Richard Jernigan -> RE: In your locality – what’s it really like? (Apr. 4 2020 0:43:48)
Or is Jernigan a very common name? (I must admit I've never encountered it before seeing your name on the foro.)
Tamara E. Jernigan, the astronaut, is a distant cousin from Tennessee. My brother knows her. My great-grandfather was born in Tennessee.
I have met few Jernigans outside my extended family. In every case I have been able to find some connection. The name is nearly, if not actually extinct in England. In America we all appear to have descended from Thomas, who arrived in the Maryland colony in 1635. He served in the House of Burgesses, until they took the legislative prerogative from the Lords Baltimore. This ended any hope that the Roman Catholic church would be officially established in the colony.
Later Thomas was granted land in tidewater Virginia. He named his estate there "Somerton." The 200-acre front lawn of the present eldest son of the eldest son is visible on Google Earth.
Jernigan's Bridge was the furthest downstream bridge on the Nansemond river. The County Seat was there from 1650 to 1750, as was Governor's Wharf. Going upstream on the James river from Norfolk, VA, the Nansemond is the first tributary on the left.
One interesting Jernigan I met was the President of the Black Ministers Alliance of Norfolk, VA, whom I met in the 1970s. Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder reminds me of his appearance.
The minister said he was descended from "house servants" of the Somerton plantation. His ancestors were taught reading, writing and arithmetic, which was illegal at the time. His ancestor, and a few others took the family name at Emancipation. "House servants" were often the descendants of male members of the white families, born out of wedlock to enslaved mothers. We agreed we were probably distant cousins.
He said the field hands had much more difficult lives. Nor did they take the name.
When I moved from Santa Barbara to Kwajalein, the owner and driver of the moving van who picked up my furniture was from North Carolina. At least one of Thomas's sons moved south from Virginia, settled on the banks of Albemarle Sound, and was among the founders of the North Carolina colony.
The mover's van had a sleeper cab. His wife accompanied him on his travels. The mover introduced me to his wife, saying, "This man is from the same family who owns the whole county back home." I came across a video clip a few years ago which featured a North Carolinian from an old tobacco farming family with whom I share a surname. My great-great grandfather was born in Anson County, NC.
Family history is known in public records for more than 850 years in the male line, more than 1300 years in the female line. There are eleven variant spellings in English records, all members of the same genealogy kept by the College of Heralds. It is nearly certain that I have a good deal more Neanderthal DNA than I have from my most distant recorded ancestors.
When English friends visited in the 1980s, they stayed at our house. When asked where my wife and children were, I replied that it was probably not well known in England, but in America there was a society of people descended from barons who signed Magna Carta in 1215. The Bishop of Lincoln was in Austin with his cathedral's copy, and they had gone to see it.
"But, everybody is England is descended from a signer of Magna Carta," my friend responded.
"Indeed. But to get in to the Society you have to have the paperwork."
In the 1939 edition of Burke's Peerage the entry begins, "One of the oldest families in England in lineal male descent." I have pointed out that this makes it even more doubtful that the paperwork reflects exactly what went on between the sheets.
I have said to my children more than once, "The only value I see in knowing such a history, is it teaches that over time almost every human character trait will emerge, for good or ill."
There have been ordinary folks, distinguished aristocrats, and great villains.