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  • Notable Kin: American Connections of Miss Sarah Ferguson

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Published Date : June 1986
     After much checking in various works covering the British peerage, baronetage, and landed gentry, William Addams Reitwiesner and I, coauthors of American Ancestors and Cousins of The Princess of Wales1, are pleased to make an initial positive report.  Miss Sarah Ferguson, born 15 October 1959, who on 23 July 1986 will marry at Westminster Abbey H.R.H. Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward of Great Britain has at least three major genealogical connections to the American colonies, plus descent from a West Indian family with several northern affiliations.

    At first glance, Miss Ferguson’s ancestry looks almost entirely British — her paternal grandfather was a grandson of the 2nd Viscount Hampden; her paternal grandmother (a first cousin of H.R.H. Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, aunt-by-marriage of H. M. The Queen) is a granddaughter of the 6th Duke of Buccleuth (by a daughter of the 1st Duke of Abercorn); her maternal grandfather was the great-grandson of the 3rd Earl of Romney; and her maternal grandmother is a daughter of the 8th Viscount Powerscourt.  As great-great-great-granddaughters of the just-named 1st Duke of Abercorn, Miss Ferguson and The Princess of Wales are fourth cousins.  As descendants of both (1) William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire (1720-1764), an eighteenth-century Prime Minister, and of (2) William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland (1708/9-1762), father of a second eighteenth-century Prime Minister, Miss Ferguson and Prince Andrew are doubly sixth cousins once removedThe closest kinship between The Prince and Princess of Wales (descent from the 3rd Duke of Devonshire, father of the 4th), by contrast, is that of seventh cousins once removed.3

    Charting the bulk of Miss Ferguson’s ancestry — all from printed sources in Boston or Washington, D.C. — to the mid-seventeenth century, however, reveals a few more “exotic” if not altogether surprising strands.  A great-great-grandmother was German, several ancestresses belonged to the “colonial gentry” of Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados, or Bermuda, and a ninth-generation forebear was an Anglo-Irish Winthrop almost certainly descended from the Suffolk grandfather of Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay.  A twelfth-generation ancestor was the corrupt New York Governor Lord Cornbury, and a thirteenth-generation ancestor was Sir Francis Wyatt, first royal Governor of Virginia and a near kinsman of various early Kentish immigrants to the colonies.  The following selective ancestor table for Miss Ferguson, arranged by numbered generation in genealogical order, outlines her Winthrop, Cornbury (Hyde) and Wyatt descents, and notes the major American connections of the Byam family of Antigua:

    1.    Sarah Margaret Ferguson

    2.    Ronald Ivor Ferguson & Susan Mary Wright, now Mrs. Hector Barrantes

    3.    FitzHerbert Wright & Hon. Doreen Julia Wingfield

    4.    Henry FitzHerbert Wright & Muriel Harriet Fletcher;Mervyn Richard Wingfield, 8th Viscount Powerscourt, & Sybil Pleydell-Bouverie

    5.    Henry Charles Fletcher & Lady Harriet Marsham; Mervyn Wingfield, 7th Viscount Powerscourt, & Lady Julia Coke; Walter Pleydell-Bouverie & Mary Bridgeman

    6.    Charles Marsham, 3rd Earl of Romney, & Lady Margaret Harriet Montagu-Douglas-Scott; Richard Wingfield, 6th Viscount Powerscourt, & Lady Elizabeth Frances Charlotte Jocelyn (1st cousins); Hon. Edward Pleydell-Bouverie & Elizabeth Anne Balfour

    7.    Charles Marsham. 2nd Earl of Romney, & Sophia Pitt; Richard Wingfield, 5th Viscount Powerscourt, & Lady Frances Theodosia Jocelyn; Robert Jocelyn,


    3rd Earl of Roden, & Hon. Maria Frances Catherine Stapleton; William Pleydell-Bouverie, 3rd Earl of Radnor, & Anne Judith St. John-Mildmay

    8.    Charles Marsham, 1st Earl of Romney, & Lady Frances Wyndham; Richard Wingfield, 4th Viscount Powerscourt, & Lady Catherine Meade; Robert Jocelyn, 2nd Earl of Roden, & Frances Theodosia Bligh (parents of Viscountess Powerscourt & the 3rd Earl of Roden); Thomas Stapleton, Baron Le Despencer, & Elizabeth Eliot; Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, 2nd Earl of Radnor, & Hon. Anne Duncombe

