Monday, September 21, 2009

Apple hit me on the head

Seeing that blog title, Corina is going to think: "Poor William was down on his knees adjusting computer cables when his MacBook rolled off the table and bounced on his skull." And she might add: "Let's hope his machine didn't get damaged." Well no, it was a quite different happening. Over the last day or so, I've been thrilled to find myself gravitating genealogically, like a wandering star, towards Isaac Newton. Scientifically-minded observers might call it a hypothetical Newtonian relationship. I can hear other readers saying: "A fortnight ago, he gave us his links to William the Conqueror. Today, it's Newton. He's out of his mind. At this rate, tomorrow, he'll be talking to us about his relatives in Nazareth." Apples have indeed caused tremendous upsets in human history, ever since Adam and Eve. And I don't deny for a moment that more recent impacts with these fruit of knowledge might have damaged my brain...

Here are the basic space-time elements of the global situation:

It's impossible to be much more precise than that, since it's hard to associate these individuals with exact dates and places. Notice the existence of Newton's maternal uncle, the Reverend William Ayscough (pronounced askew), who detected the genius of his 12-year-old nephew and arranged to send him to Trinity College (where William himself had been educated).

Now, here's an equally vague fragment of my own family tree:

In both cases, the Ayscoughs are located in Lincolnshire, and the time frames are equivalent. It's funny to see that my ancestors Thomas Latton and Mary Ayscough were married in London (at the Church of St Benet Paul's Wharf) just a month after the marriage of Newton's parents. Besides, my ancestor John Latton (at one time deputy lieutenant of the county of Surrey), son of Mary Ayscough, was born in the same year as Isaac Newton, son of Hannah Ayscough.

I'm tempted to imagine that the two individuals named William Ayscough in the above charts might in fact be identical, in which case my ancestor Mary Ayscough would have been a first cousin of Isaac Newton. Devil's advocates will point out to me that Newton's uncle William was a clergyman, probably a Catholic priest. So, it's hard to admit the sinful speculation of Father Ayscough as the father of Mary. I disagree. Ever since the apple of Eden, anything's possible.

1 comment: