Royal ancestors
- from an English Perspective

Tim J. Owston,


Looking at Family History research using Heraldic Visitations and easily available Primary Sources
to trace back families to the medieval period
13th edition, May 2008

'I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasm primordial atomic globule, consequently, my family pride is something in-conceivable. I can't help it. I was born sneering'.
Poohbah in The Mikado (1885) Act 1, W. S. Gilbert (1836-1911)

Many people decide to research their family history because they want to prove an ancestry to someone Royal or famous. Thus these researchers will try and connect someone famous to their own family. A few years ago I worked in the Close of a Cathedral and many casual visitors would call claiming descent from a Medieval Archbishop of the same name. For good academic reasons they were treated incredulously, on a whole. Few had done any research and thus had no knowledge of the sources. We usually had to break it to them that Medieval Archbishops were usually unmarried.

When I became interested in history and genealogy in my teens an early influence was Wagner, not Richard, but Anthony. His excellent work 'English Genealogy' is full of interesting information and ideas. I learned to use footnotes as a way of developing my knowledge of particular subjects. An excellent training for following up historical research. The Library service in the 1970's was well equipped for providing this information and the request service was excellent. The Internet in the 1990's and 2000's has greatly helped in filling-in for the decline of the Public Library Service. A reading of 'English Genealogy' is useful also for definitions of some of the terms that I use, e.g., yeoman.

The truth is that we can have descents from famous and Royal personages of many years ago, but we might have many more descents from the person who looked after their dogs. Indeed the holder of the present title might inherit their position from a titled personage, but might also have a share of the genes of the dog keeper. I remember reading of the sneering remark from one aristocrat to another less ancient title holder that his ancestors were Earls when his were keeping sheep. This of course was greeted with the appropriate response (and correct remark in this case) that whilst his were keeping sheep the older Earls ancestors were plotting treason.

Of course many non-aristocratic people living today can claim descent from Royalty. Some family history researchers (myself included) like a descent from Royal lines as they can introduce into their ancestry foreign lines or ancient ancestors, like, for example, Charlemagne the Holy Roman Emperor (died 814) whom millions descend from. The curious nature of Family History is that descendants of Medieval European people can be of any Nationality, Race or Colour. The Aga Khan for example, a descendant of 'The Prophet', can trace his descent from British Stuart Kings and Yorkshire gentry. But tracing back your ancestry to famous medieval people gives you an ancestry that includes people outside your lifetime who do not exist as just three dates, the date they were born/baptised, married or died/buried.

People who descend from lines of English Royal ancestors descend from people like Edward III (reigned 1327-1377) and his wife Philippa of Hainault, or even his grandfather Edward I (reigned 1272-1307), or great-grandfather Henry III (reigned 1217-1272). The ancestry does not have to be through a legitimate child, although of the three King's mentioned there is no proven illegitimate child (though some might be attributed in the case of Edward III). Usually King's children, if they married in England, married members of the Upper Aristocracy before modern times, with a few noteworthy exceptions. When Joan of Acre (1272-1307) married Ralph de Monthermer (died 1325) her father (King Edward I) was furious, but forgave her and Joan and her first husband's servant went on to have children. Mary Tudor, widow of Louis XII of France, who made a second marriage to Charles Brandon is another example of this exception. Though Brandon does have traceable English Royal ancestors, and through the late Queen Mother is an ancestor of some of our present Royal family. On some occasions the descendants of an English Princess may return from overseas. For example descendants of Isabella (1332-1382), the daughter of Edward III returned to England with the succession of James I(VI) to the English throne in 1603, and with the marriage of Henrietta Maria of France to Charles I in the 1620's (I think a point missed by Wagner in early editions of English Genealogy). The Beaumonts who arrived in England in the second half of the 13th Century as relatives of Queen Eleanor of Castille shared a line with her which took them back to Henry II Count of Anjou and King of England in the 12th Century.

Though some researchers who claim Royal ancestry are subject to sneering comments or attitudes, this is not a problem as they tend to be criticised by people who have not carried out any extensive research in primary sources. But as long as the researcher can direct them to proof this research can be defended. It is after all so widespread that no one can claim that it is 'special' or they are 'special' though this might undermine the concept of inherited privilege. Perhaps the sneerers should be directed to page 501 of Burke's Dormant and Extinct peerages, under the article for 'Stafford - Barons Stafford, Earls of Stafford, Dukes of Buckingham, Barons Stafford' Under the entry for Henry Stafford and his wife Ursula Pole is an entry for their granddaughter Jane Stafford, sister of the impoverished last Baron Stafford of the family. It stated that 'Jane, who married a joiner, and had a son a cobbler, living at Newport, in Shropshire, in 1637: thus the great-great-grandson of Margaret Plantagenet, daughter and heiress of George, Duke of Clarence, sunk to the grade of a mender of old shoes.' The facts are repeated in 'The Complete Peerage' entry for Stafford. It is also worth remembering that William Etty the Artist 1787-1849 was a son of a baker and ginger bread maker in York, was the uncle of two women who married a hairdresser and a house painter, yet through his mother Esther Calverley, he was a descendant of Ann, sister of English Kings Richard III and Edward IV.

Researching - sifting a lot of Sand.

What advice would I give to someone trying to research a line back to Royal Ancestors?


Odd comment you might think, but, if you start your ancestral research looking for a particular group of people either you are going to be disappointed, 'fiddle' your research, or see the information in the records that you want to see. Researchers of Royal Ancestors might be required to find what Sir Francis Jones has called a 'gateway ancestor' to people in a different social group. The concept of the 'gateway ancestor' is one that I would understand.

A 'far fetched' or false gateway connection on the other hand has been given to Bygod Eggleston of Maryland. He was baptised in Settrington, Yorkshire in 1584 and his given name has allowed various researchers with no evidence whatsoever to assume that his grandmother was a member of the Bygod house, Lords of the Manor of Settrington and sometimes Earls of Norfolk. There is definite proof that his father was married to a member of the Frear family of Thorpe Bassett (over the hill from Settrington), a minor farming family, but there is no definite proof that this Juliana Frear was his mother. I suspect that Bygod received his given name from a godfather who was a member of the Cadet branch of the Bygod family at Scagglethorpe (just down the road), who's life events are recorded at Settrington.  It is interesting that godparents of Bygod Eggleston's child included some members of the Frear family at (New) Malton, St Michael Church.  The Frears were a numerous family in that area. This did not detract from Bygod Eggleston's achievements, or success of his descendants, who include John Brown the American slavery abolitionist and US President Rutherford Hayes.  No one mentions the baptism of Bygod Blades in 1590 at Settrington, and I have never heard of him being connected to the Bygod family.

My first advice would be to research all ancestral lines, especially the English/Welsh/Scottish ones back to the 17th Century or earlier if possible. When I set out to research my ancestry I decided to do two things, although at the time there was no way I knew how much evidence I was to find:

Firstly, I decided to trace the whole of the families of my ancestors, including brothers and sisters and who they married. This 'snapshot' approach whereby you seek to reconstruct a family group will pay off. More about this later.  This approach is usually referred to now as the 'family reconstruction' system and I would not use any other.

Secondly, I also decided to trace all my ancestors, not just the surname line but all the others, carefully, working backwards and looking for as much evidence as I could find. Three wives of my surname families have thus far come up with Royal lines, although with all three I am constantly seeking further evidence in the records. It is a good policy to constantly review your researches as sometimes a different perspective can aid your researches. I am still researching my ancestors and learning new things about my families.  I still think that more can be squeezed from the records both legal and ecclesiastical.  There is a possibility that the ecclesiastical cause papers will be available online in the future.  With any luck they will make them more accessible than they are already.   In 2005 an exercise in looking at the indexes of Administrations in areas of Yorkshire produced more evidence and there might be more to do in this area.

There are some excellent books about researching family history in the British Isles, bearing in mind that books should now mention that the Family Records Centre in London, the replacement of St Catherine's House has itself closed to the public and the place to go for civil registration and census records is either the Internet or the National Archives at Kew, Richmond., and that the Public Record Office in Chancery Lane is closed (The Family Records Centre contains the Census Reading room moved from this building). Somerset House has closed, also, the home of the Wills for the period after 1858. You need amongst other things to know about Civil Registration, Census, Wills, Parish Records and Manorial Records.  Joining a Family History Society in the area that you live and the area that you are researching will also be useful for you, though not as useful as it might have been at one stage if you are prepared to use the internet as a source education as well as a part-source. It might also prove that in time access to the Internet and e-mail would also be useful for the researchers as this can prove very quick and cheap. I have had several questions answered by members of the Medieval History Chat group on the Internet, and their are many other groups who can help family history researchers.  Be careful, you have to take time to ascertain if the correspondent is safe and what sources they are using.  Some I would guess are not familiar with record offices or the concept primary sources!

A short guide to researching family history in England and Wales

Golden rule - Work from the known to the unknown.

The first step is to contact as many of your living relatives as you can and obtain any information that they may have. Over the years this has changed. The internet has changed a lot of things. Though some of us still would have to send a clear letter requesting the information that you require with an SAE (or if abroad two International Reply Coupons), perhaps send them your e-mail address or direct them to your website. Photocopying, digital photographing or scanning certificates or old letters and documents is a good idea. If they have copies of Wills or other legal documents this is even better. Be careful how you distribute or copy copyright material.