    9.    Robert Marsham, 2nd Baron Romney, & Priscilla Pym; John Meade, 1st Earl Clanwilliam, & Theodosia Hawkins-Magill; Robert Bligh, Dean of Elphin, & Frances Winthrop; Samuel Eliot of Antigua & Alice Byam; Anthony Duncombe, 1st Baron Feversham, & Anne Hales

    10.  Robert Marsham, 1st Baron Romney, & Elizabeth Shovell; Robert Hawkins-Magill & Lady Anne Bligh; Stephen Winthrop & Frances Davie; William Byam of Antigua & Anne Gunthorpe (great-grandparents of Amelia Jane Byam, natural daughter of Edward Samuel Byam & Clara Parker, and wife of John Ericsson, the engineer who built the Monitor in 18614); Sir Thomas Hales, 3rd Bt., & Mary Marsham

    11.  Sir Robert Marsham, 4th Bt., & Margaretta Bosvile (parents of the 1st Baron Romney & Lady Thomas Hales); John Bligh, 1st Earl of Darnley, & Lady Theodosia Hyde, Baroness Clifton; Benjamin Winthrop & Bridget Pembroke; Edward Byam, Governor of the Leeward Islands, & Mrs. Lydia Thomas Martin (aunt of Sir George Thomas, 1st Bt., Governor of Pennsylvania & Delaware, & grandmother by her 1st husband, Samuel Martin, of Josiah Martin, Governor of North Carolina4)

    12.  Thomas Bosvile & Elizabeth Wyatt; Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon, known as Lord Cornbury, 1661-1723, Governor of New York & New Jersey, 1702-1708 (a 1st cousin of Queens Mary II and Anne) & Catherine O’Brien, Baroness Clifton (who died in 1706, aged 33, and is buried in Trinity Church, New York City); Stephen Winthrop of Bandon, Cork, & Mary ____

    13.  Sir Francis Wyatt, 1588-1644, Governor of Virginia, 1621-1626, 1639-1642, & Margaret Sandys; (probably, but absolute proof is lacking) Joshua Winthrop of the Mitchells near Bandon, & ____ Harrison

    14. Joshua Winthrop & Anne Norrington

    15.  William Winthrop & Elizabeth Norwood, great-grandparents of two immigrant sisters to Mass., Abigail & Hannah Salter, who married respectively John Hammond (Abigail) & Nicholas Phillips & John Ruggles (Hannah)

    16.  Adam Winthrop (1498-1562), citizen & clothworker of London, later of Groton, Suffolk, & Alice Henny, his 1st wife. By his 2nd wife, Agnes Sharpe, Adam Winthrop was the grandfather of Puritan leader Governor John Winthrop (1587/8-1649) of Massachusetts Bay & of Mrs. Lucy Winthrop Downing of Mass., his sister, and great-grandfather of William Hoskins of Mass. & Mrs. Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake Hallett of N.Y. (the Governor’s niece & daughter-in-law, wife of Henry Winthrop, Robert Feake & William Hallett).

    The connections to Cornbury, Ericsson, Thomas and Martin are to single individuals of note in American history.  Miss Ferguson’s Winthrop and Wyatt descents, on the other hand, connect her to whole clusters of related immigrants, to New England and the South respectively, from whom descend many notable figures and undoubtedly several million contemporary Americans, including many NEXUS readers.

    As we would expect, the descendants of Governor John Winthrop have been traced with some care.They include House Speaker Robert Charles Winthrop, Harvard president Charles William Eliot, astronaut Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr., columnists Joseph & Stewart Alsop, novelist Louis Stanton Auchincloss, and the wives of diplomat Silas Deane, General Henry Dearborn, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge II, and Ford Foundation president McGeorge Bundy.  Current political figures among Winthrop descendants including Senator John Forbes Kerry of Massachusetts Governor Thomas Howard Kean of New Jersey, and former Boston city councillor John Winthrop Sears, chairman of the NEHGS Challenge Fund.  One of the Governor’s sons moved to Antigua and left descendants who also figure later in the British landed gentry, baronetage, and peerage.  Anothe descendant, Mary Esther Lee, Princess of Noër was the American-born wife firstly of a brother-in-law of Christian VIII, King of Denmark, and secondly of German Field Marshal Alfred, Count Waldersee.

