There are certain moments in every genealogy journey that carve themselves into the memory like nothing else. The first name you recognize from history. The first individual you come across who’s description reads “this person may or may not have existed, but legend tells…“. The first ‘bubble’ you find, where you find out that your parents were actually cousins.

I had several such moments tracing back the ancestry of Mr. and Mrs. Farwell. Olive and Henry were your classic American citizens once they immigrated from England. He was a tailor and a deacon. I was delighted to find a solid, well-research line through Wikitree (one always has to be careful on that site…) on Olive and started tracking it all the way back. All the way back to the… Magna Carta. Saher De Quincy.

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That stopped me cold.

How cool is that?!?!?!

Wikitree.com has a Magna Carta project – tracking down all the descendants of the signers of the famous document.

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I started scrolling through the names, thinking to find Olive Farwell to confirm my suspicions.

Instead, I found… Henry Farwell?

Hello, what was this?

He wasn’t descended from Saher DeQuincy like Olive. He was descended from (imagine me clicking and clicking and clicking to get through to the answer during this mad dash for information) Roger Bigod.

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This was the Roger Bigod who married Ida, once Henry II’s mistress. Yes, Roger went on to sign one of the most famous documents in the history of Western Civilization. Now I had two Magna Carta Surety Barons in my family tree, and I had discovered that I was a distant, distant cousin to my best friend.

So my 12-generations great-grandparents were descended from two men who knew each other, who fought for the same freedoms and liberties I hold so dear today. Saher may have been the very author of the Magna Carta, but he died in in Egypt during the 5th Crusade. Roger was loyal to his king even during a revolution but was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in.

Now, that’s some gumption I’m glad to have in my blood.

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