Library telephone books will aid you in finding peoples addresses. Alternatively, contact someone who they may have known to see if they know anything about them.

Old School and sports club records and pictures can be informative as can Parish Magazines. Non-Conformist periodicals can be found useful in the same way.

Seek proof all the time. Relatives can confuse people and events outside their own time. If you can jog peoples memories by a photograph or a document than this will be even better. On a first visit you might not find out very much when interviewing a relative so a second visit is best to consolidate information and facts. Remember that some of us cannot remember people on a school photograph twenty years ago. Given time they can sometimes remember quite useful additional facts which will both confirm your research and enhance it.

Check newspaper indexes for mentions of the family and Electoral lists for addresses. They will also help when you are trying to obtain Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates or Wills. Reading through 19th and 20th Century Newspapers is a long but illuminating job. Check with the local family history societies to see if there are any indexes compiled by them of the family announcement sections of the newspapers. Some might be on the 'Genuki' website.

Before 1901 - The Census

Relatives memories might take you back to 1901 or before. Try and fix your ancestor in a place in that year, even the town. An exact address would be even better. Searching through the Census can be a big, but rewarding task. It can save time and money later.

Finding you ancestor on the 1901 Census can be most useful. From this you will get an age and place of birth at least, and usually a lot of other information. If for example, your ancestor is 35 years old in 1901 then they would have been born in about 1866. It is quite likely they would have been living in the place they were born in 1871. Check the 1871 Census for the ancestor as a five year old child and you could find them living with a parent or other relative, with perhaps brothers and sisters. Age and birthplace will be given for the parents, and then the other Census records can be checked for the 1841-1901 period to find out more information. If the mother of our ancestor had been a widow in 1881, but a wife in 1871 then the father would have died in-between. Thus this narrows the area of search for a death certificate, notice or Will. There is now an Index for the 1881 Census available in Microfiche form in Libraries and Mormon research centres.   Much of the Nineteenth Century census is now on its way to being indexed by local family history societies or published by commercial companies on CD Roms.  Be careful when buying these as they vary in quality, as do the indexes.

Inevitably, at some time the researcher has to obtain information from Civil Registration records. These might be obtainable from a the local registrar in the area where they birth, marriage or death was registered.  Some indexes have been published on the web (eg., FreeBMD, Cheshire indexes etc.,).

Check the Parish Records for the Parishes to see if there are any relevant entries. See Phillimores Atlas for the location of these records or write to the County Record Offices who will have a list of their own holdings. You need a copy of the parish maps for your own County of interest.

At this stage a check in the Mormon IGI would also be worthwhile, but it is important that all entries are checked in the Parish Registers. It is not a source, just a help index.

To aid researchers I have added some information about Social Developments in the History of the 19th Century. This will explain important developments that would have effected people living during the Victorian period. There is a separate page about the New Poor Law of the 1830's period.

Before Civil Registration the best source for Family History information would be the various Parish Registers and the Parish Register Transcripts (Bishop's Transcripts). Before the early part of the Eighteenth Century many records are in Latin and a simple guide is useful. Many students need help with older writing so help may be needed with reading older writing and a simple guide is useful. Look also for the lists of Marriage Bonds and Allegations which survive for the process of supplying Marriage Licences.  Finding the Marriage Bonds and Allegations would add considerably to the material available for your Family History. The Parish Chest Records (Records of the Parish Officers) will add considerably to your family history research.

There are about 300 different Courts for the Proving of Wills before 1858, and a knowledge of the main registries at Canterbury and York would be useful. There is an example of a Seventeenth Century Will in my pages. Some Wills are available to download on the internet. I expect this to expand as the commercial market for these develops.

There were many changes in Society in the period 1700-1837 which included Enclosures and the development of an Industrial Society.

Quarter Sessions and Calendars of Prisoners will be useful for the research of some ancestral connections. The Calendars will not only show the accused, but also the victims.

Some ancestors may have been Apprentices and it might be possible to find out information about them. Some towns, like Scarborough in North Yorkshire, have surviving apprentice records which are very useful and very thorough. Interestingly, I have found that these lists records can cover a vast area of the County.

In many places extensive Manor Court Records exist, for both Courts. They are quite useful for proving land inheritance.

Many people have ancestors who were early members of the Nonconformist Religions. Some were Roman Catholics and suffered persecution before the early Nineteenth Century.   Check the County Record Offices for copies of these on microfilm.  They are very useful. Quaker records are fascinating and the marriage records are full of useful family information. There has been a real revolution in the availability of these as many CD publishers have produced these. No longer have these to be looked at in libraries but you can now have your own copies at home. Check out the online catalogues. The companies are listed in British family history magazines.

It would be worth while checking the seventeenth century Heraldic Visitations (many printed) which might have a record of an alliance between a minor gentry family and yours. It is always worthwhile checking if your ancestors were seventeenth century yeoman.

In the Seventeenth Century the Civil War had a great effect on records and this obviously effected what sources we use for Family History Research.

Older Poor Records can help the Historian in understanding the period before the early part of the Nineteenth Century, and how the poor were treated.


There are many prospective problems for budding family history researchers, many made by researchers themselves. They assume that stories that they have been told by their family about their ancestors is true. All evidence which contradicts this is rejected and woe betide any other researcher who comments on this. I have known obscure husbandmen raised to the local gentry by their descendants. This effectively cripples their own researches from the start. This is again why I would strongly advise that where possible researchers search for all their ancestors and try and get a good snapshot of each family, i.e., the brothers and sisters of their ancestors. This effort can pay dividends when unmarried or childless brothers and sisters leave evidence in their Wills which can colour the image of the family, mentioning people and places not mentioned in original Wills of 'direct' ancestors. For example an Aunt's Will in the 1790's mentions a nephew as living in London. This would have been unknown to us otherwise. This nephew was the father of a son who later appeared in the home parish, fathering children and found through the IGI. The Will of an uncle by marriage in the 1680's lists not only his own brothers and brothers-in-law, but his wife's brothers and brothers-in-law. Useful information when reconstructing a family. This effort to reconstruct the family is extremely important in establishing the family tree and searching for its roots.

It might be an idea to check footnotes for useful document references in printed histories. For example I have mentioned that I chased up various books mentioned by Wagner in his footnotes. Alternatively I obtained a copy of a document referred to in a footnote in a volume of the Victoria County History without any problems from a minor record office (though this would not be as easy now in this record office).

Visiting and researching in archives is quite important to any family history research. Many archives have manuscript pedigrees which can only be sought out by contacting archivists, making appointments and visiting these offices clutching a good supply of pencils. Some archives kick up a fuss over the supply of photocopies and can make this as awkward or as expensive as possible, the Borthwick allows you to photocopy items from film. Photocopying prices should be checked before ordering. Another problem is that some archives will only supply copies from microfilm. Although this is to be applauded on the grounds that it preserves the records, it does mean that there can be a loss of quality and perhaps data in the process. Archive offices are quite formal places usually, but they will help if asked. They generally 'leave you to it', as it were. They should be havens of peace, where talking, research committees (two or more researchers checking every entry between them), and mobile phones are not encouraged, by the staff or other researchers.   Some places allow laptops (and we hope mains connection) and headphones (unfortunately).


Wagner sums up an important and useful point about the class structure in England in 'English Genealogy',

'Ruling families intermarry and their marriages are therefore international. Their daughters from time to time marry great noblemen of their own countries. The great noble families meet at court and in Parliament and their intermarriages cover the whole country. Their daughters from time to time marry into the greater gentry, Intermarriages within the gentry are in general (though of course, by no means always) local - within the county or district. Daughters of the greater gentry not seldom marry yeomen or tradesmen in their immediate neighbourhood. High fertility will often cause impoverishment and speed the pace of social descent.' p239.

Thus a yeoman or a minor-gentleman (designated in the records as 'Mr') in the 17th Century would be a very useful find. It is more than likely that he would have owned some land, unlike most of the husbandman class. Social classes in villages are smaller and more likely to intermarry. Checking their Wills might point to connections with other families who owned land. It is quite possible that a member of those two groups, and the Clergy would have married into the local lesser armigerous gentry. Indeed a study by Laslett in 17th Century Lincolnshire has found many marriages between the lesser gentry and the yeoman class. Many families in the Gentry was armigerous, not always correctly. They held their coats of Arms with pride and turned out with proof to see the Heralds when they arrived to carry out a Heraldic Visitation. Many of these Heraldic Visitations have been published by the Harleian Society and can be seen in many Libraries in England, or now on CD ROMS (See S&N, Yorkshire Ancestors webpages). For example there are probably three libraries in York who possess printed copies of these. The Yorkshire ones are excellent. Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire in 1665 has been edited in a new edition by Clay in three volumes which adds greatly to the information. Some Wills and Parish Registers have also been checked to enable greater accuracy in the production of this work, though it is not without errors.

The Heraldic Visitations

The Heraldic Visitation records are a problem, in that they could have been written about two hundred years after the events they are recording took place, so can be rather suspect. They usually do not contain dates to aid the researchers check the information. All Wills should be checked if possible and any parish register dates checked if available. The published Visitations are well indexed and this can be very useful. Before using Visitation records it is a good idea to have a look at 'English Genealogy' (Wagner) who gives quite an interesting view of the Heralds at work. The Visitations can record marriage alliances of minor gentry with daughters of the lesser Baronial Houses. Examples that come to mind are the marriages of the Eures of Malton in Yorkshire, Fitzhughs, Dacres, Bulmers and Greystock. In the past many antiquarians have donated their collections to the local archives or in the case of many into National Public Archives, National Private Archives or to the collections of learning institutions like the University of Oxford.   The development of the A2A website is an excellent way of locating or gaining access to these records.