    Mrs. Downing, sister of the Governor, was not only the mother of Sir George Downing, 1st Bt., the Harvard graduate for whom Downing Street, London, is named.  She was also a great-great-great-grandmother of our second “first lady,” — Mrs. Abigail Smith Adams, and an ancestress of President John Quincy Adams, diplomat Charles Francis Adams, historians Henry and Brooks Adams, art historian Charles Eliot Norton, poet Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot, and Mrs. John Pierpont Morgan, Jr.Elizabeth Feake, daughter of Robert Feake, and Elizabeth Fones and a great-niece of Governor Winthrop and Mrs. Downing, married John Underhill, military leader and early official of English New York.  Her descendants include Columbia president Charles King, Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, financier Stuyvesant Fish, aviator Amelia Mary Earhart, Atlantic Monthly editor E.A. Weeks, Jr., and once more columnists Joseph and Stewart Alsop, plus the wives of Federalist statesman Rufus King, French Prime Minister William Henry Waddington, traction magnate Thomas Fortune Ryan, composer Irving Berlin, and Secretary of State Cyrus Roberts Vance.

    Abigail Grosse, a granddaughter of Hannah Salter and Nicholas Phillips, married Joseph Shippen and moved to Philadelphia.  Her descendants include various Shippens, Burds, Peales, Willings, Binghams, Clymers, Francises, Powells, and Hares of that city, plus Secretary of State Thomas Francis Bayard, Senator Harry Flood Byrd, explorer Richard Evelyn Byrd (Jr.), General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright (III), Mrs. Benedict Arnold (Margaret Shippen), Mrs. John Jacob Astor IV (Ava Lowle Willing) and her son, (William) Vincent Astor, Mrs. Eliot Lee Richardson (Anne Francis Hazard), and Edward Robbins Wharton, husband of Mrs. Edith (Newbold Jones) Wharton, the novelist.8


    These distant almost certain Winthrop connections of Miss Ferguson extend beyond Massachusetts, then, to New York, Philadelphia and even Virginia.  Her myriad Wyatt connections begin with a large cluster of Kentish gentry in the Tidewater (both Virginia and Maryland), then extend likewise into other colonies. Rev. Hawte Wyatt, brother of Sir Francis, was the minister at Jamestown during his sibling’s first administration; descendants include William Wyatt Bibb, Thomas Bibb, and Henry Watkins Collier, all governors of Alabama.  The Wyatt brothers were first cousins twice removed of Sir Henry Vane, Puritan statesman and Governor of Massachusetts; second cousins once removed (through the Moyle family) of Edward Digges and Sir Henry Chichele, also Governors of Virginia, and of Sir Grey Skipwith, 3rd Bt., and Mrs. Diana Skipwith Dale, his sister, both also of Virginia; third cousins of Samuel Appleton of Massachusetts and third cousins once removed of both Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, first proprietary Governor of Maryland, and his brother, Hon. Leonard Calvert, that colony’s first civil Governor (through the Hawtes); and third cousins twice removed of Mrs. Elizabeth Bosvile Harlakenden Pelham of Massachusetts, second wife of Herbert Pelham, first treasurer of Harvard College (through the Guilfords).

    Margaret Sandys, Lady Wyatt, whose mother was a Culpeper, was a niece of George Sandys, poet and treasurer of the Virginia colony; a first cousin once removed of Richard Lovelace, the cavalier poet, Francis Lovelace, Governor of New York, and Mrs. Anne Lovelace Gorsuch of Virginia and Maryland; a second cousin of Thomas Culpeper of Virginia, father-in-law of Governor Sir William Berkeley; a second cousin once removed of the later Thomas Culpeper, 2nd Baron Culpeper, Governor of Virginia; and a third cousin once removed of her husband and Rev. Hawte Wyatt and of Christopher and Richard Tilghman of Maryland (through the Cromers), and of Acting Governor Jeremiah Clarke of Rhode Island (also through the Culpepers).9

