All of these lines are extensively traced and referenced in the Omnibus Ancestry (available for download at Lulu).
Recently researchers unveiled a reconstruction of the face of King Robert the Bruce of Scotland (1274-1329, reigned 1306-1329), having applied anthropological forensics techniques to a cast of his skull. The lifelike result can be seen at this link. It does not particularly resemble the much-reproduced, ahistorical portrait illustrated here, which was painted in 1633.
In my family, the reconstruction’s announcement led to a discussion of our relationship, if any, to King Robert. As it happens we do descend from him, and many times over, through one of our seven gateway ancestors to royalty. In this article, I describe some of Dugal McQueen’s royal descents as well as as those of our other six “gateway” ancestors. A gateway ancestor is an immigrant progenitor whose own ancestry traces to royalty — and all of whose descendants accordingly do as well.
The Gateway Ancestors
- Dugal McQueen
An ancestor of my mother’s father, Dugal McQueen (ca 1666?-1746) and his family have been the subject of several articles on this blog, especially 4. Dugal McQueen, Scottish Rebel and Gateway Ancestor to Royalty; and 26. A Visit to the Home of the McQueens of Pollochaig. In the listing of gateway ancestors, he has pride of place, because he descended from the most recent of all of our royal ancestors, King James II of Scotland (1430-1460, reigned 1437-1460). This makes the descent rarer, because in general, the later a king lived, the fewer descendants he has and the harder it is to find a line of descent from him.
Through James II, Dugal descended from Kings James I, Robert III, Robert II, and Robert II’s maternal grandfather Robert I, “the Bruce”. However, there are not just one but many descents from Robert the Bruce, because Dugal descended from multiple children of each of those kings. All but the most recent, that is. His one connection to James II was through James’ daughter Mary Stewart, who married Sir James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton.
Others of Dugal’s relatively recent royal ancestors include Jean II, “the Good”, King of France (1319-1364, reigned 1350-1364), through his son Philip II, “the Bold”, Duke of Burgundy; and King Edward III of England (1312-1377, reigned 1327-1377), through Edward’s son John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Aquitaine.
- Ralph Lewis
An ancestor of my mother’s mother, Ralph Lewis (ca 1649-1712) was a Quaker of co. Glamorgan, Wales, who removed to Pennsylvania in 1683. He owned land in what is now Delaware county, and was the subject of a blog entry, 25. The True Parentage of Ralph Lewis, of Darby Township, Chester (now Delaware) County, Pennsylvania .
Ralph was technically the second most recently royally descended of our gateway ancestors, at least when reckoned by birth year. One of his ancestors was King Pedro, “the Cruel”, King of Castile and Leon (1334-1369, reigned 1350-1368). The line of descent is through Pedro’s daughter Isabel of Castile, who married Sir Edmund, of Langley, 1st Duke of York, son of King Edward III of England (who with a birthyear of 1312 was older than Pedro, and thus less recent). The descent is unusual because it comes through Edmund’s and Isabel’s daughter Constance Plantagenet by way of her scandalous live-in relationship as the unmarried “wife” of Sir Edmund de Holand, 4th Earl of Kent.
- Mary Need
An ancestor of my mother’s mother, Mary Need (1645-aft 1708) was the wife of Edmund Cartlidge, a Quaker immigrant to Philadelphia. Her grandfather, a member of the yeomanry of co. Nottingham, England, had converted to the Quaker faith in 1647. In turn he was a descendant of the Lords Clifford, of Shakespearian fame, and through them of King Edward III of England (1312-1377, reigned 1327-1377).
This descent is somewhat unusual because it passes through Edward’s son Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence and Earl of Ulster, who left relatively few progeny.
- Elizabeth Gerard
An ancestor of my mother’s father, Elizabeth Gerard (1630-1716) was a native of co. Lancaster, England, whose Catholic birth family immigrated to Maryland in 1638. She married as her first husband, Robert Ellyson, of James City county, Virginia.
Elizabeth was a descendant of King Edward I of England (1239-1307, reigned 1272-1307). The line runs through Edward’s daughter Elizabeth Plantagenet, who married as her second husband, Humphrey de Bohun VIII, Earl of Hereford and Essex, and Lord High Constable of England, and then down through the Fitz Alan and Goushill families.
- Susannah Gerard
An ancestor of my father’s mother, Susannah Gerard (ca 1632-1677) was like her sister Elizabeth (above) a descendant of King Edward I of England (1239-1307, reigned 1272-1307). She married as her first husband, Robert Slye, of St. Mary’s county, Maryland.
- George Yate
An ancestor of my father’s father, George Yate (aft 1636-1691) immigrated to Maryland sometime before 1666, where he became a large landowner of widespread properties in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, and Prince Georges counties. He was of an old Catholic family of Berkshire, England.
George was a descendant of King Henry III of England (1207-1272, reigned 1216-1272), through Henry’s son Edmund Plantagenet, called “Crouchback”, Earl of Lancaster and titular King of Sicily. From Edmund, the line runs down through the Beaumont and Botreaux families.
- Lawrence Dameron
An ancestor of my mother’s father, Lawrence Dameron (1615-1660) was an immigrant from co. Suffolk, England, who became a large landowner in Northumberland county, Virginia. His Dameron ancestors held a manor in co. Suffolk as early as 1552, but his royal ancestry was through his grandmother Marjorie Clench. Her ancestor was Robert de Vere, 5th Earl of Oxford, whose most recent royal line of descent appears to be to Henry I, King of France (1006-1060, reigned 1031-1060) via the Quincy and Beaumont families. This is the most remote of the gateway ancestries.
Some Thoughts About Gateways
The fact that there are seven gateway ancestors in my family history does not mean that it’s easy to identify a royal descent. For many years from around 1950, when my father began genealogical research on our family, we discovered one “gateway” descent after another that proved not to be true. In part this was due to the tendency of amateur genealogists to insufficiently source their information — one big reason why I emphasize sourcing so much today in my book-length publications.
Another aspect of the difficulty traces to the long, serial nature of such descents. With so many generations lined up one after another to get back to a royal ancestor, and with every generation needing to be accurate, it is easy to make an error somewhere along the way. Sometimes it’s as simple as attributing a child to one wife of a male ancestor, when the child was actually by a different wife. Sometimes there are confusions of similar names, so that evidence seeming to link an ancestor to a preceding generation actually concerned an entirely different person. Finally, for Americans there are particular difficulties associated with “hopping the pond”. Immigrant ancestors often left little or no evidence about their origins, and so mistakes are easily made when attempting to identify the correct individuals in European records.
There are nevertheless ways to improve your chances of tracing a royal line. One of the most important is to trace every ancestor possible. Every generation back doubles the number of ancestral lines, and you never know where a gateway will open up. Our first discovery of a gateway ancestor – I mean a real discovery, one that has thus far stood the test of time – was Ralph Lewis, and it didn’t occur until 1994, almost a half century after my father started his research. It occured only because I was determined to trace my mother’s Withers ancestors, opening up a host of Pennsylvania Quaker lines. Even then we got some details wrong, as I have written in 25. The True Parentage of Ralph Lewis, of Darby Township, Chester (now Delaware) County, Pennsylvania.
All of these lines, and much more, are documented in my book The Omnibus Ancestry. The culmination of almost 70 years of effort, it contains nearly 600 interconnected ancestral lines. Many thousands of dollars went into its research. By investing in the book, you invest in the ongoing research that has made it possible, and that will continue to support updated editions going forward. For those who have made and are making the investment, I am truly grateful. For others considering it, here is the link to The Omnibus Ancestry: 589 Documented American and European Lines.
Picture attribution: Public domain.