I, for example, checked the printed Visitations for a connection between my ancestral uncle John Wasling's wife who I suspected was a member of the Armigerous Micklefield family. I was quite surprised to find not him, but his father (Robert Wasling of Wintringham nr. Malton, in East Yorkshire) having married an Elizabeth Micklefield of Bolton near Pocklington, East Yorkshire. Robert Wasling (died 1635) of Wintringham in East Yorkshire (near Malton) had married three times, his first wife in York was the mother of John Wasling. Robert sold property in York and then moved to Wintringham around 1600 having acquired a second wife called Elizabeth. Although the Micklefields were not top gentry they still had connections with many families in the area who are still landed estate owners. Whilst it looks likely that I have the right Elizabeth further research should be persued.

There is an interesting example of Baronial connections to the gentry in the marriage of Ann Greystock, a great-grand-daughter of John of Gaunt, through Joan Beaufort, to Sir Ralph Bygod of Settrington, East Yorkshire. Through his mother Sir Ralph was a grandson and co-heir of one of the last Barons Mauley (Yorkshire landowners). Ralph and Ann Bygod provided their second son, Henry Bygod, with an estate at Scagglethorpe and he seems to have been the ancestor of the Cadet branch who survived into the 1660's even after they had sold the lands in the 1630's and settled in Acklam (a few miles away). Of course the family had declined considerably by this time, but the extensive Will of Margaret Bygod in the second decade of the 17th Century shows that her family had been fruitful and proved she had outlived her husband by nearly forty years. One of her daughters married into the farming Melton's at nearby Norton, and had descendants traceable to the end of the Century, whilst younger daughter Agnes Bygod, married at five and died in her mid-twenties. She left several children, three boys called Bielby by her husband Richard Bielby and possibly a daughter Margaret who married, had a child called Agnes Bell (in the Will) and Margaret Bell had possibly died before her grandmother. Agnes Bygod Bielby's son Simon Bielby lived probably at Scagglethorpe but did not leave a traceable Will. One of his daughters married into the farming Hurd Family of Rillington and left descendants in the family, including the Cliffords, farmers at Rillington and Scagglethorpe. So buried in the genes of farmers and farm labourers in the following centuries in this area is probably a descent from Edward III and his wife Philippa.  I will continue to find other information about this family as it is such an interesting family. It is important to remember that only one of the daughter's descendants have been traced.  There are records for others and these might be found to have married and had children in the disruptive period of the Civil War in England. This should be seen as a challenge. What about the Quakers in the late 17th Century for example, or even families of individual vicars/clergy/church warden records.

Printed Wills and other printed sources

Sometimes the Wills of the gentry families have been printed, especially in the Yorkshire area this is true. We can follow several generations of the Constable family of North Cliffe in East Yorkshire by the use of Wills printed in the volumes of the Surtees Society (Testamenta Eboracensia) in the 16th Century and before.

Certain steps should only be taken when you have traced your lines back to the seventeenth century. All lists of Printed Pedigrees (for example try those with a # on the Reading List) should be checked and it is advisable to check through every publication of the County Local History Society or Societies. Your geographical area of research local Reference Library would be most helpful on this. Addresses for local libraries in your research areas will be easy to find in telephone books. Checking the Victoria County History volumes would be most helpful for this period in some areas. There are some very good nineteenth century published pedigrees but these should be used with caution, and like the Heraldic Visitations should be checked for every fact.

In time it might become possible for more information to be developed about the families of 15-16th Century gentry and aristocratic families as data is collected and collated. This is perfectly possible as a lot of pedigrees from the this period have not been checked thoroughly by 1990's historians and researchers. Recent publications of records like the indexes to Wills in the York Will Depository, the publications of the Surtees Society and those of the Harleian Society have greatly aided family history research. Improvements in indexing and cross-indexing are aided by the growth of popular computer knowledge as well as developments in software and hardware. Indexes can now be published on accessible CD ROM, like the new edition of Griffiths, the great Irish resource for the Nineteenth Century.


The rapid growth of the Internet has greatly aided the researcher by supplying or disseminating information more widely. Though I would use this source very carefully. For example after a short while you become aware that certain researchers/correspondents to chat groups are more reliable than others, usually because they state a document source for their research. Somewhere on the Internet may be some information on your own ancestry. The ability to e-mail (electronic mail) other researchers is excellent. If e-mail is not available at home it might be at your place of work. This form of correspondence, which should be private and not published on chat groups, is easily and quickly sent round the World for the cost of a local telephone call. If you have several researchers on the same families on the internet they can receive the latest research at the same time. My surname family is being researched by three researchers in two Countries thousands of miles apart so e-mailing is an excellent way of keeping all the researchers informed at the same time. Computerisation has developed access greatly to records by indexing or scanning records. Personally I find this a great move forward, though it should be used carefully. If you do not want to have the Internet at home it can usually be accessed at your district library or in your club or family history society. There are a great number and variety of family history packages, but I will leave the reader to research these. They are changing all the time with new editions coming onto the market all the time.

One tip which might prove useful in tracing families with landed connections is to look for families who served as the 'Parish Register' (the registrar of births, burials and marriages) in the 1650's, The Commonwealth Period. Many of us have descents from people who filled this role. If the Parish Registers do not go back to that period the Bishops Transcripts would not be of use as they do not exist for the 1650's.

A useful source, but only generally for male line research are 'Inquisitions Post Mortem'. These listed what land a person owned at his death, including his heir, relationship to heir and where the property was held. Some are printed. The period covered is 1235-1650 for all counties. They only refer to tenants in chief of the crown but are still valuable for this period. Original records are in the National Archives, Kew.

Looking for the gateway

It is possible to trace ancestors back to the Old Wessex Kings, the House of Alfred. Whilst not the furthest back in history that you can go it is a good place to get to in research. King Alfred of Wessex (not England) is part of a family who's father and grandfather are well known. At least two of Alfred's children left descendants. Maud or Matilda wife of William the Conqueror was a descendant of his (and of Charlemagne The Holy Roman Emperor [died 814], through Judith of France a Carolingian Princess, who had earlier married Alfred's father and elder brother [childless marriages] and thirdly, Baldwin who founded the house of Flanders the family from which Matilda descended). The Continental marriage alliances of Alfred's grand-daughters were to spread his blood widely throughout Europe. Of course English Royal Families were not the only ruling families in the British Isles. Indeed various Viking Kingdom's complicate the issue. There were, for example, 3 different ruling dynasties in England alone in 1066, the House of Alfred (Wessex), the Godwin's (best represented by Harold II Godwinson the son of Earl Godwin, the 'Hastings King') and the Normans. There were also several dynasties in Ireland and Wales, and several branches of the House of MacAlpin ruled in Scotland at this time.

Each of the 1066 dynasties left descendants, although King Edward the Confessor (reigned 1042-1066) and his great nephew Edgar the Atheling (about 1053-1125) died childless. Curiously, the known descendants of Harold II Godwinson (abt 1022-1066) are through his daughter Gytha who married Vladimir II Prince of Novgorad and Kiev who died in 1125. Daughters of Russian Viking Rus Princes were much sought after by Western Princes to avoid the religious problems of marrying someone who is too closely related. That is why Henry I of France in the 1050's sought a wife from the Court of Yaroslav of Kiev, Anna (Poulet in 'Medieval Queenship' puts forward another reason). It is thought by some that Agatha of Kiev her sister was possibly the mother of Edgar the Atheling and St Margaret of Scotland, later representatives of the house of Alfred. The granddaughter of King Henry of France and Queen Anna, Isabelle of Vermandois (sometimes referred to as Elizabeth - names are interchangeable), came to England as wife of Robert de Beaumont Earl of Leicester and later married William de Warren II Earl of Surrey, and left many descendants, many of whom were to play a major part in the history of the British Isles, Europe and later America. Prince Yaroslav was the grandfather of Vladimir II. Through the Russian Princesses a dose of Viking blood came into the British. Some also came from the Normans who were partly of Viking blood. Emma of Normandy (abt. 985-1052) wife of Ethelred II King of England (r978-1016), mother of the Confessor, and later wife of Canute King of England, Denmark and Norway (died 1035), leaves legitimate descendants only through her Wessex daughter Goda/Godgifu (died before 1069) Countess of Mantes, the Vexin and later of Boulogne. Goda left issue by Drogo Count of Mantes and the Vexin, Ralph Earl of Hereford (died 1057) father of Lord Harold who left many descendants (Sudeley and Tracy families in the male line and Cliffords through an heiress). Other descendants are probably the illegitimate line that became the Fitzherbert family. Ironically Canute had only one grandchild, through Emma, and she became a nun so his line died out. There are no provable descendants of Canute, the nearest to his family are probably descendants of his second wife by her first husband or descendants of the women who was probably his sister.

