As you see below a pedigree is perhaps best produced as a simple chart. Commercial genealogical programmes all produce various types and styles of charts. Basically, it comes down to ancestors, or descendants, but the amount of information can vary significantly. I have illustrated pedigrees by using real data, which relates to the still-controversial origins of the Mackenzies. These pedigrees were selected in chronological sequence to enable a view of the family development. You will note the need for a good historical background of the local developments to be able to interrelate and assess the reliability of the information portrayed.
My commercial programme does not enable me to save charts directly to a web site, so the charts have been copied into JPEG format for display here. The same programme truncates words according to set display dimensions, as you will notice below. I have cramped the display to keep to approximately a single-page format.
I feel that readers should be warned that the Mackenzie historical origin as decendants of Fitzgeralds has been challenged. Sadly there is much confusion. I won't repeat all the arguments here, but there seems to be a major flaw in the challenge. The historical challenges were initiated in the nineteenth century. My own reading of the purported pedigree, which was the basis of the challenge is that the challenge was correctly made. Most confusingly, however, the Mackenzie origins pedigree then in vogue was quite wrong and itself based on inaccurate infornation. My own source stated that he had direct access to Fitzgerald records and that he identified additional missing people. Moreover, these people are historically identified by a preeminant historian and so the pedigree outlined here should be accurate in its essential details.
Our story starts in Florence, Italy. Florence was the family home of the Dukes of Tuscany, one of whom was called 'The Great'. He was Cosimo di Gherardini. I have not found much information about him, most of my sources seem content to quote each other and point to him as the father of Othoere. The man usually portrayed as Othoere could not have been the son of Cosimo (also spelled Cosmos), because the dates are wrong and his full name was Other Fitz Othoere. Since the Norman 'fitz' means 'son of' Other probably had to be the son of someone called Othoere - not Cosimo. I finally found sources that clarified the pedigree. Other is indeed a grandson (probably a great great great grandson) of Cosimo, although , I have yet to find any detailed information on Cosimo himself. Other's name was apparently a variation of Otto and he was the grandson of Otterus. I have named Otterus as Other's grandparent to keep the identities separate. Otterus was a mystery until someone separated the two Others into grandfather and grandson. It was apparently Otterus's son called Gherardo, who left Italy in the trail of King Canute in 1016, once that temporal reference is established identities fall more readily into place.
You may notice my guesswork below in marrying Other to a nameless woman, although nameless she would have had use of his title. Other himself is firmly established historically as a personal friend of William the Conqueror and a baron in King Edward the Confessor's court. He is specifically noted as having an 'honorary' barony and since by his name alone he is an outsider logic demands some explanation. My explanation is that Edward was known to have 'foreigners' in his kingdom as he tried to distance himself from the ever-present Danes and their remnant Viking threat. Recall that Edward followed three Danes as king of England, that the Norwegians invaded England twice in 1066, and that Harold's younger brother Tostig invaded a third time with Viking support. Additionally, as was the basis for William the Conqueror's claim to England, Edward had spent a long period protected in the Norman ducal court while England was occupied by the Danes. Logically Edward and Other met in Normandy, where Other had also been friends with William.
Edward had real need of outside advisors to balance the preponderance of Danish influence in his own kingdom. I think that Sir Other Fitz Othoere was one of the foreigners accepted into the English court, because Edward met him at William's court in Normandy. Other was a worldly, well-traveled man, friend of Duke William, with language skills and military experience (anybody in William's court would have had some military experience). Other was granted a courtesy English title in view of his ducal-family connection and welcomed into the English court. Other's father, Lord Othoere (also called Otterus), was presumably a younger son who left home and traveled to France, or Normandy. I am speculating at that latter point, but how else did Other gain the Norman label 'Fitz'? There must have been some early Norman connection.
