The Ancestry of Diana, Princess of Wales

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9780880822084: The Ancestry of Diana, Princess of Wales

An exhaustively researched account of the late Princess's forebears, tracing her ancestors from the British Isles to northern and eastern Europe as well as the United States and the Far East. Presented in ahnentafel format, the book also profiles of more than thirty key historic personages, including Sir Robert Walpole, the first British prime minister ; John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, and his Duchess, Sarah; royal favorite Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland; Dr. Joseph Strong, the pioneering Philadelphia surgeon, perhaps Diana's most distinguished American forebear; and King James I of England, King Henri IV of France, and King Friedrich I of Bohemia. The book makes a substantial contribution to genealogical literature on the British royal family. It identifies the forebears Diana brought to the royal family and suggests much of her ancestry's social breadth, offering a capsule view of British history in its pages. Genealogists, royalty scholars, kinsmen (especially American kin), fans and followers of the British monarchy, and the millions who admired the Princess will all find this book interesting.

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Review:

This book is very impressive. Using the Ahnentafel format, it includes all the Princess s an­ces­tors discovered by the author for twelve generations. Understandably, a large proportion of those individuals were of the upper social classes, including royalty and nobility. But a significant number were of the middle class; I noticed none, however, of what used to be called social classes in service, that is, indi­viduals who worked as servants in the households of the higher ranks. For the nobility there is, of course, a great work of scholarship, the new edition of The Complete Peerage. But Mr. Evans has gone to pri­mary sources for all individuals, including probate records and parish registers. Each person is docu­mented by citations to primary material and to reliable secondary sources. Included are some thirty separate sketches of individuals in the Princess s ancestry who were of historical or literary prominence. Lady Diana descended from several European and continen­tal sovereigns, including two lines from illegitimate children of the Merry Monarch ( melan­choly might be just as accurate) Charles II, as well as from an illegitimate daughter of James II. (A sec­tion of color pictures includes Sir Peter Lely s portrait of one of Charles II s many mis­tresses: Barbara Palmer, Duchess of Cleveland, holding her illegitimate son by the king, Charles FitzRoy. Lely painted them as the Virgin Mary and the Christ child!) This is a fascinating work, which we highly recommend and hope that Mr. Evans will con­tinue his researches. --David L. Greene, C.G., F.A.S.G., The American Genealogist

Ancestor tables rarely make enjoyable reading but this book is an exception. As many Americans know, the Princess of Wales had an American great-grandmother, Frances Eleanor Work. Her ancestry has already been presented in print. The other seven great-grandparents had mostly British Isles ancestry (English, Scottish, and Irish), ranging from illegitimate children of seventeenth-century English monarchs to nobility to gentry to middle-class Scots. But there is European ancestry, too, notably Dutch, German, French, and Danish; these lines are highlighted in the Preface. Documentation for each couple is given in Notes in a 122-page section that includes commentary on identification problems and mentions American colonists descended from the couple. No doubt there were hundreds, even thousands of immigrants to America during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who have ancestors in common with the Princess of Wales for twelve generations. The book is punctuated by biographical sketches of major historical figures mentioned, as well as an eight-page insert of illustrations in color. The author and the genealogists thanked in the Acknowledgments are to be congratulated for producing this major work. --Henry B. Hoff, C.G., F.A.S.G.,

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