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Post Battaglia Family Coat of Arms
Created by John Eipper on 06/27/18 4:05 AM

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Battaglia Family Coat of Arms (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 06/27/18 4:05 am)

Since we are speaking about family histories, here is mine:

Apparently the Battaglias have been around for one thousand years and were nobles at the court of the Princes of Turin. The "flowering" branch of the family was in Mondovì (Piedmont).

In the middle of 1800s, the heir was a smart and bon vivant fellow who spent all his wealth on young ladies, champagne and beautiful carriages. When he became practically broke, he signed on as an engineer on the construction of the Suez Canal

Ashamed about becoming a poor fellow, his son moved to Savona and set up a print shop. With me the name of the "flourished branch" will come to an end.

Do not ask me what the heck the three Xs mean.

JE comments:  Eugenio, maybe the "triple X" designation refers to your libertine ancestor?  Regardless, I am very impressed by the Battaglia coat of arms.  Originally, I presume, Eugenio's ancestors were of the warrior caste--the Battlin' Battaglias?

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  • Saltires in Heraldry (John Heelan, UK 06/28/18 9:16 AM)
    In response to Eugenio Battaglia (June 27th), the triple X motif is called saltires in heraldry-speak. They appear on Amsterdam's city coats of arms.

    Did the Battaglia family have links with that city in the past in pre-unifications days?

    JE comments:  The saltire appears to be a fancy word for an X.  Heraldry often gets short shrift on WAIS, but it's a language all to itself.  See for example Ed Jajko's 2012 discussion of the Krasnik (Poland) coat of arms:


    (Apologies for today's late start on WAIS.  We had a #28 error "storage engine" this morning, the Internet equivalent of running out of gas.  My thanks to Roman Zhovtulya for coming to the rescue.)

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    • My "Bon Vivant" Ancestor (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 06/29/18 4:31 AM)
      Thanks to John Heelan for his kind post of June 28th.

      Unfortunately, with the "incident" of my "bon vivant" ancestor, almost everything was lost including archives. His son wanted to start a new life in a completely different setting and forgot everything. Unfortunately, I did not care about researching my ancestry, which is a mistake.

      JE comments:  The Holy Grail of genealogical research is to track down a famous ancestor.  The next best thing is a good story, and a rogue or black sheep is hard to beat.  One unforgettable WAIS post came from our much-missed colleague Mike Bonnie, who discovered his grandfather's stints in jail--once for altering a county welfare check from $2 to $22.  I might have shot for $220, but why be greedy?  I'll let Mike tell the story:


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      • Famous Ancestors? We All Have Them (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 07/01/18 4:47 AM)
        Concerning famous ancestors:

        I think I've written it before on WAIS, but remember that the number of ancestors increases exponentially by generation. After a certain number of generations, everyone is related to everyone. It is said, for example, that every living European of European ethnicity is a direct descendant of Charlemagne. Ancestry is a bit like the Chinese parable of the rice grains and the chess board. Two to the 64th of such a tiny thing as a rice grain doesn't seem like so much, but that is because the power of exponents is such an awesome thing. So by the 10th generation, we have already 1024 direct ancestors. Within a few more generations further back than that, there are tens of thousands of them.

        With Americans, the ties are even tighter, because the country started with such a small group of initial settlers. It is said that 20% of Americans are Mayflower descendants. I bet actually that it is a much larger percentage than that. With every generation, the percentage gets larger. Eventually, if it hasn't already happened, everyone will be a Mayflower descendant.

        Everyone being related to everyone means we are all also inbred to some extent. I am the direct descendant of Daniel Boone's father, Squire Boone, through three different lines of my family, and I am the direct descendant of John Clarke, the pilot/navigator of the Mayflower, through two different lines.

        I have famous ancestors, but so does everyone. What is cool is not, actually, to have them--rather, it is to know about it. That is enough to make genealogy worthwhile.

        JE comments:  My sister's Ancestry.com profile gives links to second, third, and fourth cousins.  (Of course, the "hits" are limited to people who have undergone the DNA test.)  We were intrigued to learn of the African-Americans among our fourth cousins.  So yes, it is not a reach to say that we're all related.

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        • Are We All Descended from Christ? (Istvan Simon, USA 07/03/18 7:59 AM)
          This genealogy discussion is an interesting thread. Let me chime in. Each generation is about 20 years or so. So 2000 years means 100 generations.

          Now following Cameron Sawyer's thought, that means you have 2 to the power 100 ancestors in 100 generations. But 2 to the power 100 is much larger than the total number of molecules on Earth. So clearly, a lot of us are direct descendants of Jesus Christ, assuming that


          is correct. Jesus is rumored to have fathered 2 children with Mary Magdalene. I think that it is very likely to be correct, because celibacy was not a Jewish custom or tradition at all.

          Of course it is also possible that Jesus's direct line died before his DNA reached us.

          JE comments: Istvan Simon's hypothesis gives a new meaning to Imitatio Christi.  So what exactly is 2 to the 100th power?  Google yielded the following, a nonillion and some change.  Clearly, as Cameron Sawyer reminded us, we're all inbred.  (Muhammad came along later than Christ, but had seven children.  Isn't there a good chance he's our collective ancestor?)


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          • Christ's DNA; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 07/10/18 5:40 AM)

            Ric Mauricio responds to Istvan Simon (July 3rd):

            These genealogy numbers are mind-boggling. But this is what happens when you take numbers and extrapolate them out. The stock market index would 1 billion or so if you extrapolated out from 1928, 1972, 1987, or 2006 in a straight line. Of course, there are corrections, adjustments, and crashes along the way, just like wars, diseases, and natural disasters make their adjustments to the world population.

            But this thread got me thinking. Since Jesus of Nazareth was one of an estimated 281 to 300 million people who populated the earth at that time, would it be more likely that the odds of us being his descendant is 1 in 300 million?  If one believes in the stories in Genesis, would it be that we have a 1 in 3 chance of being a descendant of one of Noah's sons? In fact, that would mean, we are all descendants of Noah, since supposedly, he was the last man on earth.

            I need to ask, amongst WAISers, are there any scientists who specialize in forensic sciences? Because now my mind has gone amuck with all sorts of thoughts. Should we not be able to take the DNA from the Mary, mother of Jesus (she being buried in either Ephesus or Gethsemane) and James, brother of Jesus, and compare it to DNA from the Shroud of Turin? Should we not be able to take the DNA from Joseph, Jesus's stepfather, and prove once and for all, that he was not the father of Jesus? You would probably find his DNA in James. If you found his DNA in Jesus, oh boy, would that blow the story of the Virgin birth out of the water.

            OK, now I will get myself into trouble. I asked my Christian friends that if I came to them and told them I heard the actual physical voice of God speaking to me what they would think. Would they urge me to seek mental health assistance? Of course they would. So then, why would you believe that people in the past would be any different? And why would you then follow the teachings of those people?

            JE comments: You're the numbers guy, Ric, but wouldn't the 300 million-to-one calculus work only if you have but one ancestor?

            Ric Mauricio in his final paragraph asks why speaking with God was divine in the old days, but only delusional in the present.  Let's call it the Prophet's Paradox.  Didn't Dostoevsky in the Brothers Karamazov say that if Christ were to reappear today, we would crucify Him all over again?

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            • Jesus, Duterte, and the "Dear John" Letter (from Ric Mauricio) (John Eipper, USA 07/11/18 4:48 AM)

              Ric Mauricio follows up on his post of July 10th:

              Oh, yes, I forgot that it takes two to tango, so when determining an ancestor we should at least cut the odds in half. Of course, unlike the lottery, it is nearly impossible to calculate the odds, considering you can have multiple siblings or inbreeding, etc.

              Regarding Istvan Simon's posting on dictators, don't forget Duterte of the Philippines. Haven't heard from some of our Filipino WAISers as of late. Enlightened dictators? Is that an oxymoron?

              And yes, Jesus of Nazareth would definitely be crucified if he came today. However, depending on where he comes back, the punishment would be different. Perhaps, in Japan, he would be hanged, or in the Muslim nations, beheaded, or in Europe or the US, committed to an institution. Oh, and the perpetrators of his being put away would be the religious powers, similar to the Pharisees in Judea.

