Jack the Ripper mystery solved? Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.
Jack the Ripper mystery solved? Not quite. It’s so true that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, even from me.
Recently, I wrote a post about the DNA analysis of a scarf purported to have belonged to Catherine Eddowes, one of the victims of Jack the Ripper, and which was supposedly present at the murder scene.
According to the earlier news story, the DNA proved to be a match to Jack the Ripper suspect, Polish Jewish immigrant Aaron Kosminski.
I can still hear the words of my husband, Mark, resounding in my head, “Careful, you can’t believe everything you see or read on the internet!”
Oh, how easily I brushed him off and continued on blithely writing and publishing the offending post.
They were fortuitous words, however, as I just read a news article on the Start-Up Israel site in which they present evidence that there were rather basic, but devastating mistakes made in the evaluation of the provenance of the scarf, the type of DNA analysis used, and the actual conclusions drawn from the DNA analysis.
Oh, how I hate to admit that I was snowed, but this wasn’t just a slight sprinkling, it was a full-blown blizzard and unfortunately, I succumbed.
Note to self: Listen to Mark more. Sometimes he does know best.
Sorry for the large gap. I’m in the process of doing some experimental performance of this site which has demanded much of my attention in the past couple of weeks. Finally, though, here are the FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions to October 14, 2014.
FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions
FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Updates and Additions.
Several of my children’s ancestors were among the hundreds who perished in the sinking of the White Ship off Barfleur, France in 1120.
Depiction of the sinking of the White Ship.
During my years of researching the medieval ancestry of Mark and our children, I’ve noticed a recurring theme. Several of the ancestors were casualties of the disastrous shipwreck of the “White Ship”. Although there were actually closer to 300 passengers aboard, I was only able to locate a list of twenty of the casualties. It is well known though that the ship was loaded with nobles and contemporaries of King Henry I, of England.
Henry I, King of England
The “White Ship” was a new, state of the art vessel under command of Thomas FitzStephen. His father had been Stephen FitzAirard, captain of the ship “Mora” under William the Conqueror during his invasion of England in 1066. Captain FitzStephen offered transport to England on his ship to Henry I for his return to England, but since the King had already made other arrangements, he declined. King Henry did, however, arrange for his son, William “Aetheling” Adelin and two of his illegitimate children to sail on the ship.
The familiar account of the events leading up to the sinking as delivered by the known sole survivor state that all aboard had been drinking and partying liberally and by the time they set sail, most on board were very drunk. It is interesting to note that there are conflicting accounts of survivors. Based upon the “Orderic Vitalis”, some believe there were two survivors, the butcher and Geoffrey de l’Aigle.
Amidst the drunken revelry described by the survivor, a challenge was issued to the Captain to overtake the King’s own ship, which had set sail earlier. Upon setting off, the White Ship struck a hidden rock in the shallow waters of the channel, quickly capsizing and sinking.
Stephen of Blois, King of England
Those on shore saw what was occurring and sent a boat out to get William “Aetheling” Adelin, the King’s son, who was on his way back to shore when he heard his half-sister Matilda du Perche cry out for help and had the boat return to assist. Unfortunately, there were several scrambling to get on board the small boat, causing it to be swamped and to sink. William drowned right along with his half-sister and all the other unfortunate passengers. The common belief through the centuries has been that the Captain, Thomas FitzStephen, upon hearing of William Adelin’s drowning, just surrendered to the waters and drowned rather than take such terrible news back to the King.
As a result of Prince William’s death, King Henry named his only remaining legitimate child, his daughter Matilda, to be heiress to the throne. He forced the noblemen to swear to support Matilda, who was unpopular because she was married to Geoffrey V, Comte d’Anjou who had been an enemy of the Norman nobility. When the noblemen refused to support Matilda after the death of King Henry I, they turned to the King’s nephew, Etienne de Blois and named him King. Etienne de Blois had originally planned to travel on the “White Ship” as well and had even boarded her, but had to leave before the ship’s departure because he became ill with diarrhea.
Mathilde and her husband initiated war against Etienne and his followers to gain the English throne, as her father had wished. This period of civil war known as “The Anarchy” spanned almost two decades from 1135 to 1153 and became a pivotal time in the history of England, resulting in the end of Norman rule.
The closest ancestor to my children who played a part in the story of the “White Ship” disaster was:
Etienne de Blois, King of England. He was the 31st great grandfather to my children.
The known casualties from among the approximately 300 on board, listed in order of the closeness of relationship to our children (if any) include:
William the Atheling, son of King Henry I and heir to the English throne – 26th great granduncle to my children.
