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# Thursday, August 14, 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Valerie Bertinelli Discovers a Coat of Arms, Explores Italian Roots
Posted by Diane



In last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" actor Valerie Bertinelli travels to Italy and learns her great-grandmother immigrated with two small children after her husband died—an unusual action for a woman at the time.

Then, seeking equally enlightening stories to share with her mom, she visits England and is presented with a family tree showing a long line of Claypooles.

At the beginning, Bertinelli says her son wants to know if the family has a crest—so you just knew the answer would be yes. And it was: At the College of Arms in London, she learns that her eighth-great-grandfather, who was born a yeoman and improved his family's circumstances, received a coat of arms.

Bertinelli also learned that her 19th-great-grandfather is King Edward I aka "Edward Longshanks" of England, who reigned form 1272 to 1307.

Coats of arms can be a sensitive subject in genealogy circles, surrounded by myths that help to propel the sale of fake family crest products. Pity the unsuspecting person who boasts about his family crest within earshot of a genealogist. Why?

Being of the same surname as someone who has a coat of arms—or even being a bona-fide member of the person's family—doesn't necessarily mean that you also have a coat of arms. There are a few little-known rules to go along with heraldry:
  • Coats of arms aren't granted to families. Instead, they're granted to individuals. Arms can, however, be inherited. 
  • Anyone whose uninterrupted male-line immigrant ancestor was entitled to use a coat of arms, also has the right to use this same coat of arms. If the uninterrupted male-line immigrant ancestor has no such right, then neither does the descendant. (Bertinelli described the "Claypool Coat of Arms" to her mom, so it sounds like she knew this rule.)

What an impressive pedigree to take home to Mom!

Going back to the Italian side of things: I can't let you go without letting you know about our Best Resources for Tracing Your Italian Roots video class with Melanie D. Holtz. You'll learn what genealogical records exist for Italian ancestors, where to find them, and the best resources to investigate your Italian ancestry.

You also can read Melanie's Italian research guide in the forthcoming October/November 2014 Family Tree Magazine. In the mean time, here's a head start for finding relatives' Italian military records.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Thursday, August 14, 2014 2:07:18 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]