Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Anyone seen my grandfather?

Stop me if I've mentioned this before, but I - along with my half-brother in Australia - have been trying for some time to locate earlier generations of my/our family. We'd always been served up the story that our father was born in New York City but that doesn't hold water for a variety of reasons, the main one of which is the fact that the New York State Archives in Albany, NY have absolutely no record of him. So that's that, then.

Then my half-brother discovered a branch of the family that left Ireland in the eighteenth century and went to serve in the Austro-Hungarian army, as Irish nobility was wont to do in those days. Laval, Graf Nugent von Westmeath is the spitting image of my father so I decided to trace along his lines, finding a potential grandfather in Graf Wilhelm Llewellyn von Westmeath, born in Siena, Tuscany in 1870, died in Vienna, Austria in 1940. This would make sense as our father was fluent in German at a very early age, as he was in French, where his family apparently owned vineyards. I wrote to the Magistrat in Vienna, asking if they had Llewellyn's death certificate. Yes, they said. And would I like a copy for the mere bagatelle of €23.60? Oh yes, indeedy. So I whipped out their IBAN/BIC and sent them the money. The death certificate turned up about ten days ago. What happened next is as I described it in a mail to a friend shortly after:

Remember our first trip to Vienna (How could you forget, eh?)? We stayed at Pension Suzanne, Walfischgasse 4. I always remember the house opposite, with the plaque on the fa├žade, stating that the poet WH Auden died there in 1973. I remember that as he's my favourite poet. The house must be number 3. In those days it was the Hotel Altenburger Hof. Now wait till you read this: Graf Llewellyn Wilhelm Nugent von Westmeath died in Walfischgasse 3. Maybe I was looking at the house where my grandfather died every time we went off to the Raimund Theater…

Now I just have to find out if and when he had children, as nothing is noted in his personal details. It states he was unmarried, a Catholic and his parents were 'unbekannt'; unknown. He was found dead.

People didn't seem to worry about all this stuff before. It's only now that genealogy - and, more significantly,  psychogenealogy - are capturing the collective imagination.  It's quite an adventure.

These are all pictures of Laval Graf Nugent von Westmeath (Ballynacor, Ireland, 1777 - Bosiljevo, Croatia, 1862), who, I believe, was my great-great grandfather. That last picture could be of my father. The search continues.

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