Friday, April 09, 2010

Dorrance Family History

Attention! Digital versions of these scrolls are now available online. Check them out and download them here

One thing we have for my dad's family [aka the paternal line] is a fabulous set of scrolls, detailing the history and lineage of the Dorrance Family Tree. A Mary Dorrance Wynne compiled the records in 1947 and my grandfather Sam added a few additional bits and pieces over the years. 

According to my math, I am a 10th generation Dorrance in the good ole USA. Which is far fewer than I thought, given that the family has been here since 1719.  

Anyway, here is a look at one of the scrolls. It's about 20 feet long.
There are two more that are exactly like this. We Dorrances were prolific breeders, evidently.

And a brief history:

The Dorrance name originated in Maine province of France and dates from at least 1585. The family split, one branch heading to Brittany, the other to Marseilles. 

In 1685 the family went to Scotland but left in 1790 and settled in Ireland. 

Our direct line stems from three brothers, John, George and Reverend Samuel Dorrance, who sailed from Scotland and arrived in Voluntown (now Sterling) Connecticut in 1719. A fourth brother stayed in Scotland and his descendants can still be found in that country. We can thank Mr. John Dorrance for our existence here in the New World:

Incidentally, there is a Dorrance Coat of Arms. Which, given it's vivid violets, mint greens, and gold flourishes, is rather tacky looking, in my humble opinion. But the motto is nice: "Onward and Upward to the Light". 

Besides the standard family tree stuff (birth, death, marriage, children, etc) the scrolls have a surprising amount of additional information:

This little factoid is going to provide endless amusement to a certain husband. Marriage to cousins, eh? That explains a lot! 

 Consequently, this is not too terribly surprising:
You'll note that we have a Samuel IV. I should point out that out of ten generations of Dorrances, seven or eight direct descendants were named Samuel (Sam IV was an exception, in that he was not a direct descendant). There is literally one in every family. You can't imagine how confusing/chaotic this makes the tree. I couldn't tell if I was looking for Samuel Richmond, Samuel Tully, Samuel Grosvenor.. Creativity was not my ancestors' strong suit.

So, if you start at the top with old John Dorrance, I am found down by that yellow post-it note.
Since the scrolls were completed in 1947, my grandfather wrote in quite a bit by hand. I find it somewhat amusing that he managed to add all three of his marriages and the eight additional children that the second two wives had from previous marriages.
He's missing one of my cousins and a few marriages/deaths, etc. 

But look! That's me! 
And there you have it, the history of the Dorrance Family, as written by Mary Dorrance Wynne and [significantly] edited by Me.

I would love to have something similar for my mother's family. That would be a fascinating history and I know so very little about it.