It is no secret to anyone who knows me that my family of origin is like a bad Lifetime movie, without a neat resolution. Though many of my family pretend not to be from my family, because of my work on my own issues, I have not been so fortunate at my attempts of denial. At this point I am mostly accepting and frankly I like to believe perhaps it makes me a little more interesting. Anyway, I have discovered genealogy. I learned about it a long time ago, but with only one parent to go on and some vague references to her family, it seemed a lost cause. Then came the internet and Ancestry.com, so I began work on it. It was very slow at first, and so in about 2002 I gave up for a couple of years. Then my Grandmother Nina Tennant’s family began to work on it. Within a few years, and the computer age of information the story of the Tennants and The Thomases unfolded.
I picked it up in 2008, and what a difference time has made. First off this made for T.V. movie family began to have some interesting lines. I literally have relatives here since the early 1600’s, and though we did not come on the mayflower we came in droves immediately afterward. It seems my 2 maternal grandparents, Nina Tennant and Steven Thomas had roots that go well into this country’s history. Not only that but well into the past. We go to Great Britain (mostly England) until about 1000 A.D. and then skip to France, and earlier are related to the Gaul’s and the Franks. So it seems that my wounded family actually has incredibly strong roots.
I discovered one woman Adeline DeMeulan or as we Americans call her Aveline of Meulan. She is my 31st great grandmother, through Peter Thomas (1734-1813) and Mary Sims (1750-1814). Peter was my 7th great grandfather, through my maternal grandfather, Steven Thomas. Adeline was born in Meulan, Yvelines, Il-de-France, France, November 30, 1014. I can’t even believe sometimes that we can go back that far, but I learned through this process Great Britain kept excellent family records. Her name was also spelled, Adeline Demeullant in some historical records, but she is the same woman.
Her father was Count Hugh Waleran III of Meulan, the count of Normandy, France. He and his father maintained an independence from the Capetian king at Paris by a dangerous alliance with the dukes of Normandy downstream. Adeline was his daughter, and was married off to the Norman magnate, Roger De Beaumont. Her husband built a new castle that ran along the right bank of the Seine River close to what was then the lordship of La Roche Guyon, and included the priory of St-Martin-la-Garenne, of which Robert I was a patron. It was a power house between Normandy and Paris and was exploited several times in history. The lands were later confiscated by King Philip Augustus in the beginning of the 13th century.
About Adeline personally, I found her burial spot. A place where my grandmother lies today, the Bec Abbey or more precisely in French, the Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec, in Le Bec Hellouin, Normandy, France. She died April 8, 1081 in Sturminster Marshal, Dorset, England. Here I am almost a 1000 years and a continent away from her, but the miracle of both of these things are not lost on me. If there is anything spiritual in this life it is the connection between families, but more over the connection between human beings. I have learned so much during this process, but today I just want to pay tribute to Adeline, and I would love to see her interment in Abbey Bec.