply them with clothing and provision, on condition they would engage to fight against the enemies of his country. But the barbarians having greatly increased in number, the Britons became incapable of fulfilling their engagement, and when the Saxons, according to the promise they had received, claimed a supply of provisions and clothing, the Britons replied: 'Your number is increasing; your assistance is now unnecessary, you may, therefore, return home, for we can no longer support you.' and hereupon they began to devise means of breaking the peace between them."

So in the mind of Nennius, the Saxons made themselves at home on the land of Thanet. [Thanet is the eastern most part of the county of present day Kent.] They were then asked nicely to go back home, but of course they refused. In paragraph 37 the Saxons respond:

"But Hengist, in whom united craft and penetration, perceiving he had to act with an ignorant king, and a fluctuating people, incapable of opposing much resistance, replied to Vortigern, 'We are, indeed, few in number, but, if you will give us leave, we will send to our county, for an additional number of forces, with whom we will fight for you and your subjects." Vortigern assenting to this proposal, messengers were dispatched to Scythia, where selecting a number of warlike troops, they returned with sixteen vessels, bringing with them the beautiful daughter of Hengist."

By now you can already guess what is going to happen. Much like the fall of Troy, the fall of the Britons is blamed partly on the beautiful daughter of Hengist! More to come.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Rest of the Story

Some 200 years after Bede, another Celtic monk named Nennius wrote his account of the history of Britain. He was originally from what became North Wales, and had a great deal to say about our grandfather Vortigern. His view was certainly from the ancient Britons who had received the oral stories regarding the period after Roman withdrawal. He includes a complete account, "the rest of the story", regarding Vortigern and his activities. In the prologue his Historia Brittonum Nennius writes:

"Nennius, the lowly minister and servant of the servants of God, by the grace of God, disciple of St. Elbotus, to all the followers of truth sendeth health."

Here, Nennius certainly saw himself as God's spokesman writing to the "...followers of truth...". He goes on to say:

"...I was indignant, that the name of my own people, formerly famous and distinguished, should sink into oblivion, and like smoke be dissipated."

In chapter 31. he gets to the time of Vortigern stating:

"Vortigern then reigned in Britain. In his time, the natives had cause of dread, not only from the inroads of the Scots and Picts, but also from the Romans, and their apprehensions of Ambrosisus."

Interestingly, here Ambrosisus is viewed as a threat to the Britons and could not be the "King Arthur" that some writers have postulated!

Regarding the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons, Nennius reports that three vessels had been "exiled from Germany", and arrived in Britain. Here it is clear that Nennius felt that an "exile" was the cause of their arrival, not an invitation!

The story continues: "Vortigern received them as friends, and delivered up to them the island which is in their language called Thanet, and, by the Britons, Ruym."

"The Saxons were received by Vortigern four hundred and forty-seven years after the passion of Christ, and, according to the tradition of our ancestors, from the period of their first arrival in Britain, to the first year of the reign of king Edmund, five hundred and forty-two years; and to that in which we now write, which is the fifth of his reign, five hundred and forty-seven years." [Edmund I, King of English - 27 Oct. 939 - 26 May 946.]

So, at the beginning, this Celtic cleric did not blame Vortigern for inviting the Anglo-Saxons. It was the fact that a certain group had been exiled from Germany! More to come.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wicked Deeds

Between Gildas, writing around 550 AD, and the Anglo-Saxons, beginning their writing around 850 AD, was another cleric named Bede. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation is considered by most to be the first true history of the English Nation. He was born in 673 AD and ordained deacon in 692 AD. He was made a priest in 703 AD and died 735 AD. He wrote his account around 700 AD. He is brought up in an Anglo-Saxon world, that had become Christians since Gildas called them "...a race hateful both to God and men...".

In Chapter XIV of his book, Bede writes the following: "...Whereupon, not long after, [a severe plague is described], a more severe vengeance, for their horrid wickedness, fell upon the sinful nation. They consulted what was to be done, and where they should seek assistance to prevent or repel the cruel and frequent incursions of the northern nations; and they all agreed with their King Vortigern to call over to their aid, from the parts beyond the sea, the Saxon nation; which, as the event still more evidently showed, appears to have been done by the appointment of our Lord Himself, that evil might fall upon them for their wicked deeds."

Here is recorded that "...they all agreed.." to invite the Saxons over for a visit. Thus grandfather Vortigern had help in his decision. Bede also feels that God himself arranged the whole thing so that the Britons would be punished for such evil ways. It certainly seems to make a difference as to who is writing the checks!

Bede's writings are found in "Bede's Ecclesiastical History of The English Nation", J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., London, 1910. The quote above can be found on pages 21-22.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fleeing Fire

The Anglo-Saxons are believed to originate from three tribes of Germanic peoples who occupied what is now Denmark and part of the costal areas around this peninsula. Angles, Jutes, and Saxons are the names. It is thought that they had already established trade relationships with the Britons and had for many years prior to our Vortigern been in contact with the island. When the Picts arrived from the north, and the Irish (Scotti) from the west, they were part of the defense of the island. The Anglo-Saxon historians, writting some 400 years after Gildas around 900 AD, write the events this way:

446. The British sent men over the sea to Rome, and asked help against the Picts, but they never had it, because they were on an expedition against king Attila the Hun. They sent then to the Angles, and the Anglian athelings, with the same request.

449. ...In their days the Anngles were invited here by king Vortigern, And they then came to Britain in three longships, landing at Ebbesfleet. King Vortigern gave then territory in the southeast of this land, on the condition that they fight the Picts. This they did, and had victory wherever they went. They then sent to Angel, commanded more aid, and commanded that they should be told of the Britons' worthlessness, and the choice nature fo the land. They soon sent hither a greater host to help the others. Then came the men of three Germanic tribes: Old Saxons; Angles and Jutes...First of all, they killed and drove away the king's enemies: then later they turned on the king and the British, destroying through fire and the sword's edge.