That Other and his son Walter were accepted by the Normans must telegraph both their personal competence and their probable prior exposure to the Norman culture. Edward and Other must have met in Normandy and Other then followed to England. Recall that there were pitifully few Normans in England to conquer the country (with a population of over one million at the time) for the first ten years after 1066 and since Other and his son were evidently not the defeated Saxons and were competent (or they would not have been kept in responsible positions) they must have been quickly accepted as Norman allies. For Other and Walter this was a time of unequalled opportunity as their growing results show in their family successes. Walter's third son was called Gerald (after the Tuscan Gherardini tradition) and as the pedigree shows that Gerald's elder brother inherited Walter's position at Windsor, so Gerald struck out on his own. More likely, Gerald struck out for Wales with considerable Norman encouragement as the Normans tried to come to grips with the rebellious Welsh.
Another opportunity was made good by the Geraldine family: we see immediately in Gerald's title that he was given responsibility for the operation of a front-line, Norman castle - which did come under serious attack. (Attacked by the Welsh, Gerald used a clever 'Ruse de Guerre' and although the garrison was near to starving, threw some fresh meat out to the besieging Welshmen. The effect was immediate as the Welsh interpreted the meat to signal plentiful supplies, grew disheartened, and soon broke-off the siege.) Moreover, Gerald FitzWalter sufficiently impressed King Henry I that Henry ordered Gerald to marry the Welsh Princess Nesta. Nesta was 'the catch of Wales' at the time and Henry had kept her as his own mistress, so Henry was hardly throwing Gerald a poor prize: Gerald must have earned respect and Henry rewarded him. It was Gerald's son Maurice who was called 'The Invader of Ireland' for his critical, active leadership in the 1170 Invasion of Ireland. Maurice actually landed in 1169 and is described by his nephew, Gerald of Wales, as making aggressive key decisions which won the battle for Dublin - despite being outnumbered by two armies of Irish and Vikings. (Dublin was established by the Vikings as a city - not by the native Irish, so both Viking and Irish help were called for when the Normans attacked Dublin.) This Geraldine family, as they are collectively known, was highly successful, bred like flies, and apparently justified all the Norman trust put in them individually. To read an account of that invasion, it could not have remotely succeeded without the FitzGeralds and their cousins.
Another pedigree of interest is Nesta’s. She is identified below and as the mother of the FitzGeralds we can only admire her own pedigree. You see that her father, Rhys Ap Tewdwr Mawr, King of Deheubarth, was an early Tudor: do not be alarmed by spelling variations. It seems that spelling was then a creative art. Again you will see that we know more about the men than the women. A pedigree shows the specific direct ancestry for a given individual – in this case Nesta. Her ancestry can be found in Welsh, Irish, and English historical and royal lineages. Nesta, a common woman's name in her time, was what we call Welsh (or more properly Welch) today. The very label 'welsh' reveals an early propaganda campaign by the (then) invading Angles and Saxon Germans. 'Walas', in their proto-germanic language, meant foreigner, so the Germans began to 'demonise' those early Celtic Britons and call them the foreigners in their own lands! The Celts had arrived in Britain c700 BC brought iron technology, and had dominated the early pastoral inhabitants. These Welsh retained their own traditions and memorised their pedigrees that we have verified for accuracy today.
The Celts, established their own kingdoms some memories of which survive in this pedigree below. Unless you are an historian, or an educated Briton, you may be unaware that Wales was not a single entity. Deheubarth and Powys are two of the surviving names of those early Celtic kingdoms, but these are better explained in the subsequent maps and historical explanations. We can see here at a glance the origins of the English Tudor monarchy and the difficult Welsh spelling. The Welsh pedigrees are remarkable because they seem to date from c1200BC. Nesta's pedigree stretches over that period, but I have not yet had time to fully document a solid lineal descent. Nesta's relatives inter-married outside Wales into the continental nobility and thus broadened our family interest. By Nesta we are related to the Romans.
To read the names below it is helpful to know that 'ap' means 'son of'' in Welsh as 'verch' means 'daughter of''. Similarly, 'dda' means 'good', and 'mawr' means 'great'. (There are, of course, spelling variations! ) For those unfamiliar the Welsh for king is brenan, and for queen is banon.
Gerald's pedigree is laid out in two stages below. The first pedigree shows shows Gerald's father Thomas' ancestors and focuses on location and identity data; however, DNA, blood types, data sources, and any significant activity might be included in pedigree notes for other people. The second chart shows Gerald to have been the third son of Thomas FitzGerald by his first wife.
