In 2013, geneticists Peter Ralph and Graham Coop showed that all Europeans are descended from exactly the same people. Basically, everyone alive in the ninth century who left descendants is the ancestor of every living European today, including Charlemagne, Drogo, Pippin and Hugh. Quel dommage.Adam Rutherford, “So you’re related to Charlemagne? You and every other living European…“
If this is true, and I’m going to assume it is, then the question is less one of “do I have royal ancestry?” and more one of “how did I get from there to here?” – something that’s singularly difficult to uncover if you’re in the US and your (much) more recent ancestors were overwhelmingly farmers with surnames like Jones, Anderson, and Davis. The path to uncovering your own link(s) to European history is largely dependent on finding that one person whose connection to well-documented landed gentry is also clearly documented; once you hit landed gentry, it’s often a kind of superhighway to the past.
Just as an aside: I’ve spent a LOT of time poring over the pages of Stirnet.com in tracing the ancestry of the Bizzells and Jernigans, and if you’re at all interested in the genealogy of the British landed gentry, it’s worth the nominal amount charged to gain access to pretty meticulously documented information. In particular, the person compiling it is pretty clear when there’s conflicting documentation, when what he’s found goes against accepted dogma, and where he gets his information from (and the relative worthiness of those sources) – especially helpful when you’re embarking on your own research using sources like the various Visitations and Burke’s Peerage, etc.
So, bearing that in mind, let’s start with Mary or Nancy Jeannette Bizzell (b. 1838, Dale, Alabama/d. 20 Jan 1878, Frankston, Anderson, Texas). There’s some confusion about her given name, since in the 1850 US Federal Census for Barbour, Alabama there’s a 10 year-old “Mary,”
but in the Bizzell family bible, there’s only Nancy, born in 1838.
Since there’s both a Nancy and a Mary here (although Mary Bizzell is documented here as having been born in 1888, long after the 1850 census), perhaps there was just… confusion. Which remains. What we do know is that Nancy was married to John Mariner, Sr., and that she died when her son, John Mariner, Jr., was only three years old. Family legend has it that John, Sr. died after being kicked in the head by a mule, but the truth is we don’t really know how or when he died – only that it was early enough that John, Jr. effectively became the ward of “Zack and Annie” Bizzell in Texas.
Zacharias Winfield Bizzell (b. 14 Nov 1849, Barbour, Alabama/d. 5 Apr 1921, Weir, Williamson, Texas) was the brother from another mother of Nancy, and he and Annie (Susan Ann Walker, b. 17 Nov 1850, Alabama/d. 3 Feb 1937, Weir, Williamson, Texas) were caring for John, Jr. as of the 1880 US Federal Census.
All of this is by way of saying, regardless of whether her name was Mary or Nancy, the mother of John Henry Mariner, Jr., father of Bernice Eppy Mariner (my grandmother), was demonstrably and directly linked to the Bizzell family. Working backwards, our relation to the Jernigans goes something like this:
Nancy/Mary Jeannette BIZZELL (b. 1838, Dale, Alabama/d. 20 Jan 1878, Frankston, Anderson, Texas)
Henry Nathaniel BIZZELL (b. 1810, Darlington, South Carolina/d. 16 May 1856, Dale, Barbour, Alabama)
Bennett BIZZELL (b. 1775, Wayne, North Carolina/d. 29 May 1851, Clio, Barbour, Alabama)
Jesse BIZZELL (b. 1752, Nansemond, Virginia/d. Feb 1833, Grantham, Wayne, North Carolina)
Thomas Enos BIZZELL (b. Abt 1718, Nansemond, Virginia/d. 1790, Wayne, North Carolina)
Thomas Enos Bizzell married
Jemima JERNIGAN (b. 1726, Nansemond, Virginia/d. 1781, Johnston, North Carolina)
and because the American Jernigans take their genealogy VERY seriously
Jemima is pretty well-documented as a daughter Henry Jernigan (b. 1710, Bertie, North Carolina/d. 1783, Johnston, North Carolina) and Ann Needham (b. 1713, Nansemond, Virginia/d. 14 Jun 1793, Bertie, North Carolina), particularly in the will of Henry Jernigan, in which he bequeathed his daughter … people.
