Saturday, March 26, 2011


(This is my family line through my grandmother Edna Cordelia Seagle Shelton Fulgham.  This post is especially for people who have contacted me about their interest in, or connection to Wyatt family history -- and any others interested in genealogy, history and tales of intrigue)

Did you know that back beyond the Wyatt name we can claim some of the same ancestors as King Henry VIII of England -- who stole Anne Boleyn from our ancestor Thomas Wyatt? This can be traced through dozens of history books, websites, movies and even some of Shakespeare’s plays. Some of our ancestors appear in the Tudor television series and are featured in novels.

A book I’m reading now (THE LADY IN THE TOWER, by Jean Plaidy) is about Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII. Thomas Wyatt and his sister Mary are prominent characters in it as friends of Anne Boleyn and her family. Their estate and castle, Allington, is “next door” to the Boleyn estate and castle Hever. Thomas Wyatt and Anne are together a lot growing up and as adults (when their life activities allow it). Actually, Thomas is in love with Anne.

Anne and King Henry (parents of the first Queen Elizabeth) are not our ancestors. But Thomas and his wife Elizabeth Brooke are. It is through Elizabeth that we are descendants of kings and queens of England (and other countries) and Viking kings and warriors.

Our Wyatt family tree has already been traced in bits and pieces by other people back to the Vikings in the year 160 A.D. All we have to do is put all the pieces together by digging a little deeper into information we already have: info on family members we know, gravestones of people we once knew, information passed down to us through generations of family members, census records on the oldest family member we knew or have information on, etc. Check the internet, history books, old letters, photos, newspaper articles…. And be sure to check out surnames of people who marry into the family.

It was when I checked Elizabeth Brooke’s family name (wife of Thomas Wyatt I) on the internet, that things really opened up for me.

Sound easy? Sound like fun? It is. But it took lots of digging off and on for several years for me to find all the connections to trace some of the people through Norway, France, Germany, even Jerusalem. I feel sure that someone smarter than I and with more knowledge in this sort of thing can put all the pieces together much quicker.

Information was more difficult to verify after our second generation in America. Our family line was more difficult to trace. I had no doubt that Martin’s information was correct, but felt I should do my own work to trace our line. So, through census records, christening, marriage and death records, and family charts on the web, I came up with the same people that he did.

It was the brief notation in his book about Thomas Wyatt II dying at the Tower of London, that prompted me to dig deeper into the family’s earlier history. Since I had information from family members and the cemetery where several of my ancestors is buried, I was able to trace backwards to Haute Wyatt (first of this Wyatt line into America) and forwards from Haute in Virginia to Shelby County, Alabama. I then traced “backwards” from Haute, grandson of Thomas Wyatt II through his mother Elizabeth Brooke and her family line.

In later posts I’ll try to share some of the connections, and some of the more interesting characters I’ve found. I’ll let you have the fun of connecting the dots, since it would take too much time and space for me to go through all my research to tell you which dots connect where.

It’s with Elizabeth Brooke -- wife of Thomas Wyatt who divorced her hoping to marry Anne Boleyn -- that the name Wyatt changes on this particular branch of our family tree. I discovered this while researching Thomas Wyatt “The Younger,” after becoming interested in why he died in London Tower -- as recorded in Donald Braxton Martin’s book.

King Henry VIII is on our family tree, but he personally is not in our direct line. Our branches split off from each other with John of Gaunt, along about the time of the “Wars of the Roses.” John himself was a fascinating character, known as "Father of the Wars of the Roses."  I’ll try, in a later post, to share some of the information I found on him.

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