Part One: In The Beginning

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Meulan § Capet § Mauduit § Massey § Sacie § Basset § Harcourt § Trussell

French Connections

The following few pages describe some of the very early French predecessors of the Jackson lineage. All the known families originated in the 10th or 11th centuries and many were somehow connected to individuals involved in the 1066 Norman invasion of England. It’s worth remembering that “France” during this period was a very decentralized collection of principalities, duchies, and the like. Most of the families mentioned below came either from the Normandy region (and thus were ultimately of Viking heritage) or the central Île-de-France area ruled by the Capetians, descendants of the 5th-century Frankish invaders.

These ancient kinsfolks are so far removed from us in time they provide little insight about our more nearly contemporaneous relatives or our collective family psyche. Still, it is intriguing to know a bit about the Jackson family’s ties to these famous very old, pre-Norman Conquest clans.


Meulan is an ancient French surname in the Jackson family tree. Some forbearers can be found as far back as the 9th century but the oldest verifiable Meulan is Waleran de Meulan (ca. 902-ca. 986),[1] a native of Meulan-en-Yvelines, a commune[2] some twenty miles north-west of Paris. He was the first Count of Meulan. He and his wife, Liegardis Amiens (ca. 902-991), are Bonnie Jackson’s 34th great-grandparents and the oldest of the family’s documented ancestors. Chronicles depict the Meulans as an autonomous clan that made risky alliances with Normandian dukes and barons and maintained independence from the Capetian kings in Paris.

The relationships depicted here, while not speculative, are not one-hundred percent certain. Common genealogical sources are not fully in agreement about some of these early marriages.

The Meulan surname disappears from the Jackson line with the marriage of Adeline Meulan (1014-1081) to William Mauduit (1012-1038) in 1037 (see “Mauduit,” below).

Capet — French Royalty

Some genealogies link early Jackson ancestors in France all the way back to the 10th-century founders of the House of Capet, the first great French royals, who ruled the Kingdom of France from 897 to 1328. One of the first of these was Hugh Capet (ca. 939-996)[3] who would be Bonnie Jackson’s 31st great-grandfather. Medieval chronicles recount a good deal about these individuals. It is the kind of detail we expect from the period: numerous arranged marriages to extend or consolidate royal power, palace plots, and countless military endeavors to augment territorial claims or repel incessant threats. The Capets who are in the direct Jackson ancestry lived during an early period when Capetian kings, dukes, counts and the like had yet to cement the considerable sovereignty they exerted during the 12th and 13th centuries.

From an ancestral point of view, probably the most fascinating figure in this part of the family tree is Bonnie Jackson’s 28th great-grandmother, Henri Capet’s (1008-1060) wife, Anna Yaroslavna (1036-1075). Also known as “Anna of Kiev,” she was the favorite daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev (978-1054). Henri Capet’s first wife, Mathilda Wormsgau (ca. 1020-1044),[4] bore him no children and passed away in 1044, so he was eager to remarry. Nearly twenty years younger than Henri, Anna was unique for her time, being not only literate but well educated. She proved to be an able mother and queen; many historical documents bear her signature, reflecting an unusual degree of participation in political matters for the time. Upon Henri’s death in 1060, she continued as Queen Regent until her son, Philippe Capet (ca. 1052-1108), came of age and assumed the throne as King of France.

It has always been assumed that the Ukrainian ancestry in the Billick/Jackson family came from the paternal line, via Paul Billick’s parents. But at least a tiny bit of Ukraine DNA comes from this 10th-centruy Princess of Kiev.

Henri and Anna’s third son, Hugh Capet, Count of Vermandois (1057-1102), Bonnie’s 27th great-grandfather, died as a result of wounds suffered in the Second Battle of Heraclea, a skirmish that was part of the Crusade of 1101 against the Turks.

Through several marriages, the Capet heirs became part of the Muelan, (see above), Beaumont, Massey (above), and Fitton families (on the European and English Roots page) from 12th through mid-15th centuries; then followed six generations of the Grosvenors (also on European and English Roots); and finally marriage into the Daniel line in 1610 (see The Inland Migration page).


