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Royal Families: Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry, by Marston Watson

Royal Descents

Royalty and titled nobility in America? Not exactly. No titles of duke, marquess, earl, viscount or baron are bestowed on men, nor titles of duchess, marchioness, countess, viscountess and baroness are granted to women in the United States of America.

Nevertheless, hundreds of our seventeenth-century immigrants shed their noble titles for freedom from religious persecution or economic restrictions. Most of these immigrants made their mark in our colonial and American history as governors, selectman, jurists, land holders, farmers and in many other noble capacities.

royal and noble lineage

Author Marston Watson has devoted twenty years of research and dedicated four volumes of Royal Families: Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry to millions of Americans who can claim their heritage to kings, queens, and titled nobility in the United Kingdom and most European countries, as well as to the Holy Roman Empire and Constantinople rulers. Millions of Americans are descended from the European noblemen who fought in the Crusades in the Middle East during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Thousands of descendants in these four volumes can claim a connection to Mayflower passengers as well.

This four-volume series begins with the immigrant of royal and noble descent and continues through the colonial period to the American Revolution and often beyond. The format of the work is a modified version of that used in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, with citations primarily to published vital records and major family histories. 

For each of his four volumes, Marston Watson chose prominent colonial families who became an important part of our American history in the northeastern and southern regions of our fledgling nation. Thomas Dudley came from prominent English nobility and was one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Company, which sought to establish a Puritan colony in North America. Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson was a Puritan spiritual advisor and religious reformer, whose strong religious convictions were at odds with the established Puritan clergy in Boston, including Governor Thomas Dudley. Anne was eventually tried and convicted, then banished from the colony with many of her supporters.

Samuel Appleton and his wife Judith Everard were both descendants of royal and noble families. Samuel, who distinguished himself in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, left many prominent Appleton descendants, including Fanny Elizabeth Appleton, wife of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Marston Watson’s expansive fourth volume captures the historical importance of the distinguished West family of Virginia, the Pelham family of Massachusetts, and Avery family of Connecticut. This book marks the first time that a royal connection of these families has been made to the current English monarchy.


Volume One: Governor Thomas Dudley and Descendants Through Five Generations. Second Edition

Dudley descendants share the governor’s royal and notable ancestry through his mother and likely his father, and through his second wife Katherine Deighton. His mother was a descendant of Charlemagne, Alfred the Great, William the Conqueror, and John, King of England. Dudley’s progeny can also claim as ancestors at least seven of the twenty-five barons who witnessed King John’s signature on the Magna Carta.

The second edition covers nearly 900 new Dudley descendants through the sixth generation. It is an essential work as likely several million Americans can prove their descent from this noted Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Many connections to distinguished Dudley descendants are identified by Gary Boyd Roberts in his two volumes of Notable Kin and elsewhere. Americans linked to Governor Thomas Dudley will find near or distant cousins in actor Humphrey Bogart, astronaut Alan Shepard, Jr., Ella Botts Rice (first wife of entrepreneur and movie mogul Howard Hughes), Mary Storer Potter (first wife of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), and many more notable kin. The main families covered in this volume are: Bradstreet, Dudley, Cotton, Fifield, Folsom, Gilman, Hilton, Leavitt, Marston, Rogers, Ruggles, Wiggin, and Woodbridge. View Book Details in Store


Volume Two. Reverend Francis Marbury and Five Generations of the Descendants Through Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson and Katherine (Marbury) Scott

Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson, declared among some in her seventeenth-century world as a religious “heretic,” defied many of the most powerful men in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, including Governor Thomas Dudley, in defense of her strong beliefs. She endured a “trial by fire” without benefit of a jury of her peers, in a highly charged court where these men challenged and mocked her views on religion. Her banishment from Salem and Boston drove her to a new colony called Rhode Island, which her mentor and friend Roger Williams co-founded.

This second volume focuses on two of the Reverend Francis Marbury’s daughters, Anne and Katherine, who immigrated with their husbands to the New World in the 1630s. It covers the first five generations of their descendants, carrying the various lines up to and beyond the American Revolution into the sixth generation. It concludes with an every-name index of several thousand entries and a comprehensive bibliography. In addition, the author appended a “Lineage Society Index” with names of eligible ancestors in hereditary societies, including the Colonial Clergy, Colonial Governors, Mayflower Descendants, and American Revolution Patriots. Mr. Watson’s research for this volume sheds light especially on the families of Almy, Brown, Cole, Cornell, Dyer/Dyre, Gardiner, Hutchinson, Noyes, Place, Potter, Scott, Slocum, and Winslow. View Book Details in Store


Volume Three. Samuel Appleton and His Wife Judith Everard and Five Generations of Their Descendants

Thousands of Americans are direct descendants of Samuel Appleton (1586-1670) of Ipswich, Massachusetts, who had royal and noble connections to Welsh kings and nobleman, and of his wife Judith Everard, whose ancestors included William’s sister Adelaide, as well as Louis IV, King of the Franks. Following the format of The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, this third volume of Marston Watson’s Royal Families series covers five generations, with their sixth generation children, of Samuel and Judith Appleton’s descendants, carrying them up to the period of the Revolutionary War and beyond.

