Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Am I Royal?

My Memere always told me that she was French. Her family had came to the U.S. from Canada. It never occurred to me (or to her) that her family might have been partly German. We never wondered why the Lippe name didn't sound very French. We never linked it to things in Germany such as the Lippe River or the castle in Detmold, Lippe, Germany. I suppose that's because we didn't have Google back then…

It began with a search for my ancestors, beginning with my four grandparents, tracing their families back in time as far as I could. The first few steps backward were easy. I had heard the stories about my memere's father, Omer, and his wife, Marie Louise Peloquin. In fact, I even had seen pictures of them. Omer's father, Gilbert Lippe and his wife, Sophie Anger, are buried in St. George's cemetery (Southbridge, MA) not far from my memere and pepere. The stone was easy to find. 

It became a little more difficult from there as Gilbert was the one who came here from Canada. Luckily, he had quite a few children with his first wife, Adaline Page. The footprints left behind helped me trace back to Gilbert's birth and parents, Joseph Rene Lippe and Sophie Beaugrand Champagne.

Thanks to the wonderful records kept by the Catholic churches in Canada and the Drouin Collection, it was easy to discover that Joseph Rene Lippe was the son of Joseph Sulpice Rene Zur Lippe and Marie Anne Hetu. The Zur Lippe name was beginning to not sound French at all. Researching French-Canadian records from the 1700s can be quite a challenge, especially when the researcher doesn't know the language very well. I pressed on…

Then, it got interesting: According to Joseph Sulpice Rene Zur Lippe's baptism record, his father was Ernst Lippe and his mother was Marie Francoise Fuseau dit Roch. Many attempts to find a marriage record for this couple proved unsuccessful; however, I did manage to find quite a few of Joseph's siblings. Numerous Google searches shed light on a possible theory that Ernst Lippe was Rene Ernst Phillip II Lippe of Alverdissen, Germany. The theory is that he married Ernestine, Princess of Saxe-Weimar 6 May 1756 in Germany. Sometime around 1763, he traveled to Canada (perhaps for military reasons). He either married Marie Francoise Fuseau dit Roch or had a long affair, during which several children were born. Around 1774, he supposedly faked his death and returned to Germany. In 1777, he inherited the Schaumburg-Lippe territories following the death of his cousin Wilhelm. In 1780, he married Juliane, Princess of Hessen-Phillipsthal. He reigned as Count until his death on the 13 February 1787 when he was succeeded by his son Georg Wilhelm.

I found it to be an interesting theory, but without a lot of proof, I was ready to dismiss it. In May 2007, I received an interesting email from a man named Simon from Quebec. He is also related to Rene Ernst Philipp Lippe (married to Fran├žoise Fuseau). He told me that a historian from Montreal is working on "something that would explain our Germanic and royal roots. Ernst Lippe was supposedly a German Prince who came to Quebec to escape from his party... 
This historian's wife is a Lippe and some of his related family own many artifacts from this Prince (watch, rings etc) and they have the royal crest on it!"

It all makes me wonder… Am I royal? Even if the theory isn't true, there's a good bet that my memere's Lippe family came from Germany to Canada before ending up in the U.S.

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