Now, I've found another relative...a bit closer related to me than some of them...and the poor man was beheaded for treason. He was a Thomas Fitzgerald, the 7th or 8th Earl of Desmond who was born in 1426 and died in Drogheda, Ireland in 1468. I say he was either the 7th or 8th Earl because no-one appears to be able to agree on when his title began. Apparently he was considered to be aiding the Irish against the English...a treasonable offence back then...and was invited to a hastily arranged meeting at Drogheda where he was promptly dispatched. Whether or not he had any time to plead in his own defence is probably unlikely.

Then I found another man who is said to be one of the Magna Carta Barons...I haven't looked him up yet so I'm none the wiser at present. He was named Saher de Quincy..1155-1219...he died on the way to the Holy Land, whether in order to get involved in battles or simply on a pilgrimage I don't know.

I'd no idea so many English Lords were in possession of Irish land as long ago as the 1100 and 1200's...for some reason I'd thought they'd begun to come over here much later than that. The branch of the tree I'm following now has dozens of English people in Ireland...building castles and fortified houses all over the place....and many were buried here as well. They travelled back and worth between the two countries...often returning to England for babies to be born or to attend Parliament and then going back to Ireland with new orders from Parliament and a new baby...

They returned to marry as well and I'm always surprised to see just how many times they married bearing in mind the fact they spent so much time travelling to and fro to the Holy Land...you'd not have thought there be much time left over for marriage and making babies. But it certainly was commonplace to marry three and sometimes four times...each marriage designed to ensure inheritance or the continuation of the family line.

All the marriages and subsequent children take some puzzling out though at least they didn't tend to veer towards naming every child after a sibling or a Grandparent in the way people did later on in history...

People raise their eyebrows at the Irish Traveller girls marrying at sixteen but that was the normal age for the Middle Ages...then they had a child every other year until they died at twenty-five either from childbirth or plague or one of the other many prevelant diseases of the day, and their husbands were remarried within the year and new wife was having her babies...of course the men didn't live to a ripe old age either...I've found a very few who lived into their sixties but they were mostly dead by their early forties...from wounds in battles...or from disease...or being beheaded.

This branch of the family didn't marry Icelandic princesses or Norweigan Queens...they married people from ancient Northumberland families with a smattering of Scots and a very few from London so I'm not coming across names I can't pronounce with them. And I'm thinking they'd have lived in stone built castles with thatched roofs rather than the cosy warmth of a Viking Longhouse with its many hearths and sleeping benches laden with thick fleeces and furs...

Ireland is positively heaving with castle remains...sometimes it'll just be one solitary wall still standing...smothered in thick ivy and with nothing to see apart from irate Jackdaws who have nested there...it is then that you need huge imagination to visulise what it must have looked like in its heyday...I think most of this branch of the family's castles have ended up as one wall in the middle of a field perhaps or on the edge of some forestry land...their Earldoms and Lordships have long died out and their monies and lands gone to pay taxes and inheritance money and seized by the English Crown after some quarrel or accusation...

If you'd like to know...Drogheda is pronounced with a soft 'g'...sort of slur the word as though you've had a couple of drinks and that'll be about right.