So I've been on a genealogy kick for a while now. Like... years. The interest probably originally came because I wanted to know more about my name - My name: Athey - is my real name, and it's also my Grandmother's maiden name.
Her side of the family, following the paternal line, has been fairly decently researched by a number of my relatives, although I have managed to go back quite a few generations further than any of them got. I was able to trace them back pretty far because they were nobles. In fact, one of my ancestors is mentioned by name in the Magna Carta.
For a long while I had trouble tracking my other family lines more than one or two generations prior to immigration. So basically, I'd have the name of the ones that were born in another country and came to the US, thanks to immigration records, and occasionally I'd manage to find out who their parents were, but that was where it would stop.
I've recently managed to track a lot of them, a lot further than I ever was before, so that's been a lot of fun.
I had always assumed my Grandpa on my mom's side was just a big assortment of German ancestry on all sides, but it turns out he was only one quarter german, and the rest of a mix-match of Scottish and some Irish (Scots that moved to Ireland for a couple generations, and then came to the US). Before I had honestly thought that the only Irish in my line at all was the Athey's from my grandma's side.
I was able to dig up a bunch of new stuff thanks to some better resources, and I just recently went back into my Grandmother's line (the Athey line) to see if I could fill in any of the gaps that were still there. These gaps were mostly on the female side of things, as I'd tracked the primary paternal line back to the 1500's.
Things started to get really interesting when I got to John Athey (1675 - 1729) and his wife, Margaret Lewis (1692 - 1735). I had no info on Margaret Lewis, and started following her line back.
I was quickly surprised to find it really well documented, going back really far.
Now, most of the family I've traced were especially hard to find anything further back than the 1600's, just because they're all basically lower-class / working class / peasants or whatever, and few people bother to document those lines very well. The paternal Athey line was documented back as far as it is because they were nobles.
When you come across a really well documented line, it's a pretty clear sign of Upper Class status, with titles and shit.
So I trace the Lewis line back to the point of immigrations and low and behold - they're from Wales! The first sign of any Welsh in my line, so that's pretty cool.
Welsh names are weird, and back at that point in time, there were no traditional surnames, it was just 'name ap father'sname', so 'Lewis' disappeared quickly. Didn't make the search as hard as I worried it might because, even though I was approaching the 1400's, the line was still super-well documented, from numerous sources.
I kept going, a couple wives came in at various points who were born in England, but everyone else was from Wales.
I get to Howel ap David born 1375, and there's a note about him being 'Lord of Nannan". Ooo neat. A Lord.
Keep going, and going and going, and holy crap, I've never managed to trace any genealogy back this far.
Cadwgan ap Elystan Glodrydd of Buellt aka Lord of Radnor, was born in 975 ad, and I'm still finding lots of resources. No mysterious breaks in the line where I have to make guesses, either. Multiple sources, all giving me basically the same names (often spelled slightly different depending on the source, because: Welsh is weird)
And next, Cadwgan Lord of Radnor's father was Elystan Glodrydd ap "Elystan the Renowned". Still quite neat. Let's keep going -
Idnerth Ap Iorwerth / Cadwr Wenwyn Ap Idnerth, born 790 is Powys, Wales, Prince of Powys
Ooo! A Prince!
Few more generations and we've got Bywyr "Llew" Bywdeg / Bywdeg ap Rhun Rhudd King of Siluria born 610 AD.
Well, fuck yeah, that's pretty awesome.
And his father is King Bywdeg Ap Rhun. The fucking King of Wales in the mid 600's. Damn! I guess this is why the line is so well documented!
So how far can I take this?
Well, Casnar Casanauth Wledig ap Cadeyrn, born 440 AD was apparently Son of Cunedda Wledig, King of Gwynedd. Cool.
Casnar's wife, Thewer perch Brydw born 480 AD however, had something even more interesting in her line.
Thewer perch Brydw's Grandfather was Vortigern, High King of Britain - Holy shit, I know that name! I watched a fucking documentary on the guy!
Vortigern's wife, Sevira Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu is a Saint in Wales. Oh, and her daddy was a fucking ROMAN EMPEROR.
Well, Hot Damn!
Flavius Clemens Magnus Maximus Augustus, or as he was known to the Welsh: Macsen Wledig, born in 335 AD is my ancestor, and as utterly meaningless as that is, I think it's pretty damn neat.
A little excerpt from Wikipedia -
In 383 as commander of Britain, he usurped the throne against emperor Gratian; and through negotiation with emperor Theodosius I the following year he was made emperor in Britannia and Gaul – while Gratian's brother Valentinian II retained Italy, Pannonia, Hispania, and Africa.
In 387 Maximus' ambitions led him to invade Italy, resulting in his defeat by Theodosius I at the Battle of the Save in 388. In the view of some historians his death marked the end of direct imperial presence in Northern Gaul and Britain.
It was at this point that Vortigem managed to take the crown and make himself King, and marry Magnus' daughter in the process.