455. Hengest and Horsa fought Vortigern the king, in the place called Aegelesthrep his brother Horsa was killed, and after that Hengest and his son Aesc received the kingdom.

456. Hengest and Aesc fought the Britons in the place called Crecganford. There they killed four companies. The Britons gave up Kent. and in great fear fled to London.

465. Hegest and Aesc foought the Wesh near Wippedesfleot and killed twelve Welsh ealdormen. One of their own thanes was killed there, whose name was Wipped.

473. Hengest and Aesc fought the Welsh and seized countless spoils of war. The Welsh fled the English as one flees fire.

The above was taken from: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, translated and collated by, Anne Savage, Crescent Books, New York, 1995, p. 29.

Friday, November 5, 2010

An Indolent and Slothful Race

Gildas was the first local writer to record his feelings after the Roman world collapsed. Born around 500 AD in what was to become north Wales, he grew up to become a Celtic monk who felt the turmoil of the years following Roman withdrawal. He also composed a "Rule" for monastic life which clearly shows he was from that side of the street. The Anglo-Saxons had arrived, and Gildas was trying to make heads or tails what what was happening around him. He states in his opening that his premise is: "...for it is my present purpose to relate the deeds of an indolent and slothful race,...". He states: "..for, alas! the subject of my complaint is the general destruction of every thing that is good, and the general growth of evil throughout the land..."

In section II, which he calls "THE HISTORY", item 23, he records the following:

"Then all the councillors, together with that proud tyrant Gurthrigern [Vortigern]
,the British king, were so blinded, that, as a protection to their country, they sealed its doom by inviting in among them (like wolves into the sheep-fold), the fierce and impious Saxons, a race hateful both to God and men, to repel the invasions of the northern nations. Nothing was ever so pernicious to our country, nothing was ever ever so unlucky."

Thus begins the history of our great grandfather Vortigern!

[The reference for these quotes is: Medieval Sourcebook (Gildas (c.504-570) Works (complete).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Its Darkest Hour

Early church fathers in the century before the Angles and Saxons arrive at our island, [according to later church writers invited by grand father Vortigern!], produced a writing called Vita Antonii (Life of Anthony) which romanticized the hermit communities of the Egyptian desert. This writing was to have a major impact on the early Christan missionaries that would come to our island, and that other one across the Irish Sea. [St. Patrick is an example.]

In the larger and more centrally organized church, St. Jerome [first to translate the Bible into Latin.], and St. Augustine of Hippo [explained why Rome was not eternal after it collapsed, stating there was a bigger picture called The City of God], founded monasteries based upon the practices of poverty, chastity, and obedience. As part of this early church development, St. Benedict stabilized this monastic life by setting strict rules joining daily chores, farming, prayer, reading of scriptures, and the celebrating of the Eucharist together in community, all day, every day. [It was a Benedictine mission from Rome that was ultimately responsible for converting the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity many years yet to come.]

Thus, by the time our Jones family faced one of its darkest hours, two separate views of the
Christian community were to become strongly active on our island. One having roots in the Egyptian desert, now called Monastic Asceticism, the other having roots in the St. Benedictine monastic life, but centered at Rome. These roots were to lay the foundation of the Celtic Church.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Belief Systems

Following the power vacuum that Roman withdrawal generated, local "kingdoms" emerged that patterned closely to those of the pre-Roman tribal groups. These kingdoms were essentially a return to the Celtic tribal system with distinctive leaders identified. Oral traditions were again brought to life by these rulers who wanted their name and accomplishments remembered. The positions of poet and bard returned to the forefront.

It took about 200 years for the dust to finally settle, and for folks to start writing down their stories. Gildas (ca.494-570 AD)was the first to record post-Roman history, and had a few strong opinions about what had just happened to the people of Briton. His book De Excido et Conquestu Britanniae had some pretty harsh words regarding the leadership left after the Roman withdrawal. To understand his writing it is helpful to describe the context of his environment and its own evolution.

As discussed before, Christianity came to the island as a result of persecution. This same persecution had help spread Christianity to Asia Minor, Italy, and Africa. By the time Christianity became the state religion, there were different views and opinions on how to live this Christian faith. In the Egyptian desert, individuals saw self-denial and spiritual asceticism (the practice of strict self-denial) as the highest Christian ideal of right behavior. This was often done in isolation from the world. (hermits and monks) On the other hand, prosperous Christian communities needed to develop activities surrounding large gatherings. These involved activities such as singing, preaching, sharing life experiences, and eating together. These larger groups also needed organization, leadership, direction and a shared belief system. This was to develop into the organized church and its traditions centered at the city of Rome. Thus, by the time the Roman empire had collapsed, Christianity had grown and branched into two major belief systems. More to come!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Holding the Bag

Vortigern [Gwrtheirn in the Welsh] was left holding the bag. He is blamed by later writers as being responsible for inviting those folks we call "Anglo-Saxons" to our island. Some present day writers believe that "Vortigern" which means "high king", was actually the name given to many individuals. Thus it was a symbolic name and not actually the name of one person. The Welsh however give a detailed genealogy of this "high king", and I give it as recorded in Heraldic Visitations of Wales and Part of the Marches by Lewys Dwnn, Vol. I, p.xv. Vortigern is 11th in descent from Beli Mawr. The founder of our Jones linage in Wales was 16th in descent from Vortigern. From Beli to Vortigern was roughly 400 years. The eleven generations would average 400/11= 36.36 years per generation. From Vortigern to Tudor Trevor was about 550 years, thus 550/16= 34.38 years per generation. Not a long lifespan, but for the time peroid the figures fit pretty well.

The genealogy in Dwnn is given as follows: Gwrtheirn Gwrthenau [called in English Vortiger]

his son: Cyndeirn : his son : Rhudd Fedel frych : his son : Rhydwf : his son : Pasgan : his

son: Cadell Dehurnllue: his son : Gwnfiw frych: his son : Gwnnan: his son : Gwriawn: his son:

Biodderch: his son : Bywyn: his son: Gwaethiawe: his son : Gwrgenaw: his son: Cadfarch: his

son Member [Ynys]: his son : Tudor Trefor!