              Funny that Noah Rich would begin his posting with "Dear John." The first thought that entered my mind was that he was writing a "Dear John" letter and resigning from WAIS. Thank goodness that was not the case.

              JE comments:  There's a bit of everything in this post from Ric Mauricio.  I'll limit myself to a meek protest against Johnophobia.  Why are we associated with water closets, prostitutes' clients, and getting dumped by significant others?  Only the Dicks among us are similarly maligned, and they have the option of redefining themselves as Riches, Ricks, or staying put as Richards.

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            • Mathematics of Genealogy (Istvan Simon, USA 07/16/18 7:18 AM)
              Ric Mauricio (10 July) wrote a number of interesting thoughts in response to my post of July 3. I would like however to correct one of his paragraphs.

              Ric said:

              "These genealogy numbers are mind-boggling. But this is what happens when you take numbers and extrapolate them out. The stock market index would 1 billion or so if you extrapolated out from 1928, 1972, 1987, or 2006 in a straight line. Of course, there are corrections, adjustments, and crashes along the way, just like wars, diseases, and natural disasters make their adjustments to the world population."

              This paragraph is not quite correct regarding the world population, and it is also not correct when it says that the mind-boggling numbers that I spoke about is an "extrapolation." They are not. The numbers I wrote about are actual numbers that follow from biology and logic. Each of us has two parents and therefore 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents and so on. This is not an extrapolation; it is logic. However the n = 2 to the power m ancestors that result from this calculation after m generations are not necessarily all distinct individuals. Overlap may happen and after a certain number of generations such overlap is likely to occur. 

              To understand this let me give a simple extreme example: Suppose that C is the son of father B and mother M. But let's assume an extreme case of incest, so that B is actually M's son with A. That is C's grandfather A sired his father B with M. Thus M is both C's mother and grandmother. Thus my example shows that C has 4 grandparents, A, M, and M's father F, and M's mother N. But the grandparents plus the parents are only 5 people rather than 6, because his mother and grandmother are the same person.

              JE comments:  Incest is the ultimate taboo, but not with every society.  Egypt, Peru, and Hawaii practiced sibling incest in their royal families.  And closer to home, see below.  How many knew that Evolution's founding father himself, Charles Darwin, was married to his first cousin--with ten children to boot?


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        • Great Ashbys of History: Richard, Alice, James, and Safrid (Timothy Ashby, Spain 07/03/18 4:22 PM)

          I have been fascinated by the recent postings by various WAIS colleagues about genealogy.

          For me, research into one´s family background is a means of feeling a personal connection with history--enabling me to relate to historical events that my own flesh and blood participated in. Imaginatively stepping into an ancestor´s shoes (or armour, as you will read below).

          In this regard, let me pause for a moment to remember 19-year-old Private James Ashby of the 8th Virginia Regiment, who was KIA during Pickett's Charge on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, 155 years ago yesterday (July 3rd).

          I've previously written about various family members´relationship with George Washington, etc. I am fortunate to have been born into a family that has a well-documented genealogy. Eighteenth- and 19th-century sources such as John Nichols´ The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, and Burke´s The Landed Gentry (which included the first three generations of the American branch, from which I descend), begin the family history from 1299, when Richard and Alice de Ashby purchased the manor of Quenby, Leicestershire. However, over the past few years I determined to push the genealogy back as far as possible through archival research, indisputably establishing that we took our surname from the village of Ashby Magna (Big Ashby, as compared to the nearby hamlet of Ashby Parva, Little or Lesser Ashby, in Latin). This led me to my earliest "English" ancestor (in the direct paternal line), a man named Safrid aka Sasfrid (recorded in the Domesday Book as both "Safridus" and "Sasfridus").

