Our So-Called Illustrious Past

I went to London not to see the queen, but to find the Dutch baronet from whom we were all descended. I went as my father and forefathers and foremothers had done, to turn the crackling pages of a parish register and put my finger on our name. I went with an image of Gualter de Raedt, a young Dutchman in 1660, boarding a ship to accompany Charles the Second back to England, where monarchy would be restored. The fleet of thirteen ships sailed from Schevinengen on a flat gray sea as fifty thousand people stood on the beach to watch. Our man, our first identifiable forefather, our target of international inquiry, entered London with Charles on a Tuesday in May, the streets lined with observers, the horses plumed with French feathers, and was created (and here our family springs into being) Baronet the very next day.