Could I be de­scended from a French duke?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q & A -

QMy 9x great grand­fa­ther was Jac­ques or Ja­cob Deguise; his fa­ther may have been Cle­ment. Jac­ques was born in Dunkirk, France, and died in 1700. I am cu­ri­ous who came be­fore him, and whether there could be any con­nec­tion to the Duc de Guise. Kim­ber­ley Pel­ton

A There are five main types of sur­name; patronymics like Wil­liamson, from the name of the fa­ther; metonymics like Butcher, from the fa­ther’s oc­cu­pa­tion; to­po­graphic ones like Hill, from prom­i­nent lo­cal fea­tures; nick­names like Arm­strong, about peo­ple’s dis­tin­guish­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics; and sur­names de­rived from the names of places where peo­ple lived. Your sur­name of in­ter­est, Deguise, must fall into the lat­ter cat­e­gory, for it means ‘de (of) the town of Guise’.

Guise is a town in France, some 110 miles south-east of Dunkirk. Now, it is true that Guise was ruled by an aris­to­cratic fam­ily of lords, then counts, and fi­nally dukes. They were a dis­tin­guished lot: the first Count of Guise, René (1409–1480), was a younger son of Louis II of

An­jou, King of Naples, and the first one to be­come a duke,

Claude (1496–1550), was the ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther of Mary, Queen of Scots. They were all very much ‘of Guise’.

But be­sides dukes of Guise, there were also con­sta­bles of

Guise; may­ors of Guise; mer­chants of Guise; butch­ers of Guise; can­dle­stick-mak­ers of

Guise; night­watch­men of

Guise; night­soil col­lec­tors of

Guise; gravedig­gers of Guise; and beg­gars of Guise. It is en­tirely pos­si­ble that a duke of Guise had an il­le­git­i­mate child who was styled, or chose to style him­self, Des­guise, ‘of Guise’, and the sur­name passed down his male line ever af­ter. But it’s just as pos­si­ble that the fa­ther of the first Deguise in your line was any one of the many other men who lived within the walls of medieval Guise.

As with all sur­names, the only way re­ally to get to the truth is to per­sist with try­ing to trace your ear­li­est known an­ces­tor back, and do­ing that us­ing 17th-cen­tury French records will be no easy mat­ter, if it can be done at all. The line is highly likely to go back even­tu­ally to Guise, but whether to the loins of a duke or a beg­gar there, you just can’t pre­dict. An­thony Adolph

Henry I, Prince of Joinville and Duke of Guise (1550–1588)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.