The only genealogy thing more fun that researching an entire family tree is researching two trees. This is because, sooner or later, those trees are going to come together. My pixie-in-law and I naturally had loads of fun doing our respective genealogies. She was the one who lured me into this new hobby with tales of King’s mistresses and highland heroes. Well, I wanted to be related to someone interesting, too, so I started nailing down my own family tree.
A few months in, I came across the name Ida de Toeny (if you see a different spelling of this, that’s because there are about fifteen different iterations of her name) and thought I recognized it.
She lived in the 1100s, was a royal ward, was given in marriage to 2nd Earl of Norfolk, Roger Bigod, had a few kids (I’m descended from her daughter, Margery), and… that’s cool. Right? Where had I heard that name before, though?
Coat of Arms for Roger Bigod
Well, it turns out she had a relationship before she was married.
With the King of England. Henry II.
Henry II, King of England – I’m sure he looked a lot less stuffy in person.
Yep. Not only was she the king’s mistress… she was the same king’s mistress from whom my pixie-in-law was descended! The bastard son of the royal tryst was William Longspee, 3rd Earl of Salisbury, who fought and bled for the crown of his half-brother; he is the ancestor of my brother’s wife. Longspee’s half-sister is my 28-generations-back great-grandmother.
This wasn’t the last connection we found between our family trees, either. Nor is it the closest. The Pixie and I are technically both sisters-in-law and 24th cousins 4 times removed. Still, in my mind, there is a lingering image of Ida as the mother which unites our family bond nearly 900 years ago, the point at which the river divides.
Ida’s husband, Roger, turned out to be a very interesting fellow in his own right, but I suppose I’ll get into that during another post.