More Spanish Connection:

My Family Story
By Gerard Vallely

This is what I was told by my grandfather and a Senor Juan Valleljies whom I met whilst I was staying in a hotel in the UK:

The Spanish Armada was sent by the King of Spain in 1588 at the behest of the pope in Rome. It's purpose was to convert England back to the authority of the pope - which as most people know it actually failed to do. Anyway there was the father - Jaimie and his three sons Juan, Carlos and Raul who were traders based in Valencia. Their barques were requisitioned for the armada. 

They sailed for England, heavily laden with supplies and later with the troops that embarked. Then the English Sir Francis Drake came into the picture again - he sent small old ships amongst the armada creating panic, and this also added to great disillusionment amongst the sailors and troops. Unable to turn about they had to continue the voyage up into the English Channel, through the Straits of Dover and into the North Sea. Battles occurred single ship on single ship, and the slower heavier ships of the armada took a terrible beating. Their only escape route lay north up the North Sea, around the top of Scotland, past the Western Isles and down past Ireland.

The father eventually returned home to Valencia a broken man he had lost his three sons and their barques. However the story didn't end there but at least one and possibly all three reached a safe shore. 

I had to visit the Western Isles in 1998 with my work and I stayed in a guest house. The lady of the house told me I was "Sponish" just like the other "Sponish" and was a little surprised that I was British - English. She told me a story about shipwrecked sailors who came from Spain. The local community sheltered them, they worked hard, helped with the harvests and the fishing and gradually merged into the local community. Their descendants evidently have a look about them that is neither celt or latin but a combination of both. It is said that a ship or ships from the armada lie in the bay off Oban on the west coast of Scotland.

In 1984 I visited Ireland and when I mentioned my surname and that there might be a connection to Ireland I was told in no uncertain terms that I was talking rubbish - by Irish people. There are in if I recall Sligo the anchor and other artifacts from ships of the armada but no-one is able to recount their story. 

My grandfather had several objects that were rare and he said had come off the ship from the armada and that one day I would inherit them. My aunt who looked after my grandfather sold them after he died and then tried to say they had never existed! Except that other members of the family also told her she was talking rubbish. She married a man after granddad died whose parents were Irish. Was there some connection was it a case of get rid of the evidence. I don't know and as she herself is dead I have no way of finding out. None of my father's immediate family are alive now.

I was given by another aunt for my 21st a coat of arms - a broken sword, three silver stars a blue background and the motto - San Dieu Rien - French for "Without God Nothing" or "Nothing Without God" but the same coat of arms exists with the same motto in Spanish "Nada sin Dio."

Incidentally whilst I was in Ireland I visited the Central Library in Dublin and came across a book about genealogy which had the name in it and it said the name originated in Breton - France had the Spanish spelling and the description of the coat of arms. I made a note of the books details and somewhere over the years it has become lost - I would love to be able to give the reference to you. I keep trying to locate the book when I remember to explore a library.

I personally can speak fluent Spanish and needed what most would deem normal coaching to learn just as you learnt English from your family, friends and at school. Where did that come from - within me and it is also as natural to me as geology is - I am a volcanologist. My mother spoke fluent French as did her father.

Any more I can recall or find out I will let you know.

Hasta luego


Related Links