    More distant kinships to other Kentish-derived American colonists can also be traced.  Several of these immigrant kinsmen left no, or relatively few, American descendants.  The notable progeny of Digges or Mrs. Gorsuch, the two nearest kinsmen who left many such descendants, however, includes revolutionary statesman John Dickinson, Confederate general Robert Edward Lee, humanitarian Helen Adams Keller, the above-listed Senator Byrd, Admiral Byrd, and Mrs. Irving Berlin, and wives of signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton, President Chester Alan Arthur, oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury, and Senator (William) Stuart Symington (Jr.).  Marianne Caton, a granddaughter of Carroll and descendant of Digges, married firstly Robert Paterson, brother-in-law of Jerome Bonaparte, King of Westphalia, and secondly Richard Colley Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, Governor -- General of India (and great-great-grandfather, by an earlier marriage, of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother), elder brother of the Duke of Wellington.10

    I wish to emphasize that unlike The Queen Mother and The Princess of Wales, Miss Ferguson has no native-born American ancestors - only descents from English colonial governors, or their near kinsmen, who in at least two cases were related to various other American immigrants also.  Such colonial connections are indeed somewhat remote and probably shared by much of the English landed gentry. Winthrop, Underhill and Shippen descendants, among others, plus many Americans with Kentish-derived Tidewater ancestry, should nonetheless be pleased.  One of their “commoner” cousins will soon become a British Princess.

    1. Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company (GPC), 1984, still available from the NEHGS Sales Department, 101 Newbury Street, Boston, Mass. 02116.

    2. For Prince Andrew’s Devonshire and Portland descents, through Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, see Gerald Paget, The Lineage and Ancestry of H.R.H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, vol. 2 (1977).  The 4th Duke of Devonshire is #0115, and the 2nd Duke of Portland is #0113, p. 6.

    3. See Genealogists’ Magazine 20 (1980-1982):192.

    4. See Ruth White, The Dream and Reality in the Days of John Ericsson (1960):40-41, and V.L. Oliver, The History of the Island of Antigua, vol. 1 (1894):240 (Eliot), 97-99 (Byam), 2. (1896):240-41 (which confuses Governor Josiah Martin and an uncle of the same name), 3 (1899):132-33 (Thomas).

    5. For both the Winthrop immigrant kinsmen and the progeny of Gov. John, see J.J. Muskett, Suffolk Manorial Families, vol. 1 (1900), esp. 25-30, 87, 99, & 107; Burke’s Irish Family Records (1976), 642-51; E.F. Waterman and D.L. Jacobus, The Granberry Family and Allied Families (1945), 240-48; the Register 73 (1919):238-39; L.S. Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America (1948); and E.K. Taylor, The Lion and the Hare (1939).

    6. See, among other sources, Burke’s Presidential Families of the United States of America. 2nd ed. (1981), Appendix C, ancestral table of John Quincy Adams, the Register 13 (1859): 229-30, and an Eliot, Dawes, Cranch, etc. tabular pedigree (TP CRA 1050 in the Society’s library).

    7. See Josephine C. Frost, E.R. Deats, and Harry Macy, Jr., Underhill Genealogy, 6 vols. (1-4, 1932, 5-6, 1980), and J.R. Delafield, Delafield: The Family History, 2 vols. (1945).

    8.  See, among other sources, J.W. Jordan, ed., Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania, vol. 1 (1911, reprint 1978):101-9 (Shippen), 124-31 (Willing), and C.P. Keith, The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania (1883):(52)-(141), 17-18.

    9. See Sir A.R. Wagner, English Genealogy, 3rd ed. (1983): 285-89, esp. his citation to Peter Laslett in The Cambridge Historical Journal 9 (1948): 148-64, and my own life’s work, “The Mowbray Connection,” 23 vols., mss. at the Society, American text, chapter 1,104-10, chapter 2, 52-57, and chapter 4, 13-14. The Wyatts, Calverts and Appleton are covered in W.G. Davis, The Ancestry of Mary Isaac (1955), and the Culpeper and Lovelace-Gorsuch clans, plus others of these Tidewater immigrants, in either A.L. Jester and M.W. Hiden, Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1625 (1956) or one of the several recent Genealogies of Virginia Families, reprint sets published by GPC.

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