Ethelred II King of England had a large family by his first wife Athelgifu or Elgiva (died 1002) and it seems that three of his children left issue. Daughter Edith may have had issue by both her husbands, Edric Streona Earl of Mercia (killed 1017) and Thurcytal Thorgils Havi (died 1039) a Danish Earl. A younger daughter Elgiva married Uhtred Earl of Northumberland and left a daughter Edith wife of Maldred Lord of Allerdale who left issue which was notable in British History, the Nevilles. Ethelred's eldest surviving son Edmund II 'Ironside' (died 1016) was father of two young sons who as babies were taken out of the Country and by various routes ended up at the Court of the King of Hungary. The surviving son, Edward was called back to England by his uncle Edward the Confessor and arrived here with his family in 1057 and soon died. His son Edgar 'the Atheling' (King of England in 1066 for a short time) died eventually childless, but his daughter Margaret (died 1093) left England after the Norman Invasion and went to Scotland. She is known to history as St Margaret and she married King Malcolm Canmore of Scotland (died 1093). Three of her children left legitimate issue, Mary, Countess of Boulogne (died abt. 1115/16) was mother of Matilda wife of King Stephen who's descendants include Philippa of Hainault wife of Edward III. Son David King of Scotland (died 1030/1) married a great-niece of William the Conqueror, Matilda daughter of Waltheof Earl of Northumberland and Huntingdon (executed 1076) by his wife Judith. Their only surviving son Henry Earl of Huntingdon (died 1152) married Ada de Warren (died 1178) a daughter of Isabelle of Vermandois (see above) and left many descendants, especially through illegitimate lines. There were a few claimants to the Scottish Throne in 1291 who descended in illegitimate lines from the descendants of Henry Earl of Huntingdon. An interesting claimant was William de Ros, 2nd Baron de Ros (died 1316) a Yorkshire Landowner who left many descendants in the North. The most remarkable union for a daughter of Malcolm and Margaret was the marriage of their daughter Edith to Henry I (reigned 1100-1135) the Conqueror's son. History knows her as Matilda of Scotland and she was the ancestress of the Plantagenets, through her daughter the Empress Maud/Matilda, the Angevin house which ruled England from 1154. Indeed her son William was known as 'The Atheling' and died tragically in the 'White Ship' ('Blanche Nef') disaster of 1120 which led to the end of the Ruling Norman House and gave his father major succession problems. At this point he was over fifty, a widower and with no son. It seems also that he was not the 'great lover' he had been earlier.

As already stated at this time there were other ruling houses in parts of the British Isles. Welsh native dynasties intermarried for generations. Indeed it was the Wessex and Norman invasions that brought a whole new set of blood lines to the Welsh rulers and also took the Welsh blood outside Wales. Gruffydd ap Llylwelyn King of Wales (killed 1063) married Edith daughter of Alfgar Earl of Mercia (later wife of Harold II and probably granddaughter of 'the' historical Lady Godiva, wife of Leofric of Mercia) and had issue who included Nesta wife of Osbern FitzRichard a Norman Lord who's daughter Nest/Agnes carried her blood into many major Anglo-Norman families. Some think that Nest/Agnes married a Welsh Prince but it is usually accepted that she married Osbern FitzRichard.

The FitzGerald's were founded by Gerald of Windsor's issue by Nest a famous twelfth Century Welsh Princess, who carried her blood to many Anglo-Irish families. Lady Nest was 'very popular' and even gave Henry I of England an illegitimate son. In the 13th Century Juliana FitzGerald married a cadet member of the De Clare family and through her daughter, Margaret wife of Bartholomew de Badlesmere, left numerous descendants.

There are descendants of the 15th Century Welsh Nationalist Prince Owen Glendower through his daughters. Whilst the important Welsh prince Llewelyn the Great (12-13th Century - married Joan illegitimate daughter of King John of England [who reigned 1199-1216] the mother of his heir David) left many descendants through his daughters marriages into the Anglo-Norman-Welsh aristocracy. It is debateable how many of these Joan the King's daughter gave birth to, but some of these are usually accepted. There is a continuing discussion about this aspect of historical genealogy. It is interesting that Roger Mortimer the 14th Century Earl of March was thus a descendant of hers and this gives an interesting other perspective on his eventual rule of England with his partner Queen Isabelle of France.

One Prince of the House of Powys in Wales, Gwenwynwyn Prince of Powys-Wynwynwyn left many descendants through his grand-daughter Margaret of Powys who took her blood into the FitzWarren, Despencer and Wentworth families. Edward VI who died in 1553 was a descendant through his grandmother Margery Wentworth. There are many examples of the blood of Welsh Princes spreading into the English Nobility and later into the Gentry and outwards.

The blood of the Irish Vikings came in also through the Welsh Princes. Sihtric the Viking King of Dublin (died 1042) had a grand-daughter Ragnilhdr who married the exiled Prince of Gwynedd, Cynan, and became parents of Gruffydd ap Cynan Prince of Gwynedd, who had many descendants, including Prince Gwenwynwyn. She was also a descendant of the native Irish Kings.  This is a source of academic discusssion in the last few years. The academic Ben Hudson has produced in his book a good illustration of the probability that Sihtric was not only descended from the Viking Kings of York, but the ancestor of Ragnilhdr.

The native Irish Kings brought their blood into the English through many lines. King Dermot of Leinster (12th Century) was a descendant of the great High King of Ireland Brian Boru (killed 1014). Dermot lost his kingdom to his neighbours. He encouraged Henry II King of England to come over and help him. Before Henry came various adventurers journeyed to Ireland, including the Fitzgeralds and Richard de Clare (Strongbow) Earl of Pembroke a grandson of Isabelle of Vermandois (see above) and a distant member of the Norman ruling family. Eventually Richard de Clare aided Dermot in reconquering his Kingdom. Although Dermot had sons he agreed that Richard would be Lord of Leinster when he married Eva (Aeofa) his daughter. Richard and Eva's daughter Isabel de Clare was a fabulous heiress and was awarded in marriage to William Marshall, who became the Earl of Pembroke. Overnight an obscure knight, a younger son who made his living from successful knightly pursuits, was transformed into a very wealthy and powerful Baron. All their sons died without legitimate issue (one son had an illegitimate daughter who married a Welsh aristocrat), but their five daughters carried their wealth into many families in England, so much so that many barons of the late Middle Ages have multiple descents from them. By then these Barons were marrying daughters into the gentry.

It is curious that many Royal Princes, Princesses and illegitimate members from various Foreign Royal Houses have married into English non-royal families and brought numerous lines into family history lines. These have been in many cases connected to marriages of English Kings to foreign wives who have brought over many of their poorer relatives. There were classic situations in the 13th Century with the arrival of the rapacious relatives of Eleanor of Provence wife of Henry III, and also his half-brothers and sisters from his mothers second marriage to Hugh de Lusignan. The Woodvilles, relatives of Elizabeth wife of King Edward IV, 15th Century descendants of Simon de Montfort and Eleanor daughter of King John were also to be unpopular because of their grasping behaviour and marriages to important heirs and heiresses (see Appendix 2.). Joscelyn of Louvain, thought to be some sort of a half-brother of Queen Adeliza of Louvain (second wife of Henry I of England) married Agnes, the Percy heiress and founded a new Percy family who became a major power in the North. All his descendants were also descendants of Charlemagne and made marital connections with various Plantagenet descendants, and even made a disastrous bid for the throne in the 15th Century.

There are numerous lines of descent in England from illegitimate children of Henry I, William the Conqueror's (Duke of Normandy King of England (r1066-1087) son by his wife Matilda of Flanders. His most famous illegitimate son Robert Earl of Gloucester (died 1147) is an ancestor of many people. Curiously many people also have a descent from the second wife of Henry I of England, though not through her Royal husband. After the death of William his son in the White Ship disaster the widowed Henry had to look for a second wife. He chose Adeliza of Louvain, a daughter of Geoffrey VII Count of Louvain, Duke of Lower Brabant and Lower Lorraine by his wife Ida daughter of Albert III Count of Namur. Interestingly Henry had no children by her over their many years of marriage. She remarried William d'Aubigny Earl of Arundel (died 1176) and in her thirties began to have a large family, with two of her children leaving descendants. All her descendants also having a line back to Charlemagne who died in 814, The Holy Roman Emperor.

Most of the descendants of the daughters of Henry II (r1154-1189) were foreign, but Eleanor of Castille, first wife of Edward I (r1272-1307) was a descendant of Eleanor Queen of Castille (1162-1214) daughter of Henry II and she left numerous descendants. William Longespee Earl of Salisbury, Henry's illegitimate son left many descendants, especially through his son Stephen the Justiciar of Ireland. The Beaumont family who came to England at the end of the 13th Century also descend from Eleanor of England, the Queen of Castille, and came to England as relatives of Eleanor of Castille (see Burkes Peerage 1963 edn. Beaumont Baronet). The heir of the line is the present Duke of Norfolk [bn 1947] (His father had previously inheriting the titles of Baron Beaumont and Baron Howard of Glossop through his baronial parents before succeeding his cousin to the title of Duke of Norfolk).