There were many historical Gerald FitzGeralds (I record at least twenty-two and there were undoubtedly more), but this Gerald is also known to history as Gerald FitzGerald FitzThomas. Some Mackenzie accounts show Gerald to have been the son of the earl of Kildare and Desmond. Examining these putative pedigrees helps to clear facts into focus. Gerald is accepted as a hero of both the 1261 Battle of Callam in Ireland, and the 1263 Battle of Largs in Scotland, but the earldom of Desmond was not created until 1329. Clearly Gerald could not have been that earl. Gerald's father's pedigree thus focuses the research issues and challenges sources.
Perhaps the confusion in Gerald's identity was caused by the initial Mackenzie researchers not having access to the Fitzgerald family papers. My principal source here is a later Mackenzie researcher: Sir E Mackenzie Mackenzie. This latter Mackenzie visited the Duke of Leinster, was given access to the Fitzgerald records, and then compiled a book outlining the Mackenzie origins. Thomas FitzGerald's family is corroborated by other sources and so I judge the pedigrees here to represent accurately the families portrayed. I do not, of course, have access to primary sources, or original documents, myself.
My contemporary secondary sources have had access to the genealogies provided by both primary family researchers: George Mackenzie, and Alexander Mackenzie. There are salient differences between the two groups of pedigrees for Thomas FitzGerald. Modern sources seem united to support two wives for Thomas FitzGerald, Baron Geashill, neither of whom are the only daughter of Thomas Carron supposed by Alexander Mackenzie. George Mackenzie's pedigree was firmly anchored in the Fitzgeralds and despite Alexander Mackenzie's denial of the Fitzgerald origins in favour of Ross, the Fitzgerald links remain. Fitzgerald records identify Gerald FitzGerald, 1 Baron of Kintail, and Goddard H Orpen says that Gerald FitzGerald, 1 Baron of Kintail fought at the 1261 Battle of Callann and further explains that he earned the sobriquet, or nickname, of Callam (Colin) for his battlefield role. (The FitzGerald family were hard-pressed in this battle as Thomas FitzGerald, Baron Geashill, earned the label "Mor', or Great, for his battle performance, Gerald's brother John, FitzGerald, 5 Baron Offaly, and John's son Maurice were both killed in the same battle.) The conclusion seems obvious that Gerald FitzGerald existed and fought in 1261 to earn the name Colin.
That Colin Hiberno relates to the same Gerald FitzGerald who fought at the 1263 Battle of Largs and then rescued the King from a charging stag in 1266 also seems to be supported by the Icolmkill Record. The same language (Colin Hiberno) is used in the purported Kintail Charter, which seems significant albeit the witnesses inconveniently appear to have died some decades prior to signing the Charter in question. There seems to be significant evidence that Gerald FitzGerald became known as Colin in Scotland and that he stayed in Scotland as an honoured warriror. There seems to be no particular argument to deny the Mackenzie pedigree through the Fitzgeralds. If the Mackenzie origins seem linked to the Fitzgeralds, the possession of the Kintail lands clearly rests upon legal documents. The only document referred to appears to be the purported grant by King Alexander III, which has been discredited.
My data comes from the FitzGeralds and I think that they had the power, information, and wealth to document their own pedigrees. (As the pre-eminent family of Ireland the FitzGeralds had no apparent motive to claim an obscure pedigree in Scotland). This same pedigree illustrates another issue: marriage. Gerald's father, Thomas, Baron Geashill, married twice, so researchers could easily confuse descent from Thomas by his second wife Rohesia St Michael whose son was John FitzGerald FitzThomas, I Earl of Kildare. A further confusion postulates Gerald as the son of Earl John. Earl John did have a son called Gerald FizGerald, but he was not born until c1271, which would eliminate him from participation in the deadly battle of 1261. The table below shows that OUR Gerald was born in c1218, which would have made him the right age to have fought at the Battle of Callam, but then why would he have? My contemporary secondary sources seem themselves to have had wide access and to have accounted for the genealogies provided by both and Alexander Mackenzie.
