Heysham Arms

The Hissem-Montague Family

Montague Arms

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This genealogy is dedicated to my father, Darrell Hissem, but is for my sons, Jeffrey and Timothy. It is to remind them that while it is their efforts and accomplishments in the future that are most important, there are generations of forebears that stand behind them. These are men and women who suffered and survived, making the lives of Jeff and Tim possible.

I did not start out with the intention of writing a genealogy. This all began when I first started using the Internet. I idly typed in my own surname on a search and was surprised at how many results popped up. I had always assumed that as the heir to a long line of unassuming, perhaps semi-literate farmers, little information would be available. This has turned out to be stunningly wrong. After some months I realized I should write this information down and, as I did so, the outlines of a huge puzzle came into focus. In fact, the greatest delight in preparing this document has been in making sense of the past. My ancestors and their history had been a mystery to me whose solving was akin to a picture puzzle, but one whose design is not known until it is finished. And like a puzzle, I put together the few pieces that I knew fit and then sorted the rest into piles. I revisited these continually, attempting to put one piece with another. Often I had to throw some items out into the middle of the great blanks in the puzzle, hoping to see an overall pattern emerge. And, often, it did. It is one of my great joys to see how many of my early guesses panned out. However, when I got to the point where I found that King Henry I of England might be a relative, I was reminded of the theory of six degrees of separation. At some remove everyone is related to everyone else, to some degree. After all, we are all Adam's sons.

Here is some quick math to highlight the comments above. Each generation doubles the number of forebears, so Jeff and Tim have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on. My boys are the 28th generation presented in this genealogy, so the number of forebears they have in the first generation in, approximately, the year 1050 AD is 134,217,728. Since this exceeds the total population of Europe at that time we can assume a lot of overlap, but clearly we are related, to some degree, to most everyone in our countries of origin.

In this genealogy I am generally disinclined to accept the exceptional. Our family has, at least in the recent past, been typified by successful, well-respected, but decidedly small-time farmers or merchants whose impact on human history has been slight. Because of this I find it hard to rationalize noble connections or the existence of rich, exceptionally bright, or historically significant characters in the family history. It sounds too much like an episode in a British TV comedy I once saw. The mother has related, ala Shirley MacLaine, that she has lived many previous lives. The daughter retorts that, "Isn't it odd that in those past lives you've always been something like the Elizabeth Taylor of the Ming Dynasty, and now you're just a fat old cow." If our family was once populated with famous men, what happened that caused us to be relegated to the backwater of Milton, Iowa until just a few years ago? I'd rather believe that we've always been a part of a hard-working, proto-middle class or are advancing up from some lesser beginnings.

That being said, as I followed the history of our family I was led, despite my struggles, to a martyr, a saint, a patriot and a hero; some lords & ladies, and a knight on horseback; a railroad tycoon and a steamboat captain; ocean mariners who sailed the tall ships and to the men who owned them; two Major Generals in two countries armies; a state senator and three members of Parliament; two medical researchers of note; a President's son-in-law; to a manager of the U.S. Mint, a Yukon gold miner, and a Civil War gold-bricker.

While I wrote this document in a strict chronological order, it might better have been written backwards. This would better reflect the way the story unfolded to me and might be a more convincing document for skeptics. A step at a time into the past can be "proven" in small doses. In its present format much has to be taken on faith until most of the story has been told. I did try to write such a document, but this created its own difficulties and ended up being hopelessly clumsy. Your alternative is to read this back to front.

Proof of the court room variety is not always available and at certain points in this narrative it is advisable to take things on faith, or at least to suspend your disbelief. There are two major leaps of faith required to support this thousand year history. The first is the connection between the Gernet family and the Heysham. The second is that between the Heysham and Heesom families in England. I think what I have written makes sense, and may very well be true, but more evidence, especially Y-DNA testing, is still required.

All the information contained here was obtained from the Internet, including, for example, the LDS database,, and email from other friendly researchers. I am deeply indebted to these private individuals for their help and assistance.

Background Information

Within tables I've included historical information for background, as appropriate, and examples of everyday life that hopefully illuminates the lives of the people described here. I have perhaps gone overboard on this level of detail, but I find this sort of thing fascinating and I hope you do too. I have also included short histories of other people and families associated with our forebears to provide a feel for the company they kept.

Entries for individuals are displayed in the following format.

(10) Joe Blow/Bloe (1786)
(8) John Blow (9) Jerry Blow

(11) John Blow (1810)

(10) - Generation, counted down from our supposed prime ancestor, Ralph de Gernet, who is shown as generation one (1). For other related families, such as the de Lacey's, generation one is that equivalent to the generations of our own family. (-1) would indicate the generation before generation one, which is also the last generation before the Norman conquest.

Joe Blow/Bloe - Name as most commonly known, with variations. If there are many variations I mention those in the comments section.

(1786) - Year of Birth. An estimated date is marked with a "c," for circa.

(8) John Blow (9) Jerry Blow – Dynamic links to previous generations in a direct line.

Comments - A comments section follows with all the data I've been able to gather, with references, as appropriate.

(11) John Blow (1810) - Succeeding generation listed directly under its father. Where there are multiple heirs I list them as dynamic links.

Steve Hissem
San Diego, California