Researching your genealogy could lead to a Royal connection

Mary Nettleton Read with a photo of her fourth cousin once removed. - Sean Connor/Capital News
Mary Nettleton Read with a photo of her fourth cousin once removed.
— image credit: Sean Connor/Capital News

Mary Nettleton Read of Kelowna is writing a letter to invite her fourth cousin once removed, to come to tea when she visits Canada this year.

But, she’s not sure what sort of response she’ll get from Kate Middleton, who plans to visit Canada as part of a Royal tour planned two months after her honeymoon, with her new husband, Prince William.

They will be arriving June 30, for their first official visit together—a nine-day trip across the country.

Read says she discovered the connection as part of her genealogy research, which she’s been interested in for the past 15 years.

It began because her mother was interested in genealogy, but she didn’t become involved until her mother died in 1996 and she inherited all the information. However, her mother hadn’t made use of the Internet, and Read says that has opened up a whole new world to those interested in learning more about their ancestors.

Read’s grandparents came to Canada early in the last century from England, with her dad’s parents homesteading in Saskatchewan in 1903, coming from Leeds, Yorkshire; and her mother’s parents there in 1928, coming from Cumberland in the Lakes District of England.

It’s on her father’s side that the connection to Middleton comes, with Read’s great great grandfather, Samuel Asquith (born in about 1816), a younger brother of Kate’s great great great grandfather, Joseph Asquith, both of Leeds, Yorkshire.

“She’s not a direct ancestor, but we have a common ancestor,” explained Read. Kate’s father would be Read’s fourth cousin, and Read’s children would be Kate’s fifth cousins.

“It’s kinda cool; a real conversation piece,” comments Read. After all, she says, “Kate is the sparkling light; she brings a human side to the Royal family.” Although she’s a commoner she has grace and poise and is well-educated. In fact, the Royal bride-to-be met her Royal husband at college, notes Read.

Genealogists look for famous people in their family trees, she explained. Previously, the famous people in her family tree were the Niedermayer brothers, of National Hockey League fame.

Searching out your ancestors is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, except you’re never really finished.

Once you’ve assembled what you can of your own family tree, you can carry on out as far as you want along each of those many branches, even tracking down current relations around the world.

Read has visited cousins in Australia and other parts of the world, and works, online, with a number of them to discover more relationships or stories about their common ancestors.

For instance, she tells the story of finding one of her ancestors still living in England, whose great grandfather’s brother was Read’s great grandfather. He still had letters which had been written from Saskatchewan by Read’s great grandfather.

“The letters talked about how very cold they were. My father had to go to town to sell a cello to get the money to buy some coal,” related Read.

They’ve also shared photos online in which ancestors are identified by each other.

She admits to being obsessed by the search and what she’s discovered, but says, “I’m amazed at the number of people out there today looking for their roots. Sometimes they flounder around, but you need to know how to organize your research.”

That’s where membership in the Kelowna and District Genealogical Society comes in handy, because there are many members there with the experience and background to guide new genealogists in the right direction.

Read says birth, marriage and death certificates are often available online, and are helpful, solid pieces of information to use in doing research.

As well, the Mormon Church here has a family search centre which provides a lot of genealogical information that’s helpful in a search.

Census information is also invaluable.

To start with, begin by building your family tree using information you already have, then branch out using census information, certificates and so on.

For more information about the local society, contact secretary Marie Ablett at 250-763-7159. The society meets the first Monday of every month at Hawthorn Park.

Perhaps you too will feel the thrill of discovering an ancestral link to Royalty.

Whether they’ll want to come to tea is another question.


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