Nobles, Pilgrims & Hollywood
Boy, for someone who grew up thinking I was "just" a Canadian, I sure have a lot of European and American relatives!
Growing up, I never gave much thought to where my family came from - I guess I just figured that we had always been here in Canada, and when we weren't, we were from the UK somewhere. It wasn't until I stated digging into my family history that I discovered that my maternal side of the family had only been in North America since the mid 19th century, and others didn't arrive until the start of the 20th century. Oh, and my 2x Great Grandfather was born an American, even though I was told that he was from Ireland.
Even more surprising, I discovered that my paternal Grandmother and her family were from Scotland, where the family had lived for hundreds (if not more) years before coming to Canada in the early 1900's. But the biggest surprise was on my paternal Grandfather's side of the family - they had arrived in the "New World" in the early 1600's for the most part, and, up until the War of 1812, split their time between the US (where they were citizens) and Canada. During the War of 1812, my 4x Great Grandfather, Stephen Taylor (who was a ship's captain) apparently was taken prisoner by his fellow countrymen when he was found operating a British ship on the Great Lakes. I can only surmise that, after his release, he decided to make Canada home and my branch of the Taylor's have been here ever since.
When I started doing DNA tests on myself, as well as on my parents, I was shocked to find that our genetic matches to Americans (USA) outnumbered any Canadian or European matches by at least 50 to 1. Even my Mother's genetic matches are more often found in America than anywhere else, although to date I have still be unable to solve the mystery of who my maternal 2x Great-Grandfather's parents were, or what happened to them (he was orphaned at age 10 and sent to Toronto but his parents and any family members seem to be non-existent).
Through my paternal Grandfather, I was surprised to find an extreme amount of family documentation. This first started when I discovered a number of ancestors were listed in texts in the Library of Congress - and for good reason, too! Many of my Great Grandparents were part of the influx of Pilgrim's that left England to settle in the New England Colonies, mainly Massachusetts and Connecticut. Many were prominent citizens in New England, and a high percentage of them descended from European nobility which has made finding records far more easily than it would have been if they had not been from nobility.
Even more surprising is the number of celebrities - both living and dead - that also come from this same line of families. When I first started discovering that some of my distant (and VERY distant) cousins were well-known celebrities, I started to doubt my own research. However, after going back over the names and family data in excruciating detail, I was startled to discover that these people really were my distant cousins. The sheer volume of Hollywood celebrities (as well as politicians, business people and artists) is incredible, and I continue to find more famous distant cousins also every week. Even though I only know these people through history books or what I can research online, I do feel a sense of pride when I am able to tie my bloodline to one of a famous individual that I like.
All my discoveries have not been wonderful, however, and I have also discovered more than my fair share of infamous relatives as well. Still, history is what it is, and you cannot choose your family, so even the bad ones get added to my tree whether I like it or not. Luckily for me, so far the good relatives of whom I can be proud far outweigh the ones that I would prefer NOT to be related to!
To find out for yourself just how many famous relatives I have, please visit my personal family tree website at: www.myancestryresearch.com The site is a work-in-progress, and probably will never be fully complete, but I think you will find it to be an interesting read.