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Connections to Modern Royalty in RD 900, by Gary Boyd Roberts

Royal Descents

In addition to the royal descents of immigrants to the American colonies, Quebec, or the United States, The Royal Descents of 900 Immigrants to the American Colonies, Quebec, or the United States traces the lineages, through such immigrants, of many modern royal figures. The late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and the current Queen are descendants of Richard Bernard, his wife, Mrs. Anna Cordray Bernard, Mrs. Mary Towneley Warner, and Col. George Reade—all immigrants of royal descent to colonial Virginia (p. 930).  Mrs. Warner and Reade are both great-great-grandparents of President George Washington (pp. 310, 700, and 703-4). The late Diana, Princess of Wales was descended from Mrs. Alice Freeman Thompson Parke of Massachusetts and Connecticut (pp. 932, 857-60). Catherine Elizabeth (Kate) Middleton, now HRH the Duchess of Cambridge, is descended from a sister of Harriet Martineau, the noted 19th-century traveler to America and author of Retrospect of Western Travel (2 volumes, 1838). Martineau’s work in its day was almost as famous as that of Alexis de Tocqueville (pp. 379-81, Martineau; 293-4, de Tocqueville). Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, is a descendant of Rev. William Skepper/Skipper of Boston, Mass. (pp. 342, 344). Lastly among British royals, I noted the kinship to various 20th-century immigrants of Jack Brooksbank, the husband of HRH Princess Eugenie of York (p. 1611, the last page of the book). Thus, almost all the next dozen or so heirs to the British crown have descents or kinships to colonial or more recent immigrants in RD 900.

The Royal Descents of 900 Immigrants to the American Colonies, Quebec, or the United States

Besides British monarchs, American colonial immigrants are also ancestors or siblings of princes Rainier III (husband of Grace Kelly) and Albert II of Monaco; they descend from another early Puritan clergyman of Massachusetts, Rev. John Oxenbridge (pp.324-26, 933-34). Somewhat extraordinary is the descent from Thomas Trowbridge of Connecticut to Queen Geraldine of Albania (who was half-Hungarian and half-American); her marriage to King Zog I was the major royal romance involving an American after the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Geraldine’s son and grandson, Lika I and Lika II, were styled kings of the Albanians,  but in exile (pp. 870-71, 935). Almost equally surprising is the line from the elder sister of Georgia founder James Edward Oglethorpe to Victor Emanuel II, the first king of united Italy, whose grandsons or great-grandsons were kings of Italy, Portugal, and the Bulgarians. (pp. 613-14). 

Perhaps somewhat less surprising is the line from Lafayette to the current King Philippe I of the Belgians and his mother, known as Queen Paola (pp. 200-04). Elsewhere in the book I treat immigrant kinsmen of the Bonaparte Empresses Josephine (pp. 442-44) and Eugenie (pp. 287-92), of Queen Victoria (a near cousin of Ben Bradley, editor of the Washington Post during the Watergate investigation, pp. 182-83). Even greater in number are near relatives of Queen Elizabeth I (died 1603). As noted by Marston Watson in Royal Families: Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry. Volume Four: Pelham – Avery – West, also a GPC publication, 2017 (involving possible descendants of King Henry VIII), the Virgin Queen’s aunt and possibly her father are ancestors of the Pelham-Avery-West cluster of New England and southern immigrants. These last, who compose the second largest cluster of colonial immigrants of royal descent, include the large numbers of descendants of Herbert Pelham, first treasurer of Harvard College, Mrs. Anne Humphrey Palmes of Mass. (whose only child was Mrs. Susanna Palmes Avery, forebear of the Rockefellers), and Governor John West of Virginia, whose descendants include First Lady Mrs. Edith Boling Galt, second wife of President Woodrow Wilson (pp. 300-04).

In addition to royals and, in part, because I outline the descents from RD immigrants to U.S. presidents and to first ladies since Bess Truman, I also included several British or Canadian prime ministers or premiers. Sir Winston Churchill appears on pp. 63, 584-85, and 648, as a descendant of, among colonial immigrants, Mrs. Elizabeth Bullock Clements of Mass., whose royal descent might require some further investigation, and of Mrs. Sarah Woodward Henchman , a sister-in-law of the above Rev. John Oxenbridge (pp. 647-9). Surprisingly, among recent immigrants to the U.S.   I included Stanley Patrick Johnson, sometimes of New York, father of current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was born in New York City and long maintained both UK and US citizenship. In the new French-Canadian section of RD 900, moreover, I included the royal descents through immigrants to Quebec of Pierre and Justin Trudeau, and of Jean Chretien (pp. 969-70); the latter’s paternal grandparents, both with such royal descents, lived sometime in New Hampshire. Trudeau and Winston Churchill are included because I subjectively considered them and FDR the greatest 20th-century heads of the three major North Atlantic English-speaking nations.

I also charted connections of various immigrants to Catherine and Marie d’Medici queens of France (pp.637, 192), and to Ferdinand I (of Ferdinand and Isabella), often considered the first King of modern Spain (pp.716-18). Yet another connection I noted was that of the English Margaret Kerdeston, niece of a Duke of Suffolk and great-grandmother of Anne of Bohemia, wife of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor (pp. 40-48, 54-57, 192, 287-90, 615-16). Although my main concern was indeed colonial and modern immigrants to America, in so charting these lines I encountered all the above royal figures—plus a few others. These descents will connect millions of Americans to not only the kings from whom they descend but also to a wide variety of modern sovereigns and/or heads of state. I hope these connections intrigue readers and demonstrate the close genealogical ties between Europe, Canada, colonial America, and the United States.  RD 900 is thus international, and I was glad to incorporate so much of my life’s work into it.


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