Mistresses, Concubines and Fitzies in Your Family Tree?

When a "family detective" starts researching  “Royalty” connected to one’s family, there arises  women known as “Mistresses” and “Concubines”.  Most Kings had them. Do you know the difference in these terms or “titles”?

A concubine can be part of a harem, or a “purchased” woman (slave), usually of inferior rank who cohabits for sexual relief, a “secondary wife”.

A mistress is a lady who has a continuing sexual relationship with a married man who is not her husband and generally receives material support. Title of mistress can also be a lady who has a position of authority, control or ownership such as “Mistress of the household”, or “Mistress of a Culinary Art”, Head Mistress of a College, etc.

Children of these ladies were, most of the time, recognized and given titles, land, or positions befitting (at the time) part royal blood.

The Irish surname FitzGerald is thought to derive from Gerald de Windsor, a Cambro-Norman nobleman whose son and grandson were involved in the Norman invasion of Ireland.  Surnamed FitzRoy, FItzJames, FitzClarence (son of the King), some had the "Fitz Count" (son of the mother, if she was more noteworthy); and yet, "FItz" does not always mean illegitimacy - a somewhat complicated prefix handed down from the Normans and changing throughout the centuries.

The Irish name Fitzpatrick does not indicate a Norman origin of the family; it is the translation into English of the Gaelic surname Mac Giolla Phádraig. Other surnames beginning "Mac Giolla" were made into "McGilli-" (e.g. McGillicuddy), but the Fitzpatricks claimed Norman heritage in a time when the Normans dominated much of Ireland.

PHOTO: Desmond FITZGerald (1888 – 1947), an Irish revolutionary, poet and Cumann na nGaedhael politician

some Wikipedia sources.

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Tags: ancestry, genealogy, history


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Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on July 15, 2014 at 3:00pm

Thanks for this, Dee.

Could you elaborate on the "Fitz" prefix on some Irish surnames?  It's my understanding that "Fitz" was most often (but not always) given to denote an "illegitimate" child centuries ago.  For example, Sean FitzPatrick would be the "illegitimate" son of a guy whose given name is Patrick.  Is this correct?

I have a few interesting angles back in the 18th century I'm looking at in my own family tree which could include some of these "Fitzes."

Comment by Dee Notaro on July 15, 2014 at 3:49pm

You do know that the more you read- the deeper in doo-doo you get! Fitz is not necessarily illegitiamte. Most of my dealings in many, many genealogies deal with the English Kings and their illegitimate children who if recognized were "FitzRoys"; sometimes,  these children carried the mother's surname as in Adela de Warenne, one of the mistresses of John Lackland. His 2 sons and 1 daughter carried the  surname of "FitzRoy de Warenne". It depended upon the king's recognition of his children. As if this is not confusing enough try:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitz and this  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitzpatrick_(surname),depends upon the century and the country's customs

Comment by Bernard Raymond O'Brien on July 17, 2014 at 2:07pm

Well, my ancestry were O'Briens,Kavanaghs, Boyles, Delequinns, and they didn't get involved in such affairs.  Well, maybe the Kavanagh who brought the English in, over a petty thing of wife stealing.  Otherwise...

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