How my ancestor introduced nutmeg to the west.


My niece has been doing some genealogical research on our family originally know as “Eldred” from England. One of the first Saxon families, several Saxon Kings were Eldreds and according to the historian, Thiery, one was the Archbishop of York and Canterbury in 1066 who cursed William the Conqueror. In 1583 one John Eldred was sent by other merchants on a pioneering trip to the middle east to trade for spices on a ship called The Tiger. After docking in Lebanon, they went overland all the way to Basra and returned with many camel caravans and loaded the Tiger to the gunwalls with cinnamon and nutmeg. The Tigers return to England created a sensation because the English had never seen nutmeg before. This voyage and others made John Eldred very wealthy and he built a large estate that he named “Nutmeg Hall”. The pioneering voyage was even mentioned in Shakespeares Act 1, Scene 3 of Macbeth by the three witches, “Her husbands to Aleppo gone, master o’ the Tiger” 

To see the complete story including the arrival of the first Eldred in the new world in 1640, read this link.

20 Responses to “How my ancestor introduced nutmeg to the west.”

  1. corndoggie Says:

    Another version of the origin is as a corruption of Elbridge (as in Elbridge Gerry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence). An El is middle English is a plank. The Elbridges guarded a plank bridge in Kent.

  2. jude3obscured Says:

    My ancestors introduced ipecac.

  3. corndoggie Says:

    I like T’s ancestors’ motto: Defend Rectum.

  4. When I lived in Saudi Arabia, nutmeg was on the list of banned items one could not bring into the country. I guess it can get you high if you eat enough of it?

  5. I guess the nutmeg works, ’cause every Christmas the egg nog gets me high.

  6. btw.. My ancestors invented the ball.

  7. rotobra Says:

    Despite your collective sarcasm, I am very interested in my family history. I care that my ancestors arrived in the new world in 1641. It is strangely important to me that my mother’s French Canadian (Cajun) family were forcibly deported by the British from Canada and that the Belote brothers swam ashore in Virginia after the settlers in Norfolk denied their landing. It matters to me that my ancestors fought on both sides of the civil war and that two direct relatives (brothers) were imprisoned in Richmond’s Libby Prison that was reserved for officers. They were also at Andersonville and survived by carving trinkets from peach pits until they were force marched all the way to Richmond. It matters to me that my fraternal grandmother’s family had the first permanent home in Davenport Iowa and that this family operated a mule driven ferry across the Missisippi River. I care that my great grandfather and my own father are buried near each other in Arlington National Cemetary.
    Maybe I’m just old fashioned, a relic of a bygone era but reverance of my family’s history still counts a lot for me. Ask any teenager today if they know their family history. Their answer will remind you that they who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

  8. corndoggie Says:

    What’s a fraternal grandmother???

    Who’s the great grandfather in Arlington?

    My ancestors came over on the Mayflower and introduced sexual repression to North America.

  9. J Moser Says:

    My ancestors brought collective sarcasm here from the old country. But, seriously, I am distantly related to the fourth chief justice of the United States. Ironically, O3 nicknamed me “the marshall,” without even knowing this fact. But I’m named after my great grandfather, John Alexander Reynolds (1845-1932), who operated the “Valley Roller Mills,” in the New River Valley. From a family record…”It was said of him “When JohnAlex dies, the poor man’s best friend will be gone. No poor man ever brought his empty sack to the mill and took it away without supplies.” Not sure whether or not he dealt in nutmeg.

  10. jude3obscured Says:

    Supposedly our family changed their name from the German to the Romanian translation so they could avoid the draft. It’s something to be proud of.

    Also, some relatives thought up dyeing pistachios that weird magenta color that they don’t dye them anymore. Or so the family story goes. Can’t remember if they were the same ones who were supposed to be bootleggers during Prohibition.

    My grandfather David, an electrician, helped build the New York City subway.

    My great-grandfather was the first ranger in the Everglades National Park.

    My mother had two grandmothers: Grandma Netty and Grandma Hetty.

    I got named Judith instead of Sarah because my grandmother (Bella) and her sister (Leah, who had a daughter named Sara) weren’t on speaking terms the week I was born. The next week it might have been different. One day I’m going to make a sculpture dedicated to my grandmother called the [Grandma’s Name] Denial Monument.

    All things I’m proud of, my Roto friend.

  11. rotobra Says:

    To Corndoggie, fraternal Grandmother refers to the mother of my father. The person I refered to was actually my Grandfather’s mother’s family, last name Kilgore.
    The great grandfather was one Col. Yeast US Army who was my fraternal grandmother’s father. Toward the end of her life our Nannie flew the stars and stripes everyday in front of her rural home in Tennessee and when neighbors asked her why she replied. “My father and my son both lay in enternal rest in Arlington National Cemetary and that gives me the right.”
    As far as coming over on the Mayflower, you are only twenty years off, the pilgrims first landed in 1620 and our earliest American family member came to the same port in 1640.
    I know better than to to suggest that you adopt the lifestyle of a puritan but in your case a little “sexual repression” might not be such a bad idea.
    To Jude, so I can blame your family for my red fingers after eating pistachios all those years and the lights flickering off on the NYC subway. It seems that your family has had a proud history of helping fine young men stay out of stupid wars. Like the Quakers who ran the underground railroad to help free the enslaved at great personal hazard, so your Dad helped many who refused to participate in senseless killing to find a way to a better life also at his own great personal risk. I applaud him.
    To Boatdog, If you google a picture of John Marshall you actually resemble him. Also you have an natural sense of being straight forward, honest, upright, responsible and correct in all of your dealings with others in life that may have been passed to you through your genes.
    Love, Roto

  12. corndoggie Says:

    Don’t mean to be paternalistic, but… it’s “paternal”.

  13. rotobra Says:

    Yes. I stand corrected, I hate it when I make a grammatical error and persist in my incorrectivity. Thanks for pointing that out, you always said you were the smart one. Of course I meant paternal. The only fraternal mother I ever had, and I do mean had, was the 38 yr. old red haired bosomy frat mother of my college fraternity Aye Phelta Thi (University of Arizona Class of 1980. Magna Cum Lager) who we called “Busty Rusty” or after a particularly grueling session of “discipline”, “Crusty Rusty” but that story will have to wait.

  14. jude3obscured Says:


  15. Mrs. Elmer Fudd, repressed puritan Says:

    I’m wery,wery, disappointed in you Woto.

  16. Turtle-Uptake-Inhibitor Says:

    O3 will be back here any moment, I can just feel it.

  17. corndoggie Says:

    Oh, Brother! Where art thou, sweet O? Get yer Rx butt back here, pronto!

  18. jude3obscured Says:

    I thought it was a turtle extruding device.

  19. corndoggie Says:

    “It’s turtles all the way down, sir!”

    (science history Jeopardy challenge)

  20. Play-Doh Fun Factory is a turtle extruding device. A turtle EXCLUDING device, or TED, keeps sea turtles out of shrimp nets.
    Not to be patronernal but just sayin’.

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