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Walsall reader finds he has royal blood

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: June 22, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • Bernard's 19th cousin

  • Bernard Francis

  • Catherine of Valois

  • Oliver Cromwell

  • Philip VI of France

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WHEN we begin looking into our family trees, do we all dream of finding a royal connection among our ancestors, something that proves we have the blood of kings flowing through our veins?

One genealogical sleuth who did find he was related to royalty was Bugle reader Bernard Francis of Walsall, who can proudly state that he is 19th cousin to Prince Charles.

But there is no chance of Bernard ever ascending the throne, as his connection to the House of Windsor comes from an illegitimate offshoot of the House of Tudor.

In the 1420s a lowly Welsh nobleman, Owen Tudor (c.1400-1461), was appointed Keeper of the Queen's Wardrobe to Catherine of Valois (1401-1437), the widow of Henry V (1386-1422). Rather embarrassingly, the young widow became pregnant with Tudor's child.

They were surreptitiously married and went on to have at least six children. The eldest, Edmund Tudor (1430-1456), was the father of King Henry VII (1457-1509). Their second son, Jasper Tudor (1431-1495), became a powerful figure in the new Tudor dynasty that ruled England after 1485. He had a number of illegitimate children, among whom was a daughter named Joan (d.1479). She married William Williams (1443-1473) and it is from her that Bernard traces his descent, a direct line of succession to his mother, Elsie Arminella Jones (1892-1957).

Through his connection to the Tudors Bernard is linked to the royal family, from Catherine of Valois through Henry VII, Margaret Tudor, James V, Mary, Queen of Scots, James I, Elizabeth of Bohemia, Sophia of Hanover, George I, George II, Frederick, Prince of Wales, George III, Edward, Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, George VI and through to Elizabeth II.

And through Catherine of Valois Bernard has a direct line of descent from the French monarchy. His 21st great-grandfather is Philip VI (1293-1350), the first king of the House of Valois. It was during his reign that the Hundred Years War between England and France began, as Edward III of England disputed Philip's claim to the French throne.

And beyond Philip VI the line goes back to Hugh Capet (c.941-996), the first "King of the Franks".

But as well as regal blood, Bernard can claim a link to the most famous regicide in English history – Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658).

The link goes back to Bernard's ancestor Joan Tudor. Her son, John Williams (1469-1508) is the ancestor of Bernard. Another son, Morgan Williams (1479-1517) married Katherine Cromwell (1483-1517), the older sister of statesman Thomas Cromwell (c.1485-1540), chief minister to Henry VIII. Morgan and Katherine are fourth-generation ancestors of Oliver Cromwell.

Bernard, who used to run courses in genealogy, treats his royal connections light-heartedly, but finds it fascinating mapping out the convoluted twists and turns between himself and his royal relations.

Have you traced your family tree and discovered royalty among your ancestors? Can you prove that you are related to any important historical figures? Let us know about it, contact dshaw@blackcountrybugle.co.uk, come to our offices or write to 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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