I Wear Tight Genes

Wherein I attempt to relate the trials and tribulations of tracking down information on people who are dead, but bear some resemblance to me...when they were alive.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bragging Rights to William the Conqueror

William of Normandy was known as William the Conqueror (and, incidentally, King of England) after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Any student of history will tell you how pivotal and important that battle was to the population of Europe at the time, and how the echoes are still being felt in the genealogical archives today.

Hell, I keep reading the Bayeux Tapestry over and over again. I just can't put it down.

Why am I suddenly embarking on a history lesson? Well, as it turns out, anyone with a bit of the UK in their genealogical makeup is actually related to everyone on the island in 1066. How is that possible? Statistics, my friend.

Joseph Chang has an interesting study posted here, where he says:
"with high probability for large n, in each generation at least 1.77 lg n generations before the present, all individuals who have any descendants among the present-day individuals are actually ancestors of all present-day individuals."

That means if the UK had a population of 1 million people in 1066, it would take only 35 generations between you and 1066 for you to be related to everyone on the island if you're related to at least one of them.

I'm mentioning this because I've heard from at least 3 relatives that they can trace back their family name (Comyn/Cummins, Fitzgerald, and Williams) back to knights that came over from Normany with William to conquer the island and set himself up as king. You can probably find one or two of your own direct ancestors noted in the Doomsday Book

So, the next time some old lady down your block claims that she's got better genes because she's related to some knight in William's court, let her know how you're related to all 999,999 other residents of the isle at the time.


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