There is no shortage of interesting characters in our family tree. There are pirates and princes, kings and queens, scoundrels and saints. There are strong women everywhere you look. My intent with this thumbnail sketch is to help you visualize where in your family tree these folks gather. They gather in bunches here and there. Generations tended to cluster along together, through events, time and places and then disintegrate and form new clusters depending on the political and economic climate of the land. Persecution had a decided impact on the psyche of many of our ancestors on both sides of the tree and ocean. My Smiths and their comrades tended to flee England as Cavaliers escaping the wrath of Oliver Cromwell. Nancy’s Sullivan clan had to escape the grasp of Archbishop Laud who was intent on making everyone a member of the Church of England.
Whittington Link to British Nobility
We find a lot of royalty in both branches of the Betty Whitington family tree. Betty’s father, Clifford Whitington’s ancestors came to Illinois by way of Kentucky and Virginia. Several generations of Whittingtons were major players in the development of colonial Virginia and America. They married into equally famous names in American history. Nathaniel Littleton was the man who brought a British royal line to Virginia. Once he landed on Virginia soil the titles of nobility were of little use and only looked good as a cool family crest on the wall above the fireplace mantle. The Native Americans did not understand nobility or property rights and that became an issue for Nathaniel’s in laws.
Nathaniels’ wife, Ann Southy, survived the Jamestown Massacre of 1622. Her father and siblings did not. Nathaniel and Ann had three children including a son, Southy Littleton, who served as a colonial ambassador to the Iroquois Confederation during the critical peace talks of 1679. Southy’s wife, Sarah Bowman, was the daughter of a Jamestown pioneer and military leader Colonel Edmund Bowman.
Southy and Sarah’s daughter, Esther, married William Whittington, son of Captain William Whittington, the original author of the catch phrase: No taxation without representation. He and his peers used the concept one hundred and twenty five years before the patriots used it in their own propaganda campaign and efforts to influence the Crown. The children of William, Jr. married into the Custis family in which George Washington would eventually find his wife, Martha Custis. We will swim back to the English side of the ocean in a moment and explore the path back in time to British and European royalty. But first let’s get back to Betty and her mother.
Sullivan Link to British Nobility
Betty’s mother, Laurel Sullivan, and her fascinating family history is a star studded field of noble blood and hard knock woodsmen. Talk about your strong women. ‘Pioneer stock’ is a term used to describe the folks who pressed beyond the boundaries of civilization and lived on or beyond the frontier. Sullivans in America and their ancestors were always one step ahead of the westward migration in our early American history. From the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the plains of Kansas, the family stayed ahead of the masses.
Laurel was the daughter of Thomas Sullivan and Julia Osbun. The Sullivan line traces back several generations through Henry and John into Tennessee in the early 1800s. It then disappears amid the Scot Irish migration into Appalachia. It is believed the American Sullivans descend from Ireland, possibly John Sullivan and Juliana O’Shea (of County Kerry). The Osbun family linked to royalty if monarchy is important to find. Frankly, I would love to find those Sullivans in the rough outback of Kerry.
Julia Osbun was the daughter of Marcus Ozbun and Mary Eunice Post. They lived in the latter part of the 1800s and early 1900s. Mary and Marcus were born in Illinois and died on the Kansas plain. Notice the variations in the spellings of Osborne. The Osborn family tree is vast in early America. This particular branch evolved from Maryland and England. Osburn families were typically loaded with ten or more children. They were prolific and repeated the use of very common first names. It becomes difficult to trace their heritage. It is believed they descend from the man who was second in command to William the Conqueror, William fitz Osbern. I find the Osborne line to be as difficult to trace as the Smiths.
