Wednesday, August 13, 2014

7 Research Tips - Are You Royalty?

King & Queens of England
The Royalty In You
The Who Do You Think You Are? Season 5 episode  with Valerie Bertinelli (TLC) has once again sparked interests in American Royalty. It actually began before the 13 Aug airing of the show, just by the short preview of Bertinelli looking at a Coat of Arms pedigree chart. So as promised, we are offering a few suggestions to begin your Royal research. 

Where to Start?
Can you trace your lineage to George III or even one of the 5000 plus trees posted on MyHeritage? It sounds like a daunting feat, but George III reigned from 1760 to 1820; pretty recent. His great-grandchildren lived as late as the 1950’s. If you can’t connect to one of them, don’t forget the offsprings of his many illegitimate grandchildren. And of course there’s more to Royalty, than the British.

At a3Genealogy, this year alone, we have confirmed four Royal Connections for clients (plus one for the media) by initiating our research using the Royal Ancestry: A study in Colonial & Medieval Families by Douglas Richardson which identifies “over 250 individuals who emigrated from the British Isles to the North American colonies in the 17th centuries.” Of course, in this day and age, we usually are able to solidify our findings with DNA tests results. Other sources, like The Royal Collection on, may also help with your initial research. 

Top 7 Hints / Tips to Researching Royalty and Coat of Arms
  1. Burke’s Peerage. What does Britain, Spain and Moraco, ...(and all other) royal research have in common? They  usually begin with Burke’s Peerage which is the foundation of most royal research. The goal is to take your family tree from America and connect to established Royal genealogies. Serious researches turn to the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) to stay abreast of "royal and noble genealogy." has the Burke’s Family Records that “records the genealogy of the junior houses of British nobility, and the Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage Genealogical and Heraldic, Vol 2” which may also be helpful in launching your Royal research.
    Coat of Arms and Pedigree (Author's file)
  2. Coat of Arms Review. As seen on the Valerie Bertinelli episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (Season 5, TLC), a coat of arms pedigree chart is quite the treasure. But, bee sure to understand Heraldic Practices before adopting a coat of arms. This article, Coat of Arms and Family Research, may keep you from making common errors in your genealogy.
  3. Land Deeds' Secrets.  Be sure to check wills, and probates, but especially land deeds. The long practice of our ancestors gifting property to illegitimate children has always been a welcoming find for making genealogical connections.
  4. Surname Analysis. When researching for one of the media outlets, a common practice for a3Genealogy researchers is to search for “Royal” surname matches with that of celebrities, dignitaries and ancestors. You don’t even have to reach that far. Ellen De Generes is Kate Middleton’s 14th cousin twice removed.  Read What do Kate Middleton, George Washington and Ellen DeGeneres have in common? And, in 2008, Sarah Palin was proven to be the 10th cousin to the late Princess Diana.  
  5. DNA Projects.  Did you know a DNA study on the surname of Stewart/Stuart proved that over half the men carrying that surname were descendants of Scotland’s Royal dynasty?  Be sure to review the Surname DNA Journal: Y-DNA of the British Monarchy
  6. Connecting with Society Members. Connecting to Royal ancestors is not new. The interest to create or maintain relationships has not only been a practice, but practically an obsession through the years. Review the Sovereign Colonial Society Americans of Royal Descent, Pennsylvania, founded in 1867 which includes descendants of all Royal Houses, medieval and modern. A proposal (for invitation to the Society) must prove one “is a descendant of one or more Kings through" an American ancestors.
    Baroness Lacaze, Ship Manifest
  1. Titles on Official Documents. Birth Records, Naturalization Records, and Passenger Lists and other official documents may announce your Baroness! This year one maternal grandmothers was recorded as a German Baroness, the other was French. Often titles were dropped in America, but with proper sleuthing, the genealogists, may find just the document needed to prove royalty. Lucky break for these American descendants? Perhaps. But it’s the luck of “no stone unturned.”
African American European Royalty Connection
In spite of much controversy, the connection of Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, to the  Portuguese Royal House of Moorish descent is well known.  However, many would argue that at best, Queen Charlotte was the second “Black” Queen, the first being Queen Philippa, the wife of King Edward III, and also of Moorish descent.

We are sure the doubts and denials will continue in spite of Moorish rule and connections in various European dynasties, and historical arguments and proof. Yet, in spite of the Queen Charlotte controversy, there are so many other African American connections to royalty due to offsprings born in slavery, miscegenation, and the abundance of mulatto bloodlines. With proper genealogical research and DNA, African Americans can also prove their European Royal bloodlines.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

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