Genealogy news roundup: Ancestry research uncovers Meghan Markle's royal ancestors

By Rosemary Collins, 17 May 2018 - 2:29pm

Plus: Free criminal ancestors website launches; British Newspaper Archive adds Bedfordshire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire titles; Researchers appeal for names on lost war memorial

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Ancestry found that Meghan Markle is related to Jane Seymour (Credit: Anwar Hussein/ Getty Images)

Meghan Markle can trace royalty among her distant ancestors as well as her new in-laws, new research from Ancestry has revealed.

Are you descended from royalty? Find out with our guide

The company found that the American actress, who will celebrate her wedding to Prince Harry on 19 May, is related to Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII, whose second cousin Isabel Hildyard was Meghan's 12x great grandmother.

She is also descended from Lionel of Clarence, the third son of King Edward III.

The researchers also found that a number of Meghan's ancestors have served the royal family.

Her 17x great grandfather Thomas Clifford was the Master of the King's Horses under Richard II, and Robert Hildyard, fourth cousin of her 8x great grandmother, was the Gentleman of the Bedchamber for Charles I.

Historian Catherine Curzon explains how to trace servants in the royal household


Free criminal ancestors website launches

The secrets of ancestors who were caught up in the criminal justice system are now easier to explore thanks to a new free website.

The Our Criminal Ancestors project, led by principal investigator Dr Helen Johnston of the University of Hull and co-investigator Dr Heather Shore of Leeds Beckett University, launched its website in April.

The Our Criminal Ancestors website is not a genealogy service, but it includes background information and guides to locating resources for tracing your own criminal ancestors, including those who were victims, witnesses and police and prison officers as well as offenders.

The website organisers are also encouraging members of the public to get involved by sharing stories of their criminal ancestors via Historypin.


British Newspaper Archive adds Bedfordshire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire titles

The British Newspaper Archive (BNA) has added five new local newspapers from Bedfordshire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire to its collection.

The new titles consist of issues of the Cirencester Times and Cotswold Advertiser, Stroud News and Gloucestershire Advertiser, Cheltenham Examiner, Luton Reporter and Oxfordshire Telegraph.

The earliest issues in the collection are from 1839, and the latest from 1924.

In total, BNA added 69,017 pages this week, including 1889 and 1891 issues of the Music Hall and Theatre Review


Researchers appeal for names on lost war memorial

The names of the men from the parish of St Luke's, Deptford who served in the First World War are being sought for a restored Roll of Honour.

The original memorial, which has been lost, listed 1532 men, of whom 147 had been killed in the fighting.

A restored Roll of Honour, accompanied by a Book of Remembrance, will be installed at the nearby St Nicholas church as part of the centenary commemorations of the end of the First World War in November.

If you think your ancestor may have been listed on the memorial, please email Jackie Sellars on


New online map displays Irish famine data

A website mapping the impact of the Great Irish Famine on individual parishes was launched at the Annual National Famine Commemoration at University College Cork (UCC) on 12 May.

Users can use the maps of Ireland on The Great Irish Famine Online to click on over 3000 civil parishes and 1600 towns to compare the 1841 and 1851 census data on four factors: population, distribution of families by type of housing, percentage of families classified as working in agriculture, and percentage of individuals over the age of five who were illiterate.

Between 1845 and 1849, the famine led to the deaths of over one million people, while over a million more emigrated from Ireland.

The Great Irish Famine Online is a collaboration between UCC's Geography Department and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.


Forces War records reveals new-look website

Forces War Records has unveiled a new look and features for its website.

It described the relaunched website as "delivering a fully responsive experience", with an easier transition from desktop to mobile browsing and improved searchability.

Forces War Records holds over 10 million specialist military records.


Collection of historic Scottish photographs preserved for the nation

Over 14,000 photographs of Scottish life from the 1840s to the 1940s will be put on display and digitised after £1 million was raised to purchase them.

The MacKinnon Collection was purchased from a private collector thanks to £350,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £300,000 from the Scottish government, £125,000 each from the National Library of Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland and £100,000 from the Art Fund.

It includes historic images of Scotland's main towns and cities, its remote farming and fishing communities, and Scottish regiments from the Crimean war.

The MacKinnon Collection will be exhibited at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery next year, followed by a touring exhibition around the country.

The images will now be published online over the next three years. 


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Are you descended from the servants of royalty?
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