          Although the historical evidence is largely circumstantial (with the exception of the primary source of the Domesday Book), I believe that Safrid was a soldier in the Norman army of William the Conqueror that won the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066, and radically changed the course of British (as opposed to just English) history. The Domesday Book, 1086, records that Safrid was granted seven manors or parts of manors in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire, including Ashby Magna, confiscated from Saxons named (in Domesday) as Edward Cild, Fredegi "of Hanging Houghton's, Gytha, 'wife of Earl Ralph,' Aceshille, Alwine 'of Claydon' and Ælfheah" of Normanton. Although King William legally owned all the land in England, he rewarded his roughly 8,000 surviving soldiers and followers with land taken from the defeated Saxons. Safrid was probably one of these. Domesday states that he held his land as a feudal subtenant from William Peverel, the reputed illegitimate son of King William "The Bastard"). Peverel is recorded as having fought at Hastings as a knight, and the King subsequently awarded him 162 manors in the English Midlands.

          Safrid was also probably a Norman cavalryman, most likely having Peverel as his commanding officer (later sources state that Safrid was a "military knight). Peverel was born circa 1040--making him around 26 at Hastings --and I believe that Safrid was his contemporary in age. Mid-20s was the prime age for medieval knights. There were only around 2,000 Norman cavalrymen at Hastings, and around 1,750 survived the battle, many having been killed after the battle when they were chasing retreating Saxons and fell into a deep ravine (known by the French as the Malfosse--evil ditch) and were slaughtered by Saxons who turned on them. Obviously, Safrid wasn´t one of these or I wouldn't be writing this today!

          Safrid is a Scandinavian name, so he was probably Norman and first or second generation as previous Viking invaders of Normandy intermarried, learned French, and adopted Francophone names. The Domesday book generally only records first names, so it would be difficult to discover Safrid's surname (if he had one). Later, he is referred to as "de Basford," which was the manor where he actually lived. He deeded his younger son Phillip the manor of Ashby Magna and the legal records began referring to him as "de Ashby" or "de Esseby" (i.e. Phillip from Ashby). His son was Robert de Esseby (Ashby), who built the Church of St. Mary the Virgin (see photos below).

          I´ve developed a new interest in the Norman Conquest, and plan to visit the battlefield this October on the 952nd anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

          Photos below of the Ashby Magna Church, and my daughter, Georgina, at the Quenby Chapel, in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Hungarton, where she was christened. The font she is standing next to (where she was baptised) is a hollowed base from a Roman column taken from a ruined temple in Leicester during the Middle Ages, and the silver with the Ashby arms was given to the church by Shuckburgh Ashby in 1765. Considering our current WAIS discussion about armorial bearings, I will comment on ours in another posting, as it derives from an incident during the Crusades. The coat of arms is from an early 18th century funerary monument in the chapel.

          JE comments:  On this Independence Day, Tim Ashby reminds us that 1776 was almost yesterday compared to the deep history of Hastings and the Normans.  Your genealogical discoveries are the stuff of epic, Tim.  Let us dedicate today's WAIS to Safrid and especially to young James, still nearly a child, who gave up his life on that sweltering day in Gettysburg.

          Photos below.  Happy 4th, and may you ever stay far away from the Evil Ditch.

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          • Ashby-de-la-Zouch (John Heelan, UK 07/05/18 4:24 AM)
            Tim Ashby (4 July) might be interested in the name of a small market town in UK's Midlands that I lived near for six years, Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

            Wikipedia tells us that "The Norman French name extension dates from the years after the Norman conquest of England, when Ashby (as it is shortened to these days) became a possession of the La Zouche family during the reign of Henry III."

            JE comments:  Historically speaking, Ashby-de-la-Zouch is no slouch.  It has a famous 15th-century castle, which from the pictures appears to be in ruins.  A de la Z was also a garrison town for the Cavaliers during the Civil War, as well as a spa destination in the early 19th century.

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            • Ashby-de-la-Zouch, and a Family Coat of Arms (Timothy Ashby, Spain 07/07/18 5:47 AM)
              I appreciate John Heelan's note about the town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch (July 5th), which I visited some years ago while staying at the Jacobean family home of Quenby Hall (then owned by distant cousins), which is not far away.

              In the summer of 1982, while a graduate student, I spent my weekends partying and excavating one of the Quenby cellars, and my weekdays shadowing (i.e. hanging out with) the SDP leader Dr. David Owen, who had recently co-founded the (political!) party as an alternative to Labour and the Conservatives (it was a noble but short-lived initiative).

