Monthly Archives: April 2016

REDMAYGNE TO RODMAN, A FAMILY JOURNEY

962 Words

It has been such a long time since this Alice slid down the rabbit hole…it’s been months. I’ve certainly been through scary bad times in my life, but this time I think it has to do with the over-all weakening of my health and subsequently my outlook.   It’s not fair, so I devoted some time to whining about it.

During my hiatus, I buried myself deeper into genealogy …hoping to keep my grey matter lively while I was in the slide. My searches revealed much information that I was unable to grasp.   In the back of my mind I was thinking “Sure, Ancestry.com…. I’m gonna believe all this castle and head chopping and such.”

I didn’t think it was true. And there was nobody to ask: I am the elder in my family now.

A wee voice in the back of my head reminded me that my mother had told me a “silly-ass story” (her words) of her Swiss grandfather receiving a letter from the Swiss government regarding a castle that was up for government sale. Grandfather held a family gathering, and the family agreed they didn’t want to pay back taxes and did not respond. My mother was not certain this was even true.

Early in my searches on line I found that it just might be sort of true: my 15th GGF on my (Swiss) Grandfather’s side is Martin Luther, the Swiss Reformer. He came from a family (real name was Luder) of great poverty, but he did very well with Religion, and ran with the best of them. He could certainly have owned a chateau!

I chose Alice in Wonderland as a favorite book when I was a child. I was totally caught up with her so boldly diving into a dark hole! My kind of fun!

Not so much my Mom’s idea though: We didn’t have a washing machine so she did laundry by hand, in the bathtub with one of those rubbing racks.

Apparently I had to wait until I was crowding seventy to realize just what a Slow Learner I am: Louis Carrol’s book about Alice in Wonderland was a satirical commentary on The War of the Roses, between Yorkshire and Lancaster. And there was a Red Queen! She is an ancestor of mine! and she really could make people lose their head! In truth, I learned most of Carrol’s story in the ‘60s via Gracie Slick’s White Rabbit. At the time, I still held the belief that this was a made up story.

My poor Swiss Miss Mom: living in a family with no income: our parents divorced and our father was not good at paying support. These were difficult years until our father passed. I was eleven then, and Bill was a year and half older.

Mom, now had a title: The Widow. Thank god that now she and we youngsters were “entitled” to Dad’s Social Security death benefits. Thank you Daddy, we were finally able to get off Welfare!

Every once in a while Mom would mention her family back ground…. A royalty mixture was the blood that ran through our lines, something about a Portuguese Queen, and I said “yeah, right!”

I was comparatively small, maxed out at 5’5” but she was 5’11” and she said she came from solid German stock on both sides. Well, I found out she was a little miss-led. Not German, but Swiss and they too are often very tall. My husband and I tried to pick up a Swiss woman who had fallen near our restaurant in Lugano. She was slim but very tall, requiring both my husband and I to lift her from the icy sidewalk. I remembered at the time that my own mother also was tall, 5’10” built slim, just like this woman. Maybe Mom really was Swiss? It was the first clue that what she’d been saying may be true.

And then I search Mom’s paternal side, the “Rodmans”, which I was both confounded and delighted to find were originally the Redmayne’s from the Loire Valley in France. I’d fallen in love with all of France years ago, the Loire especially! And these relatives, the Redmaygne’s, (redheads) were Normans, originating in Avranches, France.

On or about the time the Normans invaded England, they changed the family name to Redmayne. Family members in England today mostly use the Redman version.

But in the USA, they use the name that is shown in the Parish records of Barbados: Rodman. And there is a story there, too.

In 1568, my many-times Great Grandfather, John Redman the Quaker, refused to take of his hat in the church Assizes. He was jailed for three months, then he and his family were banished from Ireland!

He indentured himself as a servant and moved his entire family to the balmy Isle of Barbados.  He unfortunately lost his wife and their newborn at sea. Once in Barbados he worked hard and eventually became, like his employer, a plantation owner. His eldest sons were both doctors like their father and the centuries of forefather. It was a family profession going back to the 14th century: in about 1410 a Rodman knight died in Jerusalem. He was Knight “Hospitallier” and gave respite and protection to weary Christian pilgrims of the faith.

These young Rodmans of Babados immediately married and moved North to the American colony of Rhode Island and set up their practice of medicine.

 

(NOTE ~ to get a feel of “Barbados” during the early 1500s and the next several centuries, a book on the market called SUGAR IN THE BLOOD, by Andrea Stewart. She was born on the island, and descends from slaves and their masters. She has done a truly magnificent job.)

C-Melanie Wood 4/28/2016

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