What a list of names and spellings. This is the beginning of our JONES family lineage, of course holding the bag.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Who's on First?

History does record that those who remained on the Island after the Roman legions where withdrawn requested military assistance in 410 AD. Honorius, the western Emperor responded by "enjoining and authorizing them to look to their own defence."

"Who's on first?" was the question of the day. Each prior Roman province was left to its own defense. At least they were given authority to defend themselves. Scant historical records and accounts exist to help us understand what really happened. Northern Britain (from Yorkshire to the Clyde) seemed to organize their defenses along the northern frontier. Coel Hen who some believe to be the legendary "Old King Cole" is credited to be the first local ruler to help stabilize this area. [ca. 410-430 AD] Southern Britain (England south of Yorkshire) seemed to organize around the tribal leaders from the southern tribes including the Cornovii. Here is identified a "High King" of Britain. Our Jones families' legends begin with this person called "Vortigern" or in the Latin "Vitalinus". In the Welsh language he is called "Gwrtheryn Gwrthenau" or Vortigern the Thin! He came to power around 425 AD, and is believed to be the first post-Roman ruler to be declared "High King". Vortigen is the 11th in descent from Beli Mawr. Perhaps it is this linage that gave him the right to be called "High King". Our Jones family comes through this line, but much more will be said about this.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The World Turned Upside Down

The world turned upside down! Rome had withdrawn its legions and military control. The towns, forts, barracks, and most importantly the maintenance of these were forever lost. Imagine what it would have been like to have 6,000 to 12,000 men leave the town (Viroconium Cornoviorum) where you had your business. Over night it would become a ghost town. Those remaining would most likely be the ones that Rome did not want to take, or perhaps those who were not required to go because of family ties or poor health. At any rate, the military and most of the governmental folks pulled out. Our Jones family (those not in the military) remained. What were we to do? The family leaders would be looked to for direction and leadership. Those who had become more "Roman" , but for whatever reason, remained behind, were seen as leaders. Someone take charge! The family leaders would turn to what they knew, to the Celtic ways. Roman influence and knowledge would remain among those "Romanized". [You can understand that anyone with Roman connections or background would be looked upon for leadership.]

This time in our Jones family history is the least documented of any period. Very little is written, and very little is really known about this time frame. [After the Roman withdrawal.] Those writing the history books had left, and those remaining did not write or record their history. Oral tradition, written down centuries later suggest that the areas occupied by Rome broke apart into multiple smaller sections. The most northern part seems to have clustered together forming "The Men of The North". This area was to become known as Strathcyde. Legend places Coel Hen [Old King Coel] at the head of this area south of Hadrian's Wall. This area came under fierce attack from the Picts.

The southwestern part of the island, centered at Cornwall and Devon, developed its own identity.
This area would even develop its own separate Brythronic language called Cornish.

The southeastern part (centered at Kent) seems to have come under the leadership of Vortigern, the direct descendant of Beli Mawr.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What a Mess

In 330 AD, Constantine transferred the seat of government to his eastern part of the Roman world called Byzantium. Here he built magnificent churches, and brought works of art from all parts of the known world. He wished to make this new capital "Constantinople" the center of Christian religion. He elevated the "Bishop of Constantinople" to a position equal to that of the "Bishop of Rome". This left our families' land pretty much out in the cold.

The pagan world would not sit quietly by, and there was a rebellion against the Christian world which tried to revive the Graeco-Roman religions. What a mess it was. In 392 AD, Theodosius declared all "Heathen" sacrifices to be high treason, thus establishing Christianity the sole religion of the state. The "Church" and "State" became one.

In our Western part of the Roman world, we had enough troubles of our own. The Roman Empire had withdrawn both the military and political organization that our Jones family had been part of for more than 400 years. The Western part of the Roman world was in a state of siege and near collapse. By 406 AD - 407 AD the Romans had "left the building" and we were on our own. The Gothic sack of the city of Rome took place in 410 AD. What were we to do?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pagans We Were

As discussed in an earlier blog, Christianity probably entered Britain as a result of direct persecution. At the time of its arrival, [estimated to be between 249 AD - 305 AD], it was considered an "outlaw religion". You would want to keep things fairly secret since your life might depend on it. However, the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire made it evident to the Roman rulers that those following Christianity had become too numerous and influential to be eliminated. An "Edict of Toleration" was pronounced in 311 AD, and Christianity was recognized as a legitimate religion. This edict declared: "We grant to the Christians and to all others full liberty of following that religion which each may choose."

Constantine the Great and his fellow emperor Licinius recognized Christianity as their "first and principal concern" at Milan in March 313 AD. This struggle [to recognize Christianity] has been recorded in great detail by Eusebius who lived between 263 AD and 339AD. His "The History of the Church", believed to have been written around 324 AD and describes the lives of 146 martyrs, and the teaching of 47 heretics. Eucebius was a personal friend and admirer of Constantine, and credits him as being the primary force to the declaration that Christianity would become the religion of the State. However, Constantine continued as the supreme pontiff of the religious affairs of the "State", calling himself the "bishop of bishops".

Constantine called the first general council of the Church, held at Nicea in Asia Minor. To this council bishops came from all parts of the Empire. [They traveled by the imperial post and at government expense.] It was by this time that the church in Britain seemed to be organized for they sent bishops from the dioceses of London, York, and Colchester. Thus by 325 AD, Christianity in Britain had been organized along standard church structure. Archaeological evidence shows that the early Christan church in Roman Britain was concentrated in the southeast, surrounding population centers such as London and Lincoln. To the north, this evidence is found around the city of York. There has been no evidence found that Christian burials, symbols, and churches were present in and around my Jones family land. Just imagine, before 325 AD, we were "pagans".

