Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Who do you think you are?

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Geneology fascinates me.  It always has done.  That is something which my late Aunt Freda and I had in common . . .  our great love of wanting to know all that we could find out about our family roots.  I don't think I am alone in that as this general desire of most people to want to know their family roots has lead to some very popular television shows on both sides of the pond, and I have discovered that not only am I interested in who I am, but I'm also interested in who other people are as well!

People have such interesting family histories!  Especially famous people, and I love watching the  programs about them.  I  hazard a guess that had most of us the access to the means, methods and finances that are made available to these famous people that we would find our ancestrial stories just as fascinating!

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Sadly, I don't know a lot about my father's family history except for a few tidbits.   A lot of what I can find out is hampered because I don't speak fluent French.   I do know that the Villeneuve family arrived in Canada in the 1600's in the way of a mutual ancestor named Philippe Amyot.

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He is commonly known as Philippe Amyot dit Villeneuve, and was born in Picardy, France around 1600. In Tanguay, he is listed as being from Chartres. His name is spelled Amyot in Tanguay. His wife was Anne Covenant.  Their first two children, . . .  Jean and Mathieu . . .  were born in France and the family arrived in Canada in 1636, so were some of the first settlers in French Canada.  Another son, Charles Joseph, was born in the new world.

Jesuit Missionaries report that a ship containing 45 recruits arrived in the new world on June 12, 1636, so it is highly likely that this was the ship that Philippe and his family arrived on.

An inventory of his goods was made on Sep 7, 1639, after his death. The following and more are listed:
5 sets of drapes
a bed canopy
 suits for Mathieu and Charles
 a beaver robe worth 17 Livres
a frying pan
 8 pounds of pewter dishes
 a small pot and
96 "perches" of cleared land.

He owed 8 Francs in estate taxes.

Philippe was a Coureur-de-Bois, which at the time was a very lucrative trade, He died ca 1638. A Coureur-de-Bois was an independent entrepreneurial French-Canadian woodsman who traveled in New France and the interior of North America. They ventured into the woods usually to trade various European items for furs and along the way, learned the trades and practices of the Native people who inhabited there. These expeditions were fuelled by the beginning of the Fur Trade in the North American interior. Trade began with coat beaver, but as the market grew coureur des bois were trapping and trading prime beavers to be felted in Europe.  The term is often confused with voyageurs who, rather than being unlicensed entrepreneurs were the canoe travel workers for licensed fur traders. The most prominent Coureur des bois were also explorers and gained fame as such.

I would love to know even more about this man and his wife, and the bits that come in between my my father's Great Great  Grandfather and Philippe.  I'd also love to know more about his wife Anne Covenant and her family.  I do believe that they must have been very brave and forward thinking individuals to have faced beginning life anew in a strange and largely un-explored frontier!

Philippe only lived about three years in the Colony, but, thanks to his two sons Mathieu and Charles, that short time was sufficient for him to firmly implant on Canadian soil a name borne today by thousands of descendants.

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Family history on my mother's side has been a lot easier to research, probably because it's largely in the English language, although there is some German as well.  One branch of my mother's family tree can be traced back to loyalists to the English Crown which moved up to Canada after the American Revolution, having been, prior to that,  some of the earliest settlers in the American Colonies.  I can trace lines back to  William the Conquereror . . . others hit the Plantagenets . . .  Queen Eleanor of Acquitaine is in my family tree . . . indeed King Alfred the Great is an ancestor of mine.  I share also a common ancestry with the present Duke of Westminster (although none of his money, lol)  who is the richest man in England . . . and I recently discovered that I am a descendant of Robert de Brus (Robert the Bruce) who was King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329.

Robert was one of the most famous warriors of his generation, and eventually led Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England.

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Once you hit royalty in your family tree . . .  the rest of the information falls like dominoes.   Very good records were kept of royal lines.  

There is one line of my mother's family tree that we can get nowhere with however and that is the McNayr (McNair) line.   The furthest back we can get is in the name of Boyd McNayr who was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1778.  We do know that at the precious age of only 8 years . . .  he was left with friends in Halifax, Nova Scotia by his father (no name known) who was apparently in the King's navy.    His father was never seen or heard from again.   Boyd eventually made his way down to the Annapolis Valley, becoming a blacksmith in the Lawrencetown area and marrying a Rachel Beals.  They had 14 children and there is a very touching story about of them moving out to Springfield, Nova Scotia with Rachel sitting pregnant on a horse, and him guiding the horse all the way there, which would have been some considerable journey from the valley.   He was one of the two original settlers of Springfield, Nova Scotia.

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This is Ida McNayr Smith, who is my Great Great Grandmother and Boyd's Great Great Granddaughter.


When I look at this photograph of her I see a strong family resemblance to certain members of my family. It's the eyes and the nose. These same  features are scattered throughout my family to this day.

I think it's pretty exciting to be able to trace one's roots back and if you have pictures to look at, it's even more exciting, especially when you see family traits that have been carried on down through the generations, and read about the things they have done and accomplished. Have any of you been able to research or find out fascinating stories about your ancestors? I would love to hear them! Please do share!  Who do you think YOU are?

A thought to carry with you through today  . . .

To say I am made in the image of God
is to say love is the reason for my existance;
for God is love
Love is my true identity . . . 
Love is my true character . . . 
~Thomas Merton

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today  . . .  an easy dessert . . .  Boston Cream Pie Parfaits.

