Famous Ancestors?

William the Conqueror
For a few years I've been putting together our family tree, gathering information from all sorts of places along the way. The internet really has transformed this traditionally slow and laborious process, giving access to information that previous generations of genealogists could only dream of.

The internet also enables research to be shared, opening up the possibility of adding entire branches to a family tree in seconds. So I was delighted to benefit from countless hours of someone else’s research to add a branch of my own family all the way back to 11th century royalty.

Alfonso IX
In fact, according to my family tree, William the Conqueror was the 30 times great grandfather of the wife of one of my first cousins, twice removed. While this is hardly a close relative, I still thought it was quite exciting to have some connection with royalty.

Matilda II
It was a very interesting exercise to follow the line from 1066 to modern day, watching the royal blood being diluted down the years. The earliest years were clearly royal, including monarchs such as Henry II, until about 1200. From this date, the ancestors are more junior royalty and French aristocrats. Names such as Edmund De Mortimer and Margaret De Norfolk abound until about 1450 when the line passed to a second son, Sir John Gage. From this point on the names are more normal: first Foorde, then after about 1650, Hillman, followed by Hacker in about 1800. Finally a Hacker girl marries a Weston boy in 1904 and the journey is complete.

Of course, this is all just a bit of fun. Basic mathematics informs us that a simple geometric progression of 30 generations produces over 1 billion people. So whilst William the Conqueror might be a 30 times great grandfather, plenty of other people are in the same position. The royal connection really isn’t that close!