King John's descendants include those of his illegitimate son Richard FitzRoy and daughter Joan Princess of Wales. Richard FitzRoy's daughter Isabelle married into the Berkeley family and became the mother of this great family who still live in their Medieval Castle. King John's descendants through his legitimate daughters tend to be through daughter Eleanor wife of Simon de Montfort Earl of Leicester an ancestor of Elizabeth Woodville (wife of King Edward IV) and her sisters (see appendix 2). Richard Earl of Cornwall (1209-1272) a son of King John, Richard Earl of Cornwall and King of Almaine, left an illegitimate son Richard de Cornwall ancestor of the family of that name. There might even be members of the family of that name descended from the family. There might be some male line 'Angevins' alive today. The aristocratic Howards descends from a Cornwall family heiress from the 14th Century.

The descendants of Isabelle of Angouleme (abt. 1187-1246), Queen of King John, by her second husband Hugh X de Lusignan Count of La March (d1249) does come within this work. Isabelle was daughter of Aymer Taillefer Count of Angouleme and Alice de Courtenay, a daughter of Peter de Courtenay, a son of Louis VI King of France so thus of 'Capet' descent.

Isabelle left as many as 11 children by her second husband (Weir). Her eldest son Hugh XI Count of La Marche and Angouleme (abt. 1221-1250/60) married Yolande (d1272) who's father Peter Mauclerk (d 1250) Duke of Brittany descended in the male line from Louis VI King of France. Yolande's mother Alice Duchess of Brittany (1201-1221) was the heiress of the old house of Brittany, and descended from several other important houses including Normandy, MacAlpin, the Carolingians and the Athelings of England. A daughter of Hugh XI married into the Genevilles who's heiress Joan de Geneville married the Marsher (Wales-England border) lord, Roger Mortimer the first Earl of March (d1330) and left numerous descendants. Another child of Queen Isabelle, Henry (d1260) left issue, and William de Lusignan, Earl of Pembroke (d1296), another son married another grand-daughter of William Marshall the Earl of Pembroke and left issue. Alice de Lusignan (d1256) married John de Warrene 6th Earl of Surrey (d1304) and left issue. Matilda de Lusignan married Humphrey de Bohun 2nd Earl of Hereford and 1st Earl of Essex (abt1200-1275) and their descendants are extremely numerous. The De Bohun heiresses in the next Century both married Royal Princes. Elder sister Eleanor married Thomas Duke of Gloucester the younger son of Edward III who sought to manipulate the inheritance by putting the younger sister into a nunnery. His own brother John of Gaunt out-manoeuvred him and married little Mary to his own heir Henry, later Henry IV King of England.

Edmund 'Crouchback' Earl of Lancaster (1245-1296) a son of Henry III (r1216-1272), married a French 'Princess' Blanche of Artois Queen of Navarre and was a grandfather of several ladies who took Plantagenet blood to many families in the Aristocracy. By her first husband, Henry I King of Navarre, she was a grandmother of Isabelle of France wife of Edward II. She was also a descendant of Eleanor Queen of Castille, daughter of Henry II of England.

Several daughters of Edward I left descendants in England. Elizabeth Countess of Hereford left many children through the De Bohun's, including the Irish aristocratic family the Butlers (including Tudor Queen Ann Boleyn) and the Courtenays (West Country), a family with many branches and thought to cover a wide social range.

Another daughter Joan of Acre Countess of Gloucester has already been mentioned. She married twice and had issue by both her husbands. Her daughter Eleanor de Clare (1292-1337) was an ancestor of the senior Despenser family, daughter Margaret de Clare (1293-1342) married Hugh de Audley (abt 1289-1347) an ancestor of the Stafford's Dukes of Buckingham, and Elizabeth de Clare (1295-1360) had issue by John de Burgh (died 1313), Sir Theobald Verdon (1278-1316) and Roger d'Amory (died 1322). Elizabeth's grand daughter Elizabeth de Burgh (1332-1363) was heiress of Clare and passed this to her husband Lionel, Duke of Clarence son of Edward III. She had many descendants including all the Kings and Queens of England after and including Edward IV (r1461-1483) (excluding Henry VII).

The Second Marriage of Edward I with another descendant of Eleanor Queen of Castille produced two sons. Queen Margaret of France's (1280-1318) sons were Thomas Earl of Norfolk (1300-1338) and Edmund Earl of Kent (1301-1330). Thomas's eventual heiress Margaret Duchess of Norfolk (abt 1320-1400) is the ancestress of the Howard family. Edmund's surviving heiress Joan Countess of Kent (1328-1385) left a large family by Thomas Holland (died 1360) and left many descendants. Her issue by the 'Black Prince' Edward, Prince of Wales, (1330-1376) son of Edward III died out, but every English King and Queen after and including Edward IV descends from her Holland children.

Edward III left many sons who's descendants faught for the throne in the next Century. I am wary of saying if he had illegitimate children by Alice Perrers his unpopular mistress, after the death of Philippa. Given-Wilson did accept these children, three of them, and he covers their lives in his 'Royal Bastards'.   Ian Mortimer in his book 'The Perfect King, The Life of Edward III, father of the English Nation' (Jonathan Cape, 2006) devotes his Appendix 8 to the descendants of King Edward III. This is mainly a mathematical exercise. He comes to the conclusion that probably 80-95% of people of English descent are descendants of King Edward III. This could be quite true. Mortimer also wrote a book about Roger Mortimer Earl of March who was the lover of Edward's mother, and an ancestor of many more people than even Edward III.

Lionel Duke of Clarence (1338-1368), second surviving son of Edward III left issue, by Elizabeth de Burgh, a daughter Philippa of Clarence Countess of Ulster (1355-1378/81), wife of Edmund Mortimer Earl of March (1352-1381). The Mortimer male line died out but their daughter Elizabeth Mortimer (1371-1403) married Sir Henry Percy (1361-1403 - he descended from Edmund Earl of Lancaster and Joscelin of Louvain) and had many descendants in the North. A volume of De Ruvigny's works covers some of their descendants. There is some discussion about Philippa's paternity, but whatever the result she still descends through her mother from King Edward I of England.

Lionel's eventual heiress Ann Mortimer (1390-1411) married Richard Earl of Cambridge (abt. 1375-1415) and carried her estates to the House of York in the fifteenth century. Her mother was Eleanor Holland, a descendant of both Edward I and his brother Edmund Earl of Lancaster through her parents). The volumes of De Ruvigny's works cover most of her descendants until early this Century.

The third surviving son of Edward III was John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster, King of Castille. His daughter Elizabeth's Holland and Grey descendants are numerous. There are also descendants of the illegitimate daughter of his grandson Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, Antigone, married Henry Grey Lord of Powys and left progeny. It is probable that these descendants of Henry IV, John of Gaunt's heir, are the only line of descendants of Henry IV, and Wagner (English Genealogy) refers to these as being numerous, especially through her daughter Ann Grey's marriage to Roger Kynaston.

Of the Children of John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster by his third wife and ex-mistress Catherine Swynford there are three of genealogical interest. John Beaufort Marquess of Somerset fathered several children by Margaret Holland his wife. His eldest son John Beaufort Duke of Somerset was to be the father of an only daughter Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509) Countess of Richmond and Derby, sole Lancaster Beaufort heiress who was to became mother of Henry (Tudor) VII before her fourteenth birthday. The Duke of Somerset had an illegitimate daughter Jacinda/Thomasine who by Reginald Baron Grey of Wilton (died 1494) left issue (Weir). There is more chance that non-Aristocratic or non-Royal descents would descend from the Second Duke of Somerset, brother of the first one, Edmund Beaufort (1416-1455) became Second Duke of Somerset of the family and had many descendants. Henry (died 1461), his son, was father of an illegitimate son Charles Somerset who became the progenitor of the Ducal House of Beaufort. The daughters of the second Beaufort Duke of Somerset married a diverse group of men socially. Margaret Beaufort left Stafford and Touchet descendants by her first Stafford Husband and second husband Sir Richard Dayrell. Daughter Eleanor Beaufort left issue by her second husband Sir Robert Spencer, who's descendants in the Percy and Carey (see below) family are numerous, several loosing their heads in the next century. Ann Beaufort married Sir William Paston from the famous Norfolk family and their daughters married into the Savile of Thornhill (Yorks) and Talbot families. Sir Henry Savile of Thornhill (abt 1498-1558) the son of Elizabeth Paston and Sir John Savile fathered an illegitimate child by Margaret Barkston, and this child, Robert Savile of Howley, had descendants who inherit some of the Beaufort Genes in the same way that his legitimate half-brothers and sister would do.

The interesting Beaufort marriage was of a daughter of John the Marquess of Somerset, Joan Beaufort, to James I King of Scotland (she later married Sir James Stewart). By her husbands Joan left a numerous family which must now have spread widely socially. There are many illegitimate lines from the Stewart men and the odd Stewart daughter. In the last case her grand-daughter Princess Margaret Stewart was seduced by William Lord Crichton and became the mother of Margaret 'Crichton' who left issue by her husbands George Halkerstoun and George Leslie, Earl of Rothes (Weir). According to the 'Complete Peerage', which points to the lack of proof of her parentage, Margaret was also the mistress of Patrick Panter before her marriages and bore a child, David Panter, Bishop of Ross.  Due to the large number of legitimate and illegitimate descendants of Joan by her two husbands many Scots and their overseas descendants have a good chance of Beaufort blood.

