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 On our Island, all this came to a head around 400 AD - 410 AD when the last of the Roman legions were withdrawn from the island.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Irish from the west, had already indicated their interest in our family's land even before the last of the legions had withdrawn from it.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.