Mathilde du Perche, Countess of Perche, illegitimate daughter of King Henry I – 26th great grandaunt.
John was made King of Ireland in 1177, Comte de Mortain in 1189, and his reign as King of England began with his crowning in London on May 27, 1199 when he succeeded his brother Richard, who had left on crusade. He was crowned a second time October 8, 1200 at Westminster Abbey, with his second wife.
King John is seen as a villain, this impression having been fostered through the retelling of the legend of Robin Hood, who supposedly took up the cause of the people against King John’s exhorbitant taxes by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
In 1173, John was betrothed to Alix de Maurienne (1166-1174), daughter of Humbert III, Comte de Maurienne and his third wife Klementia von Zähringen, and an agreement was reached where John would inherit the county of Maurienne if Humbert had no sons by his wife.
He became betrothed to Isabel (Avise), Countess of Gloucester in 1176 and married her as her first husband on August 29, 1189 and they divorced (annulled on the grounds of consanguinity) before August 30, 1199. Isabel was the daughter of William FitzRobert II, Earl of Gloucester and his wife Avise de Beaumont. She remarried in 1214 to Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, and again in 1217 to Hubert de Burgh, who became Earl of Kent afterward, in 1227. Isabel died in 1217.
He was then betrothed to Alix de France, daughter of Louis VII, King of France and his second wife Infanta doña Constanza de Castilla in 1193. The betrothal was arranged by King Richard, who himself had been betrothed to Alix de France at one time. Alix returned to France in Aug 1195.
Tomb of Isabelle d’Angoulême.
John’s second marriage was to Isabelle d’Angoulême on August 24, 1200 as her first husband. Isabelle was the daughter of Aymar “Taillefer”, Comte d’Angoulême and his wife Alix de Courtenay. She was crowned Queen Consort on October 8, 1200 at Westminster Abbey. King John and his second wife had five children: Henry III, King of England (1207-1272); Richard, King of England and the Romans (1209-1272); Joan of England (1210-1238); Isabella of England (1214-1241); and Eleanor (1215-1275).
Newark Castle in Lincolnshire, England.
After John’s death in 1216 in Newark Castle in Lincolnshire, she married again in 1220 to Hugues XI, de Lusignan, Comte de la Marche.
John died October 18 or 19, 1216 at Newark Castle in Lincolnshire and was buried at Worcester Cathedral, Worcestershire.
Tomb effigy of John “Lackland”, King of England.
Up until 1944 King John was considered to be a horrid man and even worse king. In 1944, it was demonstrated that the main source for information about the reign of John was at best unreliable. These new findings caused a change in perception of King John, possibly resulting in a further skewed view of John on the positive side.
Those attempting to find a more accurate view of John are doing so through examination of the administrative records of the time. Even with these records, however, there is some doubt expressed about whether the records are to be taken at face value or whether John or his staff were able to skillfully produce records portraying him in a more positive light.
John’s energetic, fastidious nature belied his appearance, paunchy, 5′ 5″ tall with “erect head, staring eyes, flaring nostrils and thick lips set in a cruel pout.” It was said that “he prowled around his kingdom.” He was very clean, routinely taking numerous baths, enjoyed food and drink, gambled, and loved women.
Contradictory to the legend we have become accustomed to, he assisted the poor by providing the proceeds from the forest law and was generous to his servants.
His legend may in fact have been fueled by knowledge of his highly suspicious nature and enjoyment of intrigues and secrets. He also acted against his father, as he did against Richard while the latter was held captive in 1193.
Although John would not be considered a ‘good’ man, in different circumstances he could have been a great king.
King John was 24th great grandfather to my children.
Gary Boyd Roberts, The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants, (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1983).
Funk & Wagnalls Inc., Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia (1983).
David Faris, The Plantagenet Ancestry of Seventeenth Century Colonists (English Ancestry Series, Vol. I, Second Edition; New England Historic Genealogy Society, 1999).
The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdon, Extant, Extinct or Dormant (G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I.).
Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (Alison Weir, Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy; Pimlico; 2Rev Ed edition (13 Jun 2002); London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999.
Weis, Frederick Lewis, Th.D., The Magna Carta Sureties, 1215, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.), 5th Ed., c1999.
Weis, Frederick Lewis, Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came To America Before 1700, 8th Edition (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 2004).
Ernst-Friedrich Kraentzler, Ancestry of Richard Plantagenet and Cecily de Neville (Selp-published, 1978).