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To reproduce another day

The Roman Empire fell apart by a complex interaction of forces. These forces included civil war, the dividing into the Eastern and Western Empires, a mixture of religious and political events (including the rise of Christianity), the breakdown of central power, bankruptcy, invasion of Germanic tribes penetrating the Rhine fromtier, internal military revolts, and many other factors. What a mess this must have been. On our Island, all this came to a head around 400 AD - 410 AD when the last of the Roman legions were withdrawn from the island.

At this time, it was common practice for Rome to recruit "barbarian" solders to help fill the ranks of the remaining legions. [Barbarian here meaning people alien to Roman culture usually believed to be inferior.] Often, one barbarian tribe was pitted against another barbarian tribe that had been "allies" just months before. What is not readily understood is that it was aginst Roman law for the Roman citizen to carry arms. Thus for hundreds of years, our family who had become "Romanized" would have lost their fighting skills and their weapons. When the legions left the home front, there were very few remaining tribes who could manage a defense against any who wished to take control of the former "Roman" land. The Picts from the north, and the Irish from the west, had already indicated their interest in our family's land even before the last of the legions had withdrawn from it. In spite of this, our Jones family still clung to its Celtic roots, culture, and language. It was the Celtic language, and its social system that remained after the Romans withdrew. Our Jones family would survive to reproduce another day!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Legionary Veterans

Legionary veterans were viewed as military reserve, but also became leading members of provincial society. This would especially be true around Vera (Chester) and Virconium (Wroxeter) where there was a large garrison maintained. Those who could speak both the Celtic and Latin languages would certainly have an advantage over those who could not. Soldiers were allowed to engage in business (other than farming) in the provinces in which they were assigned. Since our JONES family had farmed this land for centuries, it would allow one part of the family to continue farming (feed the troops)and another part to engage in business. Records from the period show that even "troopers" could have a slave or freeman, and often these individuals would be agents for the soldier. This process must have happened on such a scale that by 200 AD soldiers were granted the legal right to set up a home, including a wife, children, slaves, and freedmen. Our family must have gone through this process, for by the time the Anglo-Saxons arrived [in another 200 to 300 years], they called us "walas".

At retirement, soldiers often returned to the province in which they had previously been stationed. Certainly, our family members would have returned to the families' land. They most likely would have settled back on their family's land and brought with them their Roman world. A study of animal species bones found around Shropshire/Cheshire plain showed that cattle was the predominate animal. This was followed by sheep, ox, horses, and pigs. Cattle and sheep were to play a major part in our JONES families' future history.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Follow the Leaders

The town of Wroxeter contained a forum, a classical Roman temple, baths, aqueduct supply, a fortress and its defenses, and a lot of houses. There is a suggestion that a large municipal stone quarry was active just outside of town. Glass production was done. Access to multiple mining areas (lead, zinc, and cooper) were just northwest, into the mountains through the only land bridge available. It must have been a very active place. The key to participation in this new Roman way of life was of course Latin. It was essential to speak it to get around in this new and different complex world. The spread of Latin (practical Latin) must have been due to the army. Over time, legionary recruits tended to come from wherever citizens were found. This would be especially true around the civil settlements that were located near the legionary bases. Since our Jones family seemed to survive, some must have become "citizens" and certainly some joined the army. Thus at least part of our family would become "Romanized". You can imagine what it must have been like with more than 5,000 men spending their money (or free time) in the only town close by. It was not until around 200 AD that Roman soldiers (other than officers) were allowed to marry. Under Roman law, illegitimate children followed the social status of their mother. Thus, serving soldiers' children were citizens or non-citizens according to their mother's status. The grant of citizenship to retiring solders included the right to full legal marriage with the wives that they had at the time of their discharge from the army. The children, now being legitimate sons or daughters of Roman fathers, were Roman citizens. Thus for around 400 years our family would have gone through this type of social arrangement.

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Kids on the Block

The Romans had a keen sense of class and pride in their family histories. In spite of this, on the whole, there is little evidence that the Romans had much in the way of racial prejudice in the modern sense. Anyone could absorb Roman culture and manners. Rome, as a culture, treated a man on the basis of what he had obtained rather than on the background from which he had come. There were privileges attached to class and legal statue, but this did not "make the man". Broadly, the class system from top to bottom was; senator, equestrian, citizen or no non-citizen, freedman, and slave. I suspect that our JONES family was at first considered "slave", but those of us who managed to survive the first few waves of Roman occupation would be considered "non-citizen" and "freedman". It would become clear fairly early that participation in the Roman way of life was necessary to survive, and this participation required Latin.

The language of law and public administration was Latin. At first Rome organized our island into administrative units called "Britannia, Superior", and "Britannia Inferior". Our JONES tribal land was in "Britannia Superior" and under the military control of the Roman fortress of Deva (now called Chester). The town of "Viroconium Cornoviorum" (Wroxeter) developed at our families' front door. This would be the first "town" that our family would ever see. The XX legion (Twentieth legion) spent a fair amount of time around this area. The legion had a nominal strength of just over 5,000 men. The bulk of the legion was the infantry. This included engineers, architects, masons, clerks, medical staff, and any other needed trades. They built the town of Viroconium (Wroxeter) in our very back yard.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Christianity brought with it a group of names including Peter, James, Andrew, Nathan, David, Philip, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and a bunch of others beside the name JOHN. Why did JOHN seem to take first place among the women and men naming their children. First, John was a follower (disciple) of Jesus. Writing about himself in his own book called John, he describes himself as " of His disciples, whom Jesus loved." [Book of John 13:22] John also records that Jesus himself gave him the responsibility to care for his mother at the time of his death. John writes:

"When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household" [Book of John 19:26-27]

Taken from The Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard, Translation, Moody Press, Chicago, 1976.