The royal bloodline in grandmother Laurel’s family descends through several generations of women (Mary Post, Emily Cory, Mary Wood, Abigail Kitchell) before we find Abigail’s father, John Kitchell, in Morris County, New Jersey in 1713. John Kitchell was the son of Abraham Kitchell and Sarah Bruen. And it is here that we find one of the most important pioneer clans in early American history, not just our own family history.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the following families as they relate to the advent of the English Civil War and the colonization of New England. One would think I am exaggerating, but online literature is abundant and attests to the roles these folks played in the founding of American cities, the establishment of the principles of democracy, the expansion of the colonial frontier, the search for religious freedom and the attempt to live peacefully with their predecessors (the Native American). The surnames are as follows: Bruen, Kitchell, Wheeler, Halsey, Ball, Lawrence, Pierson, Peck, Baldwin, Sheafe, Wheelwright, Hutchinson and Alling. I know, they are not the names that show up in high school American history classes. They are glossed over and largely forgotten. I was consumed by their joint ventures and story and I have written about them elsewhere in this mounting heap of historical dung. I realized they were important when I found their biographies lodged in the online family trees of present day American fat cats and ‘aristocrats.’ The DAR loves to find these names in their membership. But no thanks. I don’t need to see an application on my desk.
They were the founders of New London and New Haven CT, Southampton NY (on Long Island), and Newark, New Jersey. Obadiah Bruen was also an early agent in the establishment of Portsmouth NH, Plymouth Colony and Gloucester MA. Ball and Alling were forefathers in the family of George Washington. Wheelwright and Hutchinson were important ministers during the Puritan Insurrection in Boston (1638). Pierson was a founder and first President of Yale University. Peck, Lawrence and Pierson were pastors who were wanted, dead or alive, by Archbishop Laud in England. They led their congregations to Massachusetts. They relied on the financial support of wealthy entrepreneurs like the Bruens, Kitchells and Sheafes. These families frequently banded together authoring documents that established and defined the state of Connecticut and communities like New Haven and Newark. Had they been given the opportunity I am sure they would have created Disneyland and invented the internet before Al Gore ever thought of it.
Obadiah Bruen was the gentleman who brought this lineage of the royal bloodline to America. We will come back to those roots in the next chapter. He carried the DNA of a number of British royals dating back to William the Conqueror and his ties to Charlemagne and Rollo the Great of Norway. The links at each step of the family tree are historically accurate. But again, let’s not get big headed. It is a claim that tens of millions of people could make today.
Smith Link to British Nobility
There is one more branch of our tree to explore and that is a branch of my father’s tree. James D. Smith was a well educated teacher with a Masters Degree in Political Science. His sister, Marge, was also a teacher. His brothers, Bill and Bob, were college professors with Doctorates. Bob was also the President of San Francisco State University. They were all well educated people. Their father Lebanon was a man with a fourth grade education who began farming at an early age to help his family out in southern Illinois. Leb’s grandfather was a prairie farmer (Peter Smith) who descended from plantation “gentlemen,” families of wealth, in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Those ancestors shared the church pew, mercantile store and pub with families whose grandchildren would create a new nation. The Madisons, Marshalls, Washingtons, Jeffersons and Harrisons were all neighbors of Peter Smith, Sr. on the Potomac shoreline. Again, I got enthralled with our immigrant ancestors, the Smiths of Westmoreland, and wrote a bunch about them too. Again, historically accurate. I can’t make this stuff up.
Leb’s grandfather, Peter, married a young lady by the name of Matilda Montgomery. As we found with the Whittington surname, the Montgomery name traces right back into Norman France in the year 900 A.D. At each step in the tree we can trace Matilda’s lineage, and therefore our own, to Sir Roger de Montgomery, First Earl of Shrewsbury in the year 1075 and his father, Roger of Normandy. I have written at length about Roger in one of several blogs dedicated to the Montgomery clan. He was instrumental in the Norman conquest of England. He was the right hand of William the Conqueror and one of the wealthiest men in William’s new kingdom. His descendants were important figures in both Scotland and Ireland. Sadly, the Montgomerys were instrumental in subjugating my grandmother Mary’s Irish ancestors and dispossessing them of their land. It was hard to subjugate the Irish people and steal their land and livelihood without paying a price. Karma has a way of evening the score, especially when Celts are involved.
