(Frequently Asked Questions)

Families on the Continent

Yes, there are records of Parmelees on the Continent who pre-date those in England, but their relationships with our known family have not been established with any certainty. They may very well be our ancestors but, so far, no primary evidence has surfaced to support this.

Family histories of the 1800s and early 1900s often contain a few paragraphs about Parmelees of various spellings who lived centuries earlier on the Continent. But none of them can cite church, land and other legal records -- that is, primary sources with volume numbers and page numbers -- to support this. Footnotes often refer to other written family histories, genealogies without primary sources themselves. Although well-intentioned, these histories were often romanticized so that descendants could enjoy the idea that their blood also flowed in the veins of a Medieval count or nobleman. The warm fuzzies are nice, but we're after the facts here.

Once you dig back to the early 1600s and before, it becomes extremely difficult to find evidence to prove one's ancestry. Records are hard to come by. When you do find them, they are often in terrible condition. The style of handwriting looks like something from another planet. (For a taste of penmanship of the period, see the 1630 parish entry for John Parmelee Sr.'s marriage to Hannah Wilbur.) And often documents are in Latin!

Although I'm compiling early European Parmelee data (Maurice and Johannes of Holland; Geradus of Switzerland; Phillipe, Jehan and Claude of France; and others), I wouldn't say that thus far that we can prove any ancestry beyond John Sr.'s father, John of Lewes. We can't say for certain where he came from nor who any of his other relatives were--at least not for now.

If you ever run across any primary evidence of the family on the Continent, I'd love to hear from you. ... In the meantime, we keep hunting!