Genealogy and Family History
is not only one man, this is the father of those who shall be
fathers in their turns.
In him the start of populous states and rich republics,
Of him countless immortal lives with countless embodiments and
How do you know who shall come from the offspring of his offspring
through the centuries?
(Who might you find you have come from yourself, if you could
trace back through the centuries)."
The crucial line
was from Charles Fleming (1659-1717) to his father John
(1627-1686) to his grandfather Alexander (1612-1668) to his
great-grandfather John the Second Earl of Wigton (1589-1650) and
his great-great-grandfather John First Earl of Wigton
(1567-1619). That was clarified and confirmed by My
Ancestors and Relatives :
"The cited information was published by Copyright (c) 1987, June
1998, data as of 5 January 1998, held in Family History Library.
The author/originator was The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints." John the father of Charles and Alexander the
grandfather of Charles were both born in Scotland and died in
Virginia. (The Cary-Estes Genealogy had speculated that Charles
was the son of John who was the son of Sir Thomas Fleming
[instead of Alexander], a son of John the First Earl of Wigton,
but only based on scattered references and family
The line from
Lord John Fleming, First Earl of Wigton, and his wife Lilas
Graham leads back to King James IV of Scotland (1473-1513)
If you go
Ancestors and Relatives
and from the Name Index in the left column navigate to Fleming
and then to John 1st Earl Wigton Fleming (b. 1567) and then
click on Ancestor Pedigree Chart, you will see the image
displayed below, with the ability to click on each of the
names to see details about those individuals and navigate
still further back through many different lines.
(Further discussion about the Fleming line, below).
marriages among the royal families of Europe, those lines lead
to ancestors who were kings of England and France, Holy Roman
Emperors, Emperors of the Byzantine Empire, princes of
Kiev/Muscovy, and Viking chieftains. The ancestors include
William the Conqueror, Charlemagne, King John (of Robin Hood
and Magna Carta fame), King Alfred the Great, King
Robert the Bruce of Scotland ("Braveheart"), half a dozen
saints, as well as the House of Este in Italy (by a very
different route than family tradition -- by way of the Cary
family, rather than the Estes family). Another ancestor is
King Clovis of France, who the novel The Da Vinci Code claimed
was a descendant of Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ :-), and
whose great-grandfather, according to legend, was a
(For details about the
direct line from the Estes family in America to the House of
Este in Renaissance Italy see http://www.seltzerbooks.com/gen/renaissance.html
fascinating ancestor so far is Eleanor of Aquitaine (played by
Katherine Hepburn in the movie The Lion in Winter), mother of
King Richard I the Lion-hearted and King John I. The
movie didn't mention that before her son Richard went on the
Crusade, she led an army of Crusaders, purportedly dressing up
her ladies-in-waiting as Amazons.
line goes back 53 generations to Rome around 350 A.D., to
an ancestor (Flavius
Afrius Syagrius) who served as proconsul
of Africa, prefect of Rome, and consul (in 382). According to
Wikipedia: his is "the earliest known ancestor of any of the
royal houses of Europe. For the proposed genealogical link,
of Elizabeth II from the Romans."
(Queen Elizabeth's line, as listed there, is identical to ours
for the first 33 generations, through King Edward III).
goes back 58 generations to Armenia in 265.
generations, both the father and mother are not only known,
but also have entries in Wikipedia, which links to their
parents. And for nobles from Scotland and England when
Wikipedia runs out of information, in many cases,
generations show up in The Peerage.com http://www.thepeerage.com
Keep in mind
that, except in cases of people who are related to one another
marrying each other, the number of your ancestors doubles with
each generation. That would mean that you could have as
many as a quadrillion ancestors in 550 AD. But there
were only about two hundred million people alive at that
time. You might conclude that just about everybody alive
today is descended from just about everybody who was alive
back then. But just a few hundred years ago, most people
lived in rural areas, with little travel and little contact
with people in other towns, much less other countries. It was
common for a family to stay in the same small geographic area
for many generations (except when driven away by catastrophe,
such as war, plague, and famine). That meant lots of
inter-marriage, with everybody in a town being cousins to one
another. (From a biological viewpoint, war, plague, and
famine may have been "necessary" to change/expand the gene
pool and increase the likelihood that mankind would survive).
In any case, very few people can trace their ancestry back
four or five generations, much less 50.
I have followed
a few of the lines of descent as far back as I could
trace. But literally thousands of other lines are
possible. You can surf through those others by using the
Wikipedia links in the following documents. At the very least,
this should give you a new and personal appreciation for
history. Making a break-through like that
in tracing my ancestry on the Web reminded me of the
experience of Paul Atreus ("Muad-Dib") in the novel
"Dune." Thanks to the effects of the "spice" and of his
special genes, he suddenly senses the presence both
individually and collectively of all his ancestors back
for thousands of years.
