I have been having so much fun researching my family history.
It started with my grandfather when I was in middle school. I spent an entire summer going to different places, talking to different elderly people, and researching family history. That was before the ease of the internet.
A few months ago I used a free trial from ancestry.com to compare our handwritten notes and research further. Geeze, the internet really has linked family history together to make it super easy!
I discovered one branch of my mom’s family tree continued on where family records had left off. The records went as far back as viking ancestry, showing one of my relatives to be a viking king. How freaking exciting, right?
I’ve been reading various things about that family line in my spare time, usually while nursing Ada. I had a driving need to know why Philip Packer would leave his regal British family and come to America in the late 1600’s. America didn’t have much to offer back then in comparison to his British inheritance. His family owned Groombridge Place during his lifetime. They also owned lands in Ireland.
Of course there had to be some reason he would leave all that behind, right?
After some serious googling and reading, I finally stumbled upon an answer tonight.
All of these things are detailed in a book apparently. It’s called “On Footings from the Past: The Packers in England” and there are PDF file excerpts I found online.
It turns out my dear Philip was a bastard child. His mother, the descendant of the vikings, was not his real mother. His mother was an Irish mistress, living on the lands his rich father owned in Ireland.
Ergo, I am not a viking princess any longer.
Instead I am the descendant of an illegitimate son who was sold by his father as an indentured servant to an Irish man living in Philadelphia.
My illegitimate ancestor arrived in Philadelphia on August 14th, 1683 aboard the ship Lion of Liverpool. He only served four years as an indentured servant. After he received no money but got 50 acres of land. He is on record September 10th, 1689 as a yeoman of Philadelphia county. (Yeoman referred to a free man owning his own farm, I had to look it up…)
Ah well, being a viking princess was fun while it lasted.
Even though I had to prune an entire exciting branch from my family tree, at least I have a brand new person (his real mother) to research. Maybe she was of cool viking heritage too. Hah.
I am a total nerd. I love researching, and I love history. I like to imagine what their lives were like. How did they have so much courage to go to a new country, and then travel out into wilderness to start their own farms? There’s a lot to think about when laying in bed at night.
If Philip Packer’s father hadn’t have sold him into indentured servitude I might not even exist today. Can you believe that?
Family history gives you a strange perspective. Certainly everything must happen for a reason.