Matter House as a Branch

by Ted Marr, 25th gen.

Within the entire genealogy tree, we belong to the Sandy Mud Street Branch of the Matter House. In Chinese, the concept of a family “Branch” often is referred to as a “房” Fong. In modern Chinese “房” Fong normally is translated as “house”.  So, a person could be considered an individual of the Xth generation belonging to this “sub-house” of  this “house”. Then, as time goes on, more “branches” or “houses” appear. Yes, it can get quite complicated. In our genealogy, you can see the name of the “branch” in the “middle of the “spine” of the folded rice paper folio. Here is an example from file 1.0101.jpg

Yuan Branch of the Big Branch

In relationship to our direct ancestors, a good example is illustrated in the following six pages from the 9th Generation. There were four sons designated as Heave, Earth, Human, and Matter Houses or branches. We descended from the House of Matter.

9th Generation Four Houses: Heaven, Earth, Human, Matter

The 1948 Genealogy indicates that by the 17th Generation, around 1650, we belong to a sub-branch of the Matter House, called “Sandy Mud Street Branch”.  Sandy Mud Street is a major street in the City of Ningbo.  Our direct ancestor of the 17th Generation who moved to the City is named Yong 永. Strangely, he does not have a “generation name”. And, there is no record of his birth or death dates. And, there  is no information about his spouse. In fact, we have very little information about his father, Elder Ben Jun 本俊 either. However, we do know more about his great-great grandfather (13th Gen), great-grand father (14th Geb) and his grandfather (15th Gen): Elders Wen Zhong 文中 (1548-1615), Elder Liang Ce 良策 (1572-?) and Elder Zong Heng 宗衡 (1601-1700). Elder Liang Ce was a Lieutenant Colonel of the Ming Dynasty. All three of them had multiple names which indicate they were important and highly respected personalities.

Let’s look at the historic milieu of these five generations (13th to 17th), as well as that of the next 4 generations (18th to 21st).  The 21st Generation, is the beginning point of our present group of descendants. Below is a chart that combines these individuals in relationship to family location, historic dynasties, and social milieu.

For over one hundred years between 1550 to 1650, the Han people of the Ming Dynasty were fending off attacks from the Manchus (Northeast direction, just north of Korea) and the Mongols (North direction). The Manchus were fearsome fighters.  They were the descendants of the same Jurchens or Qin people who conquered the Northern Song Dynasty in the 11th Century when our family were chased from Bianjing (Kaifeng) area to re-settle in southern China, Ningbo.  Now, 500 years later, this same group of marauding tribesmen once again tried to conquer the Han People of the Ming Dynasty in the Central Plains.

During this period, one of our ancestors, Lt. Colonel Elder Liang Ce 兵部千总 良策公 (14th Gen) was a Ming Dynasty soldier who defended against these invaders. The Genealogy does not show his death date. That leads me to suspect he might have been killed on the battle field. Also, based on his other names, he possibly took time off to be a lay monk, probably twice.

All our 13th to 15th Gen direct ancestors had  4 to 5 names. Having multiple names is an indication that they were scholars or prominent military leaders. And, their birthdates were recorded.  In Chinese culture, it is extremely important to know one’s birthdate without which there would be an issue finding a good match for marriage.

Unexpectedly, the 1948 Genealogy shows sparse information of the 16th (Elder Ben Jun) and  17th Gen (Elder Yong) ancestors.   Elder Yong does not even have his full name listed; let alone his birth or death dates. As the chart above shows that during this historical milieu, when Elder Ben Jun and Elder Yong were born and grew up, it was during the transition period when the Ming Dynasty (Han people) fell to the Manchu (foreigners) Qing Dynasty who exerted power over the Han Chinese.  Clearly, it was a time of great upheaval. Furthermore, the 1948 Genealogy also indicates that our 17th Generation direct ancestor Elder Yong moved from the Bright Creek Village to the Ningbo City and relocated on the Sandy Mud Street.

Another tell tail sign of upheaval during the end of the Ming Dynasty to the early part of Qing Dynasty is the gap in issuing additional editions of the Genealogy. The last edition in the Ming Dynasty is the 1623 edition. Then, it is not issued until the 1796 Edition, 173-year gap between the two editions.  The 16thand 17th Generations (possibly from 1620 to 1700) were probably born soon after the 1623 edition. Families got uprooted from the Village to the City so details of children who were born during this period did not get entered into the Family Ancestral Temple record book which was located at the Bright Creek Village.

The families under the 16th and 17th Gen ancestors must had quite a difficult time. However, China soon began to improve under Qing Dynasty Emperor Kangxi (61 years of reign from 1661-1722). Emperor Kangxi ushered in the golden age of the Qing Dynasty.  In fact, looking at our 18th to the 21st Gen ancestors, it is clear that the family gradually, generation by generation, crawled out of the hole during the Manchu invasion suffering of the 16th and 17th Gen ancestors to become quite prosperous by the time of  our 21st Gen ancestor, Elder Shi Liang 世良 dven receive the scholarly title of Xiucai, an equivalent title to today’s University degree.

Based on the information from my father, Elder Henry, the four houses which we owned in Ningbo on Sandy Mud Street, originated with Elder Shiliang.

.Elder Shiliang of the 21st Gen had three daughters and two sons, Guang Xun 光勳 and Guang Lie 光烈.  All of us who are currently in touch regarding this 2021 Edition Genealogy, are descendants of these two brothers.  Click here to look up all the individuals (with portraits) under Elder Shi Liang. 

Guan Lie had three sons: Tian Lu 天禄, Tian Qiu 天求and Tian Xu 天序. Tian Lu has three sons. A complete chart of all the descendants of Tian Lu is here.  We are not in touch with any descendants of Tian Qiu and Tian Xu. Therefore, from the Elder Guan Lie line, only descendants of Elder Tian Lu are included in this 2021 Edition of Genealogy. To the best of my knowledge, there are a total of 93 individuals in this group of our family. Click here for a complete chart of all the individuals (with portraits)under Tian Lu

Elder Guang Xun (22nd Gen) had two sons (23rd Gen), Tian Pei 天陪and Tian Yao 天堯 I am from the Elder Tian Pei line (my grandfather). We are in touch with everyone under Elder Tian Pei. To the best of my knowledge there are 138 individuals in this family group. Click here for the complete chart of all the individual under Tian Pei.

We are also in touch with some of the individuals under Elder Tian Yao. To the best of my knowledge there are 12 individuals in this family group.

Therefore, we are able to account for about 250 individuals by name and relationship in the entire Shi Liang group from 21st to 28th Generation.