If Gerald was the first son he would have inherited his father, Thomas', estate. But Thomas' heir was John, although that son, Sir John, V Baron Offaly fought and was killed in the Battle of Callam, there was yet another elder brother Maurice. In addition, Gerald's father had re-married and had fathered a second son called John, so Gerald's prospects would not look bright. If the historical confusion was based on Gerald being the the younger John then he could have been created an earl later, but as the heir he would have had to contend with the considerable active family responsibility to build the credibility to earn the earldom. He could not have earned that earldom in distant, foreign Scotland!
Moreover if Gerald were the first earl of Kildare (rather than the earl of Kildare and Desmond - that being a different title) he would also have been too young to fight at Callam and later would have been too busy taking care of family business to deal with a new life in Scotland. Although the younger John was not created Earl of Kildare until 14 May 1316, he is reported to have built Castle Sligo prior to that and he couldn't have supervised that from Scotland. John had two sons, a Gerald - of whom I know nothing - but he was not born until c1271 and Thomas FitzJohn FitzGerald, who became the II Earl of Kildare and was born at Castle Maynooth, Ireland c1273. This seems a long way from Eilean Donan and a very busy new barony. Evidently Thomas had wanted a son called John, because he named the two sons John; but neither the brother John, nor step-brother John, nor even a nephew Gerald was OUR Gerald. Who stepped into the dead brother John's place? It must have been Maurice, who must have died after Gerald was established in Scotland.
That last observation makes another point: if Gerald were not in King Alexander's favour in Scotland would he not have returned to Ireland? He might have waited until Maurice died, because he would then be senior to young John, but he stayed in Scotland. This last point gives credence to the apparent success of these early Mackenzies. Gerald was given a title, land, a powerfully-connected wife, heraldic arms - what more could he want?
A final point concerns forgery. Some Mackenzie researchers note an historical opinion denying FitzGerald origins. Since my own data comes from that same family, I do not give much weight to the suggestion of a forged ancient pedigree for Gerald FitzGerald, or of the suggestion that Alexander III did not obtain help from this Norman-rishman. My own sources and reconstruction seem quite logical and I give credence to the FitzGerald family records.
This brings me to an obscure historical anecdote: the Battle of Callann. Although there seem to be different spellings for this battle, it was an historical landmark and it registered a successful native Irish rebellion against their English and Norman overlords. On 24 July 1261 Finghin MacCarthy met and heavily defeated the English Justiciar (Viceroy) William de Dene and many English and Normans were killed. (Callann is near a place called Ardtully, in present day County Kerry Ireland, and this area was to become the FitzGerald earldom of Desmond in 1329; Kerry in particular was to be designated a palatinate. The FitzGeralds would get their revenge with sovereign palatine rights!) My primary source is Henry Goddard Orpen and he notes that '...John, son of Thomas FitzGerald and Maurice, his son, were amongst the dead'. John was OUR Gerald's brother by the same mother; and Gerald's uncle Maurice was appointed Justiciar (viceroy) to replace the failed de Dene. Clearly this appointment would be helpful to Gerald's step-brother John, who gained an earldom with his uncle as Justiciar. (The earldom was won in the fight against the Scots and their invasion of Ireland under Edward I Bruce.)
With such family potential it hardly seems credible that Gerald's remaining brothers another Maurice and the younger John would pick that moment to leave Ireland. Moreover, family responsibilities would demand that Maurice, the eldest surviving son, stay and sort things out after the loss at Callann. This battle represented a major break-point in Norman-Irish politics and it would be a good point for the younger Gerald to leave the area before getting involved in resettling family affairs.In fact, many of the Normans may have been driven out of Ireland and Gerald may have sought refuge in Scotland, as well as opportunity. Although he had lost an elder brother John, he still had a surviving elder brother, with yet another younger one called John. There could be no future in Ireland for an ambitious Gerald.
I record THIS Gerald as our ancestor, because my source had access to Fitzgerald family records and because THIS Gerald's circumstances fit the known facts. He was the third son and his elder brother John inherited the family position, being succeeded on his death by Maurice, and then by the younger John (who built upon that as well). Some Gerald Fitzgerald fought at Callam (also Callann) in 1261 and then in Scotland at Largs in 1263. I see no motive to pull John away from his about-to-be-created earldom and a future wife and family but plenty of motive to set Gerald on the trail of adventure, fame and fortune. Gerald’s pedigree is of interest, since his father married twice and Gerald came from the first marriage as a younger (disinherited) son. I believe that we descend from THIS Gerald.
