Danny Dyer finds out he is related to royalty and more

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Hilton1949 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

I watched the first programme in the new BBC series of Who Do You Think You Are? with a certain amount of extra interest this week. As the show revealed that the cockney actor, who plays the landlord of the Queen Vic in East Enders, was  descended from Albert Buttivant I became a bit concerned when Danny Dyer started talking about French ancestry.

You see, I was involved in putting together the article for TheGenealogist website, which you can read here.

Our research had not traced Albert Buttivant, the one time inmate of the Old Town Workhouse, back to France and so I wondered where the show was going! Imagine my relief, as our article had already been published on TheGenealogist’s website, that the programme quickly got back on course and identified the line to be the same as the one that we had found back to East Anglia.

I watched nervously as they made the same connection as we had to the landowning ancestor named Robert Gosnold (1587-1633), a member of the landed gentry with a coat of arms. It is the Gosnold family connection that gives Danny a gateway ancestor into blue blooded forebears via Thomas Cromwell. The self taught lawyer who had risen from being the son of a blacksmith to be the Chief Minister to Henry VIII only to lose the king’s favour and end in execution on Tower Hill.

As we had guessed correctly – the marriage of Thomas Cromwell’s son Gregory to Elizabeth Seymour, sister of Jane Seymour and Henry VIII’s third wife, was Danny Dyer’s link to royalty. We knew that this was where the programme would be heading, as it had been widely trailed in the press in the days before; but it just goes to show how many of us mere common people could possibly find a drop of diluted royal blood in our own ancestry if we looked far enough back and had a spot of luck.

What the programme didn’t tackle, however, is the strength of the Seymour’s claim to royal blood and with it Danny Dyer’s claim. It is through Jane and Elizabeth’s mother, Margaret Wentworth, that a descent from the blood-royal of England was maintained by the family. The assertion is that it flows in their veins from an intermarriage between a Wentworth and a supposed daughter of Sir Henry Percy (1364–1403), known as Harry Hotspur, who was the eldest son of the 1st Earl of Northumberland. Hotspur had married Elizabeth Mortimer, grand-daughter to Lionel Duke of Clarence the third son of King Edward III of England.


At the time of Jane Seymour’s marriage to Henry VIII few people would have dared to dispute a pedigree with the king and he was convinced that his bride was a royal cousin. In the TV episode Danny’s pedigree was presented on a beautiful scroll by a Herald from the College of Arms, who is an expert in the oldest families of the realm. So it does make me wonder, is that a line drawn under that particular dispute then?

To read our article on Danny Dyer’s ancestors go to TheGenealogist.co.uk

Or to read another account about Danny Dyer see: http://www.timedetectives.wordpress.co




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Top Tips for beginning to use English or Welsh Parish Records

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Parish Records


If you’ve got English or Welsh ancestors, then I’d like to give you my three top tips for using parish records to find them. Perhaps you can’t find your ancestor in the parish records for the village or the town where all the rest of the family are recorded and so this is where you expected to find them also?


  1. Have you thought that people did move, even in the olden days? They would go where the jobs are; or maybe they stayed put, but had fallen out with the vicar and have simply found a church which is more appealing to them. So the first tip on my list is to check the surrounding churches.


How are you going to find the surrounding parishes whose records you want to investigate? You could turn to this fantastic book that’s called the Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. It’s in its third edition, available from various booksellers and genealogy supplies. It has some fantastic maps which show you the different parishes in and around the area that you’re looking at.

The Phillimore Atlas & Index of Parish Registers

2. Another way for you to check for the contiguous parishes to yours, that is the parishes surrounding, is to go over to maps.familysearch.org and then put in the parish or the county that you wish to search for. As an example I’ve decided to Centre on a parish called Ravenstone in the county of Leicestershire. By default it’s gone to give me the parishes within a five-mile radius and it lists them all down the left side. If I just highlight Huggleston and Donington or maybe these ancestors went to Coalville, Woodville, Heather  (spelt ‘Heather’ but it is pronounced Heether) and then there is Normanton le Heath.


So that is maps.familysearch.org and it covers the parishes for all of England and Wales.


3. My third tip is to use a website like TheGenealogist. Why am I using TheGenealogist? Well it has some very cunning little tools that allow you to search for the parents of somebody that is in the baptismal records.

TheGenealogist logo

Now here we’re looking for Mary Ann Evans in Chilvers Coton.

