Sunday, October 10, 2010

Question from Marilyn R - Oliver Cromwell and Jasper Tudor

Justin Pollard, writing in this month’s BBC History Magazine, says that Oliver Cromwell’s ancestor Morgan ap Williams “was the son of Joan Tudor, a woman who was probably the illegitimate daughter of Jasper Tudor". I have not heard this before – is it likely that Joan was Jasper’s daughter?

[See below for a previous thread that included info on a rumor of an illegitimate daughter of Jasper. - Lara]


Foose said...

I did come across this rumor in Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, but I don't know what the substantiation is. Some of the old 19th-century sources say that Morgan ap Williams' father served in Jasper's household, which at least lends credible proximity to the tale.

However, Ralph Alan Griffiths, who wrote an authoritative and monumental study of Henry VI, firmly squelches any notion of the existence of either Joan or Helen/Ellen Tudor (Bishop Stephen Gardiner's alleged mother, a more widely reported rumor that also finds currency in Mantel's novel), Jasper's putative daughters:

"[Henry VI's] tiresome preaching may have had particular effect on his half-brother, Jasper, whose upbringing was strictly controlled for a time by King Henry, and who did not marry until he was in his mid-fifties - or produce any illegitimate offspring." (Griffiths, The Reign of King Henry VI)

If the rumored relationship between Oliver Cromwell and Joan Tudor could be dated to the 17th century, perhaps it could have developed as a natural consequence of Cromwell's rise to power, since people often attribute outstanding achievements by a commoner to his or her "secret" royal ancestry or dynastic connexions. Napoleon had all sorts of people drawing up noble genealogies for him after he came to prominence, and you see a remnant of the practice even today, with American presidents being freshly "discovered" to be sixth cousins 14 times removed of the queen of England, or something.

Marilyn R said...

Thanks for that, Foose. I haven't been able to find out anything else myself.

Foose said...

You are welcome! I looked all over too and found not even a whisper of any "Joan Tudor" except in Mantel's novel and the Pollard article (which I have not seen). Where Oliver Cromwell's ancestry is discussed, earlier commentators seem to be most interested in him being related remotely to the Stuart dynasty (I guess it provided an intriguing ironic twist to the execution of Charles I.)

Crystal M said...

While Joan Tudor's existence is debatable, I do have a Joan Tudor in my family tree. She had a son Morgan Williams, who had a son Walter Williams and so on down the centuries. Her father is listed as Jasper Tudor and we can all follow the tree up from there. If she did indeed have a son, that would prove her existence, if not exactly her paternity. I intend to do more research, but I would not dismiss it completely out of hand.

Anonymous said...

Crystal we are related I am a direct descendent of Walter (Cromwell ) Williams we are still alive and living in Oklahoma the family keeped great family records and we are related to Joan Tudor and she was the child of Jasper but If you research back far into her husband William he was a direct decended from Howell last King of Wales the reason that so many people disagree about MY FAMILY is Oliver Cromwell was so hated by so many not only they desecrated his body and his ancetery . So we move to America my name is Kenneth Williams , so if you see what someone wrote on the web don't believe a lot of post unless it is backed up by the last will and testament the Williams family has always keep record

Aaron Beatty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Crystal, we are related too! Morgan Williams was my 16th great grandfather. My name is Elisabeth Williams. I am currently doing my family tree on I could use some assistance with stories and pictures on the williams side of family. Kenneth can we get in touch? I am interested in your family records. My email is

Melissa Rice said...

Morgan Williams is my 14th great grandfather, as well!

Anonymous said...

I am descended from Oliver Cromwell's illegitimate children. I'll have to go dig in my genealogy records to get the exact details. Surname is Irish, so it must have been one of my grandmothers that was his descendant. My Irish line fought in the American Revolution (I believe 2nd generation in America).

Anonymous said...

Morgan is also my 16th great grandfather. My name is Grant Williams. I found some info about Joan Tudor. Her father Jasper was married to Mevanvy Verch Daffydd in 1483 where they had her and her sister Helen. In 1485 Jasper was then married to Catherine Woodville sister of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV.

Anonymous said...

Also whats amazing is that Morgan Williams married Katherine Cromwell, Thomas Cromwell's older sister. So while not a direct link, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII where related.

Anonymous said...

Morgan Williams was knighted by Henry VII. Morgan owned a tavern and brewed ale.

His brother John Williams was also knighted and a Member of Parliament. How???

If Joan Tudor was not the illegitimate daughter of Jasper Tudor,the honors may have

come from her husband's service to Jasper Tudor and Henry VII. However, consider

that Henry VII was not liberal with his honors. Morgan's son, Sir Richard Cromwell

(Williams) married the sister of the Earl of Essex and served Henry VIII. All

respect to Professor Griffith's fine work on Henry VI; but some circumstantial

evidence points to Morgan Williams as a relative of Henry VII. I believe that

Joan Tudor could have been Jasper's illegitimate daughter. Welsh nobles unless

recognized by the King were under a disability until Henry VIII.

Lisa Thorne said...

I traced my line to Katherine Cromwell from a Great,great,great-Grandmother, Cinderella Cromwell, who married a Pettway in N.C.
I believe Joan Tudor did exist; but wasn't documented because she a.) was illegitamit b.) died young from bearing children while still a child herself.

Anonymous said...

Morgan Williams is also my 16th Grandfather. I do believe Joan existed, she was illegimate daughter of Jasper Tudor.
I live in Tennessee, we are descendants from the Maryland Cromwells.

Anonymous said...

have any of you got any documentation to prove these links (if so I would love to see them posted on the web for us all to examine) or are you just trawling the internet trying to find links.
To prove a connection you need at least 3 supportive official document.
Family stories are not enough.

I can find no information for Oliver Cromwell's illegitimate children and I would doubt if there ever were any as he was a strict Puritan and happily married.

Signed a true (documented) descendant of Oliver Cromwell (Lord Protector)

Mike said...

Elizabeth,I have provided you access to my DNA test results. I have traced my lineage to Morgan, who is my 15th Grandfather.

Jcuthager said...

Actually i believe Joan might have been Jaspers daughter from a previous marriage. I believe he was married first to a lady who might not have been a noble. He was only married to Catherine Woodville for ten years, 1485 to 1495, while Joan was born in 1453 and died in 1479. Meaning Joan was an adult and had children and died when her father could have remarried. Her sister Helen died in 1485, so Jasper could have been lonely and then decided to remarry because of that.

Bruce Cobb said...

Jasper's first partner was Myvanwy Verch Daffydd. She was the mother of Joan and Helen. Myvanwy was the daughter of Sir Daffydd ap Mathew, Baron of Glamorgan and a Marcher Lord.
Myvanwy died about 1485. Daffydd ap Mathew was Edward IV's Standard Bearer. The relationship between Jasper and Myvanwy was strained about 1461. Jasper was in exile during 1461 to 1470 and again after Tewkesbury in 1471. Their daughters did not survive past 1485; but left offspring.

Robert Roberts said...

I too am a direct descendant of Morgan Williams. My father was born Robert Williams and his paternal lineage is in a direct line from Morgan Williams. My father was then adopted by my grandmother's second husband whose name was Roberts, make my father and subsequently me, Robert Roberts.

My email is

We descendants of Morgan Williams should start a club. :-)