              While I have no family connection to Ashby-de-la-Zouch (as mentioned previously, we take our surname from Ashby Magna, about a dozen miles away), the La Zouch family perch on a gnarled branch of my genealogical tree, Thomas Ashby married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of John Burdet and Elizabeth de la Zouch. The photo below shows an armorial escutcheon over the doorway of the medieval courtyard at Quenby which is quartered with the arms of Ashby of Quenby (Azure a chev. Ermine between three leopards' faces Or) in the upper left and Zouch of Lubbesthorpe, the ten circles or "bezants" in the lower right quarter.

              Although the crest above the shield looks like a lion's head, it is actually supposed to be a leopard ("On a mural coronet Argent a leopard's face Or"). The craftsman who carved this sculpture in the 1540s probably had no idea what a leopard looked like.

              In medieval heraldry, a family's armorial bearings had meaning. The "mural coronet" was a hereditary badge of honour awarded to a soldier who was the first to scale the walls of an enemy city or castle. I hope that my research will uncover which of my ancestors received the mural coronet and under what circumstances. We have an oral tradition that a member or members of the family fought in the Crusades, and that the leopard head and the coronet originated from some battle in the Holy Land. Although the Ashby crest and shield were officially recorded in Camden's Grants, 1602, I know from wax seals and stone carvings that they were in use at least 300 years earlier, so it's possible that they date from the Crusades, perhaps from King Richard "The Lionheart's" ill-fated expeditions of the 1190s.

              JE comments:  The Zouch/e coat of arms features two goats, or possibly rams, but goats strike me as cozier.  The coat of arms of Aldona's hometown, Lublin, features a goat prancing over some grapes.  I always wondered how this came to be, as the city is not famous for either.

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          • The Italian who Saved Churchill's Life (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/05/18 4:41 AM)
            A fascinating post from Timothy Ashby (4 July). Congratulations to him for his great research and illustrious ancestry.

            Timothy mentions the battle of Hastings (1066) as changing the course of British history. Practically all major battles change the course of history but sometime they are also forgotten.

            We may consider two great battles that happened in the month of July not too long after Hastings: The battle of Hathin (lake of Tiberiade), 4 July 1187, and the battle of Despenaperros (Las Navas de Tolosa), 16 July 1212.

            In the first Guy de Lusignan, king of Jerusalem and Cyprus, was defeated by the Saladin, who a few months later could conquer Jerusalem and bring an end to the Christian kingdoms in the Middle East.

            In the second Alfonso VII of Castilla, Pedro II de Aragón and Sancho VII of Navarra fought together, prophets of the future union of Spain, and defeated the Moors of Al Nasir. As a result the Arab domination of Iberia began to crumble.

            Considering Timothy's love for South Africa, let me remember a little-known battle or more precisely, a skirmish. On 15 November 1899 a group of Boers commanded by an Italian volunteer, Major Camillo Ricchiardi, derailed a British train on which the young Winston Churchill was traveling. The latter was considered a war criminal as he was armed with dumdum ammunition forbidden by the International Conferences and was condemned to death.

            By the way, the UK supplied plenty of dumdum ammunition to the Ethiopian Army in 1935, which led to a brief Italian retaliation strongly condemned by the "good" side.

            Ricchiardi opposed the sentence and saved Churchill. Suppose that Ricchiardi had not spared Churchill.  In July of 1940 might we have had a compromise peace in Western Europe?

            JE comments:  Camillo Ricchiardi (1865-1940) was an extraordinary adventurer, full of romantic wanderlust. Prior to moving to South Africa, where he married Paul Kruger's granddaughter, he had lived in Siam/Thailand.  After South Africa, he relocated to Argentina and later Morocco, where he lies buried.  The 200-strong Italian Legion gained an excellent reputation among the Boers for its reconnaissance work and skill in asymmetrical warfare.

            Wikipedia tells us that Churchill was never officially condemned to die.  Rather, Ricchiardi saved Churchill by throwing away WSC's dumdum-equipped pistol before he was caught with it.  Churchill would later escape from captivity.

