Saint Canna Born c. AD 510
The photo: St. Canna Born c. AD 510 (Welsh: Cenaf; English: Candice) an obscure Welsh saint, “Canna was a Breton princess, traditionally a daughter of Tewdwr Mawr ap Emyr Llydaw. This man, however, appears to have actually been the grandson, rather than the son, of Emyr Llydaw (Budic II) and was probably the lady's brother. She married her cousin, Prince Sadwrn, a man somewhat her elder, and, together, they became the parents of St. Crallo. … Depictions of her in art holding a staff which miraculously flowers may suggest a lost legend, similar to that of St. Ciaran's mother, whereby, upon feeling the pangs of childbirth, she grasped at a dry rowan stick which immediately burst into leaf. Which child this would refer to is unknown.” St. Canna is the patron saint of the religious order associated with my ancestors Barony. The complete article from David Nash Ford’s Early British Kingdoms can be read: HERE.
In search of my paternal ancestors: I’ve had the lawyers handling my trust open the archive (housed in a Charleston, WVa bank) of my natural father who we are trying to prove was my mother’s legal husband. His estate passed in its entirety to me on his death when I was in my 20s. Now there seems to be a possibility that through him I could succeed to the heredity title which can be passed down through the female line to an ancient but obscure Welsh Barony if we can prove that he actually married my mother. In my biological father’s archive is a copy of a marriage license issued in Wales in 1970, but the College of Arms wanted to see the records in the church where the wedding supposedly took place. We already know my DNA matches the DNA from his great, great, great grandmother who was the 22nd Baroness “Blackthorn” [a nom de plume so as not to complicate my life further] who lived in seclusion in the mountains of southern Wales. I’m told the Barony is extremely valuable for its minerals and timber.
Hereditary peerage: “The mode of inheritance of a hereditary peerage is determined by the method of its creation. Titles may be created by writ of summons or by letters patent. The former is merely a summons of an individual to Parliament—it does not explicitly confer a peerage—and descent is always to heirs of the body, male and female. The latter method explicitly creates a peerage and names the dignity in question. Letters patent may state the course of descent; normally, only male heirs are allowed to succeed to the peerage. A child is deemed to be legitimate if its parents are married at the time of its birth or marry later; only legitimate children may succeed to a title, and furthermore, an English, Irish, or British (but not Scottish) peerage can only be inherited by a child born legitimate, not legitimated by a later marriage.
Normally, a peerage passes to the next holder on the death of the previous holder. However, Edward IV introduced a procedure known as a writ of acceleration, whereby it is possible for the eldest son of a peer with multiple titles to sit in the House of Lords by virtue of one of his father's subsidiary dignities.
A person who is a possible heir to a peerage is said to be "in remainder". A title becomes extinct (an opposite to extant, alive) when all possible heirs (as provided by the letters patent) have died out, i.e., there is nobody in remainder at the death of the holder. A title becomes dormant if nobody has claimed the title, or if no claim has been satisfactorily proven. A title goes into abeyance if there is more than one person equally entitled to be the holder.” For more see the article HERE.
Helicopter to Llanidloes: And so it was that His Grace and Jack flew with me (in the Duke’s helicopter) to Llanidloes, Wales in the Cambrian Mountains, which is the closest town of any size to Blackthorn castle and it still required a ninety minute drive off the A470 up narrow mountain roads to reach the place. A representative of the law firm representing the Barony met us at the castle and we found there was ample room to have flown directly in from Inverness if we had enough fuel. We also learned the Barony has a private rail car housed at the station in Caersws in which the Baroness traveled back and forth to London and elsewhere in the UK.
A representative of the College of Arms had come up from London to interview me and went with us to Blackthorn I suppose to make sure we didn’t tamper with records in the muniment rooms of the castle and chapel. At His Grace’s suggestion the solicitors for the Barony had already searched for marriages conducted in the chapel in 1970 and there was only one performed which was by a local priest. The Representative of the COA examined the registry and seals and determined that the prescribed amounts had been paid, signatures scrawled and seals attached so that indeed my mother and the man who I grew up thinking was my uncle was in fact my father. And doing the math she was probably two months pregnant with me at the time.
Saint Canna: In the information about her there is nothing to suggest St. Candice (as I tend to think of her) was in any way a disciplinarian. However, she is patron saint of a religious community of women living in a surprisingly large medieval Priory the early parts of which date to the 11th centaury. The Priory is on Blackthorn Barony land within a few miles of the Baroness’s relatively small but superbly constructed 13th C. castle that had never been captured by force of arms. And since the Barony is prosperous the castle and Priory have been kept well maintained with its small village of artisans and servants who work primarily at the castle living nearby.
Blackthorn Priory: The name Blackthorn comes from the blackthorn trees common in the area. Blackthorn wood has long been associated with witchcraft, and it is said that witches' wands and staffs were made using blackthorn wood. The Priory is part of the Barony of Blackthorn and the office of Prioress of the Order is in the gift of the Baroness Blackthorn. Maintenance of the priory and the Order are paid for from a small percentage of the profit from the minerals mined on the Baronial estates. The Order of St Canna stresses discipline, obedience and service. Blackthorn priory’s primary function seems to be to raise female foundlings selectively chosen from the slums of major cities in the UK. Their schools taught by Sisters who have attended the best universities, prepare the girls for university educations and socialize the young girls through exchange programs with other elite public (read private) schools in the UK.
Blackthorn Priory girls are a well kept secret even though they have been outperforming male colleagues since the 22nd Baroness began placing them strategically in the late 1950s. They are beautiful, intelligent, talented, assertive and worldly. Over the years they have been quietly placed in areas of responsibility in industry, the arts, science and education as well as security a field not normally thought of as having women subject matter experts, but an area in which they excel.
His Grace thinks the COA will approve the paperwork to grant permission for me to succeed to the title and style of Baroness Blackthorn rather quickly as there now seem to be no impediments to moving forward. However, the representative from the COA was less entheuastic saying that for any change to appear in the Court Circular will take quite a while. The lawyers for the Barony are pushing for speedy approval as there are estate questions that need to be resolved by whoever the new owner turns out to be and I’m the only legitimate candidate.