This lays the foundation for the use of the name JOHN among those mother's of the Christain faith. It was this disciple that was considered the "closest" to Jesus. Not only that, but he was given the responsibility to care for the mother of Jesus, Mary. John also is credited with writing five books of the New Testiment, thus making him one of the leading figures of the first generation of Christians. Thus, a Christian mother would want to name at least one male child JOHN. She would also want to name at least one daughter MARY. Now remember that the language these names would have been written in was LATIN. The Latin alphabet did not include the letter "J". It had the letters (sounds) "O", and "A", and "H". Therefore, the name JOHN would have been written in the Latin as "IOAN". This begins the groundwork for our surname JONES as early as 300 AD.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How do you spell JOHN

The following is a chronological account of the spelling of JOHN. Starting with the Hebrew language around 970 B.C., it has been spelled differently in many languages throughout the world. The Greek's were the second language having translated the Hebrew's sacred writings into Greek at Alexandria in the third century before the Christian era. [Called the Septuagint.] Of course the Roman Empire followed the Greeks, and their Latin took over the world. This was followed by many other languages throughout the Empire as Christianity became the Western World's official religion. It was Christianity that brought the name JOHN to our little Island.

Hebrew (900 B.C.) = Yohanan = Johanan

Greek (400 B.C.) = Ioannes = Ioannhn = Joannes

Latin (100 B.C.) = Ioan = Johannes

After Christianity introduced:

French (old) = Johan = Jehan = Jan

French (later) = Jean = Jeanno

Gaelic = Iain = Ian

Irish = Sean = Shawn

Welsh = Sion

Scotch = Jock

Russian = Ivan

Polish = Jan

Spanish = Juan

Dutch = Jan

Hungarian = Janos

Slavonic = Janez = Jovan

Italian = Giovanni

Middle English = Jon

Modern English = John

So how do you spell JOHN?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The name JOHN comes from a long, long history dating back to the Hebrew King David. It was toward the end of his reign (970 B.C.), and he was collecting supplies to build a temple to his God, Yahweh. This account is written in a book called Chronicles [I Chronicles 22-26], and gives a very detailed plan for this building. Part of this plan was assigning musicians who were to prophesy [exalt David according to the words of Yahweh] with lyres, harps, and cymbals. Our Celtic blood called these folks "bards" who continued with the harp! Anyway, David's chief "seer" was Heman who records a prayer (song) including the words "...Jerimoth Hananiah..." translated by some to be "Be gracious, O Lord, be gracious to me". This song must have been heard by others for the gatekeepers (guards) recorded in chapter 26 of the same book states that one guard name his sixth son "Johanan", meaning "Jah" [the existing one] "anan" [is gracious]. What a story. Naming your son after a song. Thus the name John comes down through the ages from a Hebrew word 'Yohanan' written 'Johanan' meaning "the existing one" [Yahweh] is gracious. [ja being an abbreviation for Yahweh used in song]

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Name of JOHN

The "official" abandonment of persecution of Christians is dated 313 A.D. Thus it was before this date that Christianity was introduced to our little part of the world. Most likely it was during the reign of Diocletian (248 A.D.) when one of the earliest Christian writers records: "It was the nineteenth year of Diocletian's reign and the month Dystrus, called March by the Romans, and the festival of the Saviour's Passion was approaching, when an imperial decree was published everywhere, ordering the churches to be razed to the ground and the Scriptures destroyed by fire, and giving notice that those in places of honour would lose their places, and domestic staff, if they continued to profess Christianity, would be deprived of their liberty. Such was the first edict against us. Soon afterwards other decrees arrived in rapid succession, ordering that the presidents of the churches in every place should all be first committed to prison and the coerced by every possible means into offering sacrifice. Then it was that many rulers of the churches bore up heroically under horrible torments, and object lesson in endurance of fearful ordeals...each was subjected to a series of different tortures, one flogged unmercifully with the whip, another racked and scraped beyond endurance, so that the lives of some came to a most miserable end."

[taken from The History of The Church by Eusebius written around 325 A.D.]

It was this Christianity that brought with it the name of JOHN.

Friday, September 10, 2010

World's End

Rome had pretty much taken over the world by might, when another belief system was beginning that took over the "hearts and minds" of those living in the this Roman world. This small sect started in Jerusalem and began to attract attention from the Romans right from its very beginning. Early on, as Christianity spread, the authorities of Rome saw it as their duty to defend public order against these men and women who seemed to them traitors or irresponsible madmen. The real rub was that the Christian's refusal to accept the divinity of the emperor, and to sacrifice to him as a god. You can certainly imagine that "The Empire" was not very concerned with the details of the morals and faiths of its hundreds of component city-states, tribes, and nations. There were scores of gods and goddesses, innumerable spirits and demons, that filled the minds of the millions and millions under Roman rule. On the other hand, Christians were "monotheists" [only one god] and in fact they felt that an "Emperor" who pretended to be a god, was really a "devil". You can begin to see how this difference might generate a conflict, more and more as those who accepted this new belief increased in number, and spread throughout the Roman world. Early in this period, the imperial authorities did not consistently seek to "stamp out" the Christan religion. Persecutions were sporadic and came in several waves over three centuries. [ The persecutions were also subject to great local variations.] Each "wave" of persecution would force many of the Christian faith to the edges of the empire. The final edge was our families' little part of the world. Interestingly, there is a place called "World's End" located among a series of terraced limestone cliffs very near the ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey. The limestone ridge can be seen from "Horseshoe Pass" on A542 in the heart of our Jones families' land.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Standing on Hadrain's Wall

Two of my daughters are shown in the picture to the right. They are standing on the remains of a section of Hadrain's Wall. At the time of Hadrain I suspect that it would not be all smiles. Just think that after 2000 years, the descendants of Beli Mawr would be standing upon the remains of The Roman Empire. Way to go descendants.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


For roughly the next 400 years the descendants of Beli mawr mananged to survive the Roman invasion, the Roman military occupation, and the Roman administration. They (the Romans) came, they saw, they conquered.[As the saying goes.] Some tribal groups were devastated, some dispersed and absorbed into other tribes, and some remained on the most part unchanged. South of Hadrian's Wall, the island was placed at peace leaving the tribal groups that survived, pretty much up to their own devises. The tribal groups north of Hadrian's Wall were left alone to continue to cause trouble for those below.