The aunt of the Queen of Scotland, her namesake Joan Beaufort, was the only daughter of John of Gaunt by Catherine Swynford, and was married very young to Robert Baron Ferrers of Wemme and was mother of his two co-heiresses. The eldest carried her blood to the Greystock family (and thus other families in the North) and the younger the Senior line of the Nevilles. Joan Beaufort, widowed young, remarried Ralph Neville Earl of Westmorland (died 1425). The consequent second family for both were numerous, married into the aristocracy, and were heirs to the Neville Yorkshire Estates. Many people descend from her children, even two King's in her grandchildren. Queen Catherine Parr descends from one grand-daughter but the descendants of the other children must be socially very varied. One curious aspect of the family connections of Catherine Swynford is that she may have been sister of Philippa wife of Geoffrey Chaucer the Fourteenth Century poet (there is Heraldic evidence for this). This relationship is accepted by both Catherine Swynford biographers of recent times (2006-7).

Henry Beaufort, Cardinal Bishop (abt 1375-1447) a son of Gaunt and Catherine, left illegitimate issue by Lady Alice FitzAllan, Joan who married Sir Edmund Stradling of St Donat's, a Welsh landowner and ancestor of many Welsh families and John Quincy Adams 1767-1848 6th President of the USA. She is mentioned in the Cardinal's Will. Curiously Lady Alice had Royal Descents from the Plantagenets through both of her grandmothers, one of whom was a member of the first House of Lancaster.  Weir misses this Joan Beaufort, though there is now some debate over who her mother was.

Edmund Duke of York, a younger son of Edward III and Philippa left issue through his first wife Isabel of Castille, sister of Constance second wife of John of Gaunt (who's descendants are mainly foreign). Son Richard Earl of Cambridge married the Mortimer heiress, Ann and left descendants in the families of York (consequently Tudor) Manners, Pole and Constable of Everingham amongst others. His son Richard Duke of York was father not only of the Yorkist Kings, Edward IV (the paternity of this particular son is the subject of particular controversy but the arguments are likely to continue for another five hundred years) and Richard III, but the lady Anne Duchess of Exeter (who left descendants through her second husband Sir Thomas St Leger - both husbands died messily), but also the infamous George Duke of Clarence who is supposed to have ended his life in a vat of Malmesbury wine (his choice of execution). Clarence’s daughter Margaret Plantagenet Pole, Countess of Salisbury was executed by Henry VIII Tudor as he had taken exception to what her son Cardinal Reginald Pole had written. In her descendants is a traceable example of social decline. In the Century after her execution one of her descendants could be found working as a Cobbler (Burke's Extinct). Lady Isabel of York, daughter of the Earl of Cambridge, left issue through marriage to a Bourchier cousin.

Lady Constance of York daughter of the first Duke was quite a character. She married Thomas le Despencer the Earl of Gloucester and was mother of Isabel le Despencer (1400-1439) who married two Beauchamp nobles and left many descendants. Isabel's daughter Ann Beauchamp, an heiress, Countess of Warwick, married the heir to the Neville Yorkshire estates (grandson of Joan Beaufort Neville) Richard Earl of Warwick (Warwick the King-Maker) who's co-heiress married George Duke of Clarence above, and left descendants. Interestingly, it is usually accepted that Constance of York also had a daughter Eleanor by Edmund Earl of Kent (a Holland of Plantagenet descent) who married James Touchet Baron Audley and left descendants.

The youngest son of Edward III, Thomas Duke of Gloucester, married a De Bohun heiress of Plantagenet ancestry and all his descendants are through his daughter Ann Countess of Buckingham. She had many children by two of her three marriages, to a Stafford and a Bourchier, but passed on her claim as heiress to the younger son of Edward III to her descendant the Duke of Buckingham who ended his life as a victim of Henry VIII's paranoia in 1521.

The legitimate descendants of Henry VII Tudor tend to be Royal or Aristocratic. Indeed legitimate line descendants of Margaret Tudor Queen of Scotland are numerous and Royal (usually foreign). Mary Tudor Queen of France, the younger daughter, has more descendants but they are less Royal in general (though some members of the present Royal family descend from her). Roland de Velleville has traditionally (there is doubt) been regarded as his illegitimate son and left descendants in Wales who are quite numerous. It has always been thought that all descendants of King Henry VIII were dead by 1603 but research by an American academic (Anthony Hoskins, Genealogists' Magazine, Vol 25, No. 9) has seemed to prove that it is likely that the Carey children, Henry and Catherine, were Henry's children by Mary Boleyn sister of Ann and they were not issue by her husband William Carey. There still lies the problem that Henry did not acknowledge them during his lifetime, but with Henry's dynastic problems and fear of another 'War of the Roses' there might not be an issue with this. They were also after all children of a married women, and this married women the sister of his one time Queen, which also put the legitimacy of her children at risk, due to the tight Ecclesiastical laws of Consanguinity at the time. The son of Margaret Tudor who lived to adulthood, King James V, left illegitimate issue and they are listed in Burkes Peerage 1963 edition.

The only dynasty which ruled in England after 1603, and actually the whole of the British Isles, was the House of Stuart and it's descendants. Obviously the heirs of the legitimate line are through the Catholic descendants of Charles I and I do not want to go into these as they are mainly Royal and foreign. It is interesting that in time his claim will pass into the Princely Ruling family of Liechtenstein as the heiress presumptive through the Bavarian Royal family (Princess Sophia born 1967) has married into the heir to the Liechtenstein family's principality and has become a mother of four children. The change in succession laws to the British Throne which is now envisiged might influence our idea of who the alternative Royal Family are, but that is a massive issue outside the scope of this work.

There are non-Royal descendants of Charles I in the legitimate lines and these are mainly dealt with in the volumes of the 'House of Stuart'. Charles II and James II left many illegitimate children who in turn left issue and quite a few of these are in the Aristocracy so are traceable either in Burkes Peerage or Burkes Extinct Peerage. I do not intend to go into these. For a list of the illegitimate children of these monarchs check out Weir's 'Royal Families'. Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott who married Henry Duke of Gloucester, son of George V, was a descendant of Charles the Second's son James Duke of Monmouth (executed 1685). Various other Royal Brides and Bridegrooms are descended from the illegitimate Stuarts who have married into the Royal family this Century. It is likely that future monarchs of the United Kingdom will be descendants of these children also as both Diana Princess of Wales and Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York have Royal Stuart ancestors.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Duke of Cumberland (1619-1682), the son of Elizabeth Queen of Bohemia married to Frederick V Elector Palatinate and elected King of Bohemia who for a short time the surviving daughter of King James I (VI) was father of an illegitimate child Ruperta (bn 1671) who married General Emanuel Scroope Howe and left issue. The Baronet Bromley family are descendants of this family. There are English descendants of Rupert's brother Charles Louis Count Palatine (died 1680), through his morganamatic (socially unequal) marriage. His daughter Caroline Charlotte (died 1696) married Bernhard Duke of Schomberg and Leinster and was ancestor of a large number of aristocrats, including Diana Princess of Wales and the missing Earl of Lucan.

The House of Nassau or Orange ruled Britain for a short time, 1689-1702. Several members of the family settled in this country and might have descendants. An earlier kinswomen who left descendants was the Huguenot lady Charlotte de la Tremoille (dd 1664) who married in 1626 James Stanley 7th Earl of Derby 1607-1651, a descendant of Mary Tudor Queen of France, and left issue through her daughters. Her ancestry is interesting also as her mother was a daughter of William the Silent Prince of Orange 1533-1584 (a Count of Nassau also - a German dynasty) and his third wife Charlotte of Bourbon-Montpensier. Thus her ancestry cover a vast array of European and Middle Eastern families. She even descends legitimately from a Pope!

Frederick Henry Prince of Orange, the youngest son of William the Silent, Prince of Orange and ruler of the Netherlands (by his fourth wife Louise de Coligny) fathered an illegitimate child, Frederick (dd 1672) founder of the House of Nassau-Zuylestein. He married an English lady, Mary Kelligrew and his son William Henry of Nassau-Zuylestein (d1708) came to England with his cousin William III and a few years later was made Earl of Rochford, and left issue. The Earls died out in 1830, but there are descendants of the first Earl, especially through his descendants throught the female line the Ginkels, Earls of Athlone. Count Timothy Bentinck, the Earl of Portland, the radio actor, has two descents from him.

Another illegitimate member of the Nassau Orange family, Louis de Nassau Lord of Auverquerque (d 1668) was ancestor of Henry d'Auverquerque (d 1754) who mas made Earl of Grantham. His heiress Henrietta was ancestor of the Cowper family, Earls Cowper and intermarried with the Hanoverians when a descendant, The Honourable Edwina Ashley (1901-1960) married Louis Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-1979). Her ancestors have traditionally included the native American 'Princess' Pocahontas, but not so now. Other women in the Nassau family had married in England and left descendants. One Nassau descendant Lady Almeria Carpenter became the mother of an illegitimate child by a Hanoverian Prince (see below) who has many descendants.

There were few non-Royal descendants of King George I, or people not conscious of their descent from the monarch. Descendants are covered in the 'House of Stuart' (George I) and in 'Burke's Royal Family' (George II) so are well documented (up to 1972) and can be updated by checking out various sites or 'chat groups' on the Internet. Illegitimate descendants of the George's are not well documented and even in cases some are conjectural. There are two good cases which are not open to doubt.

