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  • #76 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: On Finding Major Discoveries Late in Life

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Published Date : Originally posted 11-14-2004; Revised June 16, 2008

    On September 29, 2004, I celebrated my 61st birthday (in 2007, my 64th), and on October 7, 2004, 30 (now 33) years of association with NEHGS. Recently K. Todd Johnson of Smithfield, North Carolina, former head of the Johnston County [N.C.] Heritage Center and a fourth cousin once removed, reported his findings (with much more in 2007) that my long-elusive great-great-grandfather, Calvin H. Roberts, was the Henderson Roberts who married Mary Elizabeth Dodd in Johnston Co. in 1854, the Calvin H. who was non-taxed for insolvency in neighboring Wayne Co. in 1852, and very probably the Calvin Roberts who married Sarah Freshwater in New Hanover Co. in 1851, was sometime associated with Wilmington [N.C.], and was the son of a local Polly Roberts, probably the Polly Snipes who married John Roberts in Johnston Co. in 1816. I shall play with these possibilities (and my colleagues will no doubt enjoy doing so likewise) but the more defining recent discoveries, given my interests and published works, are the likelihood of descents from both Edward III, King of England (d. 1377), and the famed Spanish “gateway” ancestress Sancha de Ayala.

    Both of these discoveries were developed, and have been argued to me at length via telephone, by Douglas Richardson, author of Plantagenet Ancestry and Magna Carta Ancestry. In my own RD600 (The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants, 2004, 2006, 2008), p. 259, and in New England Ancestors 5 (2004), 3:34, I mentioned the possibility, developed by Doug in Plantagenet Ancestry, pp. 78-79, 263, that Katherine Stradling, wife of Morris (Maurice) Dennis, was a daughter of Sir Edward Stradling legitimately, i.e. by Joan Beaufort, daughter of Henry, Cardinal Beaufort (and, it is usually said, Alice FitzAlan or Arundel, later wife of John Cherleton, 4th Baron Cherleton of Powis), legitimized son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (and Katherine [Roet] Swynford), son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault. In Foundations 1, #4 (July 2004), Brad Verity argues at length (pp. 246-68) against the Alice FitzAlan/Arundel connection and somewhat against the Dennis such, but further discussion with Doug and the late Marshall Kenneth Kirk, the latter sometime of NEHGS, convinces me that the line is still likely. Certainly Cardinal Beaufort obtained the wardship of Morris Dennis for his son-in-law Stradling, and that he would do so for a granddaughter—known from 16th- and early 17th-century visitations but not contemporary records—makes logical sense given overall context (a confirming document would indeed be wonderful). Morris Dennis and Katherine Stradling are ancestors of Col. Thomas Ligon/Lygon of Va. (my forebear), Maine founder and Lord Proprietor Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Sir William Berkeley, governor of Va., Rev. Edward Foliot of Va., Henry Norwood, treasurer of Va., the Deighton sisters of Mass.—(Brahmin forebear) Mrs. Katherine Deighton Hackburne Dudley Allyn, (Taunton ur-mother) Mrs. Frances Deighton Williams, and Mrs. Jane Deighton Lugg Negus—Elizabeth (Throckmorton) Dale, wife of Sir Thomas Dale, governor of Va., and Mrs. Bridget Lisle Hoar Usher, wife of Leonard Hoar, third president of Harvard College.

