The Charlemagne Factor

The common ancestor is an idea with a long history, and if you have been around the internet or genealogy circles anytime since the late 1990s, the concept that westerners are all descended from Charlemagne is probably something you have come across. This concept originates in Darwinian Evolutionary theory and is pretty well supported by mathematical models, genetics (well mitrochrondial DNA), computer modelling and all kinds of other neat science-y stuff. (Mark Humphrys gives the most complete overview, it’s pretty fascinating)

As a scientific concept I totally get it. Go back far enough and everyone on the planet right now has a common ancestor – Every one (in theory) has 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 ggrandparents and so on until you have more potential ancestors than existed on the planet at that time.

I was still pretty skeptical when my grandmother showed me her family tree which included Robert the Bruce. Skeptical to the point where I found copies of Robert the Bruce’s family tree and connected the dots myself. It goes like this.

  1. Me,
  2. My Mother, 
  3. Her Mother, 
  4. VM Tulloch, the daughter of
  5. LW Tulloch, the son of
  6. LT Tulloch, the son of
  7. John Tulloch, son of
  8. Ann Sutherland, daughter of
  9. Andrina Jamieson, daughter of
  10. Ann Fordyce, daughter of
  11. Hugh Fordyce, son of
  12. Andrew Fordyce, son of
  13. Alexander Fordyce, son of 
  14. Margaret Bruce, daughter of
  15. Laurence Bruce, son of
  16. John Bruce, son of
  17. Hector Bruce, son of
  18. Robert Bruce, son of
  19. John Bruce, son of
  20. Jean Steawrt, daughter of
  21. Isabel De Ergardia, daughter of
  22. Janet Isaac, daughter of
  23. Maud Matilda Bruce, daughter of
  24. King Robert I of Scotland. (Robert the Bruce)

now if you follow that, Alexander Fordyce [13], married his first cousin Elizabeth Bruce, whose father is Laurence Bruce’s [15] son Andrew, brother of Margaret [14]. So Robert the Bruce is my great (x22) grandfather x 2. And as Robert the Bruce is himself descended from Charlemange…

There you have it. The Charlemagne Factor.

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