Prince William Henry Duke of Gloucester (1743-1805) a grandson of King George II, and brother of King George III was father of several children by his wife, Maria Countess Waldegrave (previously married to a descendant of an illegitimate child of James II), none of whom left descendants. She was the illegitimate daughter of Edward Walpole, himself the son of Robert Walpole the 1st Prime Minster of Great Britain. He was father of Louisa Maria La Coast (1782-1835) by his mistress Lady Almeria Carpenter (1752-1809) (a descendant of an illegitimate child of a Prince of Orange) who ran away with and eventually married Godfrey Bosville-Macdonald, 3rd Baron Macdonald of Slate and left issue both before and after the recognised marriage. Lord Middleton of Birdsall, Yorkshire is a descendant of their's but there are many other descendants who are not titled or landed. Lord Middleton's heir has married a descendant of King William IV.

William IV (r1830-1837), son of George III and successor to George IV, left no surviving issue by his wife, but left ten children by the actress Mrs Jordan (Dorothea Bland 1761-1816) and the descendants of these FitzClarences are well represented in the pages of Burke's Peerage. The eldest son was given one of his fathers lesser titles and became Earl of Munster (title now extinct). Interestingly, one daughter Elizabeth FitzClarence (1801-1856) married William the 18th Earl of Erroll (1801-1846) and her grandson the Duke of Fife was to marry Louise, the daughter of King Edward VII (r1901-1910). The infamous Earl of Erroll who was to be killed in 'Happy Valley' in Kenya was a descendant of the Countess also. From the same FitzClarence daughter came the Hart-Davis's including Sir Rupert Hart-Davis (1907-1999) and his son Dr Adam Hart-Davis (bn 1943) the Television Science Presenter. Sir Rupert's father is usually not considered to be Richard Vaughan Hart-Davis his mother's husband but the aristocrat Sir William Gervase Beckett, Baronet. Another descendant of the actress Mrs Jordan and William IV is of course Timothy Bentinck, Earl of Portland, an actor.

There are no firm records of the illegitimate descendants of the Saxe-Gotha's and Windsors and most are conjectural or part of family legend. Edward VII (r1901-1910) made sure that he took married women for his mistresses and it is thought that Mrs Keppel his mistress of many years standing was the mother of his daughter.

There is one curious foreign royal who might be in some peoples ancestry. He was an Italian, mentioned in both Wagner and in John Julius Norwich’s ‘Byzantium, The Decline and Fall”, Theodore Paleologus who died in 1636 at Clyfton. His memorial is on the window of St Leonard’s Church, Landulph, Cornwall. A branch of the Paleologus family had ruled in Constantinople from 1259 to 1453. The last Emperor Constantine XI had been killed in the final battle against the Turks when Constantinople fell in 1453. His surviving brother Thomas fled to Rome. His daughter Sophia was to carry the emblem of the Imperial Eagle to the Russian Tsars. Her grandson Ivan the Terrible proved a suitable heir to the worst excesses of the Roman Emperors. Theodore Paleologus claimed descent from Thomas, but it is not known if Thomas had a son called John. He had a grandson called John and he may have been a descendant of his. Theodore by his wife Mary Balls of Hadlye in Suffolk fathered 5 children, Theodore, John, Ferdinaldo, Maria and Dorothy. Ferdinaldo emigrated to Barbados, married, and died in 1678. His son Theodorious (sic) married in Barbados, returned to England and died in 1693. His posthumous daughter Godscall Palaeologus disappears from history. Whilst the first Theodore might not have been of the Imperial family, he could have been. There could have been mistakes with the recording of his pedigree. Of course Norwich himself had a descent from the earlier Paleologus, as had Charles I the King at the time of the death of of the first Theodore Paleologus.


I wish everyone researching their family histories the best of luck and hope that they find that whoever their ancestors are they will find a new interest in their communities history, their country and that of the World.

Remember this that it is important to seek proof all the time, though to expect a vast amount of detail about most of your ancestors might be too much to expect at any time, and don't rely on the Internet and visit record offices.


Plantagenet/De Coucy to Stuart - the descent of Mary Stuart from Isabel, daughter of Edward III

Isabel of England became wife of Ingelram, Sire de Coucy (died 1397) Earl of Bedford, daughter of Edward III King of England, his only surviving daughter to have issue.

Mary de Coucy their daughter married Henry de Bar, Seigneur d'Olay, and had a son Robert, Count of Marle and Soissons, who married Jeanne de Bethune, Viscountess de Meaux, and died in 1415. Their daughter Jeanne, Countess of Marle and Soissons married Louis Count de St Paul, Constable of France and was mother of Peter Count of St Paul, Marle and Soissons. He married Margaret of Savoy and his heiress was Marie de Luxembourg Countess of St Paul and Condome. (Burke's Extinct Peerage). Marie de Luxembourg, Countess of St Paul married in 1487 Francois de Bourbon Count of Vendome (1470-1495) and died in 1546. Through the Bourbon Vendome branch she was the great grandmother of Henry IV King of France the father of Henrietta Maria wife of Charles I King of England and Scotland. Antoinette de Bourbon-Vendome 1494-1583 a daughter of Mary and Francois married Claude Duke of Guise (died 1550) was the mother of Mary de Guise (died 1560) who by her second husband James V of Scotland was mother of Mary Queen of Scots, herself mother of James I King of England. (Wagner, Pedigree and Progress)

De Montfort - Woodville
Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester (Killed 1265) married Eleanor Countess of Pembroke daughter of King John. Their younger son Guy de Montfort (died 1288) sought exile in Italy and married Margaret of Languillara. Their heiress Anastasia was in her own right Countess of Nola and married Raymond des Ursins. Their son Roberto Orsini was Count of Nola as was his son Niccolo Orsini (1331-1399). The daughter of Niccolo Count of Nola and his wife Joan de Sabran, Sueva, married Francis de Baux, Duke of Andria (died abt 1404), and was mother of Margherita de Balsa or De Baux (1394-1469) who married Peter of Luxemburg Count of St Pol (about 1390-1443), and became mother of Jacquette de Luxemburg (died 1472) who became the second wife of John of Lancaster Duke of Bedford, a son of Henry IV, and later Countess Rivers as wife of Sir Richard Woodville, and by him became mother of many children who include Elizabeth Woodville, Lady Grey and wife of Edward IV King of England. Elizabeth managed to arrange advantageous marriages to many heirs and heiresses for her brothers and sisters, which did not make her or her family very popular, but spread her parents blood over a range of people, including poor Lady Jane Grey Queen of England, through both her parents.

Sisters of Queen Elizabeth Woodville (from Burkes Extinct Peerage):
1. Margaret Woodville, married Thomas Fitzalan Earl of Arundel, and had issue.
2. Anne Woodville, married firstly William Lord Bourchier, and had issue, secondly George Grey Earl of Kent, and had further issue, and thirdly Sir Anthony Wingfield, Knt.
3. Jacquetta Woodville, married to John Lord Strange of Knockyn, and had issue.
4. Mary Woodville, married to William Herbert Earl of Huntingdon, and had issue.
5. Katherine Woodville, married to Henry Stafford Duke of Buckingham, and had issue, secondly Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford and thirdly Sir Richard Wingfield.
6. Daughter Woodville, married to Sir John Bromley, Knt.

Sisters of Queen Elizabeth Woodville (from Weir, Britain’s Royal Families):
1. Anne Woodville, married firstly William Lord Bourchier, and had issue, secondly Sir
Anthony Wingfield, Knt, and thirdly George Grey Earl of Kent and had further issue.
2. Margaret Woodville, married Thomas Fitzalan Earl of Arundel, and had issue.
3. Mary Woodville, married to William Herbert Earl of Huntingdon, and had issue.
4. Jacquetta Woodville, married to John Lord Strange of Knockyn, and had issue.
5. Katherine Woodville, married to Henry Stafford Duke of Buckingham, and had issue,
secondly Jasper Tudor Duke of Bedford and thirdly Sir Richard Wingfield.
6. Martha Woodville, married to Sir John Bromley, Knt.
7. Eleanor or Joan Woodville, married to Anthony Grey, Baron de Ruthin, and had issue.

Woodville Note: Queen Elizabeth Woodville had a brother Anthony Woodville,  Earl of Rivers (abt. 1440-ex1483) who made two childless marriages to Elizabeth Scales and then the half Beaufort Mary Lewes.  When he was very young he had a child by Gertrude Stradling.  Her uncle had married a Beaufort illegitimate child.  Margaret the Stradling/Rivers child married into the family of Poyntz.  One descendant was Georgiana Poyntz 1737-1814 who married John Spencer 1734-1783 the First Earl Spencer.  She had two descents from Margaret.  Lady Georgiana Spencer 1757-1804 their daughter married the Duke of Devonshire and has many descendants in the nobility.  The famous Duchess was to have an affair with Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey and have a daughter Eliza Courtney born in 1791.  She married Robert Ellice and one of their descendants is Sarah Ferguson (born 1959) ex-wife of Andrew Duke of York (born 1960).  Margaret Poyntz had many descendants who will cover a wide social range.

The Ranks of Society

Historically Society was made up of the:
(could be anywhere and may be wealthier than many other groups)
Baronets (like hereditary knights)
Royal Dukes



There are several points which researchers who are venturing into the peerage should be aware of.

