Sunday, 25 January 2009

Bogus Ancestry

A recent post on the excellent Reading Raving and Ranting Blog about Gilbert le Despenser led to some interesting questions about the Despenser line and whether or not Princess Diana was related. Well, to cut to the chase the male line of the Despensers died out circa 1413, although there are many descendants to this day through the female line.

As to the link with the Spencers of Althorp, 'tis a myth. One of several created by dodgy Tudor heralds in return for a lined pocket.

I think I once came across a source that stated Princess Diana was descended from Constance of York, but I'm not sure of the route. Possibly through the Audleys, as Constance's descendants through that lot are legion. They include people as diverse as Robert E. Lee and Humphrey Bogart. But it's just possible Diana was descended from the Despensers after all. If anyone's interested, please do the research.

As an aside, I've been delving into my ancestry on and off for a few years now, but find they're a pretty boring lot - not a pirate or murderer among the lot of 'em. Very disappointing. You'd have thought at least one of them could have had the decency to get himself hanged. The most promising claim to fame is that I may be related to one of Charles II's minor mistresses, Katherine Pegg. Though I've not quite made the link, we seem to come from the same root, the Peggs of Ashbourne.


Susan Higginbotham said...

Poor Katherine Pegg! Did Charles II give her anything for her time and trouble?

Susan Higginbotham said...

By the way, wouldn't it have been interesting if the Despenser family had survived to take part in the Wars of the Roses? One can't imagine them escaping with heads intact, though.

Alianore said...

Diana was descended from the Despensers via Hugh the younger's daughter Elizabeth, who married Maurice, Lord Berkeley (and was the mother of the Lord Berkeley around at the time of Richard II's deposition). She was also descended from the younger Despenser's son Edward, via his son Edward and various of the younger Edward's daughters.

Yeah, I'm a sucker for medieval genealogy. ;) Unfortunately, my own ancestors are really boring too, at least the ones I've traced so far.

Brian said...

Hi Susan

As to Katherine Pegg, I believe her son was made an earl, but he died young. If she received anything worth having it didn't descend to me, or even to my early Pegg ancestors!

Had the Despensers been in the WOR they would probably have backed Henry VI and got executed after Towton - or something like that. I think I have mentioned Henry Duke of Warwick (Thomas and Constance's grandson, albeit not a Despenser as such.) Given that he was Henry VI's bosum buddy, had he lived past 21 the WOR might not even have taken place.

Brian said...

Alianore - thanks for that. I was pretty sure Diana had Despenser blood in her one way or the other. Just not via the mythical male line. As for medieval geneology, I share your fascination, though I don't claim to be a real expert.

Satima Flavell said...

I descend from Hugh the Elder's daughters Alianore (who married Hugh Courteney)and Joan (or Anne!) who married William de Ferrers.

Medieval genealogy is addictive:-) The only trouble is - it's also incredibly time consuming:-(

Satima Flavell said...

Sorry, I should check my facts before I post, not afterwards. I actually descend from Hugh the Elder's father, who married Aliva Bassett.

John Foelster said...

My own Yankee ancestry is shrouded in fabrication, lies, and chicanery. On my father's mother's side I allegedly have Mayflower antecedents and one reported distant uncle who fought with Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain at Little Round Top.

On my mother's side I can claim descent from Brian Boru but so can anyone else who has ancestors from Ireland.

On my father's side I am apparently distantly related by marriage to the Nobel winning Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal, but for the most part I can only claim direct patrilineal descent from a grocery store manager, aviator and sometime getaway driver for a gang of bank robbers and his mildly deranged doctor of divinity/teacher/flophouse owner father.

It's a great and distinguished line.