            There's a TV series in Ricchiardi's extraordinary life.

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      • Battaglia Coat of Arms Explained (Edward Jajko, USA 07/03/18 4:44 AM)
        "On a field or, a lion rampant gules, in its extended right paw a sword argent flourished, and on a fess argent three saltires sable."

        I hope this is a decent description, in the language of heraldry, of the Battaglia arms. On further reflection, I would amend my description to "saltires three sable."

        JE comments:  I like my gules to be rampant.  In the rarefied world of heraldry-speak, gules is a deep red.  The Battaglia lion looks a little on the pink side (no offense intended--pink is a great color).  See below.

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    • Saltires Again: More than an X (John Heelan, UK 06/29/18 5:20 AM)
      JE commented on 28 June: "The saltire appears to be a fancy word for an X."

      Not quite, it also has a religious significance representing Saint Andrew, who is supposed to have been crucified on a cross of that form (called a crux decussata) at Patras, Greece.

      JE comments:  Poor St Andrew!  Having the cross named after you is not much consolation for the suffering.  But the Scots will forever be grateful.

      (Yesterday I wrote "salitre" instead of "saltire."  The former is Spanish for saltpeter or potassium nitrate.  Sorry about that; it was a Hispanist "senior moment."  I've made the correction.)

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  • Obregon Coat of Arms, and My Illustrious Great-Grandfather (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 06/29/18 4:01 AM)
    Eugenio Battaglia's post on his family ancestors (28 June), and more specifically his family coat of arms, reminded me of old family myths on my paternal relatives' side.

    When I was a kid I remember being curious about an old coat of arms (for the Obregón family, which was the second last name of my father) in my great-uncle's home, and also an old framed document dated apparently from the 9th century in an ancient language, which I was later told was Asturiano (Astur-leonés) from Asturias in the north of Spain.

    When I asked, I was told the document, precariously preserved, represented the appointment of some ancestor to a minor title of nobility. I believe it was "Barón" or something, as a reward from Don Pelayo, King of Asturias at the time, for his courage during the battle of Covadonga, which was the first defeat of the Arabs on the Iberian Peninsula after their conquest.

    Whether this story, or family tradition, is true I will never know, because the document was lost a long time ago. Only the coat of arms remains as an old and deteriorated picture in one of my cousin's houses. Anyway, I was fascinated by it and now I wonder why so many of us Europeans, perhaps from countries with a strong monarchic and aristocratic traditions, are fascinated and maybe obsessed with possible noble origins. The search for family origins, ancestors and particularly for coats of arms are frequently faked, and reveal an ancient aspiration for nobility, social recognition and status.

    Lately I also discovered, accurately confirmed, another more recent family story regarding a relation to Spanish aristocracy. It was about my great-grandfather, in the 19th century, Tirso de Obregón. He was a great opera singer.  Apparently his skills and fame touched Queen Cristina de Borbón, or Bourbon if you like, and she appointed him Knight of the Royal Household. The truth is, according to the gossip the time, that he was likely appointed because of his prowess as a lover of the Queen more than for his skills as a singer.

    JE comments: Attaboy, Tirso!  See below.  I found a bio for the "Baritone of Molina," and José Ignacio, you have a most impressive ancestor.  According to the article, his royal lover was Isabel II, not Cristina:


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    • Obregon Coat of Arms Explained (John Heelan, UK 07/03/18 4:58 AM)
      The tree in Nacho Soler's image of the Obregón coat of arms (29 June) looks remarkably like the one in Madrid's coat of arms.

      Given Nacho's ancestor's reputation as a lover, maybe the tree was an in-joke? We always josh a female artist friend that her constant inclusions of stalwart trees in her surrealist paintings might have a suppressed psychological root. ("Always gets wood" has a significance for some actors.)

      JE comments:  Compare the Obregóns with the Madrileños below.  Madrid's tree is a little less kempt; must be the bear's fault.  I am surprised that neither tree could be described as majestic.  If the lowly Eippers ever drew up an escudo, I'd insist on a mighty oak or a sequoia.

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