From Sheila Mughal
Welcome once again to all our mortfamily.net members - how time flies.
Can you believe that it is almost 2 years since our extended family get together of distant cousins in Astley, the home of the Mort's Astley Heritage Trust?
If anyone missed this event, you can locate Dam House (the home of Adam Mort) via the following website - http://www.damhouse.net/ and why not visit the house yourself. It really is a fascinating building.
If there is enough interest, I am considering another get together in the late spring/ early summer. Please email me if you would be interested in taking part -
We now have 137 members of the site - the latest newbie being Dennie. Welcome to Dennie. If any of you have time, please tell us a little about yourself and your connections to the Mort family via the discussion forum.
Whatís new in 2009?
2009 has been a difficult year for me because my Mother (Ivy Green) sadly passed away on New Years Eve 2008, and so 2009 has been the 1st year I have lived through without her being around. I still miss her very much.
I would like to thank Martin (the webmaster who makes this site possible), for majoring my Mums photo and eulogy on the site for the full year. This is greatly appreciated Martin and my Mum would have loved the thought of taking centre stage for the last 12 months. Thank you once again.
With regards to genealogy, I have been extensively researching my Dads side of the family this year as I finally (after 20 years) made great headway with his surname 'Norris'. The Mort name is from my Mothers side.
It turns out that Norris (Norreys) is a Norman name and as they were aristocracy (Norman Barons) who married into Royalty, tracing my family tree back through the ADís and now into the BCís has been fairly easy and fast.
Royalty has always catalogued their genealogy because if the first 10 in line to the throne were struck down by the plague, beheaded or slaughtered in a battle, someone somewhere needed to locate the 11th in line to the throne fairly quickly.
Although the aristocrats may not have had a kingdom to protect, they often had large wealthy estates and titles to pass down. So for similar reasons, they also kept their family trees sacred. When a Royal couldnít find another Royal to marry, a commoner (who was aristocratic) would be a good 2nd choice, so these families all tended to marry into one another. 'Birds of a feather stick together', tended to be the general rule for making marital choices in times gone by and some could argue that this trend still exists today.
Occasionally a true commoner would be allowed to marry into an aristocratic family, but this was usually only if they were very rich or famous or powerful in some way.
My Great x 27 Grandfather 'William Marshall' was a perfect example of a chap who was a younger son of a minor nobleman. William had no lands or fortune to inherit, and had to make his own way in life. He became famous as the greatest jouster of his era and so as a favour King Richard arranged for him to marry the second-richest heiress in England, Isabel de Clare (1172-1220), the 17-year-old daughter of Richard Strongbow.
This was an unusual marriage, but commoners could connect into aristocracy and royalty via great achievements and self made wealth.
As with many once noble families, wealth would often dwindle away slowly through the centuries. Sometimes a family 'end of line' would see estates passing over to a differing surname (as occurred with my Norris family and the Bradshaighs of Haigh Hall in Wigan). Sometimes the demise of the family fortune was very rapid, as occurred with the Norris family in Speke in which the Norris money was both drunk and gambled away by some naughty Toff who probably had syphilis.
However the end result of all of this financial spillage for my once Royal and Aristocratic ancestors, is that by the 1700ís onwards, many descendents became poor mill workers and coal miners. Indeed, I was born a working class Leigh girl from a happy yet typically Lancashire working background.
However, I am lucky in that although I may be living off credit cards for now, my blueblood connections from the past means that my genealogy had already been documented for me many centuries ago. All I have to do is read it. As you can imagine, this has helped me plot my family tree back to many famous people and zoom back in time to the bible. I am no genealogy expert, just lucky I guess.
Some of my favourite direct line ancestors being Lady Godiva, The famous Sheriff of Nottingham, William the Conqueror, Bluetooth the famous Viking King of Denmark, all the Kings of Scotland and Wessex, and I particular like the name of WIG who is both my 54th and 51st Great Grandfather from 355AD. The lovely Princess Diana is also a cousin of mine- be it distant. Blanche Plantagenet is another example of the same person being both my 21st Great Grandmother on one line and my 2nd cousin 24 times removed on another line.
When your genealogy digs way back in time and the family tree starts to branch out, you will start to notice the same names cropping up in differing places. I realised from my Mort family research that I was interbred, but my Norris family research has confirmed this even more. My theory is that we are all related anyway - itís just a case of proving it. I believe we all share lots of common ancestry and many people like me, are related to Royalty, Roman emperors and people they write films about. The secret is that you only have about 400 years back in time to connect into one of these families or you will probably struggle to ever make the connection, though you can suspect it. Genealogy is all about proof rather than 'hear say'.
