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European Descendants of RD 900, by Gary Boyd Roberts

European Descendants of RD 900, by Gary Boyd Roberts

I have been gratified by Americans’ interest in The Royal Descents of 900 Immigrants to the American Colonies, Quebec, or the United States since its publication in 2018.  I am surprised, however, at the response the work has received in Great Britain and continental Europe. The late Prince Phillip appears several times and, in addition to common British and Danish ancestry shared with his wife, brought a surprising element to the British royal family—descent from the Romanov czars of Russia and Catherine the Great (he also descends from later Prussian kings than the Queen). Among prime ministers Boris Johnson, who until recently held American as well as British citizenship, has much New England ancestry and appears on page 12 as a descendant of both a king Wurttemberg who died in 1816 and George II of Great Britain; his German and Turkish ancestry is mentioned as well. David Cameron, a descendant of King William IV (Victoria’s uncle) by the actress Mrs. Jordan, is mentioned on page 10. Sir Winston Churchill, who appears several times with some of his American ancestry, is treated on pages 584-86, 647-48.  Also covered in RD 900 are the wives of Harold MacMillan, Sir Anthony Eden, and William E. Gladstone. The publication references as well various 18th-century and later peers, or their near kin, and my articles covering the 14th Earl Home; the 2nd Earl Grey, who passed the Reformed Bill of 1832; the first Earl Russell; and greatest of all, the (1st) Duke of Wellington, victor at Waterloo. 

RD 900’s major literary figures total sixty or more and include scientist and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon, John Dryden, Jonathan Swift, Henry Fielding, biographer James Boswell, philosopher David Hume, Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Shelley, and Anthony Trollope, plus wives of Edmund Spencer of the Fairie Queen, the poet John Donne, diarist Samuel Pepys, and of course Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley of Frankenstein fame (all of these before the mid-19th century). Literary figures, some of whose ancestry I have included with references to my articles covering the connecting generations, include William Wordsworth (p. 330, unfortunately omitted from the index), Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Lewis Carroll, Alfred Lord Tennyson, E.M. Forster, Virginia Wolfe, and Lytton Strachey. Among late 19th- and 20th-century giants whose royal descent is fully covered in RD 900 are the evolutionist Charles Darwin, W.H. Auden, George Orwell, Noel Coward, Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, (T.E.) Lawrence of Arabia, philosopher Bertrand Russell, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Millington Synge, Evelyn Waugh, Dame Rebecca West, comic writer P.G. Wodehouse (creator of Jeeves), Sitwells and Mitfords, plus wives of Karl Marx, philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, and playwright Harold Pinter (Lady Antonia Fraser). Among these giants, Auden, Coward, Isherwood, Huxley, Stevenson, Alec Waugh (brother of Evelyn), and Jessica Mitford lived for at least a time in United States.

Among royals, I treat the Virginia ancestry of the late Queen Mother, some Connecticut ancestry of the late Princess of Wales, the Martineau and Fairfax ancestry of Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and some New England ancestry of Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. Also treated are Mark Phillips, first husband of Princess Anne, and the American ancestry of Rainier II of Monaco, husband of Grace Kelly. Outlined as well are the descents of the kings of Italy from a sister of James Edward Oglethorpe of Georgia, and of the current King of the Belgiums from Lafayette, hero of both the American and French revolutions. In a future set of notes, I would like to bring to readers’ attention the also considerable number of noted continental and European figures in the work. In the meantime, I recommend a glance at Appendix III to the Introduction [pp. cvi-cxxxii (101-132], which list 610 major figures from all parts of the western world. Volume II contains a French-Canadian section that should interest Quebec residents, a large number of whom have descents from the immigrants treated therein. A kind of coda covers the surprising Spanish royal descent of Cuban and Bolivian revolutionary leader Che Guevara, several of whose immediate ancestors lived in San Francisco, and notes connections to the acting governor of Alta California for whom the Castro District in San Francisco is named, and probably to the explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. Thus, in addition to immigrants, especially colonial settlers from whom millions of Americans descend, RD 900 covers a vast array of notables we all studied or read in school and may still enjoy or admire.

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