Friday, October 03, 2008

Question from Meg - Lines of relationship to Henry VII

Hi, about a year and a half ago my mother found out through a relative that my father's side is related to Henry VII. No one knows how exactly and I would love to know if this is really true. Do you have any suggestions as to where I can go to find an answer??


PhD Historian said...

If by "related to" you mean "directly descended from," the possible avenues are very limited.

Obviously Henry VII's eldest son Arthur died without having children. The only other son, Henry VIII, had four known children (Mary, Elizabeth, Edward, and Henry Fitzroy) but none of those had children themselves. The male line of Henry VII was thus extinguished.

In the female line, Henry VII had two surviving daughters: Mary and Margaret.

Mary, the youngest of the two, had two children by Charles Brandon who survived to adulthood. The eldest of those, Frances Brandon Grey, had three daughters of her own. The first, Jane, and the third, Mary, both died childless. The middle daughter, Katherine, had two sons, one of whom is the direct ancestor of the modern Thynne family, marquesses of Bath. (Her second son died childless, I believe.)

The second of Mary Tudor Brandon's daughters, Eleanor, had one surviving daughter, Margaret, who is the direct ancestor of the modern Stanley family, earls of Derby.

Henry VII's eldest daughter, Margaret, had only two children who survived to adulthood. Her son James became James V of Scotland and the father of Mary Stuart.

Margaret's daughter (by her second marriage), was also named Margaret (Douglas, later became Countess of Lennox). Margaret Douglas's first son, Henry, married his cousin Mary and fathered James VI & I. Her second son, Charles, had one daughter, Arbella, who died childless. Thus with the single notable exception of her grandson James VI & I, the line of Henry VII's daughter Margaret Tudor ended.

So if your mother's relative is correct and your father's side is indeed related to Henry VII ... and IF that relation is by direct descent in the female line ... you are also related to one of three families: the modern Marquesses of Bath, the modern Earls of Derby, or any modern descendants of James VI & I. IF the relation is NOT by direct descent, but rather by marriage or a collateral descent, the possibilities expand greatly.

The only real way to figure out whether or not the story is true is to do as I have done above: trace every possible line descending from Henry VII's only non-extinguished descent-lines: the many descendants of Katherine Grey Seymour, the many descendants of Margaret Clifford Stanley, or the fewer descendants of King James VI & I.

But I would think that if your father's family is indeed related to Henry VII, they would also know about and claim the relation to James VI&I or the Marquess of Bath or the Earl of Derby that must also exist. I'm afraid I have to say that I am skeptical.

Lara said...

There is also the possibility of some Welsh relations through Goronwy ap Tudur, who was the great-uncle of Owen Tudor (Henry VII's grandfather). At least I think that is the relationship... it's something like that if I don't have it exactly right. His tomb is the one up in the church at Penmynydd in Wales. I've come across people who claim descent from him, and would technically be "related" to Henry VII, but not "descended" from him.

jody m said...

This is interesting to me, as i was employed by a family several years ago their last name was Milne-coates and before that Milne-gaskell. I have read somewhere that the children of that family are somethting like 19th generation decedents of Queen Mary Henry's sister. Their family seat is Helperby in Yorkshire so dont know how the line of descent went