Lesser titles can be used as heirs honorary titles. For example the Duke of Kent's eldest son has the honorary title of Earl of St Andrews, whilst his son is Baron Downpatrick. Holders of Honorary titles cannot sit in the House of Lords until they inherit the senior title (if they can sit in the House of Lords at all). The exceptions are that the person who holds the honorary title may sit in the House of Lords at the same time as the senior title holder if they have inherited a title through their mothers’ in their own right, or they have special permission to do so (again if they have the right to sit their under the new rules). The previous Duke of Norfolk inherited his mothers title as Lord Beaumont in 1971 and thus could sit in the house of Lords at the same time as his father Lord Howard of Glossop (died 1972). The death of a cousin lead to him inheriting the higher title in 1975.

Many title holders have no connection with the place which title they hold, if they had this in the first place. Some Baronets for example may also be seated away from their title location. For example Sir Charles Legard of Ganton (Yorkshire), Baronet is seated at Scampston (Yorkshire), which he inherited from his mother, the eventual heiress of the St Quintins of Scampston. Ganton and estates were sold many years ago. The Cayley of Brompton (Yorkshire) title has been inherited by someone who has no connection with Brompton. Titles can also be confusing. For example there is an Earl of Devon (Courteney) and a Duke of Devonshire (Cavendish).

There are some peculiar situations with title inheritance. Some titles were created so that they can descend down female lines (if there are no nearer males) and whilst some titles can automatically go to the next heiress, some titles have to go into 'abeyance' until the heiress has established her precedence.

The title holder can be a long way removed from the first holder of the title and the abilities (or influence) that brought the original holder to the forefront. For example the Barony of De Ros was created in 1264. The present holder (28th) is a long way removed from him. Lord Kilmarnock's title was created for the Earl of Errol who married William IV's Fitzclarence daughter. When their descendant the 22nd Earl of Errol was killed in 'Happy Valley' Kenya, his Scottish Earldom went to his daughter, whilst the Barony of Kilmarnock went to his brother who as next heir male inherited this modern title. When the 5th Duke of Sutherland died his Ducal title was inherited by his brother. But the earldom of Sutherland, an old Scottish title (13th Century) went to the nearest heir or failing that an heiress. Thus, there is now a Countess of Sutherland. The limitation of a title to the male sex has proved to be a good way of depleting the aristocracy. Both the Dukedoms of Leeds and Newcastle became extinct recently when the Dukes died without male heirs of the first Dukes coming forward. When the last Duke of Portland died there were no other living male descendants of the First Duke in the male line, though there was a descendant of the first Earl so he inherited the Earldom. The present Earl is the actor Timothy Bentinck.

For anyone with illusions about the Aristocracy I would suggest a reading of David Cannadine's 'The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy' which clearly catalogues the abuses which have taken place the twentieth century in the creation of aristocratic titles. The work of Mr Maundy Gregory and Lloyd George has been useful in highlighting in our age the abuses that no doubt also took place in times long gone.

For the titled the best source is the multi-volume 'Complete Peerage', later editions of Burkes and for recent generations Debretts Peerage. If the holder did anything remarkable they would also appear in the 'Dictionary of National Biography' (updated) the source for British Biography.


Reading List

A list for recommended reading and guides to sources.
(Not complete, remember, most family history books contain extensive bibliographies)
* General, # Pedigree lists,

AGE OF IMPROVEMENT 1783-1867, Asa Briggs, Longman, 1993.
ARMY RECORDS FOR FAMILY HISTORIANS, Simon Fowler, PRO Readers` Guide, No 2, 1992.
ARMY SERVICE RECORDS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR, Simon Fowler, William Spencer, Stuart Tamblin, PRO, 1996.
BLOOD ROYAL OF BRITAIN, being a roll of the living descendants of Edward IV and Henry VII Kings of England, and James III King of Scotland, Melville Henry de Massue, Marquis de Ruvigny et Raineval, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1994 (1903).
BREWER'S BRITISH ROYALTY, a Phrase and fable dictionary, David Williamson, Cassell 1996.
BURKE'S EXTINCT PEERAGE, A Genealogical History of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire, Sir Bernard Burke, Burkes, London. 1883, (1969),
BURKE'S FAMILY INDEX#, Burke's Peerage, 1976.
BYZANTIUM, THE DECLINE AND FALL, John Julius Norwich, Penguin, 1996.
CENSUS RETURNS 1841-1891 IN MICROFORM, Jeremy Gibson & Elizabeth Hampson, FFHS, 1994.
CORONERS` RECORDS IN ENGLAND AND WALES, Jeremy Gibson & Colin Rogers. FFHS, 1988.
CRIMINAL ANCESTORS, Historical Criminal Records in England and Wales, David T. Hawkings, Sutton, 1996
DICTIONARY OF GENEALOGY*, Terrick V. H. Fitzhugh, A & C Black. 1994.
DISCOVERING OLD HANDWRITING, John Barrett and David Iredale, Shire 1995.
DISCOVERING YOUR FAMILY TREE*, David Iredale and John Barrett, Shire, 1991.
ENGLISH GENEALOGY*, Anthony Wagner, Phillimore, 1983.
ENGLISH NOBILITY, IN THE LATE MIDDLE AGES, Chris Given-Wilson, Routledge, 1996.
FAMILY AND LOCAL HISTORY HANDBOOK, Robert Blatchford, GR Specialist Information Services. 2006.
FAMILY HISTORY BOOK*, A guide to tracing your ancestors, Stella Colwell, Phaidon, 1984.
FAMILY ROOTS*, Discovering the past in the P. R. O, Stella Colwell, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991.
FAMILY TREE DETECTIVE, Colin D. Rogers, Manchester University Press, 1989
FIRST STEPS IN FAMILY HISTORY*, Anthony J. Camp, Society of Genealogists, 1996
FIRST STEPS IN FAMILY HISTORY*, Guided by Eve McLaughlin, Countryside Books, 1990 (?)
FURTHER STEPS IN FAMILY HISTORY* Guided by Eve McLaughlin, Countryside Books, 1990.
GENEALOGICAL GUIDE#, an index to British Pedigrees, J.B. Whitmore, 1953.
GENEALOGIST'S GUIDE#, Geoffrey B. Barrow, Research Publishing Co. 1977.
GENEALOGIST'S GUIDE#, by George W. Marshall, Billing and sons, 1893.
HISTORY TODAY COMPANION TO BRITISH HISTORY, Ed. by Juliet Gardiner and Neil Wenborn, Collins and Brown, 1995.
INDEX TO PRINTED PEDIGREES# contained in County and Local Histories, the Heralds Visitations, ... Charles Bridger, 1969 (1867).
IN SEARCH OF ARMY ANCESTRY, Gerald Hamilton-Edwards, Phillimore, 1977.
IN SEARCH OF WELSH ANCESTRY, Gerald Hamilton-Edwards, Phillimore, 1986.
INTERNET FOR GENEALOGY, David Hawgood, Author published, 1996.
IRISH FAMILY HISTORY, Marilyn Yurdan, Batsford Local History Series, 1990.
IRISH GENEALOGY: a record finder. David Begley, 1987.
LATIN FOR LOCAL HISTORY, an introduction, Eileen A. Gooder, Longman, 1986.
LOCAL FAMILY HISTORY IN ENGLAND* Colin D. Rogers & John Smith, Manchester University Press, 1991.
LONGMAN HANDBOOK OF MODERN BRITISH HISTORY 1714-1980, Chris Cook and John Stevenson, Longman, 1983.
MANORIAL RECORDS, P.D.A Harvey, British Records Association, 1984.
MARRIAGE LAWS, RITES, RECORDS AND CUSTOMS, Colin Chapman, with Pauline M. Litton, Lochin, 1996
MEDIEVAL QUEENSHIP, Edited by John Carmi Parsons, Sutton, 1998.
MILITIA LISTS AND MUSTERS, 1757-1876 - A directory of holdings in the British Isles, Local defence forces or militia. Jeremy Gibson and Mervyn Medlycot.
MODERN BRITAIN, A Social History 1750-1985, Edward Royle, 1996.
MY ANCESTORS WERE CONGREGATIONALISTS in England and Wales, with a list of Registers, D. J. H. Clifford, 1992.
NATIONAL INDEX OF PARISH REGISTERS, VOL 2. Sources for Nonconformist Genealogy & Family History, D. J. Steel.
NEW TO KEW, The Public Record Office Readers' Guide No 16, Jane Cox, PRO, 1997.
OXFORD GUIDE TO HERALDRY, Thomas Woodcock and John Martin Robinson, OUP, 1990.
PARISH CHEST*, W.E. Tate, (Various publishers)
PEDIGREE AND PROGRESS, Essays in the genealogical interpretation of history, Anthony Wagner, Phillimore, 1975.
PLANNING RESEARCH: short cuts in family history*, by Michael Gandy, FFHS. 1993.
PLANTAGENET ROLL OF THE BLOOD ROYAL, being a complete table of all the descendants now living of Edward III, King of England. [Note, 4 Volumes only published], Melville Henry de Massue Marquis de Ruvigny et Raineval, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1994 (1905-11).
PHOTOGRAPHS AND LOCAL HISTORY, George Oliver, Batsford, 1989
POOR LAW UNION RECORDS, 4 volumes. Jeremy Gibson and Frederic A. Youngs jr, FFHS, abt 1993.
QUARTER SESSIONS RECORDS for Family Historians, Jeremy Gibson, FFHS,1995.