Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The new Facebook Page is here!

For the Facebookaholics among us, there is a new Facebook page about Vance History Online, designed to bridge those who enjoy social networking on Facebook with our blog here.

You can find the Vance History Online Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vance-History-Online/158912884276896.

"Like" us on Facebook, and spread the word to others you know on Facebook that are interested in Vance history!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Vaux Manuscripts

An alert reader noted that a couple of medieval illuminated manuscripts have survived the centuries which had links to the Vaux family of England, thought to be the original family surname that started at least some branches of modern Vances of Irish origin.  We can add the libraries where these manuscripts are housed to the next edition of the Vance Travel Guide; they are occasionally on display and anyone visiting might feel a closer connection to medieval history through a richly decorated manuscript that might have once been carried by a possible relative many centuries ago!   

Illustration from the Vaux-Bardolf Psalter

The Vaux-Bardolf Psalter

Housed at the Lambeth Palace Library in London, this psalter (a collection of psalms and other texts from the Bible) is thought to have been written about 1310-1320 and woven throughout its many illustrations are heraldic arms for the Vaux, Bardolf, and other medieval noble families.  It is believed to have been written specifically for a noble lady of the Vaux family from the county of York for her devotional use.  This psalter has apparently not been digitized (or at least is not apparently available on the Internet) but according to several more modern books, its complex illustrations are major sources for what we know today of medieval religious beliefs and practices.

The Vaux Passional
Illustration from the Vaux Passional

Housed at the National Library of Wales, this manuscript IS digitized and available on their site.   Written in French around 1503, it contains the Passion of Christ and religious poetry and was owned by Lady Jane Guildford (née Vaux), who was a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and married to King Henry VII's comptroller.   This book holds rich examples of late 14th and early 15th century court practices and also some of the few surviving illustrations of noble figures of that age, including what is believed to be the future King Henry VIII as a child of 11, weeping on his mother's deathbed.   A good review of the importance of this manuscript with a close-up of the figure of Henry VIII is given here.

So were these books actually carried by medieval relatives of Vances living today?  I don't think anyone knows for sure - I don't know of any Vances who have reliably traced their ancestry far enough to show these exact Vaux connections on their family tree.  But with 500-700 year old manuscripts, it's very likely many people living today are related to these Vaux somehow, whether or not we inherited our last name from them!  And if you have reason to think that your own Vance ancestry includes the Vaux (or de Vaux) of England from the 14th and 16th centuries, then you might possibly be looking here at pages from books that your own ancestors once held in their hands and used every day.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Vance Family Association Corporate Tartan

Posted by Ron Vance

During my tenure as VFA president, I have received a few requests for help in purchasing an article of clothing made using the Vance tartan.  Individuals have either seen the tartan while surfing the Scottish websites that manufacture and sell these articles or by scanning the 'Gallery' tab on the Vance Family Association website. Yes, it is possible to make such a purchase and the VFA may be able to help.

VFA Member James Brady Melton showing off the Vance tartan
at the 2012 Highland Games!

The History

In 1994, an idea was put forth by Mark W. Vance, a VFA member and the tartan designer, to develop our own Vance Family Association tartan.  The idea was approved, the tartan was designed by Mark, and the registration purchased by the VFA.   

Please be aware that the approval of a VFA tartan was not unanimous.  Some researchers linked their family history to Vance's that did not go through Scotland on their way to the USA and saw no need for a tartan.  Also, as you will read, we have yet to prove that the ancestral Vance clan of Scotland had a tartan.

In 1995, VFA members made a coordinated order of the Vance Corporate Tartan material from a mill we believe to be:

  D.C. Dalgliesh Ltd.
  Tartan specialists
  Dunsdale Mill
  Selkirk, TD7 5EB

We have no knowledge of any later VFA group orders being made to this or any other mill.

As previously mentioned, the best we can determine, the ancestral Vance clan in Scotland did not have a specific tartan. This tartan was made specifically for the VFA and is not a product of our genealogy research into the history of  the Vance family.  Given all the spellings of our surname (Vance, Vass, Vans, Vanse, Vause, Vaus, Vaux, de Vallibus, Wass, Waus, Wentz, there's more) researching tartans and their history can get complicated.

According to our researchers, Vances, possibly listed as Vass, Vaus, Wass, and Vaus, may have fought with the Ross and Munro clans and presumably wore their tartans.  However from one of researchers:
" In my clan maps etc., the Vass family is always listed as a sept of the Ross and Munro families.  The strange thing about this is the Ross and Munro lands are adjacent to one another in the far north of Scotland along the west of the Moray Firth and across the firth from Colloden while the Vance lands were in the far southwest along Solway Firth.  That is a long way to communicate for battle."
[Then again, the Scots fought the English all over Scotland so it is hard to tell.] 

Some references that may be of interest:

  •  The Clan Almanac by Charles MacLean (Eric Dobby Publishing)
  • Clan Ross compiled by Alan McNie (Cascade Publishing Co, Jedburgh, Scotland)

Purchasing a Tartan

We contacted the Scottish Register of Tartans, http://www.tartans.scotland.net/, who confirmed our tartan and stated that a purchaser would need to obtain an authorization letter from the VFA to sent to the supplier with the order.  Since this tartan is a VFA registered tartan, the VFA requires the purchaser to be a member.  Authorization from the VFA can be obtained by writing, or emailing, the VFA President and requesting this letter.

The Scottish tartan business has gained participants since 1994 and our tartan may not be shown on all supplier websites. Examples of three suppliers who currently display our tartan are:
  • http://www.scotweb.co.uk/
  • http://www.tartans.scotland.net/
  • http://houseoftartan.co.uk/

If you decide to purchase a garment, please let us know which supplier you choose and this specific supplier will be designated in the authorization letter.

Any more information you can find on an ancestral Vance tartan would be appreciated.  Please reply to this blog with your input.

Closeup of VFA Tartan pattern from VFA website