On the Ancestry of the New Royal Baby

By Gary Boyd Roberts, Senior Research Scholar Emeritus

Dominic Lipinski, WPA Pool - Getty Images

May 6, 2019, marked the birth of the latest member of the British Royal Family—Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor—son of their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (perhaps better known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle).

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

Most Americans with sizable New England Yankee, mid-Atlantic Quaker, or Southern "planter" ancestry are descended from medieval kings--kings of England, Scotland and France especially. This book tells you how. Outlined on 997 pages of charts are the best royal descents--i.e., from the most recent king—of 900 (actually 970) immigrants to the American colonies, Quebec, or the United States who were themselves notable or left descendants notable in American history. This volume is a massive expansion on previous books on this topic.

The baby enjoys the largest variety of American, British, and Continental ancestry yet found among U.S. presidents or European sovereigns. Through his maternal grandmother, Doria Loyce Ragland, he is 1/4 African-American, descended from Southern slaves. Through the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the new baby has Virginia ancestry, kinships to George Washington, Meriwether Lewis, Robert E. Lee, Helen Keller, and Generals Marshall and Patton of World War II, and four seventeenth-century immigrant ancestors who were themselves of royal descent. However, Virginia forebears compose only 1/1024 of the child’s ancestry, less than 0.1 per cent. Via his paternal grandmother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who also has an American immigrant ancestor of royal descent, plus distant kinships to more than 400 notable Americans, the boy is another 3/128 American, of Connecticut (and some Massachusetts) Yankee, New Jersey Quaker, and Maryland ancestry. Through his maternal grandfather Thomas Wayne Markle, the royal baby is 1/16 of Pennsylvania German descent, another 1/16 of New Hampshire (and some Massachusetts) Yankee ancestry, and 1/8 of nineteenth- century English (immigrant to the U.S.) ancestry. This American ancestry is thus 1/4 African-American, 1/16 New Hampshire Yankee, 1/16 Pennsylvania German, 3/128 (via the Princess of Wales) and 1/1024 (via the Queen Mother)—totaling about 39%. As was widely reported in the press, one of Meghan Markle’s Yankee immigrant forebears was Rev. William Skepper/Skipper of Boston, Mass., also of royal descent, a connection that makes the Duke and Duchess 17th cousins.

Because the Duchess of Sussex is 1/4 of nineteenth-century English immigrant ancestry, her son is 41% British (all but the Virginians among the Queen Mother’s forebears, and all but the 1/8 and 1/64 of the late Princess’s ancestry that was either American or Armenian). The Duke of Edinburgh and King George VI belong to the largely Protestant German royal caste, with some merely noble German, Hungarian, French, or Russian ancestry, so Master Archie is 19% European, mostly German and royal.

Such a variety of ancestry is probably not unique—African-American, colonial U.S., British (with both yeoman and Scottish sections), and largely German and royal European. Many American and British families are now multiracial or multi-ethnic, or of both colonial American and nineteenth- or twentieth-century immigrant ancestry. And European kings now usually marry commoners, often, as with Denmark and the Netherlands especially from outside their own countries. More such intriguing mixtures can be expected, and will be of considerable genealogical interest.