Studying family history nearly always turns up some interesting nuggets of information.
For example, The Saxon House of Eldred brought me up short with this passage:
John’s extensive business transactions involved him in a number of court cases, the most serious of which seems to have been with his son-in-law, Sir William Tryon. John and his son, Revett, loaned Samuel £5,000 in 1622 [approx. $1,250,000 in 2017] which they themselves had been forced to borrow as, at the time, they didn’t have cash on hand.
Now, John had his hand in a variety of English business ventures; perhaps his adventures in Aleppo even inspired Shakespeare. However, this sentence held a much more personal meeting.
My wife works as a blacksmith/historical interpreter at Tryon Palace, seat of government of colonial North Carolina and built with taxpayer money by the well-connected but not very well-off Governor William Tryon. Could it be that (a) my great-something grandfather loaned this family money, (b) my great-something aunt actually married into this family, and (c) I am somehow related to this piece of history?
To the genealogies!
Now, I’m an Eldred, not a Tryon, so I didn’t have vast resources of Tryon family pedigrees. What I have of the Eldreds I have thanks to my sister and others like her who’ve already sorted through over a thousand years of family history. So, I started with the near-certain assumption that I am related to this John Eldred.
There were only three branches of Eldreds in England in 1622
John Eldred’s coat of arms is the same as that claimed by our branch of Eldreds
John Eldred’s descendants settled in Pennsylvania
My ancestors were in Pennsylvania almost before Pennsylvania was a place
Now, this Sir Samuel Tryon was a baronet, so I started by searching for a relationship between the Tryon baronets and Governor William Tryon. Eventually I found a family tree connecting the two: Elizabeth Eldred married Sir Samuel Tryon, and through that union eventually became Governor William Tryon’s great-aunt, or perhaps his great-great aunt. Fairly certain it’s great-aunt given the known years/events. So, this means that, if I’ve read my family tree correctly, I’m a third cousin however many times removed from Governor William Tryon, colonial governor of North Carolina and builder of Tryon Palace where my wife – now a distant third cousin by marriage – works.
The plot thickens, for the terms of the original loan stipulated 10% interest over an eighty year term, but the loan was never repaid – at least, as far as any records indicate. So, a loan of £5,000 in 1622, at 10% interest for roughly 400 years and adjusted for inflation converted to US dollars yields an amount due of . . . $51,250,000 (give or take).
Good luck collecting that, though.