Friday, November 28, 2008

OUR FOSTER/FORSTER ANCESTRY - Above is a photograph of the tomb of our ancestor, Sir Thomas Forester, Knight, Governor of Bamborough and Lord of Etherstone in Northumbria, England. From our Foster/Forester ancestry, we can trace our descent from Charlemagne as well as from King Alfred "the Great," the Anglo-Saxon king that fought off the Danes and united England. Our first Foster ancestor was Mary Anne Foster, my great-great-great grandmother from Manchester, Vermont who married my great-great-great grandfather, Abraham Smith, also of Manchester, Vermont. She was the daughter of Josiah Foster, who fought in the Revolutionary War, and Marian Curtis. After her father died, her mother married Eliakim Deming who raised her as a stepdaughter, so she is also sometimes referred to as Mary Anne Deming. One of her great-grandfathers was Edward Winslow, as Mayflower passenger. She was also descended from William Brewster, another Mayflower passenger and who was the leader of the Pilgrams, as well as from Thomas Prence, Governor of Plimouth Plantation/colony. On her Curtis, or her mother's side, she is descended from John Deming, who led the first group of settlers to found the colony of Connecticut, settling in what is now Wethersfield, Connecticut. His name is on the royal charter on exhibit in the Connecticut Capitol as one of the individuals who petititoned that Connecticut be created as a royal colony. On her paternal side, her ancestor was Reginald Foster who came from Brunton England in 1638 and settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts (the first Foster to come to New England). He in turn was descended from a long line of knights who were the Governor of Bamborough and Lord of Etherstone in Northumbria, England, including Sir John Forster who was a signer of the Magna Carta on June 15, 1215 and who in 1220 was knighted for saving the life of King Richard I "the Lion-Hearted."

Our ancestor Sir Richard Forster was descended from the Counts of Flanders. Before migrating to England after fighting at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, he was knighted in 1039 at the age of 16 by William "the Conqueror" -- who had married Sir Richard Forster's sister, Matilda and thus was his brother-in-law. It is from William "the Conqueror" and Matilda that all the subsequent monarchs of England have been descended (i.e. sharing the same Forster ancestry as ourselves). It was the militiary expertise and support of Baldwin Forster V, Count of Flanders and the father of Matilda and Sir Richard Forster, that allowed William "the Conqueror" to defeat the English and conquer England. And, in fact, the Count of Flanders was considered to be more powerful and more wealthy than the Duke of Normandy. As a consequence, in 1100, after the death of William "the Conqueror," Sir Richard Forster was named Duke of Normandy, replacing the position once held by William "the Conqueror," though Sir Richard Forster continued to live in Northumbria, England.

Sir Richard Forster's father was Baldwin Forster V, 7th Count of Flanders and was married to Adele Capet, daughter of Robert I, King of France (who we thus are also descended from). Baldwin V was descended from Baldwin II "the Bald", 2nd Count of Flanders and his wife, Elftrude, daughter of King Alfred "the Great" of England (again, who we are thus also descended from). Baldwin II's mother was Judith, Princess of the Franks and Queen of England (from her prevous marriages to both Ethelbald and Athelwulf, brothers of King Alfred "the Great" and kings of England before Alfred assumed the throne). Judith was the daughter of Charles II "the Bald," King of France, who was the son of Louis "the Pious," King of France, who was the son of Charlemagne - who we are all descended from.

Baldwin II's grandfather was Odacer (or Anacher), the Great Forrester of France. He was a Danish Viking war leader who conquered part of Northern France and organized it into his own territory which he called Flanders. He then allied himself with Charlemagne in fighting off further Viking invaders. Because of this, he was given the position as the Great Forester of France, responsible for protecting all the wild animals and king's lands in France. He made his capitol in Arras, France with a secondary capitol in Bruges. It is from him and his Forster/Foster descendants that we can trace our royal lines of descent from Charlemagne, King Alfred "the Great," and various kings of France.