Why is that? Posh rich people plotted their genealogy because wealth and power was dictated by inheritance. Poor people had nothing to inherit or leave behind, so they didnít leave charts behind. If you are lucky, you may find your ancestors are scribed on a parish record somewhere stating that they were baptised, got married and then were buried. It is then for the researchers amongst you to tie up the loose ends. If they had a bit of money, they may leave behind a Will documenting their family connections and if they got into some sort of trouble, they may leave behind details of a court case. However, in general our poorer ancestors from long ago, didnít make genealogy easy. Unless you can make a connection into an aristocratic family before all the parish records from your poorer family dry up, you may never make the connection. This is what took me 20 years of work with my Norris family. I knew the poor Bolton Norrisís connected into the wealthy Speke Norrisís. but I didnít know how. I finally managed to make the tie with John Norris 1580 from Bolton. His father lived in Acre Hall and as soon as you hit a Manor house, you are in business.
So enough of my Norris side - where did the Mortís come from then?
This question continues to plague us and I would welcome any new thoughts and ideas about the origins of this surname. I am not a Mort expert, but I know some of you exist out there and we welcome your opinions.
As I have been researching extensively through many of the worldís former royal dynasties and aristocrats, I have to say that I cannot find a Mort name amongst them anywhere. The research I have done has been so detailed and thorough, that if a Sir, Lord, King or Earl Morte existed, I would have found them. These families all marry one another, and I would have found not just one Mort, but many. I didnít find any!
I have to conclude that the 15th to 17th century Mortís in Lancashire were not of Royal or Aristocratic descent. However, they are a bit of a mystery as they were wealthy, powerful and they appear to have also been very well educated.
One needs to realise that circa 400 years ago, education was not a privilege enjoyed by the poor. These Mortís tended to be lawyers and members of the clergy, professions that were the domain of the learned and the rich. Many of our Mort ancestors lived in large houses or halls, and owned sizable plots of land. They left Wills when they died, and only those with something to leave behind left an inheritance.
The Mortís were also 'wannabe aristocrats' as they aspired to climb the Lancashire social circle. They entered a pedigree of four generations at the Heralds Visitation in 1664 - 65, and had their own Coat of Arms. They were visited by William Dugdale and only true wannabe noblemen who could demonstrate a pedigree would warrant such a visit.
Please read this doc - http://www.midlandhistory.bham.ac.uk/issues/2001/verasanj.pdf for more information on Dugdales visitations.
They also married fairly well and the class system in England would dictate than only a worthy man could command the daughter of a noble family.
Ralph Mort b1573 married Agnes Pinnington, and she was from the notable family of the same name at Pennington Hall.
Thomas Mort married Margaret (daughter and sole heiress of Robert Smith of Smithfold in Hulton near Bolton). These Mort men attracted posh wives.
Adam Mort was the gentleman Major of Preston and listed on the Guild roll. They had powerful political friends in the area and were respected by all.
BUT..where did their wealth and power come from? This was an era in time when rich men were usually born rather than self made, but evidence suggest the Mortís of Lancashire were indeed self made and very successful.
I have heard theories that this is an English name and that evidence of the name has existed since the 12th and 13th centuries. I have heard other rumours that they are a family (who like my fatherís Norris family) were also of Norman descent and came to England in 1066. Mort does have a certain French twist, so maybe this is true. I have even heard that there wealth came after the Great Plague as they seemed to be immune to the virus.
We can only go with what we know rather than guess forever and a day.The earliest Mort many of us can connect to is Henry Mort from Eccles who was born circa 1553. From my recent experience with my Norris line, I can only conclude that if Henryís family were rich and powerful Barons, we would have been able to go back in time much earlier than the relatively recent 1550ís.If Henry had a blue blood lineage, we would have found it by now. I have also heard rumours that Henry from Eccles was a tanner, so hardly a noble profession.
I have dipped my toe in the water of historical Eccles, to find out if the town held some industrial attraction 500 years ago. Yet again from my Dads Norris side, I have a 10th Great Grandmother 'Jane Hey' born in 1584 who lived in Monks Hall in Eccles. I have spoken with another researcher who knows a great deal about the wealthy Hey family of 16th century Eccles, and yet has never heard of the Mortís in this area. Henry Mort seems a bit low key.
The Mortís are indeed an enigma. There are many Mortís scattered throughout Europe and so my guess is that they are not English in origin, although many researchers would argue against this. It is not the most common name in the world, although outside the UK, it can be found in Germany and France. To me, this does suggest Norman descent.
The biggest population pool of Mortís (outside of South Wales as the Mortís here are mostly of differing origins) is my birth town of Leigh in Lancashire. Why did the Mortís come to Leigh, or are the Mortís indeed from Leigh?
Although not regal or aristocratic, the Mortís must have had enough bravery or intelligence or powerful friends or industrial success or just something special.
I am now trying to dig more into the history of this area of Lancashire, to find out what event or industry may have pulled them here. However, until we know more - the mystery of the Mortís goes on.
My best wishes to all our Mort site members in 2010.
Donít forget to write in with your theories as Martin and I are sure you must all have some ideas about the Mort origins.
As a non Mort expert, I personally am sticking with the theory that they were well connected Norman soldiers who came here in 1066 and simply had brains and guts. Many a French Norman name begins with Mort (as in Mortimer), so maybe Mort is simply a shortened form of this - a nickname.