My mother, Helen Isabella
Estes Seltzer, died Dec. 28, 2010, at the age of 90. She
had a life-long interest in family history. In her memory, I
compiled profiles of powerful and strong-willed women among her
ancestors, thinking those women might inspire her descendants. These brief biographies are grouped according the
lines of descent, which are then shown, leading down to the
present. See "Extraordinary
Abraham Effect: Be Careful, Be Proud -- the Future
of the Human Race Depends on You
By doubling each generation, counting backwards, 1000
years ago, about 36 generations ago, you had nearly 69 billion
ancestors (that's 2 to the power of 36). At that time,
there were only about 50 million people alive in Europe.
So along the way, there was lots of intermarriage, and,
basically, everyone of European descent alive today is a
cousin of everyone else, and probably in multiple ways.
That means that
there were people alive in Europe a thousand years ago who
were the ancestors of everyone of European descent who is alive
today. In fact, there were probably hundreds, no
thousands, tens of thousands, even millions of people alive a
thousand years ago who became the ancestors of everyone of
European descent alive today.
Let's flip that
concept and take into account that people are much more mobile
today than they were a thousand years ago. Let's look
ahead a thousand years. In the year 3000, every human
being alive on Earth (if the human race survives that long)
will be a descendant of people who are alive today, and not
just of one person alive today. No, odds are they will
be descendants of hundreds, thousands, even millions of people
who are alive today. In other words, if you are a parent
or could become one, there's a reasonable chance that everyone
alive a thousand years from now will have genes that passed
through you. That is an awesome responsibility. Be
careful. Be proud. The future of the human race depends
The Verdict of Science
Reading "A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: the Human Story
Retold Through Our Genes" by Adam Rutherford, I was surprised and
delighted to see that the science genetics has arrived at
conclusions that I got to by way of my amateur look at my family's
p. 160 "...I can say with absolute confidence that if you're vaguely
of European extraction... you are descended from Charlemagne... Each
generation back the numbe of ancestors you have doubles. But this
ancestral expansion is not borne back ceaselessly into the past. If
it were, your family tree when Chalemagne was Le Grand Fromage would
harbor around 137,438,953,472 individuals on it -- more people than
were alive then, now, or in total. What this means is that pedigrees
begin to fold in on themselves a few generations back, and become
elss arboreal, and more a mesh or weblike. You can be, and in fact
are, descended from the same individual many times over. Your
Great-great-great-great-great-grandmother might hold that position
in your family tree twice, or many times, as her lines of descent
branch out from her, but collapse onto you. The further back
through time we go, the more these lines will coalesce on fewer
individuals. Pedigree is a word derived from the middle French
phrase pied de grue -- the crane's foot -- as the digits and hallux
spread from a single joint at the bottom of the tibia, roughly
equivalent to our ankle. This branching describes one or a few
generations of a family tree, but it's wholly inaccurate as we climb
upward into the past. Rather, each person can act as a node into
whom the genetic past flows, and from whom the future spills out, if
indeed they left descendants at all.
"This I find relatively easy to digest. The simple logic is that
there are more living people on Earth now than at any single moment
int he past, which emans that many fewer people as as multiple
ancestors of people alive today. But how can we say with utter
confidence that any individaul European is... directly descended
from the great European conciliator?
"The answer came before high-powered DNA sequencing and ancient
genetic analysis. In Instead it comes from mathematics.
Joseph Chang is a statistician from Yale University and wished to
analyze our ancestry not with genetics or family trees, but just
with numbers. By asking how recently the people of Europe
would have a common ancestor, he constructed a mathematical model
that incorporated the number of ancestors an individual is presumed
to have had (each with two parents), and given the current
population size, the point at which all those possible lines of
ascent up the family trees would cross. The answer was merely
600 years ago. Sometime at the end of the thirteenth century lived a
man or woman from whom all Europeans could trace ancestry, if
Chang's calcualtions get even weirder if you go back a few more
centuries. A thousand years in the past, the nubmers say something
very clear, and a bit disorienting. One fifth of people alive
a millennium ago in Europe are the ancestors of no one alive today.
Their liens of descent petered out at some point, when they or one
of their progeny did not leave any of their own.
Conversely,the remaining 80 percent are the ancestor of everyone
living today. All lines of ancestry coalesce on every
individual in the tenth century...