It was during this time that cities were first introduced into the tribal mentality. Large military forts and stations were requied to keep the peace, and many of the tribal groups settled around or near to these establishments. Stone structures, temples, public baths, amphitheatres, roads, mail delivery, statues, and all kinds of new things were previewed for the first time by many in my Jones family. The family groups were able to leave their hillforts behind and move into a new environment. Cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and horses must have been a major source of livelihood. It is during this time that my Jones family must have established their land settlements along the boarder of Roman control. They seem to have opportunity to settle land along a north to south path
connecting the River Dee and the River Severn. For us, the major city of Roman occupation was Wroxeter (in Salop)which contained a forum, baths, and aqueduct. It is this area that my Jones family came to occupy.

Several references are helpful:

Scullard, H. Roman Britain, Outpost of The Empire. Thames and Hudson, Ltd, London. 1979.
Bedoyere, G. Hadrian's Wall, History & Guide. Tempus Publishing Ltd.,Gloucestershire. 1998.
Jones, B., Mattingly, D. An Atlas of Roman Britain. Oxbow Books, Oxford. 1990.
Schama, S. A History of Britain, At The Edge of The World? 3500 B.C. - 1603 A.D., talk miramax books, NY. 2000.
Salway, P. The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain. Oxford University Press, 1993.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Roman Dance

It was the grandsons and great grandsons of Beli Mawr that had to dance to the Roman music as they took control of the island. A detailed chronology of this dance is given by Salway who states that the conquest of the south and east of the island was accomplished by 47 AD. There was a Roman military campain on the Welsh border 47-52 AD. He records the foundation of London around 50 AD, which would of course mean that the Romans had taken Lud's Town before this date. The conquest of Wales was continued 52 AD - 58 AD and reached the island of Anglesey 60 AD. The conquest of northern Britain and Wales was completed 71 AD - 84 AD. So there you have it. The family of Beli Mawr is lost to the Roman world for the next 400 years. Somehow, at least one son Afflech had a lineage to survive. As given by Dwnn:

"Vortiger ap Rhydern ap Dehenfraint ap Eidigant ap Eudeirn ap Enid ap Endos ap Enddolau ap Afallach ap Afflech ap Beli mawr."

This lineage is given in Dwnn, L. Heraldic Visitations of Wales and part of the Marches, Longman & Co., London, 1846. Vol I, pp. xv - xvi.

The chronology is documented in Salway, P. The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain. Oxford University Press, 1993. pp. 539-540.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lud's Town

The sons of Beli Mawr were the ones who had to face all those Latin speaking and writing Romans, who came to take the island from us. Ashley in his book identifies Llud as the eldest son. He is credited with rebuilding a town which he called KareLud after him. It was then called Lud's Town, which the Celtic tongue pronouned "London". Llud died and is supposed to be buried by the city wall where the gate became Ludgate. It was on Ludgate Hill that many generations later the smartest linen drapers and silk mercers had their shops. [Drapers and mercers where active in my Jones family.]

Ashley also describes Caswallon (a brother to Llud), as the earliest known historical British king. The Latin writers would call him Cassivelaunos and identify him a the ruler of the Catuvellauni tribe. [Their land was north of the Thames involing Hertfordshire, Bedforeshire, Oxfordshire, and Berkshire.] Salway in his text even states that coins were minted and buriels would suggest a great deal of power and prosperity of their ruling families.

Afflech is no where to be found except in the genealogy given by Dwnn. He would have been near and involved in the battles which faced these ancient Britons. It is through Afflech that my Jones line derives its Y-chromosome.

Ashely's book discusses the early British kings "Pre-Roman Conquest" pp.66-80. Llud and Caswallon pp.69-70.

Ashley, M. British Kings & Queens. Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 1998.

Ludsgate and Ludshill are discussed in:

Hibbert, C. London : The Biography of a City. William Morrow & Co., New York, 1969, p.147.

The Catuvellanuni are discussed in:

Salway, P., The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain. Oxford Univerity Press, Oxford, 1993, pp. 33-34.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sons of Beli mawr

It is believed that the "Mabinogi", which appears first in "The Red Book of Hergest", was first written down in the 1100s (twelfth century or thereabouts). This would mean that the Welsh began recording their oral history (stories) some 1000years after they are reported to have occured. Two Welsh manuscript collections still exist. The first is called "The White Book of Rhydderch (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) written down about 1300-1325. The second is called "The Red Book of Hergest" (Llyfr Coch Hergest) which copy is dated 1375-1425. It is generally believed that portions of various accounts were written down a hundred years before these collections were recorded. It is in these collections that my direct JONES line is recorded.

The sons of Beli Mawr; Lludd, Caswallawn, Nyniaw, and Llefwlys are clearly recorded in the sources listed above. The lineage of Beli Mawr is recorded by Lewys Dwnn, Vol. I, pp. xv, xvi, and gives a son Afflech. This may be a fifth son or an attempt at spelling Llefwlys. [A = Ll, f = ef, fle = fwl, ch = ys ?] At any rate, Lewys Dwnn gives the ancestry of another Jones grandfather named Vortiger (Vortigern) who has direct discent from Beli Mawr. This direct disent is as follows:

"Vortiger was son to Rhydern ap Deheufraint ap Eidigant, ap Eudeirn ap Enid ap Endos ap Enddolan ap Afallach ap Afflech ap Beli mawr...". My direct JONES line.

1.Jones G.,Jones, T. The Mabinogion. Everyman, London, 1949. pp.21,71,75.

