Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday Search: Finding French Royalty

At this point in the process, the family tree has been well documented and we know a lot more than we did just a few years ago. We can trace most of our lines back through the decades and centuries deep into the 19th and 18th centuries in America. However, making the leap into the countries of our heritage has been extremely difficult. While we know the places from which our families emigrated, that is pretty much were our history ends. However, there are now a few exceptions to that pattern the most prominent and well documented of which is that of the Noblit line.

You may recall previously reading about John Noblit’s service during the Revolutionary War but the family history does back much further. Not only do we have a wealth of information, thanks in large part to Quaker record keeping at the time, about his father’s life, William Noblit, but the entire family that came to the colonies in the 1720’s from Ireland. And this is only the beginning of the pre-immigration journey. As it turns out, Ireland was only a brief stop in the journey to the colonies when looking at the family history in its entirety.

Prior to the family’s brief time in Ireland, only lasting a generation or two, the Noblit name is traced back to England where the family lived for a similar duration than that in Ireland. At this point, the truly exciting leap takes place when we venture into France. It is here that we find the most documents related to the family, their place in society, and their subsequent expulsion in the late-16th century. Yes, we are, by definition, Huguenots. These records don’t just cover a brief period of time, there are actually mentions of the Noblit/Noblet surname in documents dating back to the 12th century.

While the earliest mentions are scarce but beginning in the 16th century there are volumes of documents that have been found. What is especially fascinating, and tremendously useful, when tracing our family back is that some of these documents are patents of nobility. While I can’t confidently trace back to the earliest of mentions in the annals of history, I can, with documentation, trace back well into the 16th century and can, with relative certainty, state the fact that we are descendants of French nobility. This was a surprise to me but one that I am eager to explore further. Who knows, maybe one day I will be able to stay at the old family homestead in the Anjou region of France.