Have a fabulous Wednesday, no matter what you get up to!  Don't forget . . .

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and I do too!


  1. I find geneology interesting but have to agree a little with Stephen Fry. By the time you start going back more than a few generations the actual blood lineage is very little. It is fascinating though but in my experience it does not take long for the information to become distorted. For instance someone has recorded my brother's details incorrectly in the LDS data base. No one asked his direct family for permission and the information is very wrong. On the flip side it doesn't take long for one line of my family to go back quickly as my paternal grandfather was born in 1889. We have some newspaper articles about that side of the family and know that a family name that exists today is recorded in the Doomsday book. On my mother's side we have names such as Lord and Noble. But more following needs to be done.

    The Canadian history you have shared is brilliant. Make sure you share it around. It is very special indeed.

    Please tell a little about your strawberry lunch and the crafts you did.

    God bless your day and I hope you enjoy the things you do. I have been to see dad and while we were out mum had a cardiac episode. So it was a quick trip to the cardiologist to see if her expensive recording device caught the activity. IT DID NOT. She is now resting and I hope she will recover a little more quickly this time. These episodes ar3e terrifying for her and poor dad did not understand at all.

  2. \i think it is amazing how far back you got Marie.. i have never done anything other than my great's...Sarah once had a try but got lost after a couple of generationa we would have had to pay a lot to get more info so we gaveup..but i find your delving jusr wonderful...hope you have a niceday is nice and sunny here and at the moment the wind has died down a bit i have never known such cold high winds at this time of year xx

  3. Normally in the LDS data base, especially for people who have been born and died within the last 100 years, extra information and permissions are required, such as physical proof, birth certificates, etc. You should be able to correct this record Suzan. How terribly frightening for you all with your mum. Having just gone through this recently I can empathise! Unfortunately I did not make it to the Strawberry luncheon as I had eaten raw broccoli at the pot luck on Monday evening and ended up suffering greatly for my sins. xoxo

    It's going to be sunny here today Sybil. Fingers crossed! You are right though, it is quite chilly. How is Mary??? xoxo

  4. I think it is wonderful you know so much about your ancestors. I have quite a lot names but really know little about any of them. Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday !

  5. I can only get back to the early 1800's in seems you have to pay dearly to get anywhere...

  6. I don't know much..having lost my parents at 19..and not having kept in touch with her sisters.. ???apart from my godmother who died shortly thereafter.
    I do have a photo of her parents..

    my dad too..I know more about his family because they had a different life..and were written up about..but all my grandparents were dead when I was born.
    You have a wealth of info!
    I would recognize you anywhere as a child:)
    How was the strawberry social?

  7. You could sign up to Linda and perhaps you might be able to get a bit further along. It's worth a try and familysearch is free as far as I know.xxoo

    Pam, I have been lucky. Poor Todd however, he hasn't been able to go past his Great Grandfather and he's only been able to find out what he has by sending for Birth Certificates one at a time. Expensive. xxoo

    I am so sorry that you lost both of your parents at such an early age Monique. ((((hugs)))) It must have been very difficult. I did not get to the social because of an ill chosen salad that I ate at the Monday night potluck. I shoulda known better! Raw broccoli and my innards to not agree! xoxo

  8. My mother never knew much about her family. They didn't even know her grandparent's (father's side) real names. My uncle gave me two names, which were my great grandparents real names and I was able to trace the McKinney line back to 1622, William McKinney. He came to America in the 1600's and settle in Virginia. Those in my family tree include George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Ernest Hemingway, and my many times great grandmother was a Pirate Queen!

  9. Wow,,that's fascinating Christie! Especially the Pirate Queen! Would love to know more about that! Xoxo

  10. Ahh..too bad :( Hope you are better!

  11. Thank goodness for records and journals, etc. to lead us to our roots! It's not always easy to obtain but when we have access to those records, it's such a wonderful surprise. Thanks for sharing Marie. Nice hearing your sweet voice today. Love you! xoxo

  12. I am, thanks Monique! xoxo

    It is always fun talking Valerie! No journals in my family. Until now that is. ;-) Love you too! xoxo

  13. Gosh another great dessert recipe that I must try. I loved reading your ancestor stories. Just this last week I discovered a history of my Great Grandfather McMillan. It was such a fun pioneer story. Then my husband found a Grandfather and great grandfather history that was so fun. My grandson is serving a mission in Omaha, Nebraska. His Great Grandfather Williams was a Mission President in Omaha in the late 1896. His picture really resembles this ancestor. It was really a fun discovery.
    Histories are so fun!
    Blessings, hugs and love to you for this one~

  14. Like you, I adore family history LeAnn! It is so much fun discovering our roots! Especially if you can find out little photos and stories to go along with the people! xoxo

  15. This post is very old, and I'm guessing that this will never be read, but Anne Convent/Couvent is a well-know "gateway ancestor" as well, and her line has been documented through kings of France, Spain, England and Scotland:

    Gagné, Roland-Yves, and Laurent Kokanosky, "Les origins de Philippe Amiot (Hameau), de son éspouse Anne Couvent et de leur neveu Toussaint Ledran," Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadiene-française 58, no 1, issue 251 (Spring 2007): 17-58.

  16. Hi Kevin! I respond to all my comments, on old or new posts! Thank you so very much for that information! You made my day! xo


Your comments mean the world to me, and while I may not be able to address each one individually, each one is important to me and each one counts. Thanks so much!