William W. Elliott-Tucci
There I was…
Signing books in London about seven years ago. I am a comic book writer, artist, and self-publisher by trade and along with several other “Yanks”, was a guest for a huge annual “comic con” in the “swinging city”. It was here that a very friendly gentleman, (an Armstrong) introduced himself and struck up a conversation. “I read the article in the Times about you being of English descent and how excited you were to visit the land of your ancestors.” He stated. I told him that indeed, I was born William Walter Elliott Jr. My birth father tragically died just months before my birth and upon my mother remarrying a few years later was adopted by my stepfather, (hence my last name being “Tucci”). We talked about me knowing that my great-grand parents and their children immigrated over from England and even though I’ve never had any contact with that side of the family, am proud to be half English (my mother being of Sicilian descent).
The man apologized for hearing of my father’s passing and me being estranged from that side of the family. He then said, “Well, I hate to disappoint you, but you’re not English. You’re Scottish.”
I again reiterated my family’s journey from the UK and even how through www.ancestry.com I was able to trace my family back to the mid-1600s and they were from Shropshire and worked the industrial areas of “The Black Country.” Armstrong agreed that much he was sure was true, but with them being Elliotts’, originally migrated down from Scotland after 1600 and more specifically the border regions of Scotland. He informed me that the Elliot’s were very infamous “Reivers”. Being a “fellow borderer”, himself, Armstrong was very adamant about this. I had never heard of a borderer nor a reiver, but even to this day he and I were “allies” and I was intrigued by that!
To be honest, this blew my mind as I had always adorned everything Scottish. I even joked with my wife all those years ago, that I wanted myself and my groomsmen to wear kilts for our wedding. She wasn’t having any of that, as “you’re half Italian and half English, not Scottish!”
Armstrong and I exchanged addresses and a few weeks later I received an amazing handwritten letter by him and the gift of George MacDonald Fraser’s The Steel Bonnets. I read it with great interest and regaled in the tales of the Armstrongs, Kerrs and yes, Elliots, but knew that facts are facts and the only Scottish lineage I could ever hold would be in spirt.
Fast forward to Christmas before last and my family gifting me Ancestry.com’s DNA kit. Well wouldn’t know it, turns out that I am indeed of Scottish descent…
31% actually! My mother’s side is all Italian (with 3% Greek) while my father’s has an additional 10% Irish and 8% England & Northwestern Europe and 1% Wales. Now this DNA seems to fluctuate a bit here and there. My initial results had my Scottish lineage at 24%, (there is a hysterical “DNA unveiling” with my wife, son and I with film/TV star Thomas Lennon on YouTube), but there’s no doubt that a sizable swath of my heritage is indeed Caledonian. Of course, the first thing I did was re-read The Steel Bonnets (now with greater interest) and begin search Elliot Clan history.
A New Revelation…
In the past few weeks, I’ve since reconnected with Walter, a childhood friend of my birth father. Now 84 year’s young, Walter too reached out to me via www.ancestry.com as he’s been trying to find me for decades. My paternal grandmother passed away in 1990 and before her death charged him in the event of his ever finding me, to give me all their cherished family photos. It is a painful story about me never seeing them once my mother remarried (I was two-years old), as she wanted me to be raised with her new married name, “Tucci”. I was the last of the Elliotts, and that my mother would take that away from my grandparents so soon after losing their son was incredibly cruel and it broke their hearts. I learned that my great grandfather and grandfather both passed away within four years of my birth and just how much they all adored me, and prayed daily for me. I learned that the Elliott’s were truly amazing people, who were artists, raced cars, served in the US and UK Armies during both World Wars and were even vaudeville stars.
My mother has had a very hard life, but she did tell me of my true birth father when I was in high school. I know it was a stress on her as I was so different from my siblings. She did manage to raise six children on her own (my stepfather passed away a few years after they married) and is herself now 84. My wife as you can imagine, is furious with her for taking me away from the Elliotts’, (especially since my mother lost a son to a drunk driver when he was just 17), but to me, despite all that I have missed in life not knowing my paternal family, feel that being angry with my mother today would just add more negativity and open old wounds to an already sad story. I have a tremendous life and want for nothing but health and happiness for my wife and our children.
On a high note, my wife loves the Elliott name, which she prefers to “Tucci’ (the name I was raised with) and has given in to me wearing the tartan kilt. She accompanied me (looking striking in her Elliot tartan sash and Clan brooch) to our first Burns Night Celebration in New York City and gets a kick out of my new obsession. I’ve yet to inform her that I’ll be ordering a set of more appropriate lowland Elliot trews. My sons have also found pride in their once-unknown heritage connection with my oldest is even getting a tattoo of the clan crest.
My newly found “Uncle Walter” will be sending me the dozens of photos he’s saved all these years. I can never thank him enough for his incredibly noble and fifty-plus year quest to reunite a family and to change not only my life, but that of my wife and children.
So now you know the story of a 55-year-old man happily having his heart filled of a lifelong void and knowing there is no doubt that he truly is of Scottish descent, a lowlander of the great riding clans.
I am an Elliott, and one who will forever be a proud borderer… no longer just in spirit, but also in blood.
Fortiter Et Recte!
About William W. Elliott-Tucci
Believing he was of English heritage his entire life, award-winning comic book writer/artist and publisher William W. Elliott-Tucci (born William W. Elliott Jr.) was first made aware of his Scottish lineage by a “fellow borderer” in London a few years back. Ancestry DNA testing confirmed this in 2022 when “Billy” found out he was 31% Scottish (with 10% Irish and 8% England & Northwestern Europe). The cartoonist is best known for his modern-day samurai saga Shi, which debuted in 1994. Through his publishing house, Crusade Fine Arts, Shi has been printed in five languages and has seen more than 3 million comic books in print worldwide. In addition to his own creations, the graduate of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology has earned prestigious awards and nominations for DC Comics’ Batman, Harley Quinn, and Sgt. Rock. His earnest retelling of the Christmas story in A Child Is Born has quietly turned into an international blockbuster, winning the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award and earning a Five-Doves rating from the Faith and Family Focused dove.org. Billy’s critically acclaimed Miss Fury: Joy Division saw the return of the Golden Age Icon for Dynamite Comics. He has recently released Shi: Return of the Warrior, Shi: Haikyo, Shi: Sakura, and the Shi: Omnibus Edition with three more Shi graphic novels slated for 2023. Billy lives on Long Island with his wife Deborah and their two sons. He is looking forward to sharing our storied borderer heritage and hopes to connect with and bring together Elliots far and wide into the clan.