Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ancestors: Our Roadmaps to History

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to post every Friday, then broke that promise the following week. I wonder why it's easier to keep a promise to someone else than it is to keep one made to yourself. Maybe that's a question for my friends who are licensed counselors. Here is an interesting item on my agenda. I told my sister I'd like to create a scrapbook of our family history. Our dad researched our family tree back in the 60s, in pre-Internet days. He had to do it the hard way, through letters and library archives. He told us the story of our ancestor, Sir Gregory Clement, who was hanged for beheading the king of England. My sister found a short article on Sir Gregory Clement through Wikipedia, and they even had a portrait of him! Born in 1594, to John Clement, a merchant and Mayor of Plymouth, Gregory grew up to become a Member of Parliament and one of the regicides of King Charles I. After working for the British East India Company, Sir Gregory returned to London from India and supported Parliament in the civil war. He became a Member of Parliament for Fowey in Cornwall in 1648. He then served as a commissioner of the High Court of Justice at the trial of King Charles in January 1649. He was the fifty-fourth signatory on the king's death warrant. Fifty-nine commissioners signed in total. In 1652, the House of Commons dismissed him because of a scandal with his maidservant. Political opponent Thomas Harrison is suspect in engineering the false accusations. (Some things never change.) When Charles II reclaimed the throne, all fifty-nine judge regicides who signed the death warrant and witnessed the king's execution feared for their lives. A few fled England, but Sir Gregory was arrested, tried, and convicted of high treason. According to my dad, the executioner offered those who were convicted with him a cordial for courage before being put to death. Sir Gregory refused the elixir and went bravely (and unrepentantly) to his death. On October 17, 1660, Sir Gregory Clement was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Charing Cross. A sad ending for a man of nobility and noble causes. So, there you have it. Part of my history. And I'm sure a part of history that will prevent me from being invited to Prince William's wedding to Kate. Snubbed by royalty...ho-hum.

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