With my last name being Russell, one would think that this would be my primary connection to this historic name which originated in Normandy about 1000 years ago. But it turns out that I have multiple connections and my paternal line is the least able to be traced. So, let me examine each of these connections and what I have found about them.
Through My Father
As I have noted before, I’ve traced my father’s Russell ancestors back through Robert Russell who came to this country in the early 1700s into New York. This line is as follows:
Myself <- Vernon (1920-2006) <- Erskine (1894-1970) <- Louis (1871-1946) <- Walter (1852-1895) <- Silas (1803-1886) <- Caleb (1775-1830) <- John (1756-1833) <- Robert (c. 1730-1811)
Because Robert was an illiterate immigrant from Scotland (*1), I have not been able to trace that line further, except that the Russell clan was an armigerous clan who claim to be descended from the Russell line in England who go back to their Norman ancestors (*2). But there is no proof of this connection.
Through My Mother’s Father (Pierpont)
My great*6 grandfather, Joseph Pierpont, married Hannah Russell. Her father was Rev. Nodiah Russell. This line is as follows:
Myself <- Sylvia [Pierpont] Russell (1924-2012) <- Harold Pierpont (1898-1969) <- Wilson Pierpont (1955-1921) <- Charles Pierpont (1825-1884) <- Austin Pierpont (1791-1848) <- Ezra Pierpont (1757-1842) <- Joseph Pierpont (1730-1824) <- Hannah Russell (1706-1791) <- Nodiah Russell (1659-1713) <- William Russell (1612-1665) (from England to New Haven CT in 1639) <- William Russell (1558-1613) <- Francis Russell (1527-1585)
At this point we find that this line is part of the Russells who were among the Dukes of Bedford (*3). This family line is then traceable back to the original Baron du Rozel/Roussel who was from Normandy and can be traced back through the Scandinavian line (*4).
Through My Mother’s Mother (Blackman)
A final ancestral line is through my maternal grandmother. This line has a few more name changes, but is as follows:
Myself <- Sylvia [Pierpont] Russell (1924-2012) <- Sara [Blackman] Pierpont (1898-1979) <- Alice [Talmadge] Blackman (1870-1929) <- Stephen Talmadge (1842-1924) <- Anna [Sperry] Talmadge (1806-1888) <- Mary [Russell] Sperry (1786-1857) <- Riverius Russell (1756-1834) <- Nicholas (1734-1798) <- Nicholas Russell (1708-1741) <- William Russell (1685-1739) <- John Russell (1664-1723) <- Ralph Russell (1625-1679) <- William Russell (1605-1661) (immigrated from England to Cambridge, MA in 1636) <- Edward Russell (1572-1627) <- Francis Russell (1527-1585)
Here we merge with the line above of noble Russells.
I am happy to be able to document that I am more than just a Russell by my father’s line, but that I have that same DNA running through me in multiple ways. While my connection to the royal Russell line cannot be documented through one of those ways, it can through the other two and thus back to the origin of the family name and its Viking origins. Family trees can be quite complicated when you go back more than a few generations. Mine is no exception.