From time to time, i lend my time to assisting people with ancestry and finding where they originated from. One such enquiry for assistance came from John Sutton, who on New Years Day 2014 wrote to me with the following message.
“Hi. I’m trying to trace my grandfathers family. He was John Sneddon b1900. Blantyre. His parents were Robert Sneddon b1861 Blantyre and Margaret Liddle. They were married on 29-12-1882 Blantyre. There were several daughters, one of which was Elizabeth Liddle Sneddon b1891 Blantyre. Any help will be much appreciated.”
This brief yet intriguing message led to an extensive search into the Sneddon historical ancestry line, which i have to admit was difficult to put down. It proved possibly the most exciting and fascinating ancestry task i’ve ever been involved in, a real rollercoaster with ultimately a heritage that was recorded in great detail , carved into history. Normally when i research ancestry, the records run out around 1600 or so. However, in John’s case, the Sneddon line could be traced back further, much further and indeed i traced it all the way back to his descendants in 934AD! I am pleased to show my findings below, which should be of utmost interest to any Sneddon living in, or connected to Blantyre today.
“John – Thanks for your email. I am able to help you a lot with your enquiry about ancestry. I don’t mind helping people for free as i have access to quite a large database of names and records associated with Blantyre. However, i’ve spent some time on this lineage today as it’s most intriguing and i’ve managed to get back as far as 1604 for your family records. That’s not what was amazing, but incredibly your line goes directly back to the first ships of settlers leaving the UK for America! Such a tale needs to be told. Your line is very largely Scottish only marrying into one English person in many, many generations of Scottish descent. It would appear your family in the 1600s and 1700s had quite the flair for exploration and emigration often crossing the harsh two monthly long voyage across the Atlantic back and forth! Looks like they arrived at Virginia and settled in the South on various plantations, although thankfully i find no connection to slavery. Throughout the centuries, their ancestry must have been retold and eventually with the loss of English and Scottish colonies to a newly formed America (and subsequent defeat of the South), several family generations returned home to Scotland, which eventually descended to your grandfather is lowly old Blantyre. John Sneddon lived at Merrys Row and was a miner until he enlisted in the “Royal Irish Fusiliers” (I don’t know why). In the early 1920’s he was stationed in Dover. It was here that he met and married your grandmother in 1923. Their youngest daughter married your father. Your intriguing and prominent heritage revolves around surnames, Gouldsmith, McKay, Barrowman, Sneddon, Robertson, Liddle and Prather. I need to investigate this a lot more.”
As January rolled on, i was able to investigate this line a lot more. At first i concentrated on the pilgrim connection. Jonathan Prather owned Prather Hall Plantation, St Mary, MD. America built around 1660. This picture shows the remains of the hall, which is now no longer there. However, i could go further back from this, back to France, England and Wales previous to America being discovered. I managed to trace John’s ancestry right all the way back to 934AD. However, the MOST exciting part, was that by 1200AD, there were connections forming to Royalty and by as far back as 975AD, to Welsh Princesses! Such important lines are well documented so the links came very easily having been recorded previously in history. I have the ancestry completely tracked out generation, by generation in diagram format and can connect modern day Sneddons from Blantyre to French and Welsh Royalty. It is also the oldest lineage i have ever traced. A thousand years ago, the Princess of Wales married into John’s family, but the line was polluted by the Norman conquests and French names starting in his history. This is where the name Prather is derived from which eventually ended up in 1600’s America. John’s line has many titles of nobility between the years 1000AD – 1300AD! This is quite unusual and such historical records will always be able to tell a story or two more about those characters! The earliest entry in this ancestry is Geoffrey DeRie born 934AD.