However, also consider that King Alexander II built Eileann Donan and that his son, Alexander III, gave that castle to a proven warrior ally along with the responsibility to defend the Western Scottish coast. Gerald (perhaps already being called Callan/Colin after his first personal victory - despite the strategic loss), did not apparently arrive alone in Scotland - in the area of the earlier Scotti Dal Riata, Irish kingdom. If Gerald's dad, Thomas, did not plan to leave him much inheritance, Gerald's mum, Eleanor, would have at least ensured that he had friends and could leave home in good company (Eleanor died herself before Gerald actually left). My source says he fought at Callam with his own men, and that they went with him to Scotland. Now if you were Alexander III and you had a proven warrior turn up with a small army on your doorstep a year prior to your worst nightmare (King Haakon IV of Norway, with his large fleet of Vikings), wouldn't you be grateful for the help? Moreover this newcomer (Gerald) saved the king's own life from a charging stag! (The latter event is still recorded in Mackenzie stag crests today.)
When Gerald helped to defeat Haakon thoroughly ('the Vikings left 16,000-24,000 dead and never returned to Scotland') Alexander must have been a happy king. Not only did he give Gerald a title and land in the just-disputed area (these were pretty cheap gifts for saving Alexander's kingdom), but he 'arranged' Gerald's marriage into the Stewards of Scotland. Margaret Stewart married twice. Her first husband was Neil Carrick and her grandson by that marriage was Robert The Bruce, King of Scots. So Alexander knew exactly the kind of gift he was giving to Gerald: power and position! Moreover, Alexander was buying some powerful allies from the Norman-Irish FitzGerald family. Kenneth Mackenzie's descent from Gerald fits thefacts, as do his descendants' relationship to the future Stewart kings. Kings were expected to make wise policy choices and Alexander seems to have done exactly that at little cost to himself, or to his kingdom. So the Mackenzie pedigree shows no Mackenzie kings, but a lot of near-relatives who were kings!
Here below you see that Gerald is the father of the first Fitzgerald called Kenneth. He was called Kenneth FitzGerald because of the Fitzgerald family tradition, which named the son with the father's first name after the added Norman 'fitz'. (In Ireland it was already common to name children after a 'surname', which was usually an ancestor's first name preceded by O'. The O' was a contraction of og, which meant grandson of, and thus O'Connor, O'Neill, O' Brian, etc.) With three Kenneths in a row below it is understandable that these men were adapting to their new environment in Scotland, since Kenneth was a local Scot's name with no prior family tradition. Although a sister Celtic land, there were different traditions and the Gaelic 'mac' replaced the Norman 'fitz'. The rest of the naming convention relates to translation of Kenneth from the local Gaelic (Coinneach is Kenneth in Gaelic), so the original Kenneth MacKenneth was probably referred to as Coinneach mac Coinneach. As we see today, that was changed into a softer sound and unlike the Donald MacDonalds, the second Kenneth came out as 'Kenzie'.
The naming significance becomes clear with Gerald's grandson’s pedigree. The third baron of Kintail is the first Kenneth Mackenzie below and you see that he is indeed a Kenneth son of Kenneth – ergo the name MacKenneth, or in Scots - MacKenzie. (Mac, of course, was a phonetic spelling with variations of Mc, M’, Mack, meaning 'son of''.) Do not be alarmed at finding fewer womens' than mens' names in pedigrees. History did not weigh womens’ names as valuably as mens’ and many womens’ identities are lost to us. If you recognise the names and titles below you might agree that the FitzGerald/Mackenzies married well. John Comyn was a serious candidate for the Scots' monarchy and challenged Robert Bruce for the kingship; Comyn had accepted the English King Edward I as overlord. To marry into such families was reaching high, but the Mackenzies were already related to the future Stewart kings.
2 The logic holds for an 'upwardly mobile' man struggling to earn his place as a potential earl. (The process was called 'earning your spurs', which referred to earning a knighthood, but the process was the same.)
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