When we are in Shrewsbury we will be in a community that was home to both Roger de Montgomery and Obadiah Bruen. Roger was the Earl in 1080. Obadiah was a draper in 1630. Roger was the guy who owned everything in sight. He built the Abbey (at which he is buried), the castle (and many others) and raised an army for the purpose of protecting the King’s western front with Wales. Obadiah is listed as a draper, a term used in England for a venture capitalist. He was wealthy, as was his father John. John Bruen was an entrepreneur, an investor, a king of the growing textile industry and the father of at least nineteen legitimate children by three wives. John was considered a saint by many in the church. I have dedicated a chapter to him somewhere in here. This isn’t like reading a book, is it? It’s kind of a helter skelter experience, this reading online thing we do. Not sure I like it. Not at all like my father’s morning paper, cigarette and cup of coffee experience. Well. So be it. It’s job security for my family.
The Royal Blood Lines
Whittington roots were established at Pauntley Manor, Gloucestershire and prior to that at Kinver, Staffordshire. The Kinver location has been turned into a modest cafe with ‘iffy’ reviews. Apparently the service went downhill under new management. At least that’s what I find on Yelp. The Littletons and the Walter family of Nathaniel’s wife Mary, were residents of Shropshire County with various homes in the Ludlow area.
Perhaps the easiest way to introduce the idea that present day family descends from ancient rulers is to simply paste the line of descent onto the page. I will do that but with an immediate disclaimer.
1) There are hundreds of millions of people on earth who descend from royalty somewhere in the world. Britain wasn’t the only place with royalty.
2) I am more amazed by the not so royal families that I find scraping out a living in the backwoods of Kentucky, the coal mines of Illinois, potato fields of Kerry…
3) Some of these monarchs were murdering thieves, lecherous old farts, and scoundrels. Nothing to be proud of if you know what I mean. Nudge nudge, wink wink. Say no more. Say no more.
The Whittington/Littleton link to the Royals:
- King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitane
- King John Lackland, he of the Magna Charta of England (1215) m. Isabella of Angoulême
- King Henry III of England (Plantagenets) m. Queen Eleanor of Provence
- Edward I King of England (1231- 1307) m. Marguerite de France (1279-1318) his name was als Longshanks, Hammer of the Scots. She was a Capetian Family member, daughter of King Philip III of France and Maria de Brabant
- Thomas of Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk (1300-1338) m. Alice de Hales
- Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk (1322-1399) m. John de Segrave (1315-1353)
- Elizabeth de Segrave m. John de Mowbray
- Thomas Gray m. Joan de Mowbray
- John Gray m. Joan Cherleton
- Henry Gray m. Antigone of Gloucester
- Elizabeth Grey m. Roger Kynaston
- Jane Kynaston m. Roger Thornes
- John Thornes m. Elizabeth Astley
- Richard Thornes m. Margaret Fychan
- Alice Thornes m. Rev. John Littleton
- Sir Edward Littleton m. Dame Mary Walter
- Nathaniel Littleton m. Ann Southy
- Southy Littleton m. Sarah Bowman
- Esther Littleton m. William Whittington
Keep in mind you can always find Esther and Willie on the pedigree charts I have hidden in here. I think William and Esther Whittington appear to the top right side of the second of three charts at this page.
Sullivan Family Links to the Royals
I do want to point you in the direction of another link within this blog that articulates the Sullivan family link to monarchs from another direction in the Whittington family. That trail leads us through the Grandmother Laurel Sulllivan to the Osbornes, eventually through New England families in the 1600s, including Obadiah Bruehn to King Edward I. The Sullivan to Obadiah Bruehn link takes the family history to the second of Edward’s wives, Eleanor of Castile. So, both the Sullivan and Whittington lines (via Bruehn and via Littleton) end up in the bed of King Edward I, with two different mothers, each legally betrothed (2. Marguerite after the death of 1. Eleanor) to King Edward I. Note the lineage does go back to William the Conqueror and Charlemagne, etc. and Rollo the Great and probably Moses, Noah, Adam and Eve.