Monday, March 28, 2011

The First JONES Surname in English Records

The land and who owned it was the foundation of feudal society. To own land, or at least be given title to the land, required a complex social order of "might makes right" verses those who actually lived upon and occupied the land. When William I arrived to the island, the Saxons, the Danes, and the ancient Britons had been trying to settle this issue for generations. Of course, William I settled most of this discussion when he got around to documenting his new land in the Domesday accounts. From 1086 onward, those who lived upon the claimed territory had to adjust their thinking and life-style to fit into this new, French speaking, "might makes right". By the time of Henry III, the new dominions (700 baronies) had been established, and those folks who opposed this were forced to occupy the high ground. For more than 50 years, Henry III shook all the bushes and managed to hold this domain together. At his death in 1272, his son Edward was out of the country learning his military strategies. Interestingly, one of the first acts that Edward did upon his return in 1272, was to inquire into the state of his land. This was officially called his "demesnes" and considered the right and revenues of "the crown". [ A demise comes from the French language meaning the transfer of the sovereignty to a successor.] Edward wanted to know what lands were under his control [linked to the crown by knight service], and what lands were under other types of "tenures". He also wanted to check if the sheriffs, officers, and ministers of his father had been ripping off the treasury. This fairly rapid inquiry became know as "Hundred Rolls", and is the first set of English documents to record the surname JONES! A set of commissioners were sent out to survey the land. They were to go into all cities, boroughs, and market towns and inquire of all demesnes, fees, honors, escheates [land lapsing back to the crown], liberties, and things involving fees and tenements belonging to the king or to others. The record involving Huntingdonshire hundred, summarized in 1273, is reported to contain the name of Matilda Jones! She is the first individual recorded in the English records using the surname JONES. Much more to come!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Early English Records and the Jones Surname

As described in the last post, the Domesday Survey represents the earliest records of this new kingdom under William I. The completion of this work was finished by 1086. The date of the next public records did not occur until the 31st year of the reign of Henry I. These records now titled, the Great Roll of the Exchequer, begin their date from 1130 AD. The next records were the Pipe Rolls, and have been a continual record of the English since this time.

A second group of records began during the reign of Henry II (1155-1189). A record of the knight's fees, called the Black Book of the Exchequer, was started. Another record was started being the rolls of the widows and children of the King's tenants. These rolls recorded the ages, lands, and possessions of these folks.

It was during the reign of Richard I (1189-1199) that the proceedings of the royal courts, called Courts of Justice were made. Records now called "Placita of the Curia Regis" and of "Assize".

It was not until the reign of King John (1199-1216) that an unbroken series of records have evolved which include the principle events and persons active in the government of the day. These include rolls of charters, rolls of offerings or gifts (called "oblata" rolls), rolls of letters patent, rolls of liberate. There were also close rolls, which on the back pages, had writs of summons to Parliament. Other records were fine rolls, and Norman rolls. I guess that all the trouble that John had, including the Magna Carta, needed a bunch of records!

With the reign of Henry III (1216-1272) there began extensive records called Patent Rolls. These are the earliest British records that can be accessed through the University of Iowa.[Spent five years at the University of Iowa.] They can be researched [read and searched] fairly easily using the Internet. Just type in "Patent Rolls" and seek University of Iowa. An analysis of the first index of A.D. 1216-1225, does not show a JONES surname. The name John appears with King John taking up most of the space. Only seven other folks with the name John appears. One given as "John, merchant of Piacenza", and the remaining six used with "son of". Thus by 1225, the name John was not common in the English records. The surname JONES did not appear.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

1st To Record

William the Conqueror (began to reign 1066, d. 1087, reigned 21 yrs.) divided his conquered lands into 700 baronies or great fiefs. These were the lands that did not belong to the church, and were not already reserved for himself. He bestowed these baronies on his family, particular friends, or those who had distinguished themselves in his service. These baronies were subdivided into 60,215 knights' fee. [We would consider "rent"!] No Saxons or Welsh had any of these first fiefs, and only a few Saxons were allowed (elevated enough) to obtain any of the later. This explains why most of the English genealogy books begin their lineage with the Norman conquest. An abstract of English printed peerage, by Richard Sims (1856), reports that out of 249 "nobleman", only 35 laid claim to have traced their descent beyond the Conquest. (14%) The Welsh are not even in the picture! Of course, Welsh documents were not considered to be legitimate records of the realm.

There were other records that had been kept before the Normans arrived. Monastic records head the list, and are the most ancient records known to exist. They (religious houses) needed to keep records of their secular estates. Many of these records were destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII. [Religious houses were considered abbies, priories, and cathedrals.] These monastic records have been divided into: 1) Chartularies, 2) Leiger-Books, 3) Registers, 4) Obituaries, 5) Necrologies, 6) Calendars, and 7) Chronicles. [seven, a good religious number] These are given in great detail in one of the first genealogial text titled "Sims's Manual For The Genealogist and Antiquary", by Richard Sims (of the British Museum), John Russell Smith, London, 1856. A copy I have in my hand as I write this post!

