PREFACE TO GENEALOGISTS AND TO HISTORIANS
My purpose in writing this book is not to add any new facts to established genealogies of the family, nor is it to assert any claim that specific ancestors partook in specific medieval events. My purpose is simply to represent the important issues, technologies, and attitudes of each generation from "everyman's" point of view, thus to illustrate the pace and connectivity of society's continual change from the Dark Ages to today's worldwide cooperation in space. As a secondary objective, I have tried to make my ancestors' lives more real to me by uncovering details of their daily lives (or of lives like theirs), and their reactions (or the reactions of people like them) to real events.
To the extent that records are available, I have been conscientious to record precise dates and events, although the dialogue is of course pure conjecture, as are many of the named lesser participants. Footnotes and index entries justify the historical significance of named characters where they are in fact real people. In chapters 2 through 14 (from 1089 to 1466) the details of my ancestors' lives are purely imagined, although the historical settings are real. It is true, however, that by the time of Chapter 15 (1498) the Bacons of my line were well-established wool merchants and lawyers in Hessett, and had been there for several generations. The intervening personal stories are just one plausible bridge of people and events between the known end points. Jean-Paul Bacon of Quebec has written to me recently of a tantalizing but ambiguous link for the progenitor Grimbaldus, possibly with an associated name of LeHoux, to a location in LeBec, Normandy. This link will be reserved for future study.
The genealogy traced in this book is one of several competing versions of Grimbaldus’ line, selected from (among other sources) the introductory chapter of Thomas Baldwin's 1915 book: Michael Bacon of Dedham, 1640, and his Descendants. All versions include the first three and last fourteen generations, or two thirds of the exact names and dates portrayed in this book. No formal records exist to justify one or another version of the genealogy in the conflicting "gaps." I have picked one of the only variants that is consistent with the average age of parenthood being between twenty and forty years old, with enough generations to span back to the acknowledged beginnings of the line in 1066. (Just because it is self-consistent does not imply that it is right.) Since the purpose of this book is to show the point of view of an average man, it is not essential that the names are precise in this cloudy region. Lacking hard documentation, the characters of this story who live in the late Middle Ages can best be thought of as creative historical fictions (although whoever they were, they were real enough that their genes still rest in every cell of my body!).
Conversely, the events from the years 1498 through to the present contain known ancestors in known occupations in historically accurate settings. The conversion to Protestantism, the family emigration to Massachusetts, John Bacon's wound in King Phillip's War, and all subsequent events are real, though dramatized with imagined dialogue.
Therefore, please enjoy My Grandfathers' Clock for what it is. It is a genealogy and a history, yes, but it is hopefully entertainment and enlightenment. It is mostly one modern man's attempt to know how his ancestors lived and felt as average members of society. It is only one of over 134 million paths back to 1066, for I could have traced any parent of any parent to reflect the life of "everyman." Six billion other modern citizens each have his or her own infinity of paths back into the past, and each of the paths are similar to this one. Each person's heritage is as rich and as real as this family line.
My Grandfathers' Clock places flesh on the dusty bones of the lost generations, whether they are my ancestors or yours. They are probably everyone's, for after twenty-eight generations of many children each, the genes of Grimbaldus flow through all of our veins. Insert the names of your chosen ancestors, and this becomes your story too.BR>