I think it is really ironic that the nephew I never hear from is busying himself with tracing the family roots. He is going to Iceland
for a MA
program in Viking Studies. As a result, he discovered a piece of our family trivia that I had not known. My brother and I have been communicating over an insurance policy of my father’s. I suggested that the interest in Vikings
must have come from his Irish mother’s side. Our father was only a bit Irish from what we knew. This was his response.
Well oddly enough her side and ours trace back to similar roots. But we descend from someone named Theopholus who was a cousin to William the Conqueror
and it’s documented that he fought with William at the Battle of Hastings
. Kevin was able to trace it back even further to a guy called ‘Rolf the walker’ a.k.a. Rollo the viking
Theopholus descends from Rollo. Supposedly he was dubbed ‘the walker’ because he was such a big man, perhaps a giant, no horse could carry him. More likely he had ailments that made riding horseback uncomfortable, but he was a big guy and leader of his band of men.
He was originally from Norway and had dealings with the King, who eventually saw their relationship as a threat to his growing empire. Therefore the King of Norway chased Rollo down and out. Rollo traveled across the North Sea to Denmark and then eventually moving down to France, where he made a deal with the French King, perhaps a violent deal but a deal none the less, to settle his people in the area now known as Normandy.
BTW the French name has two lines. An Irish line and an English line. We descend from the English line with Theopholus. I think daddy thought we came from the Irish line and I always thought that too. That doesn’t change the fact that we are still of Irish descent as well. So that’s the story in a nutshell.
Ryan’s note: My last name was originally “French”, the word, not the language. I legally changed my entire name when I was in my early 20s. James, my current last name was my original middle name.