    In early preparation for his Magna Carta Ancestry, Douglas Richardson also traced the matrilineal line of my second royally-descended immigrant forebear, Acting Gov. Jeremiah Clarke of R.I., to Sancha Blount, daughter of Sir Thomas Blount and Margaret Gresley, and granddaughter of Sir Walter Blount and the famed Sancha de Ayala, sister of a great-great-grandfather of Ferdinand I (1452-1516), generally considered the first king of United Spain, husband of Isabella of Castile and sponsor of Columbus. For more on Sancha, her Spanish ancestry and her immigrant American and presidential descendants, see National Genealogical Society Quarterly 51 (1963): 235-38, my Ancestors of American Presidents, 1st ed. (1995, hereafter AAP), pp. 365-68, and Register 152 (1998): 36-48, the latter a brilliant piece by Nathaniel L. Taylor and Todd A. Farmerie. Sancha Blount, granddaughter of Sancha de Ayala, married Edward Langford and had a daughter, Alice Langford, who married John Stradling of Dauntsey and Richard Pole of Isleworth, later Sir Richard Pole, husband also of Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury and niece of Kings Edward IV and Richard III. John and Alice left a daughter, Anne Stradling, who married Sir John Danvers. From the 1895 English Danvers genealogy, plus a recent successor, and the 1878 English Chester of Chicheley genealogy, the line to Clarke is clear. Sir John Danvers and Anne Stradling had a daughter Anne, wife of Thomas Lovett and John Wyke and mother in turn of Elizabeth Lovett, wife of Anthony Cave. Mary Cave, a daughter of these last, married Sir Jerome Weston and was the mother of both Richard Weston, 1st Earl of Portland, Lord Treasurer under Charles I, and Mary Weston, wife of William Clerke and mother of Acting Gov. Jeremiah Clarke of R.I.

    Thus not only is my long-unknown patrilineal descent beginning to be known; I am also much more closely related than I previously thought to late Yorkist and Tudor kings of England and to Habsburg kings or emperors of Spain or Austria (the Holy Roman Empire) and Bourbon kings of France. For Joan Beaufort, a full sister of the cardinal, married Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmor[e]land, whose ninth child listed by Richardson was Cecily Neville, wife of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, mother of Edward IV and Richard III, and grandmother of Elizabeth Plantagenet of York (daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville), wife of Henry VII, the first Tudor king of England, and mother of Henry VIII. And Juana of Castile, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, married Philip of Habsburg, and was the mother of the Emperors Charles V (father, by Isabella of Portugal, of Philip II, King of Spain) and Ferdinand I. The latter, by Kerdeston-de la Pole descendant Anne of Bohemia, left among other children Joanna, Archduchess of Austria, who married Francesco I Maria de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and was the mother of Marie de’ Medici, wife of Henry IV, first Bourbon king of France. For a few more details see my Notable Kin, Volume One (1998), chapter 5 (pp. 38-39 esp.), originally published in NEXUS 9 (1992): 148-53, and AAP, pp. 360-64.

    Previously I was only a descendant, via both Thomas Ligon and Jeremiah Clarke, of Edward I, King of England (d. 1307), plus earlier Capetians, Hohenstaufens, kings of Castile and Aragon, Eastern Roman Emperors, etc. Like millions of Americans, I now find myself very probably a second to fifth cousin a dozen or more times removed of Yorkist and Tudor kings of England, and a fourth to eighth cousin of the king whose marriage united Spain, of Holy Roman Emperors, and of an Italian queen of France. These kinships were by far my best 60th and 61st birthday presents, and a fitting capstone to thirty (now 33) years of genealogical service at NEHGS, forty years of work on The Mowbray Connection, my lifetime study of the royal descents of noted figures in the history of Western Europe and its colonial offspring, and fifty years of passion for genealogy. As a child I often drew and read about these kings and queens, as an adolescent and young man I studied their historical place in the world, and since about 1966 they have been centerpieces of my genealogical research. Even my 2004 updated-article anthology, The Best Genealogical Sources in Print (vol. 1, 2004), contains several chapters on the evolution of royalty, nobility, and gentry; the development of royal descent patterns; and the best literature (to 2004) for studying them. My interest in various other subjects is developed in this volume as well, and Roberts/Snipes research continues. I even hope for some solution to the ancestry of my Memphis, Tenn. great-great-grandmother, Caroline Pool(e), wife of Ephraim H[ough] Root and daughter of George and Martha (Mitchell?) Poole of Holly Springs, Mississippi, who died in the early 1840s, leaving Caroline an orphan; she quickly married the much older Root and was in Texas by the early 1850s. As a gift from my genealogical colleagues, however, the likelihood of these new royal connections could hardly be topped. I am grateful, and wish to end this short column by reminding readers and NEHGS patrons with whom I have worked for the past 30 years, that discoveries late in life, sometimes by others, can add enormously to your genealogical “identity” and self-definition. I will forgive any colleague who disproves these new descents but I would much prefer, as you can imagine, final documentary confirmation.

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