"In 2013, geneticists Peter Ralph and Graham Coop showed that DNA
says exactly the same thing as Chang's mathematical ancestry: Oour
family trees are not trees at all, but entangled meshes."
Goldstone's book "Four Queens" gives a panoramic view of 13th
century Europe, from the perspectives of four sisters whose
marriages made them queens of France, England, Germany, and
Sicily. Two of those queens, Eleanor, wife of King Henry III of
England, and Marguerite, wife of King Louis IX of France (Saint
Louis), were ancestors of mine. Details
For details on royal and historical ancestors, see http://www.seltzerbooks.com/gen/seltzer/seltzergenealogy.html#highlights
Further discussion of the Fleming line:
The various sources
disagree about who is the son of whom, but all agree on descent
from John, Earl of Wigton.
According the Cary Estes
Genealogy p.85 (with the footnote, "This genealogy from Judith
to Lilias Graham was secured by Mr. E.S. Lewis, Genealogist,
"Lillias Graham md. Lord
John Fleming, Sixth Lord of Fleming of Biggar and Cumbernauld
(created in 1606 Earl of Wigton; became Earl of Wigton through
the death of his brother James who was Lord High Chancellor to
Queen Mary), d. in April 1619 and was succeeded by his eldest
son, John,. "Left three sons (see page 87) ("William and Mary
Quarterly," Vol. XII, (1903) pages 45-6-7, by Lyong G. Tyler,
gives the names of two sons, John and Charles).
"While his second son, Sir
Thomas Fleming, is said to have emigrated to the Virginia and
colony and became the progenitor of the Virginia branch of the
family. Mr. Brock states ('Richmond Standard,' Feb. 7,
1880) that he married Miss Tarleton and had Tarleton, John and
Charles. Mr. Brock's information it is believe, is derived
from family tradition. There is, nevertheless, no mention
as far as I have been able to ascertain in the records of
Virginia or any Sir Thomas Fleming. The earliest person of
the name was John Fleming, who I am inclined to believe was the
emigrant." (Lyon G. Tyler)
The question is who is the
son of John, Earl of Wigton.
What I currently have at
ancestry.com derives from what appears on the chart shown above
(based on data from the Church of the Latter Day Saints):
John Fleming (1589-1650)
md. Margaret Livingston
Alexander Fleming (b.
1612) md. Elizabeth Anderson
John Fleming (1627-1686)
md. Mary Fleming
(1659-1717) md. Susannah Tarleton
By that chronology,
Alexander was just 15 when his son John was born. Not
impossible, but also not likely.
John 1589-1650 was born and
died in Scotland.
Alexander and John
1627-1689 both were born in Scotland and died in Virginia.
By the dates, it seems
more probable that Alexander (v. 1612) and John (b. 1627)
were brothers, than that they were father and son.
John the Earl may have had
a son named Thomas and that son may have emigrated to
Virginia. But I don't think that is the direct line.
I found the Alexander line
is based on a database, rather than using fixed URLs. I
use a screen shot from there on my page
The information at that
site derives from "The cited information was published by
Copyright (c) 1987, June 1998, data as of 5 January 1998, held
in Family History Library The author/originator was The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
I now strongly suspect the
line of descent is
John the Earl
John (b. 1589)
John (b. 1627)
Charles md. Susannah
But I don't believe we can
establish that with certainty.
In other words, Charles is
the son of John Fleming (1627-1686) md. Mary Fleming (possibly a
But we don't know for sure
if John (b. 1627) was the son or grandson of John Fleming
(1589-1650) md. Margaret Livingston
If grandson, then his
father was Alexander Fleming (b. 1612) md. Elizabeth Anderson
NB -- John, Charles,
William, and Thomas are names that recur frequently, from one
generation to the next in the Virginia branch of the Fleming
family. By contrast, Alexander only appears once, which
seems strange if he had surviving male off-spring. The
family also often used the mother's maiden name as a middle
name, but Anderson does not appear as a middle name in any of
the following generations. (Alexander appears to have been
named after Alexander Livingston, father of Margaret, who
married John Fleming (b. 1589).)
It is possible that the Mary
Fleming who married John (b. 1627) was his first cousin, a
daughter of Alexander Fleming. I see no evidence of that,
but such a relationship would not have been uncommon at
the time and would explain the confusion.
In any case, John (b. 1589)
was the son of John Fleming, First Earl of Wigton.
While I want to be as
accurate as possible, there comes a point where you have to go
with what is most plausble.
Cary-Estes Genealogy by May Folk
Webb and Patrick Mann Estes, originally published in 1939.
Genealogy by Helen Estes Seltzer, originally published in
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