Gens Aurelia

“The gens Aurelia was a plebeian family at Rome. They claimed descent from Agamemnon. The family was originally Sabine, having come to Rome from Sabinum only in the third century BCE. They anchored their Sabinity on their hereditary control of the of the cult of Sol, and their grandiose genealogy from the proto-Sabine Orestes.” (Gary D. Farney, Ethnic identity and aristocratic competition in Republican Rome (Oxford Univ. Pr. (2007)).

“Aurelius. Widespread plebeian gentilicium (ThlL 2,1482-87), which in ancient etymology is derived from Sabine and was derived via the older form Auselius from sol (sun) (Fest. p. 22; from this the modern derivation from the Sabine *ausel over Etruscan usil ‘Sun god’, cf. [1. 36; 2. 468]). The family attained noble status in the 1st Punic War with Aur. [3] and provides numerous consuls in the 2nd cent. BC from the branches of the Cottae, Orestae and Scauri.” (BrillOnline, “Aurelius“).

The name appears to derive from aureus (golden). The cognomina used by members of the gens include Orestes. Lucius Aurelius Orestes was Consul in 157 BCE. The Orestes from whom they took this cognomen was the Greek hero Orestes, son of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and member of the famous Greek family Atreides.

There was a sharp difference of opinion among ancient historians about the origin of the Sabines. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, many Roman historians (including Porcius Cato and Gaius Sempronius) regarded the origins of indigenous Romans to be Greek, despite the fact that their knowledge was derived from Greek legendary accounts. Porcius Cato argued the Sabines were descendants of Spartan colonists led by Sabus, from whom they took their name. His father Sancus was worshiped as a god under the name Jupiter Fidius [Hercules].

“But the most learned of the Roman historians, among whom is Porcius Cato, who compiled with the greatest care the “origins” of the Italian cities, Gaius Sempronius and a great many others say that they [Aborigines] were Greeks, part of those who once dwelt in Achaia, and that they migrated many generations before the Trojan war. But they do not name the Greek tribe or city they belonged to, or the date or the leader of the colony, or what made them leave their mother country. Though they follow a Greek legend, they cite no Greek historian as their authority. It is uncertain, therefore, what the truth of the matter is.” (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities, Book 1.11)

“But Porcius Cato says that the Sabine race received its name from Sabus, the son of Sancus, a divinity of that country, and that this Sancus was by some called Jupiter Fidius.” (Roman Antiquities, Book 2.49)

“There is also another account given of the Sabines in the native histories, to the effect that a colony of Lacedaemonians settled among them at the time when Lycurgus, being guardian to his nephew Eunomus, gave his laws to Sparta. For the story goes that some of the Spartans, disliking the severity of his laws and separating from the rest, quitted the city entirely, and after being borne through a vast stretch of sea, made a vow to the gods to settle in the first land they should reach; for a longing came upon them for any land whatsoever. At last they made that part of Italy which lies near the Pomentine plains and they called the place where they first landed Foronia, in memory of their being borne through the sea, and built a temple to the goddess Foronia, to whom they had addressed their vows; this goddess, by the alteration of one letter, they now call Feronia. And some of them, setting out from thence, settled among the Sabines. It is for this reason, they say, that many of the habits of the Sabines are Spartan, particularly their fondness for war and their frugality and a severity in all the actions of their lives. But this is enough about the Sabine race.” (Roman Antiquities, Book 2.49)

Shared to, Dec. 2, 2010.

Gens Iulia

Gens Iulia, the family of Julius Caesar, was a patrician family at Rome. They claimed descent from the semi-divine Iulus, but the legends vary. Iulus was identical with Ascanius, King of Alba Longa (Vergil), or he was a half-brother of Ascanius and son of Aeneas by his Trojan wife, Creüsa (Livy), or he was son of Ascanius (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.70), or Ascanius was childless (Cato). It is not known which version was accepted by the Iulii themselves.

The Iulii were undoubtedly of Alban origin. They were mentioned as one of the leading Alban families removed to Rome and enrolled among the patres there by Tullus Hostilius after the destruction of Alba Longa. (Dionys. 3.29; Tac. Ann. 11.24; in Liv. 1.30 the reading should probably be Tuttios, not Julios.)

Nevertheless, the Iulii were mentioned in Roman legend even before the destruction of Alba Longa. Proculus Iulius is said to have announced the passing of Romulus to the Roman people. He had a vision of Romulus, who bid the Roman people to worship him thereafter as the god Quirinus.

Shared to Dec 2, 2010.


The name Stoughton is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “stoctun” which means a large fenced dwelling. This family adopted the name because they owned the manor of Stoughton in Surrey. The original form of the name was “de Stoctun, ” and it was also spelled Stochton, Staughton, Stogton, Stawton, Stocketon, Stocktun and Stotun, before being standardized at the present spelling about the reign of Henry VIII.

According to a pedigree of the Stoughton family prepared by Sir Nicholas Stoughton, Bt. in the 17th century, the family is descended from Godwin of Stoctun who lived at Stoughton, Surrey in the reign of William the Conqueror and who was listed in the Domesday Book (1085) as the owner of the manor of Stoke. This type of claim was common at the time the pedigree was prepared, but is highly unlikely since Stoke was owned by King Henry II, who afforested it, along with the neighboring manors of Guildford and Woking, and by his son King John, who divided it, granting Stoke to the Bishop of London and Stoughton to the Stoughton family. At the time of the Domesday Survey Stoughton was a part of the Manor of Stoke and consisted of 2,266 acres in Stoke Parish, with two mills and an income of 25 shillings per year. It consists now of that part of Stoke Parish north of the River Wey between the manors of Guildford and Woking.

The Stoughton coat of arms is given in Crozier’s General Armory as Azure, a cross engrailed ermine and for crest a robin redbreast proper, and motto Hoc signum non onus sed honor (This banner no burden, but an honor) with the note that this was the coat of arms of Thomas and Israel Stoughton, Dorchester, 1630, descended from Godwin of Stocton, Surrey, 1135 (1). The same shield is shown in the monumental brasses of the Stoughton family in the chapel at Stoke-by-Guildford.

Shared to, Dec. 9, 2010.