As an aside, Henry Jernigan bequeathed a total of 30 enslaved people to his wife and children in his will, as was the practice among landed colonists and (subsequently) Americans of the time. Their names, as given by Henry, were Jon, Peter, Doll, Sarah, Charles, Jacob, Farrow, Hannah, Tony, Sam, Charity, Poll[y?], Ben, Abrams, Patience, Davey (child), Oliver, Press, Nate (child), Pink (child), India (child), Pheribe [? child], Solomon, Rachel, Isaac, Beck, Ned (child), Stephen, Phillis, and Frank. He was not the first, nor last, of my ancestors to do this, and it’s a history I’m hoping to research more at some point.
There’s a bit of confusion about all the Henry Jernigans who populated Virginia and North Carolina in the 17th and 18th Centuries, but general consensus has it that Henry Jernigan (above) was the son of Henry Jernigan (b. Abt. 1685, Nansemond, Virginia/d. 9 May 1736, Bertie, North Carolina), who was the son of Henry Jernigan (b. 1655, Nansemond, Virginia/d. UNK), who was the son of Thomas Jernigan (b. 1618, Suffolk, England/d. Aft. 1704, Nansemond, Virginia).
By way of clarifying the geography involved here, Thomas Jernigan settled on a 250-acre land grant he called Somerton, presumably after Somerleyton in Suffolk, England, the ancestral seat of the Jernigan/Jerningham family. At the time, this was part of Nansemond County, Virginia, which was only about 40 miles north of Bertie County, North Carolina over largely flat land, so the move was not particularly arduous.
It’s the work of Neil D. Thompson (The Virginia Genealogist 48.3 (2004): 163-169) that helps establish the connection of this Thomas Jernigan with the Jernigans/Jerninghams of Somerleyton. Specifically, he outlines the probable connection between this Thomas Jernigan and Thomas Jernigan of Somerleyton, Suffolk, England rather meticulously, concluding with this genealogy (going backwards, all locations in England):
- Thomas JERNIGAN (b. by 1617-18/d. by 1682, Somerton, Upper Parish, Nansemond, Virginia)
- Thomas JERNIGAN (bap. 26 Mar 1585, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire; bur. 2 Aug 1645, Pentlow, Essex), who married Elinor (d. Maryland or Virginia)
- Thomas JERNIGAN (b. 1542, Somerleyton, Suffolk/d. 1608, Stebbing, Essex), who married his second wife, Elizabeth THOMPSON (b. Abt. 1548/d. Jan 1613, Stebbing, Essex)
- George JERNEGAN (b. Abt. 1500/d. Bef. Jan 1558), who married Ela SPELMAN (b. Abt. 1510/bur. 19 Feb 1564, Somerleyton, Suffolk)
- John JERNEGAN (b. Abt. 1497, Somerleyton, Suffolk/d. 1558, Somerleyton, Suffolk), who married Bridget DRURY (b. 1492, Hawstead, Suffolk/d. 19 Jan 1518, Somerleyton, Suffolk).
And this is pretty much where we connect up with the Charlemagne, etc., superhighway, inasmuch as Bridget Drury is widely connected to the landed gentry and royalty of not only Britain, but the better part of Western Europe and Scandinavia – basically, all those people mentioned in the quote at the beginning of this post, and then some.
- Bernice Eppy MARINER (1909-2003)
- Dessie Viola SHAFER (1883-1974) m. John Henry MARINER (1875-1965)
- John Henry MARINER (1844-Bef. 1880) m. Mary/Nancy Jeannette BIZZELL (1840-1878)
- Henry Nathaniel BIZZELL (1810-1856)
- Bennett BIZZELL (1775-1851)
- Jesse BIZZELL (1752-1833)
- Thomas Enos BIZZELL (Abt. 1718-1790) m. Jemima JERNIGAN (1726-1781)
- Henry JERNIGAN (1710-1783)
- Henry JERNIGAN (Abt. 1685-1736)
- Henry JERNIGAN (1655-UNK)
- Thomas JERNIGAN (By 1617-Aft. 1704)
- Thomas JERNEGAN (1585-1645)
- Thomas JERNEGAN (1542-1608)
- George JERNEGAN (Abt. 1500-Bef. 1558) m. Ela SPELMAN (Abt. 1510-1564)
- John JERNEGAN (Abt. 1497-1558) m. Bridget DRURY (1492-1518)