This third volume identifies Americans who are linked to Samuel and Judith Appleton descendants, such as President Franklin Pierce, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, Jr. Other descendants include “signer” William Whipple, Jr., Mrs. John Singleton Copley, James Russell Lowell, Francis Parkman, Jr., Phillips Brooks, Josiah Quincy, Jr., and poet Robert Frost.

This book concludes with an index of over 3,000 entries and a comprehensive bibliography. It should be noted that men named in the fifth or sixth generation often saw service in the American Revolution. The royal connection of many individuals through the Appleton line is well documented. The author has appended a Lineage Society Index which lists ancestors through whom descendants can claim eligibility for hereditary societies that honor Mayflower passengers, American Revolution Patriots and Loyalists, colonial governors, clergy and physicians. Researchers with connections to Appleton, Chamberlain, Hasey, Hewett, Payson, Rogers, or Smith families, in particular, can profit from Volume III. View Book Details in Store


Volume Four: Pelham – Avery – West. Descendants for Nine Generations of Thomas West, 2nd Baron De La Warr: The Possible American Progeny of King Henry VIII

This fourth and concluding volume in Marston Watson’s Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry series is by far the most ambitious. It brings the British royalty and nobility even closer to thousands of Americans through the current monarchy. For example, author Marston Watson can claim kinship to Her Majesty Elizabeth II (12th cousin), HRH Charles, Prince of Wales and Princess Diana, as can thousands of other Americans.

This fourth volume is the culmination of Watson’s research and dedication in providing Americans the opportunity to learn about and appreciate more their distinguished heritage. The nearly nine-hundred pages of this book traces a full nine generations of descendants of Thomas West, 2nd Baron De La Warr. Unlike the earlier books, the progeny identified in this volume are associated not only with New England but with four distinct colonial regions: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Long Island (later greater New York), and Virginia (with expansion to the Deep South). Finally, and unexpectedly, Thomas West descendants’ may be able to claim a kinship to England’s most notorious king, Henry VIII (1491-1547).

This work concentrates on the American progeny of three nearly related kinsmen: (1) Herbert Pelham (ca 1626-1674), the third of that name, sometimes of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and first Treasurer of Harvard College; (2) Pelham’s first cousin twice removed, Susannah (Palmes) Avery (ca 1665-1747), wife of Samuel Avery of New London and Groton, Connecticut; and (3) Hon. John West (1590-1659), Governor of Virginia and also a Burgess, fifth son and twelfth child of Thomas West, 2nd Baron De La Warr, and Anne Knollys. Hon. John West was an uncle of Herbert Pelham of Massachusetts and a brother of the matrilineal great-grandmother of Susannah (Palmes) Avery. The distinguished genealogist and scholar Gary Boyd Roberts identified many prominent descendants of the three immigrant ancestors whose lines are detailed by Marston Watson.

Marston Watson researched colonial newspapers and combed many wills, censuses, and other records. The Tudor connection concerns Thomas West’s marriage to Anne Knollys, a granddaughter of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII. In March 1997 noted genealogist Anthony G. Hoskins published a widely acclaimed article in the Genealogist’s Magazine, entitled “Mary Boleyn’s Cary Children–Offspring of King Henry VIII?” As Hoskins argues (and Mr. Watson concurs), since Mary’s two children while married to William Carey were born during the nearly five years she spent in an intimate relation with Henry VIII, all of the progeny in Volume Four may well be entitled to claim this Tudor ancestry. Anyone connected to the families of Avery, Aylett, Bolling, Brewster, Brown, Claiborne, Dandridge, Fox, Gregory, Henry, Jones, Napier, Payne, Rockefeller, Rogers, Sands, Smith, Spotswood, Walworth, West, Williams, Winslow, or Winston should consider this volume. View Book Details in Store


This four-volume series of Royal Families: Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry is a worthy collection for your personal library, as well as providing documented sources for numerous hereditary society applications.

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