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The following is an excerpt from the upcoming August 2011 issue...

The Duchess of Cambridge and Her American Connections

Anthony Adolph examines Kate Middleton's family history and it's ties to America

Although you will be reading this later, this dispatch from London, England is being written the day before a much-anticipated event in Britain’s national life: the wedding, on 29 April 2011, of H.R.H. Prince William of Wales, our future king, and Catherine Middleton, his future queen. To say the media is full of wedding-related programs and news is an understatement. While writing this article, one of our national TV channels, ITV, is broadcasting a film about Catherine’s origins, that includes an interview with me that was filmed a few weeks ago at Bradfield parish church, Berkshire, where she was baptised. When I arrived in the church that day to meet the film crew, there was nobody around except for one lady, who I assumed was part of the same program. When I introduced myself, though, she looked blank, and answered, in an American accent, that she was a journalist, who just happened to be there by coincidence. That shows very well how much worldwide interest is being taken in this wonderful event.

As a genealogist, my own enthusiasm for the wedding is mainly genealogical. Catherine’s roots are planted very firmly in a background of English family trees, covering the widest social sweep possible, from charwomen and coal miners to royalty. Her family tree has already been investigated extensively, and as news of this spreads, thousands (upon thousands) of people are finding out that they are related to her.

I know this very well, for I am one of them. Fifteen years ago, I was busy investigating my late grandmother’s Fairfax ancestry, tracing back from her branch in Suffolk to the adjacent county of Norfolk, and then back up to Yorkshire, where the main stem of the family lived in Gilling Castle, on the southern edge of the beautiful Yorkshire Moors, and before then in little towns and villages around York itself. I was amused to find a story, pure fantasy, of course, tracing them back to a Viking called Scarpenbok, and excited to find a very real and provable descent for them, via a high-born wife in the 1400s, to Edward III himself. I was fascinated to learn that a branch had settled in America, founding Fairfax County and inter-marrying with the Washingtons. For, as with any British family tree, a myriad of connections snakes across the Atlantic from these islands to America and Canada..

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