Other French Jackson ancestors present a slightly less royal lineage.[5] One historian claims that “The house of Mauduit was originally of the dukedom of Normandy where it flourished before the Conquest under the name of Mauduit or Malduith, i.e. ill taught.”[6]

Among these ancient French forebearers were William de Mauduit I (1012-1038) (born in an area called Saint Martin-du-Bosc, Normandy), and his wife Adeline Meulan (1014-1081),[7] who might be Bonnie Jackson’s 27th great-grandparents. They were married in Ponte Audemer in Normady, a town just south-east of the port city of Le Havre. At least another seven generations of William and Avelina’s ancestors, all from what is now the Normandy region, are known. A few genealogies even present ancestors as far back as the 8th century in the person of one Leuthard de Fezensac, (also rendered as Luithard Fézensac) born in Paris in around 785.[8]

William and Adeline’s son, William Mauduit (1038-1105), appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 but it seems the family didn’t truly establish itself in England until early in the 12th century. These early Mauduits present a bit of a genealogical morass. For over 200 years there were a succession of Willliams and Roberts in at least two branches of the family. Sorting out fathers, sons, uncles and cousins has been a formidable task for researchers, one not accomplished with certainty. It is known that the family were trusted chamberlains for a succession of English monarchs starting with King Henry I (1068-1135).[9]

The Mauduits were granted land by William the Conqueror that became Hanslope, a village about fifty miles northwest of London just off the M1 highway, where they built Hanslope Castle.[10] The family fell out of royal favor for a time when William Mauduit IV (1196-1257) participated in a rebellion against King John of England (1166-1216) in 1215.[vii]

The Mauduit surname exits the Jackson family tree with the marriage of Isabel Mauduit (1214-1267) to William Beauchamp, Baron of Salwarpe (1210-1269) around 1236. These are Bonnie Jackson’s 22nd great-grandparents. William inherited the position of Sheriff of Worcestershire and was later given the title of Baron of Elmeley. The Beaumont lineage merged, after just two generations, with the Despencer family, when Isabel Beauchamp (1268-1306) wed Hugh Despencer (1261-1326) around 1287. The narrative of the Despencer family picks up in the European and English Roots page).

Massey and Sacie

Two other Normandian family lines, both with links to William the Conqueror, have their origins in the 11th century. Guillaume de la Ferté Macé (ca. 1026-ca. 1080), was the husband of Muriel Conteville (1040-1076) (half-sister of William the Conqueror). If this lineage is accurate, Guillaume is Bonnie Jackson’s 28th great-grandfather. La Ferté Macé is a commune in north-western France, in Normandy.

One history reports that the Massey ancestors in Normandy “were a brutal family respected more for their violent disposition than their titles.”[12] The surname is derived from the city, La Ferté-Macé. Following the Norman victory in 1066, the De la Ferté-Macé family took up residence in their conquered English territory at the Dunham Castle near modern-day Manchester.[13] In England, the surname began to be recorded as Massey (or Mascy, or de Massey).

According to the Domesday Book, following the 1066 Conquest, Hamon I (circa 1056-1101) was granted former Saxon lands that became the village of Dunham. Hamon bore the title of First Baron of Dunham-Massey and the family continued to live in the still-extant Dunham Massey Hall until 1458.

The Massey line is one of the most connected to other Jackson ancestral lines with antecedents and descendants in the Sacie, Capet, Dutton, Mainwaring and Despenser families. The Massey name disappears from the Jackson line with the marriage of Isabella Massey (1280-?) to Hugh Dutton (1276-1326) around 1300 (see “Dutton,” on the European and English page).

Another family line with links to William the Conqueror starts with Osbern Sacie (1042-1077?),[14] a native of Sacey, France, in Basse-Normandie (not far from the famous island abbey of Mont Saint-Michel). He is Bonnie Jackson’s 28th great-grandfather. By the late 11th century, the family already held extensive properties in Normandy and across the English Channel in Oxford, Buckingham, Derby and elsewhere.[15] His daughter, Margaret Sacie (ca. 1077-?), married Hamon Massey (De la Ferté-Macé) (ca. 1076-1101),[16] son of the above-mentioned Guillaume and Muriel. This union was the first of four generations of Massey nobility that lent their name to the parish of Dunham Massey outside Manchester.

Basset / Harcourt

Ralph Basset (ca. 1070-1127), Bonnie Jackson’s 28th great-grandfather, was the ancestor of a prolific family of royal administrators beginning with the reign of Henry I. The exact relationships between progenitors prior to Ralph is the subject of much debate among genealogists and historians (and there’s no value in rehashing those details here). Members of the Basset family were known prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066 and one or more of them accompanied William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.

