18th pale descendant

In the song “The Queen Is Dead,” from my favorite Smiths album of the same name, Morrissey sings:

And so, I checked all the registered historical facts and I was shocked into shame to discover how I’m the 18th pale descendant of some old queen or other.

So imagine my shock (if not exactly shame) to learn that I can trace part of my family tree at least 18 generations back to find noble (if not exactly royal) ancestors lurking there.

This connection to European nobility, however attenuated, comes through the family of my second great-grandmother Rhoda Wyckoff Agin (1850-1907) – one of my 32 second great-grandparents.

The Wyckoff family is one of the oldest families in America, going back t0 Pieter Claesen Wyckoff (1624-1694), my 8th great-grandfather, who came to the New Netherlands colony in 1637. You can actually visit Pieter’s old farm house in Brooklyn, built in 1652. It’s an official New York City landmark.

Pieter Claessen Wyckoff's farm house, Brooklyn, NY.

Thanks to the efforts of genealogists, I can trace the Wyckoff line back to a Dutch noble family in the 16th century. My 13th great-grandfather, Adrian van der Goes (1495-1560), was Lord Advocate of Holland. His wife was Anna van Spangen (1495-1548), whose portrait hangs in the National Gallery in London.

Painting of Anna van Spangen from National Gallery of Art, London.

There are some who assert the Wyckoff line can be traced to Scandanavian kings but this is not proven.

Rhoda Wyckoff was also descended from another old family, the Stouts. Her great-grandparents – my 5th great-grandparents – were James Wyckoff (1743-1832) and Hannah Stout Wyckoff (1747-1833).

Like the Wyckoffs, the Stouts were among the very earliest immigrants to the United States. My 8th great-grandfather Richard Stout (1615-1705) left England for the New Netherlands colony in 1648, originally settling in Gravesend, Brooklyn. He eventually moved to Middletown, New Jersey – one of the very first English settlers in what was still a Dutch colony. Richard’s son Jonathan Stout (1660-1722) moved further west to found the town of Hopewell, New Jersey, where my sister Cathy and her family now live.

Through Hannah Stout, I can trace my lineage back to English and Scottish aristocracy.

Sir Edward Howell (1584-1665), my 10th great-grandfather, was heir to Westbury Manor, a great manor house in the vicinity of Oxford. But he decided to leave that all behind, selling the estate in 1638 and emigrating to the colony of Massachusetts. By 1640, he led a group of settlers to Long Island where they founded the town of town of Southampton.

The Haig family of Bemersyde, Scotland can be traced back thirty generations to the first Laird of Bemersyde, my 28th great-grandfather Petrus de Haga (1150-1200). (Haga became Haig over the years.)

Petrus was a Norman knight who built a castle in the Scottish town of Bemersyde. He married Goda, daughter of Cospatric, Earl of March. Their descendants lived in that castle in an unbroken succession for seven centuries before the line finally died out in 1867.

Bemersyde House

Over the years, the Haigs were involved in numerous military battles with the English. They fought in the Crusades. And at least one of my Haig forbears, Andrew IX Haig, Laird of Bemersyde, was knighted by King Robert III of Scotland in 1390.

Sources: The Wyckoff Family in America, The Wyckoff Association in America, Summit, NJ (1950); John Russell, The Haigs of Bemersyde: A Family History (1881); Edward Howell Family Association.

This entry was posted in Family Line - Agin, New York City and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 18th pale descendant

  1. Yvette Jordan says:


    You are sooo lucky to be able to trace your roots back 400+ years. I envy you that! I can only go back about 175….but I’m still grateful! Your family’s story is fascinating; I can’t wait to read the next post.

    Yvette 🙂

  2. Hally says:

    Hi, I am also a descendant of the Wykoffs.. I was wondering do you have any sources that show Jacob van der goes is the son of Adrian van der Goes and Ann Van Spangen? I was asked this question and realized I did not have a source.. Though I did read that many of the records in Zeeland were destroyed during the war.. I assume you also descend through Jacob van der Goes who married Matilda Balbani? It is nice to meet you cousin.. 🙂 Also could you share with me Adrian van der Goes and Anna Van Spangen’s information as far as their parents?