2.Morus, C. The Fates of the Princes of Dyfed. Aryan Theosophical Press, London, 1914

3.Dwnn, L. Heraldic Visitations of Wales and part of the Marches. Vol. I, printed and published by William Rees, Chester, London, 1846.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The First JONES

The first of my direct JONES line that is recorded among the pages of history is Beli Mawr, son of Manogan. His name first appears in the most ancient of Welsh documents called "The Mabinogion". [A translation by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones, Everyman Press, is available.] In the manuscript known as "The Four Independent Native Tales", a story titled "Lludd and Llefelys" is told. He is recorded here as having four sons; Lludd, Caswallawn, Nyniaw, and Llefelys. A daughter is given by the name Penarddun in another story titled "Branwen Daughter of Llyr". Now Ashley in his book "British Kings & Queens" states that Beli was a "semi-legendary British king who was probably an historical ruler" (p. 69) He dates him to around 100 BC and notes that he was from the Silures (southern tribal group), and was "High King" of the Britons. This would place my JONES line 50 years before those Latin writers were to show up. According to the "Historia Brittonum", he is identified as the "King of the Britons" in the time of Julius Caesar. Well, by any account, he was early in the history of Wales. According to Stephens in her book "The New Companion to the Literature of Wales", early heraldry of Wales shows that the eminent families in and the "Old North" claimed descent from Beli Mawr.(p.44) Not a bad start for a JONES line, hey?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

North to South

From north to south, the Celtic tribal groups that formed the major part of our JONES DNA were the Deceangli, the Ordovices, the Cornovii, the Demetae, and the Silures. For my particular JONES family it would prove to be the Cornovii, Deceangli, and Ordovicies, that made most of the family tree. Always fighting among themselves, and between each other, they produced an extensive network of family fortifications, called hill-forts. These hill-forts were scattered all along the landscape, varying in size from just a few acres, to forts containing more than 15 acres. They most likely started as fortified family farms and were added onto generation by generation. My Jones family's area of the world yet to come, was dotted with the largest and most impressive. The heart of this land was centered around one fort called "Oswestry Old Fort". It guarded the land access route between the rich lands of the middle Severn valley, and the grazing land of the uplands. It also must have served as a central trading post and animal management center, for to go from the lowlands to the uplands, you would have to cross this narrow strip of land. What a deal. Fight, fight, and more fighting was the name of survival. Perhaps for my family, trade, trade, and more trading was the name of survival. It would appear that my Jones family would live to fight another day, or trade to live another day, or perhaps a little of both.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Empire Without Limit

The Latin writers who were to arrive on our island between 55 B.C. and 84 A.D., [the conquest of northern Britain and Wales was completed in 84 A.D.], had the following mindset: according to Virgil, Jupiter himself decrees,

"I set upon the Romans bounds neither of space nor of time:
I have bestowed on them empire without limit."

These Latin writers describe a Celtic culture divided geographically. They named multiple social groups, scattered about the island. We have come to call these "tribes". The tribal groups that came to occupy that part of the island from which our JONES surname originates are five in number. The Cornovii centered its land around the land bridge between the head waters of the Dee and Severn. At one point they were thought to have occupied what was to become present day Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, the Clwyd valley and eastern Powys. The Deceangli occupied the northern coastal area being the extreme north of our JONES family land. The Ordovices claimed what was to become Gwynedd. The Demetae spread over what was to become Dyfed. Finally, the Silures were settled in what was to become Galmorgan and Gwent. Within these five Celtic tribal groups our JONES surname was hidden. It would take another 500 years before the tribes that survived the "empire without limit" would be identified as "Walas".

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sure Kin

What the Celts had to say about themselves had to wait until many generations later when the spread of Christianity had reached to the end of the world. The Irish appear to be the earliest writers. Most of this record was written by priests who were the most educated, and were familiar with biblical and classical writers of the day. The earliest records were law tracts which had to deal with social organization. A tract called "Crith Gablach" deals mostly with various grades of farmer! Social rank was very important often demonstrated by their burial traditions, which included decorated jewelery of gold or bronze. It appears that there were distinct class divisions. [Caesar himself used the term "rex" (king) to describe the leaders.] Under the kings were nobles, then warriors, then the "aes dana" (the smart guys), then the freeman (small farmers and craftsmen), and then the slaves. "Brehon law" was followed under the judges known as "brithem".

Central to this society's organization was the "tuatha" (tuath=tribe, or people, or clan). Each was ruled by a head (ri, or king) who in turn could be "under king" to a greater "ri" called "ri ruirech"... so on and so on, up the line to a provincial king. The under king would give hostages to the higher king in return for protection. This hostage giving was to become a key element in our JONES family, but that is yet to come. Thus the "tauth" was the political unit.

The social unit was the "fine" (kin group). This was an extended family of all males with a great grandfather in common. It would include second cousins and all the female members as well. This family grouping become the "derbfine" (sure kin). The family to five generations was called "ira-fine", and to six generations was called the "indfine". The custom inherited from the Celts was that the "fine" (kin group) was responsible for the actions of its individual members. This Celtic inheritance was to become the foundation for our own Welsh Laws collected by a JONES father-in-law, Hywel Dda!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Story Telling Gene

Just as the artist can choose which colors to place on the palate and mix, or the photographer can pick the angles and time of day to contrast his shadows, or the sculptor can choose the medium in which to carve, so can the historian pick the words and attitudes in which to write. This has been true since Cesar wrote his own account of The Conquest of Gaul recounting his personal triumphs and describing the Celtic society which he encountered. On the other side, the Celts had a real problem since they did not choose to write anything down! In their culture its was taboo to write anything down. This seemed to be due to the social structure which placed a priest, bard, and poet in charge of the history and tradition of the society. Of course the priest dealt with the supernatural phenomena and the life and death issues which the Celts faced everyday. The poet was responsible for formalizing the heroic acts of the leaders, warriors, and successful battles. It was the bard who was responsible for verbalizing these events with story telling around the hearth on cold winter nights. Of course this was all done by memory. The culture of the bards thus depended upon the fact that no one wrote anything down. Memorize, memorize, memorize was the motto. The oral tradition and social stories were transmitted from one generation to the next by these story tellers. A bard would spend his lifetime memorizing and telling the heroic stories of the tribe. Thus there are no written records of the Celts until the Irish began to write down their own history after those Latin writers arrived.

