I’m not too cool to be excited about the royal baby. I’m not going to send a present or anything, but a healthy baby welcomed by the world is happy news for a change. And babies are cute.
And I could be related to the son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Well, OK, according to the genealogy research I’ve done so far, the odds I have royal roots are pretty slim.
You might have better chances: More than 60 percent of Americans are descended from royalty, according to Gary Boyd Roberts, author of The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants (Genealogical Publishing Co).
Please note I’m not knocking plebian roots (that’s what I have). I find all types of family trees equally interesting, and very occasionally equally boring.
So let’s welcome His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge with a short quiz about royal roots. Answers are below:
1. True or false: An ancestor with a title such as duke, earl or baron means you come from royalty.
2. If you’re American, your chances of finding a royal ancestor are best if
a. You come from German stock
b. Your ancestors were potato famine immigrants
c. You go back to New England Puritans, Pennsylvania Quakers or Tidewater planters
3. The British royal family adopted a fixed surname
a. by about 1400, same as most others families in England
b. in 1917
c. in 1952
d. last year
4. Good resources for researching royal roots include (choose all that apply)
a. Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage (two volumes) edited by Charles Mosley
b. Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis
c. Jones genealogy: a Welsh family with the ancestry, and some of the descendants of Rev. Rowland Jones, first Pastor of Bruton Parish, Virginia, connected by marriage with President George Washington by Gustave Anjou
1. False. The term “royalty” applies to the rulers (kings, queens, princes, princesses) and their immediate families. Nobles are the families of high and hereditary rank, often descendants of kings’ younger sons, but not always related by blood to royalty. Moreover, being noble didn’t necessarily mean you got a title.
2. c. The immigrants who brought royal blood with them to the New World were most likely Puritans settling in New England, Quakers (often Welsh) in Pennsylvania, Scots in mid-Atlantic states, and Anglican “cavaliers” to Tidewater Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. If you have a sizable number—50 to 100—of immigrant relatives in one or more of these areas, you “can expect to find a royally descended forebear,” Boyd says.
3. b. 1917. Before then, members of the British royal family had no surname, but only the name of the house or dynasty to which they belonged. In 1917, WWI anti-German sentiment prompted George V, of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, to adopt Windsor as his surname. “Windsor” came from the castle of that name. In 1952, Elizabeth II’s surname and that of her descendants was modified to Mountbatten-Windsor, adding her husband Prince Philip’s surname.
4. a and b. Avoid genealogies by Gustav Anjou (1863-1942), known for falsifying the family histories he wrote for clients.
Our guide to researching your genealogy connections to royalty is in the Spring 2011 Discover Your Roots, available in Family Tree Shop.