The Basset heirs continued to serve the kings of England until around 1250 and were rewarded with grants of estates and a few manors. The surname vanishes from the Jackson ancestral line with the marriage of Isabel Basset (1176-1224) to Robert Mauduit (1172-1221), Bonnie’s 24th great-grandparents, in 1190.


Some genealogies trace the Harcourt and Amboise lines, both of Norman origin, back to the mid-10th century France.

Harcourt is an especially illustrious English surname said to be descendants of the Viking earl, Bernad the Dane (ca. 880-ca. 960). British history is filled with noteworthy heirs of the House of Harcourt through the modern era.

Given the more than one-thousand year and thirty generation gap from 20th-century descendants, I’ve chosen not to trace these ancient families in this document.


The Trussell ancestors migrated to Britain following the 1066 Conquest; their surname appears on the Battle Abbey Roll, an important document listing the surnames of the families that accompanied William the Conqueror in his conquest of England.[17] The name may derive from the French “trousser,” meaning to package or bind. The family has long been associated with the village of Marston Trussell, located some thirty miles east of Birmingham and for some four centuries they occupied the Manor House of Billesley in Stratford-upon-Avon.[18]

The paterfamilias of the Trussells is Osbertus de Trussell (ca. 1165-1200); Bonnie Jackson’s 22nd great-grandfather. For nearly all the next century, the Trussells were in near constant conflict with the French royal family. In 1215, one of Osbert’s grandsons was among the barons with forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, enhancing the rights of the nobles and limiting the power of the king. Just fifty years later, another Trussell was involved in the Battle of Evesham (1265), where Prince Edward defeated the rebellious barons and restored royal authority.

Around 1300, William Trussell (1261-1317) married Matilda Mainwaring (1260-1316), thus joining two prominent early English families (see “The Mainwarings of Cheshire,” page 20, below). William and Matilda are Bonnie Jackson’s 18th great-grandparents. These are also the 3rd great-grandparents of Robert Whitney (1498-1555), whose lineage is described with the “Early English Families,” below (see “Whitney,” on the European and English Roots page).

The Trussell surname exits the Jackson line with the marriage of Jennet Trussell (ca. 1410-1441) to Sir Eustace de Whitney (1413-1468) in 1435; Bonnie’s 14th great-grandparents. The Whitney history is taken up below with the Medieval English families, in the European and English Roots page.

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[1] Rendered in French as Galéran.
[2] Here, “commune” refers to a political administrative unit in France.
[3] Some sources trace ancestors back to the early 800’s.
[4] Of a Dutch noble family in Friesland.
[5] These lineages support David Billick’s DNA analysis which reports 12% French heritage. It seems all French DNA stems from this period; no French relatives have been uncovered later than the 12th century.
[6] Oliver Ratcliff, History and Antiquities of the Newport Pagnell Hundreds (Cowper Press, 1900), p. 109. A more detailed history of the origin of the Mauduits is found in Proceedings of the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies, vol. 2, R. Allen Brown, ed. (Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 1979), pp. 131-132.
[7] Surnames at this period were typically based on place of residence. Waleran Meulan or Waleran de Meulan was thus simply Waleran from the county of Meulan. And the first name is also sometimes rendered as Avelina.
[8] Fézensac was an important county in southern France; the family name is well-documented around the 10th– and 11th centuries.
[9] A chamberlain in the Middle Ages was a senior royal official in charge of domestic affairs, most importantly, the management of the Treasury.
[10] The structure subsequently decayed but the “motte and bailey earthworks” still mark its location.
[11] Known as the “First Baron’s War.”
[12] See
[13] First documented in 1173, the castle fell into disuse between 1323-1362; the structure no longer exists.
[14] Also spelled Sacey, Sassy and de Sacie. This is a very common surname in genealogical databases.
[15] Osbern appears in the Domesday Book as “Osbernus de Salceid”.
[16] Referred to as “Hamo de Mscy” in the Domesday Book.
[17] The town of Battle is located just some seven miles north-west of Hastings. Founded in 1071, the Abbey was the first post-Conquest religious house built in England. It was part of the ambitious Norman building campaign after 1066.
[18] Shakespeare is reported to have used the library of the house and married Anne Hathaway there. Nowadays, it is a plush hotel.