Monday, 14 January 2019

#52Ancestors - Week 33 - Family Legend

 It all started with Robert the Bruce.
Robert the Bruce at Edinburgh Castle (2014)
Among correspondence belonging to my grandmother we found a letter written in the 1960s from a cousin who believed that my grandmother's family could be traced back to Robert the Bruce. It was suggested that there were also links to James II of Scotland, Edward III of England and maybe even Alfred the Great. He had hired a researcher to investigate this for him and would let her know the result. (This, of course, was pre-internet.) Unfortunately we did not locate any outcome of this research in the correspondence.

In January 2012 I must have had some spare time and decided to check the truth, or otherwise, of this family legend. I wrote about this exercise in a previous blog post.

The research was done in stages with the initial research investigating the Scottish connections. I was aware of part of the Hutton family tree as my father had copied the information from records held by my grandmother. The Hutton family was connected to the Lidderdale family when Eleanora Lidderdale married Thomas Hutton in 1771. Eleanora's grandfather, David Lidderdale had married Eleanora Dunbar in 1708. It was the Dunbars who had the direct links to the Scottish royalty when John Dunbar (1330-1391) married Marjorie Stewart (1344-1417) in 1370. Marjorie Stewart was the daughter of Robert II of Scotland and therefore great granddaughter of Robert I of Scotland (Robert the Bruce).

The initial investigation was carried out following online family trees. Three years later I had time to check the search results including verifying the family connections in

Because of all the intermarriage between royal families the lists confirmed  that there were links to the Plantagenets including Edward III and therefore to William the Conqueror. Once I stopped laughing I was able to locate direct links from William's wife, Matilda, to Alfred the Great and his forebears. There was a link to James I of Scotland, but not James II.

The searching did not stop in England but also in Normandy to Viking connections. Through Geoffrey Plantagenet, husband of Empress Matilda (daughter of Henry I), there are links to French royalty. Other Plantagenets also married French wives creating more interesting connections. Alfred the Great's daughter, Aelfthryth, married Baldwin II of Flanders and his line can be traced back to Charlemagne, Pepin III and several lines back into the 500s.

Needless to say when I was following these family lines there were times I laughed out loud. On paper it is all impressive but there are thousands and thousands of people who can make the same discoveries. However it does add another dimension to travelling in the UK and France as ancestors appear in unexpected places.
Statue of King John - Kings Lynn (2018)

On our last trip to the UK I found many mentions of King John in Kings Lynn in Norfolk including a statue just off the main shopping strip. So we said, 'Hello' to my great (x24) grandfather. In 1216, King John travelled through Bishops Lynn (now Kings Lynn) and in the nearby Wash his baggage carts became bogged in quicksand and many of the the family treasures in the baggage carts disappeared forever. King John died at Newark Castle several months later.

When we visited St George's Chapel in Windsor I found a stone plaque on the chapel wall providing the history of the chapel. At the top it was stated that Edward III (my great (x 20) grandfather) founded the College of St George in 1348. I was laughing about this with my husband when an attendant asked why I was so interested in the plaque. I explained the possible family connection emphasising that I was one of many others with the same connection. She laughed and said I should enjoy it.
Arundel Tomb - Chichester Cathedral (2018)

We were exploring Chichester Cathedral and when we passed the Arundel tomb I stopped as I was sure that there was a family connection. Checking records later I had been standing next to the tomb of my great (x20) grandparents - Richard FitzAlan (1307-1376) and Eleanor Plantagenet (1311-1372).

This is just a side-line to my family history research as my main area of interest is locating as much information as possible about family members in Australia. However, finding these links does help create a greater interest in UK history (especially prior to the Tudors) and also history relating to family links in France etc. It just goes to show that family history research can lead to unexpected discoveries.


  1. Wow - you have had some fun with your royal ancestors in your travels - it makes it interesting when in Europe, doesn't it.

  2. There is so much history in Europe but when you can find even a slight connection to a person from long ago it does add another dimension to the holiday. All good fun.