It was the Celtic church writers that were the first to record the family trees of the Welsh! [see post called Eliseg Pillar under blog on Welsh genealogy] Writing in Latin, these records began 500 years before the Normans arrived to our island. Who would have guest.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Keeping the Players Straight

For a little more than two centuries, the Welsh fought the Normans, trying to keep them from totally taking the land of their fathers. This border warfare continued along the "Marches" until the time of Edward I, beginning 1272, when he decided that enough was enough, and began a campaign to take this wild west county. It is always difficult to keep all the players straight, so the following is a time line for the Norman(English) rulers, and the Welsh rulers:

Norman Kings \ Welsh Lords

William I (the Conqueror) - 1066-1087

Rhys ap Tedwy (Tudor) d. 1093

William II (Rufus) - 1087-1100

Henry I - 1100-1135

Gruffydd ap Cynan d. 1137

Gruffydd ap Ryhys d. 1137

Stephen - 1135-1154

Henry II - 1154-1189

Madoc ap Maredydd d. 1160

Owain Gwynedd d. 1170

Richard I - 1189-1199

Rhys ap Gruffydd (Lord Rhys) d.1197

John - 1199-1216

Henry III - 1216-1272

Llewelyn ap Iorwerth (the Great) d. 1240

Edward I - 1272-1307

Llewelyn ap Gruffydd d. 1282

The Normans were actually introduced to the Welsh around 1055 when Edward the Confessor used their assistance in fighting the Welsh under Gruffydd ap Llewelyn. Excellent references for this period of history are:

"England Under The Norman and Angevin Kings 1075 - 1225", by Robert Bartlett, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2000.

"The Feudal Transformation 900 - 1200" , by Jean-Pierre Poly and Eric Bournazel, Holmes & Meier, London, 1991.

"The Normans", by Christopher Gravett & David Nicolle, Osprey Publishing, Ltd, Oxford, 2006.

"The Normans and the Norman Conquest", by Allen Brown, The Boydell Press, Suffolk, 1968.

"1066 The Year of The Conquest", by David Howarth, Dorset Press, a division of The Viking Press, 1978.

"The Bayeux Tapestry", by Simone Bertrand, ouest france, Rennes, 1978.

Isn't amazing that any of our JONES family survived!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Precarious Position

We left our Welsh ancestors in a very precarious position. The Norman invasion and conquest of England was at hand, and by 1086, the military conquest of Wales was underway. However, several key events took place which changed the future timing of the complete conquest of Wales and the gradual introduction of the JONES surname.

First, William I died in 1087 leaving his son William II to continue his plan of Welsh conquest. However, with any change in power, there is a change in control and administration. This change in leadership allowed at least a "break" in the intensity of the military invasion.

Second, the Norman lords and barons were becoming increasingly independent, and the death of William I allowed for a more lax sense of loyalties. Also, these same "lords" were beginning to want more independence and control of their own lands. Thus, the Normans starting fighting one another.

Third, the Welsh princes began to recognize that the Norman invasion was threatening to become a permanent occupation of Welsh territories. They realized that actions needed to be taken to maintain their remaining lands and to recover occupied lands.

It is important to recognize that the Welsh responses to the Norman invasion were different within the geographic regions of Wales. The multiple family groups tried to figure out how to face this new challenge to the best of their advantage.

The northern most sections of Wales responded to the Norman invasion by intense and fierce rebellion for the next 200 years. Influenced by the heritage of the oldest son of Rhodi Mawr (Royal Tribe I), this geopolitical region maintained resistance to Norman conquest until 1282 A.D. The last direct heir, Llwewllyn ap Griffith, Prince of North Wales, was killed at the battle of Builth on the Wye.

The border areas of Wales were bound by a stronger Roman tradition, laws, roads, and commercial ties with the Anglo-Saxons. Already more "Anglicized" [the Welsh term was Sais], this geopolitical region tended to respond to the Norman invasion by offering their daughter in marriage to the Norman lords. This strategy helped them to maintain their lands, resources and trade, while keeping Welsh lands identified with ancient Welsh traditions. However, this strategy also gave lands to the Normans as the Welsh-Norman families evolved under this new breed of "land barons". It was in this geopolitical region that the most powerful Norman "lords" evolved. This area became known as the "March" and the nobles were know as the "Lords of the March". [Lords of the Border] Their strength was partly due to the Welsh support obtained by marriage. This strategy often produced treaties which could be used by the Welsh princes to use the Norman military to their advantage. By treaties, the Welsh princes agreed to aide the Normans in their battles. In return, the Welsh families obtained recognition of their royal and legal claims under Norman law, while becoming essentially vassals to the Norman lords. It was in this context that the JONES surname evolves.