Sir Nicholas Golding, b.circa 1370 … born in Estonia. Really? An unsolved mystery.

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Map Glemsford Hodskinsons 1783 Public Domain
Glemsford – Map 1783 by Hodskinson, Public Domain

A number of modern Golding genealogies include (Sir) Nicholas Golding in the line of the Glemsford Goldings. His father was supposedly John Golding b.1350 at Glemsford, Suffolk, England. There is plenty of evidence for a John Golding being at Glemsford (the 1327 Gleanings Report; 1350’s John, son of Simon Golding c.1330, son of John, c.1280) but no mention of a Nicolas … and there is no known declaration of his family members.

Glemsford was not then, and is not now, so large that anyone named Golding would not probably be related.

??? Any male Golding of this line up for a YDNA test? I will pay for a 12 marker test. There are two North American Goldings that claim descendancy from Percival Golding, son of Arthur Golding. Their YDNA is unique and of two separate male lines that do not belong to the same haplogroup.

There is no known English Golding of the Glemsford line that has taken a YDNA test. For more info, contact me: Bill Golden, Norfolk1956@gmail.com

I can find no historical record of Nicholas Golding. Nicholas’ existence is referenced in unsourced entries within some modern genealogies — with the additional claim that the English-fathered Nicholas Golding was born in Estonia.

? Why would the son of an Englishman be born in Estonia … which was not exactly the resort district of its day.

The Germans (Teutons) controlled this region … and their capital was Golding. Inheritable surnames did not exist at this time. Tradition and practice for naming was ‘to be from …’

Baltic Jewish families that immigrated to England in the mid-1800s often would choose the name Golding as they came from the Latvia-Estonia area that was formerly Golding.

What business would an Englishman have in Estonia in the mid-1300s?

A CONJECTURE

There is a very interesting hypothetical explanation: WHAT IF Nicholas’ father John Golding was a knight of The Hospitallers of St Thomas of Canterbury at Acre, usually called the Knights of St Thomas.

What if?

Knights of St Thomas was a Christian military order of the Catholic Church. Membership was restricted to Englishmen.

Their order was established during the Third Crusade in 1191 for the defense of Acre in the Holy Land.

In 1236 the Knights of Saint Thomas adopted the rules of the Teutonic Order (essentially merging but maintaining a separate identity). Some Knights of St Thomas are believed to have fought alongside Teutonic Knights in 1241 at the Battle of Legnica against the Mongols. Legnica is not so far from Estonia, in what was once Prussian Silesia and now modern Poland.

Almost 120 years after 1236  the Teutonic Knights were again on a crusade: to convert the pagan Baltic region to Christianity. That included Estonia. In 1346, what is now Christian Denmark — which had continuing strong ties to England — sold its territory in the north of Estonia to the Teutonic Knights. This causes the whole Baltic region to become loosely ruled by the Teutonic Knights. Did the Knights of St Thomas, allied with the Teutonic Knights, play any role in Christianizing the Baltic?

About the time of Nicholas Golding‘s birth (c.1370), the military arm of the Knights of Saint Thomas dissolves. During the 1370s the order moved its headquarters to its London house at the site of what is now Mercers Hall – a house which was the birthplace of Thomas Becket. The Knights of St Thomas survived as a hospital order until it was dissolved along with other orders in 1540 under King Henry the VIII.

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Again, I find no evidence of Nicholas Golding‘s existence outside of references within genealogies that he is the father of Sir (Robert) William Golding.

A secondary mystery is that I have yet to discover by what means Goldings became knights. It would seem that most Goldings are of Anglo-Saxon descent.  The ‘-ing’ within the family name is of Danish origin. Soon after the Norman conquest the Goldings enter the history books under the Golding name in 1202 — William Golding was a witness in the “Assize Court Rolls of Lincolnshire”, during the reign of King John, 1199–1216.

The relationships of various Goldings is all a bit hazy until about 1390 with the birth of Sir (Robert) William, fathered by the supposedly Estonian-born Englishman Sir Nicholas Golding.

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