Thursday, May 26, 2011

Two Jedi Knights With Norman Roots

Although my grandsons who are now going on ages 6 and 8, are more into Jedi Knights and lightsabers right now, they may one day be intrigued to know that they descend from the very real Knights of Guillaume le Conquerant or William The Conqueror, Normans from what is now northern France who conquered England in 1066, marking the beginning of the Middle Ages.Dunster_Castle

William de Moin appears in the first Doomesday Book, a kind of census instituted by then King William and completed about twenty years later.

Moin is also the surname origin of the name Moon but evolved  for our ancestors to Mohun as in Sir Reynold de Mohun, Earl of Somerset, born about 1184, a name shared by his son Sir Reynold II.  Their Dunster Castle is shown as an image in this blog but you can click here for a more comprehensive photo gallery.Dunster Castle Crest

When Sir Reynold de Mohun was near the age of my oldest grandson now, his father William de Mohun IV died in battle in 1193 at Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, which was led by King Richard the Lionheart.

Sir Reynold II had several titles other than Knight including Chief Justice of Common Pleas, 6th Baron, Governor of Saubey Castle, 5th Lord of Dunster, Justice of Common Pleas, Chief Justice and Earl of Somers.

Reynold is the original derivation of my full first name but circuitously came to the attention of my paternal grandmother first through a novel she read while carrying my father who also shares the name.  Only in my current family history research on her line has the earlier connection surfaced.

As I have throughout my life, but especially in elementary school, the original ancestors with that name endured a variety of spellings and pronunciations including Rainald, Rainauld and Reginald.  So my friend and Durham City Councilman Howard Clement has actually never been far off when he calls me Rain instead of Reyn (pronounced Wren.)

Although our ancestors sold Dunster Castle near the end of the 14th century, it is now part of Britain’s National Trust organization, towering above a medieval village of the same name and is open for tours.  You can even take a Dunster Castle Express via the vintage West Somerset Railway.

Maybe during my next visit to see my daughter and grandsons , our “Knightly” living-room fencing with lightsabers will take on a whole new meaning.

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