The JONES surname carries this Celtic gene...the story telling gene. I suspect that the bard spoke with their hands much like my own story telling family. [see] What colors they could paint.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


As the Roman Empire gradually conquered the known world, they produced a new Celtic culture that spoke both a Celtic language and a Latin language. The Germanic tribes that resisted the Roman advance remained mostly north of the Danube. [They were ultimately able to get their revenge sacking the city of Rome some 500 years later.] Those tribes remaining true to their German roots had a word for those Celtic folks to the south. These folks had betrayed their German roots and had become "Romanized". These Celts had taken on Latin, and of course, this was not acceptable to the true Germanic tribes. The Germans used the term "walas" to denote those "foreigners" who spoke Celtic languages but were also Latin-speaking. It was this term that was later applied to Celts in general. Little did these Germans know that years later, Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, would apply this term to describe the Britons who occupied the island yet to come, and the country yet to be, Wales. It is Wales that is home to our surname JONES.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mind your P's and Q's

Now when the Celtic social and cultural groups reached the northwestern most tip of the continent, they faced the ocean. To the west was water for as long as you could go. To the north and northeast was a number of islands that had yet to be settled by the Celts. Their language had, pretty much, been uniform until the migration across this water generated a branch. There were those who used their lips versus those who used their hard palate to form their sounds and words. The sounds "B" and "P" became dominate in the group that moved to the southwestern tip of the larger island. The sounds "Q" and "Mu" dominated among those who migrated to the smaller island. As these Celtic cultures settled and soon dominated the folks already there, this branching came to be called P-Celtic (Brythonic) and Q-Celtic (Gaulish) by the linguists who study such a thing today. The P-Celtic then moved along the western coastal area northward, and the Q-Celtic settled among the folks on the island to become Ireland. The Scots who first arrived at the smaller island picked up this dialect, and continued to form the Gaelic tongue. The bilabial folks (who used opposing lips to make sounds) formed the Brythonic tongue; these also formed, on a return trip to the continent, the Breton tongue. There was another branch of the Celtic language to form on the smallest island in the Irish Sea, The Isle of Man. This language root called Manx is extinct today.

Now the Germanic groups that remained north of the Danube formed their northern and western language branches. It was the western branch that became the root for English, Flemish, Dutch, Afrikaans,Low German, and High German.

Again, understanding this distinction between the two language roots is the beginning to really understand the true origin of our JONES surname.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Latin terms

Before the beginning of the Roman Empire, the territories occupied by the Celts eastward, included present day Turkey, known then by the name Galatae. Westward the Celts came to occupy Spain, then known as Iberia. Their culture and influence spread gradually along the Iberian peninsula, up the Atlantic coast to the channel that separated the mainland from the island known as Albion. Thus the "Celtiberians" became the major genetic root of those cultures yet to be established among those who where first to occupy the island. This genetic migration certainly appears to have occurred gradually with a mixture of Hallstatt and la Tene influence. Both bronze and iron appear in the weapons and art of the day. Certainly, the political, economic, and social order had been well established forming what came to be called Celtic society. Of course it would not be until the writers of history arrived some 300-400 years later that the Latin language and its vocabulary named those tribal groups formed over the centuries.

When these Latin writers arrived to the island, they recorded their own history through their own eyes. The first historian to arrive was Caesar, 55 BC. Caesar's regular word for large or political groupings was "civitas". This word became translated into English as "tribe". These tribes contained smaller groups for which Caesar's term was "pagus". It is unclear how Caesar used these terms in his own mind, for the Latin had other terms for family (gens), and people (populus). However, it is clear that when Caesar arrived, he saw distinct levels of our "Island society". First there was a large cultural group, geographically identified, which was then made up of much smaller units. These terms certainly applied to the concept of ethic groups centered upon distinct social and cultural organization and identity. Our JONES surname had it's roots hidden within these Latin terms.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Beginnings

The JONES surname had its beginning with struggle...struggle between two races, struggle between two languages, and struggle between two cultures. Ironically, these two races had their own beginnings within the same central European geography. One was south of the Danube, and the other north. The one south was centered around salt mines, which gave it the name Hallstatt Culture, from the very word for salt. The one north ultimately migrated to the coastal areas facing the North Sea to become Jutes, Angles, and Saxons. It was the clash of these two cultures lasting more than a thousand years that led to the surname JONES. Each culture shared a common belief (paradigm) that "might makes right". To both cultures the sword certainly spoke louder than words, and it was by the sword that both survived and expanded to end up fighting each other in a land called Albion.

The Hallstatt Culture which, at first, shared a common European language root with the northern tribes, branched westward to a developing period call "La Tene". Here a warrior-aristocracy evolved where a warrior took his two-wheeled chariot and sword to his grave! The earliest roots of languages, by this time, had split with the Celtic branch dividing from the Germanic branch. They both shared the culture of family, which was the center of society and social rank. It is unclear at what point the southern group became known at "Celts", but they had an advantage over most other tribes due to iron. Their iron weapons had a distinct advantage when their might was to make right. As their culture moved southward, eastward, and westward, they shared a common language called "Continental Celtic" which was to branch into Brythonic, Gaulish, and Manx. The Germanic branch divided into the Northern Germanic languages and the Western Germanic languages. By the time the Anglo-Saxon language and the Welsh language collided on an island centuries yet to come, their tongues had become so distinct and different sounding, that they could not understand or pronounce the other's speech.

It is the conflict between these two languages that leads to the surname JONES.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The JONES Surname

I wanted to start a blog that deals the history, origin, and genealogy of the JONES surname. Those who have an interest, question, or comment regarding the JONES surname and how one might go about doing the genealogy of such a difficult surname come join the fun. I have already started a blog that relates my own JONES family and how I got started doing genealogy more than 50 years ago. The blog is I thought I would get more questions, but so far most folks just seem to like reading the family stories. So let's have at it. JONES is my name, and JONES tree climbing is my game. Questions anyone?