I am the Queen of England


My great-great-grandmother Mary Rowe fell for the 19th-century “Bogardus hoax,” which alleged that if you could prove your descent from a person named Aneka Jans Bogardus, you were part-owner of a big chunk of property in downtown Manhattan. American courts were clogged with these cases for a while. My poor great-great-grandmother died in the loony bin, still clutching her legal documents, or so we are told.

 

 

The secret attraction here was not only the promise of money, but the allure of royalty. Aneka Jans was supposedly a daughter of “King William of Holland.” And don’t we all wish we were descended from royalty?


 

My grandmother Minnie found her grandmother Mary’s various family trees and affidavits, and caught the genealogy bug. My aunt Louise has kept the franchise going; she published a gorgeous book, “The Pioneer Spirit,” which incorporates much of the research she and her sister Lucille and their husbands have done over the years.


 

I have done my tiny bit to help. Early on, however, I gained a healthy respect for what Louise and Lucille and Minnie and even crazy great-great-grandma Mary accomplished. It’s hard work! You end up with a tangled heap of contradictory claims. Even the reference books aren’t very authoritative.


 

But wait until you hear this!


 

Some years ago I discovered a website called Geni.com, which allows you to upload and share family information. I noticed the other day that someone had added a little extra info on my seven-times-great-grandfather Luke Bromley. It turns out that his wife, Hannah Stafford, was not only a Stafford (the family of the Dukes of Buckingham), but was also descended from the Woodvilles, and the Percys, and the Poles, and the Bohuns. It’s a regular Who’s Who in Fifteenth-Century England. Ultimately, the family goes back to King Edward III and Philippa of Hainault.


 

Dearie me! Royalty at last! Great-great-grandma Mary would be thrilled!

 

 

In the words of a poem in the National Lampoon back in the 1970s:


 

I am the Queen of England,

I like to sing and dance,

And if you don’t believe me,

I will punch you in the pants.


 

And I’ll do it, too.

 


 

 

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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