Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Spear Side vs Distaff Side

Just a little genealogical terminology, since I am wont to use old-fashioned language. (Such as "wont" which means "in the habit of" or "tend" to.)

You may have heard of the "Distaff Side" of a family.  It's usually a term used by people who are snobbily showing off their blue blood and family crests.

It refers to the female line of the family: Mom's side of the family.

Some people may know that. Fewer people know how to refer to the manly side of the family.  That's the "Spear Side" or the "Spear Line."

This is because in the very old days, ladies supposedly sat around spinning wool. (And a distaff is the spindle you keep the wool on while you spin.)  Dudes, in the meantime, went around stabbing people with spears.

Occasionally a lady would stab somebody with a spindle, which are freaking sharp (as anyone who has read any version of Sleeping Beauty knows).  But it wouldn't happen often because the blood messes up the wool, and besides it was one of those things that could get you accused of being a witch.

So I am starting this blog by examining the Spear line of my family -- my father's side -- because I know more about it, and have more tools at my fingertips.

But I'm starting the story his family on the Distaff Side, because his mother's mother was someone who just might stab you with a spindle.

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