    • johnkowal says:

      Hi cousin!
      The source I rely on is a book entitled The Old World Progenitors of the Wyckoff Family: A Genealogy, edited by William LeRoy Wyckoff and Herbert James Wyckoff. It’s available on ancestry.com. The relevant passage is at pages 68-69. It indicates that Jacob van der Goes was one of several children of Adrian van der Goes and Anna van Spangen and that Jacob married Maria Balbani.
      I don’t know who Adrian’s parents were. The book identifies a Hendrik van der Goes, who died in 1460, as the “progenitor” of the family. It says he had two sons, Pieter and Martin. It identifies Pieter’s three sons and then mentions Adrian without saying from whom he was descended. Maybe Martin is implicitly the father but it’s just not clear.
      According to my records, Anna’s parents were Laurentsen van Spangen (1465-1557) and Maria Gout (1465-1579). Both lived in Haag, Denmark. This is purely from family trees compiled by others and I haven’t made any effort to verify. This would mean Maria lived to be 114 years old which merits some skepticism.

  3. Hally says:

    Thanks so much for your reply.. A descendant of Adrian Van Der Goes (1495-1560) and Anna VanSpangen (1495-1548) sent me his family:
    he also referred me to:
    So I was really concerned.. I also found this website and tried to email the person running it but I was getting the message sent back as a Delivery Status Notification (Failure)‏..
    I did read somewhere about Jacob and Adrian van der Goes going to claim the Petersson Children.. This is what it says..

    “Cornelius born in 1560 was a Kopman or merchant-trader from Borgholm, Oland, Denmark. He owned and captained the Calmarsund, trading on the Baltic and Zuyderzee. He was tried for treason by King Charles IX, having to do with Charles capture of the throne from King Sigismund of Poland. He was found guilty, but was pardoned. He may still have been killed or imprisoned, for he ended up “dead” in Feb. 1601.

    The following is extracted from “The Old World Progenitors of the Wckoff Family, A Genealogy” compiled by William Forman Wyckoff. Cornelius Petersson, eldest son of Captain Peter Eriksson and his wife Matilda was born in 1560. He was a trader, owning and operating the ship Calmarsund of Borgholm on Oland. Cornelius married Johanna, daughter of Jacob van der Goes May 12, 1593 in Calmar Cathedral. He engaged with his father-in-law, in trade on the Baltic and the Zuyderzee, to Nordinge in East Friesland, and as far as the Walcheren in Zeeland. In February 1601, when “Jacob van der Goes, of Borgholm, and Andris van der Goes of Antwerp, appeared and claimed for themselves and also as guardians of the orphans, Jacob, Claes, and Peter Cornelissen, sons of Cornelius Petersson, deceased, in his lifetime merchant on Walcheren, and the interest of Cornelis, his daughter, who has apponted said Jacbob van der Goes her representative to claim all goods belonging to the deceased, in Walcheren.”


    The Old World Progenitors of the Wyckoff Family….William L. & Herbert J. Wyckoff (ed.) from the papers of W.F. Wyckoff….Reprinted by Wyckooff House & Association….pages 42, 56, 56f.

    I do not like having incorrect information.. This one website at the top.. The very first one shows Anna and Adrian’s parents and their pictures so you should enjoy that one.. It is so lovely to meet you..

  4. Pingback: Old church records shed light on my Slovak great-great-grandparents | John Kowal's Family History Blog

  5. James says:

    So I was working my way through my Ancestry Family tree and I saw this guy with a painting of his face as his portrait, and sure enough when I look him up this is what I find! It turns out that Pieters daughter married a man named Johannes Buys and they had a son named after his father and which he led down into all my other great grandparents. (if that makes since) im still working on the family tree and theres hints pointing towards adriens parents and wife. Thanks for sharing this article becuase I had no idea I was related to one of the oldest american families and royalty!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s