TANCARVILLE ON THE SEINE
Tancarville castle ruins
on the banks of the River Seine
AND THE NAME CHAMBERLAIN
Over a thousand years
ago, in the ninth and tenth century many ships crewed by Norsemen or Northmen, raided the shores of England and
France from “Northmanna land” (Norway) and “Scania” (Scandinavia). These Sea-Kings from the North were usually
kinsmen of the northern “land sovereigns”. They were a race of beings however, without a metre of territorial
property, without towns or visible nation, with no wealth or dominion but their ships, no force but their crews,
and no hope but their swords, who swarmed down the western coastlands of Europe and into the Mediterranean every
summer raiding and plundering in every district they could approach.
One of the most
prominent of these Norse sea-kings was a Danish Viking, Ganger Hrolf (860-927), whose name was Latinised to
'Rollo'. Rollo was born at Fakse (Faxe) on the island of Sjaelland, some 50 kilometres south-west of Copenhagen,
Denmark where today the ‘Rollo Stone' at Fakse commemorates his fame. Rollo and his followers seized, or extorted
from the Frankish kingdom, the coastal area of northern France and named it “Northmandi/Nordmandi” (Normandy).
Their possession of the land was formalized by the Treaty of St. Clair-sur-Epte between the Frankish king Charles
III of France and Rollo in the year 911. In truth, Rollo and his crew were being used by the Franks as a buffer
against other marauding ships appearing on their beaches. Through his family connections in Dan’s Mark (Denmark),
Rollo took the title of Duke of Normandy.
A thousand years later
in June 1944 these same Normandy beaches were used for the ‘D-Day’ invasion and landings by allied troops fighting
in World War Two to bring Hitler’s Nazi plans for Europe to an end.
A foremost Norseman
under Rollo was Tancred who was with Rollo at St. Clair-sur-Epte, in 911, and built a fortified Castle at
Tancarville, on the first promontory guarding the mouth of the Seine River. (Pictures above). Visitors to
Tancarville today may see the Castle ruins including the Eagle Tower atop the hill, and the Church of St. Jean
d'Abitot at the foot of the hill. 'Abitot' is Scandinavian - the ending 'tot' is old Norse for hill. Variations of
the spelling include Abbetot, Abetoth (Domesday book) and Dabitot.
Tancred's son was
Rabel. 'Rabel's Isle' in the Seine and 'Rabel's Foss', a moat around the Castle, are named for him. Rabel's son was
Geraldus of Tancarville, who married Helendis. Geraldus and Helendis had two sons - Rabel II of Tancarvil1e and
Almericus d'Abitot. Rabel II became Chamberlain to Robert the Devil, or Robert the Magnificent, no doubt depending
on your interpretation of history, who was Duke of Normandy from 1010 to 1035. Robert, a fourth-generation
descendant of Rollo, was father of William the Conqueror (1028-1087). Rabel II's descendants in England have used
the surname ‘Chamberlain’ to this day.
A recent aerial
view of Tancarville Castle and suspension bridge built in the 1950’s crossing the Seine River.
|| It was fashionable in the 1500's and 1600's to spell surnames in several different ways.
Although common, the practice was not necessarily connected with migrating to a new location or
||Chamberlaine, Chamberlane, Chamberlayn(e), Chamberlaen, Chamberlen, Chamberlin, Chamberlyn,
||Chambellan(d), Cambreleng, Chamberland, C(h)amberlin,
||Camerlenghi, Ciamberlini, Camerlingo, Camerlengo, Camerlinghi, Ciamberbellani,
Today the Chamberlain family are spread far and wide across the globe and I find myself
living in the twenty-first century, on a hillside of the Dandenong ranges looking out across Port Philip Bay where
cruise ships bring their countless tourists to ‘raid and plunder’—in the nicest possible way—the city of Melbourne
and swarm across the Victorian country side.
FERNY CREEK IN THE
he A home among the gum trees with Koala bears. Lyre-birds and a Kangaroo--or
Creek, an outer suburb in eastern Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, is
33 km from Melbourne's CBD. It is part of the Local Government Shire of Yarra Ranges, and until the
tourists and visitors arrive has a population something less than 2000.
The suburb is built around but mainly to the south of Dunns Hill (height
561m) with most of Ferny Creek lying between 400 and 550 metres above sea level. It is named for the stream running
through it, Ferny Creek. The suburb is largely surrounded by conservation zones and national parks, with the
Dandenong Ranges national park on its northern and west sides, the Upwey habitat corridor to the south and
Sherbrooke Forest to the east.
From early in its European history the area was used by Melburnians as a
place to get away from the maddening crowd. People came for weekend and summer camps and to gain some relief from
the oppressive heat. As a result, gradually over the years, simple "weekender" cottages developed. As the city
grew, all of the original forest was felled to build the many timber-framed, weatherboard clad structures that
still make up much of Melbourne's suburbia. All of the forest now to be seen is "regrowth" that has happened since
that early denuding process.
Today the area still attracts many visitors and tourists who come to enjoy,
amongst other things, the beautiful scenic drives and many walking tracks that are an integral part of the local
parks. One well known and very popular track quite close to Ferny Creek is called "The Thousand Steps". This
particular track has also become a local memorial to Papua New Guinea's infamous "Kokoda Track", and the bloody
battles fought there by Australians during WWII.
Dandenong Ranges in Autumn
Living in Ferny Creek, I am a fifth generation part of a pioneering family of
six who left their home in Preston Capes, Northamptonshire and sailed from Gravesend, England with
297 other immigrants on Sunday 2nd January 1842. Enduring four months of very cramped conditions,
aboard the "London", and losing Edwin to bronchitis, they were like so many other families, who lost the
youngest members of their families to the cruel conditions of that early migration (And when considering the
plight of boat people migrating to our shores in the twenty-first century, one is forced to ask, "What has
changed?"). On their arrival at Port Nicholson, an early name for Wellington, New Zealand, they were quite
literally dumped on the beach, and left to fend for themselves as they started a complete new
life. The New Zealand Company was very good at promoting the scheme under which so many migrants came, but was very
poor in the support they provided once these travellers had arrived.
This site is dedicated to the pioneering members
of my family, in all of their many branches. Their strength of character, fortitude and their vision has left a
magnificent legacy, a foundation on which we in subsequent generations can only hope to continue the building
process, and thereby pass the baton on to future generations. Today this family number in their thousands
across New Zealand and beyond. This is why I have used the word "Destiny" as the title for this
To get started, follow
this link to the - Foreword
& Table of Contents
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