Who is Mary on Evans? Well if you are literary minded then you might know George Eliot the English novelist, poet, journalists, and translator. She used a male pen name because it meant that her works will be taken more seriously.

Returning to TheGenealogist records, we have the parish records baptism here for Mary Ann and we’re going to click on the icon which gives us the detail that her father’s name is Robert Evans and that her mother’s name is Cristiana Evans. Well I’m going to use this useful  SmartSearch tool here that TheGenealogist have to discover: ‘The parents potential marriage’


With a single click it returns to us the records for any Robert Evans marrying a Christiana and in this case we discover that they didn’t get married in Chilvers Coton, where Mary Ann Evans was baptised. They got married in Astley, Saint Mary the Virgin – which actually is about nine miles down the road. So, there you are, a very very useful facility on this website TheGenealogist.

So if you’d like to find out more about how to tease out your elusive English or Welsh ancestors then take a look at



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What can we expect in 2017 from TheGenealogist?

TheGenealogist logo

Here is a Press Release written by the team at TheGenealogist this week:


What TheGenealogist has in store for 2017

2017 is going to see millions of new records added to TheGenealogist across a wide variety of collections.

New Data Sets

We are adding millions of new and unique Parish Records and Bishops’ Transcripts are being added for many more counties.

A new and unique record set covering detailed records of our ancestors houses, which will be searchable by name, address and area, with high resolution maps showing the property.

Our ongoing project with The National Archives is set to release yet more detailed Colour County and Tithe Maps with tags to show where your ancestors lived.

We are releasing a 1921 census substitute, using a wide variety of records including Trade and Residential Directories of the time.

New decades of BT27 Passenger Lists and Emigration Records will become available.

Our International Headstone Project will be expanded with more Commonwealth Cemeteries added.

More worldwide War Memorials added to our comprehensive database.

Following on from our release of over 230 million U.S. records in 2016, we will be launching more U.S. records in 2017.

New & Improved Census Images
Thanks to new technology and new Silver Halide Film provided by The National Archives, we have now been able to re-scan the 1891 census with improved resolution and quality. This combination of improved readability and new transcripts will help locate your ancestors and view the relevant images with a superior grayscale format. Our “Deep Zoom” images have over 5 times the resolution of previous images. They will be lightening fast to view thanks to the technology used in our new image interface. We will launch these new images in early 2017.

Look out for these exciting new developments and more in 2017 at TheGenealogist.co.uk

“We are releasing a 1921 census substitute, using a wide variety of records including Trade and Residential Directories of the time.” This looks very interesting indeed!



To search these and countless other useful family history records take a look at TheGenealogist now!


The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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GRO for England and Wales now has searchable index


The General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) has revamped part of its online certificate ordering services.

The government department responsible for providing copies of birth, marriages and death certificates has released two searchable indexes via its website, but only for those births and deaths registered in the years 1837-1915 and 1837-1957 respectively.


We have all been accustomed to using the GRO indexes via third party websites such as FreeBMD, Ancestry, Findmypast and TheGenealogist, noting down the volume and page number of our ancestors’ entries before paying a visit to the GRO website to order hard copies of the certificates by post. But now, the new GRO indexes will allow family history researchers to click through from their findings on its site and buy the copy certificates all from the same website. You will still need to use the third party sites for marriages and for more recent dates, however.


As an added bonus, the GRO birth index also gives us the mothers’ maiden names for the full range of entries. Up to now using the online indexes at the other sites has meant that it is only possible for family history researchers to view these details for births registered from July 1911 onwards. This extra resource could be very useful to those who want to identify children who had died in between the census years, and for whom no other documentary evidence can be found.


Secondly, the new GRO death index on their site will allow a user to search for a likely ancestor by entering the age at death from the beginning of their records in 1837.


This new GRO indexes have been launched online following several weeks of beta testing with members of the genealogy community.


The news first came to my attention in the newsletter sent out by Peter Calver, founder of the popular website LostCousins, who has been one of those involved in several weeks of beta testing with others and in his latest email newsletter, Mr Calver has revealed that the GRO is planning another twist to the service by trialling the option to have digital copies of certificates available for the first time in the form of uncertified PDF versions of birth certificates for the years 1837-1934 and death certificates from 1837-1957.


The cost will be £6 each, saving money and the wait for the postal delivery (a paper certificate costs £9.25). But the bad news is that the trial starting on the 9th of November and will last for three weeks, or until 45,000 PDFs have been purchased.


So will you be heading over to the GRO website on Wednesday?


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