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Family discoveries lead to new adventures

Serina Marshall • Oct 12, 2019 at 4:30 PM

Charlotte Dade has always had a passion for genealogy and learning more about the history of her family lineage. On the wall in their home hangs a full lineage chart beginning in 1100 and extending to the 1930s. So, when she found out there was a possibility of family being buried in an historic church in Tannington, Suffolk, England, she knew she needed to go see for herself.

On April 3, Doug and Charlotte Dade and their daughter and son-in-law, Emily and Steve Kohl, visited St. Ethelbert’s Church in Tannington.

The Dade family made it to the church traveling by way of Ireland to Scotland to England. When they arrived at beautiful St. Ethelbert’s in Suffolk, they were immediately overwhelmed with how amazing and fascinating it was. The family parked on the road by the church and started up the path toward the doors.

“We thought that the gate would be locked, but it opened up for us,” said Charlotte, “and the doors to the church were open as well, so we were able to go right in.”

To the left and the right of the path were graves surrounded by lush and vivid green countryside. Once they stepped foot inside the stone walls of the 13th century church, they were in awe of what they found. Doug’s eighth- and ninth-great grandparents are buried in the floor of the chancel of the church. And right above their marble grave markers hangs The Dade Coat of Arms. Atop the graves were rugs that had to be moved out of the way to see the full spectrum of the writing that was etched on them.

“We are not sure why they are buried there,” Charlotte explained. “Maybe they were influential to the church or donors. We aren’t sure.”

The Dades were large landowners, but their heritage has royal associations flowing through it. During the 1640s when English families were made to choose between supporting the King or swearing loyalty to the Parliament, including Oliver Cromwell, the Dade family became targets for Cromwell’s forces due to their ties with the monarchy, and especially because of their hold on large tracts of land in Suffolk and Norfolk. Therefore, many decided to leave or assume another name to deter the Cromwellians. It is speculated that Francis Dade fled England under suspicion he was involved in a plot against Cromwell. Francis ended up in the Virginia Colony around 1648 and assumed the name John Smith. He married Mary Beheathland, whose father was one of the original colonists who settled in Jamestown in 1607. Francis, aka Captain John Smith, became a landowner and served as a speaker of the House of Burgesses in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1658.

The rich history of the Dade family runs deep and is filled with spectacular stories and pride. The two sets of grandparents that are buried within the chancel of the church are: Thomas Dade (1556-1619) and his wife, Anne Cornwallis (died 1612); and William Dade (1579-1659) and his wife, Mary Wingfield (died 1624).

With their love of travel and genealogy, Doug and Charlotte Dade may once again find themselves chasing history on an incredible adventure back in time and back to their roots.

Their recent trip to St. Ethelbert’s Church was very special and wonderful for the Dade family. By learning more about where their family originated and grew, they are able to ensure their future is one filled with exciting tales, knowledge and time spent with family past and present.