Am I really descended from royalty, aristocrats, knights, etc.?

+14 votes
Hi, I'm new to WikiTree, and while I was adding the profiles of several family members, I didn't realize what I connected one of their parents to. I was just going by everything I could find on Ancestry and FindAGrave, everything from the Census to church baptisms until I found a profile that already existed and matched name, birth year, and death year. Seeing several generations already added beyond him, I moved on to other family lines. Later, in connections, I saw I was 20 degrees of Henry VIII of England (7th cousins 15 times removed). I thought it odd, but I know a few people who are distantly related to royalty, so I figured it was common and thought little of it. I didn't realize just how many more interesting people I may be related to until I tinkered around with the dynamic view of my family tree (the other version is not easy to view on mobile). My mother's father's mother's side of the family is the culprit. Could someone (or several people) take a look into my family tree and suggest what DNA tests we should take? I don't want to tell my family too much, yet.

Edit: I appreciate others editing this delicate part for me, as I'm new and admittedly overwhelmed by all I have to learn (for instance, I just found out I made 100+ source formatting mistakes I have to fix somehow, just when I thought an asterisk was all I needed). Thank you for your well-researched responses. You're all incredible people, and your dedication to solving mysteries shines through like the sun.
WikiTree profile: Georgia Cooper
in The Tree House by J. Fulk G2G Crew (980 points)
edited by J. Fulk

To reply to your question: It is certainly possible.

I think the first thing to do is to determine if your family tree includes a known “gateway ancestor” to British Royalty. Then look at the documentation that connects you to that person: is the documentation solid? See, for example,

A large number of the medieval pedigrees are suspect, poorly  researched, poorly documented or undocumented, and cannot be relied upon.

A respected resource is: Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Salt Lake City: the author, 2013.

For Americans descended from British aristocracy, the key is generally to determine the "gateway ancestor" (that is, the emigrant from Britain to America who has documented aristocratic ancestry) and then to establish your relation to that gateway ancestor. In your case, it appears that the relevant gateway ancestor is Peter Bulkeley, who died 1659 in Concord, Massachusetts Bay Colony, and who seems quite well documented (discussed in both Richardson's Magna Carta Ancestry and Anderson's The Great Migration, two standard sources for gateway ancestors). Thus, the main task for you is to document that your great-grandmother is in fact a descendant of this Peter Bulkeley. There appear to be a couple of places where the descent needs some shoring up. (1) Sarah Bulkeley, the granddaughter of Peter Bulkeley, apparently was born in Concord but married in New Haven, Connecticut. May very well be, but a few more sources need to be added to her profile to actually demonstrate that the Sarah born in Concord is the same person as the Sarah who married in New Haven. (2) Hannah Brown apparently was Sarah's daughter and the mother of Abigail Punchard, who married Daniel Bradley. These people all lived in New Haven, and so the births and marriages should be documentable from New Haven records; they just need to be added to the profiles. (3) Going in the other direction you have already added the sources to show that Daniel Bradley was the 2-great-grandfather of your great-grandmother. The key step now is to show that Daniel's father Jesse Bradley of Lee, MA, is the same person as the Jesse Bradley who was born to Abigail Punchard in New Haven, CT. Right now Jesse's profile is merely a GEDCOM import with no real sources. This is probably going to be the most difficult part in the proof - and this is also probably far enough back in time that autosomal DNA testing is not going to be of much help.

Proving that the Jesse Bradley of Lee is the Jesse Bradley of New Haven should be feasible. The first appearance of Jesse in the Berkshire County, MA, land records is a deed from 1773, in which Jesse Bradley of the town of New Haven in Connecticut buys some land in the town of Hartwood, MA (see here, right-hand side). Lee, MA, was later formed in part from Hartwood (renamed to Washington, MA). So it just remains to show that the land Jesse bought in 1773 is the same as the farm in Lee on which he later lived.

Jesse Bradley's information, including the fact that he moved his family to Lee, Massachusetts, is in Families of Ancient New Haven by Donald Lines Jacobus, a well-regarded genealogist. I've added that source to his profile.

4 Answers

+18 votes
Best answer

The ancestry is currently incorrect. Daniel Bradley (1779-1854) and his wife Patience Cooper had a son David Bradley (1811-1899). This David married Cynthia Abbott, removed to Chicago, and had six children. David Bradley is a fairly well-known manufacturer and businessman whose family is easy to document.

However, he is not the same as the David Bradley of Botetourt, Virginia who married Mary Ann Thomas and had a son Archabald Thomas Bradley also born in Virginia.  This seems to be a much copied error on

EDIT: I have separated the two David Bradleys's into 2 profiles.

by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (216k points)
edited by Joe Cochoit
So the ancestry is incorrect beginning are Archibald Thomas Bradley.

Th marriage record of Archibald says he is the son of David and Mary Bradley.

David Bradley married Mary Peacock on 27 November 1833. So, the marriage to Mary Ann Thomas appears to be an error (unless this was a second marriage for her).
It looks like this was a second marriage for Mary Thomas - she was previously married to Toliver Peacock.

"Journal of John Spurgeon Bradley," (Unpublished manuscript,;), owned by Leona Vlacancich

I was born May 16, 1866 in Sullivan County, Tennessee; and I remember my mother once put me in a cradle and shoved the cradle under a quilt that she was working on. But I do not know how old I was at that time, but I think about 18 months. And when I was past three years old I went to school to a young woman who was teaching at the old Howser school house which was about 1½ miles east of where we lived. This was when we lived on the Booher farm just across Reeda Creek from the Daneil Booher mill. And that teacher was so nice to all the children, and she made a pet of me, and her kindness put a feeling in me that I cannot express, and one that I never forgot, and don't want to forget, for she must have been prompted by the spirit of rightiousness from on high. Archabald Thomas Bradley was born 1833 to Mary Ann and David Bradley, and was deprived of a father's care and the education he should have had, that would have given him a chance to cultivate and develop his mentality and place him in a position to accomplish in pursuit as he might have chosen in life. And because of no assistance from a father he had to hire out at a very young age at three dollars per month to support himself and assist his mother. And all this was because David Bradley deserted his mother before he was born, and went to New York, and then to Illinois. And I have this information first hand from my grandmother Bradley and half-aunt Sally Peacok, a half-sister to Archabald Bradley, and twelve years older. And now to get at the bottom of this affair. My grandmother's maiden name was Mary Ann Thomas, and she married Toliver Peacodk and two children were born to this union, Sally and Richard. Sally being the oldest and Richard the youngest. Then Tolover Peacock got killed in a well. And then, being the widow of Toliver Peacock, she married David Bradley. Then David Bradley became the father of Archabald Thomas Bradley, and Archabald Thomas Bradley was subjected to many hardships as he grew up. But he worked hard and grew to be a fine, strong man, and applied himself usefully. One time in his early life, he was emplooyed by the James River Canal Company as lockkeeper, and to operate the gatges of the dam to let the boats through the dam. And he did this about 184-- or 1849.

I have separated the two David Bradley's into two profiles.

+8 votes
The AncestryDNA test is, in my opinion perfectly fine.

As far as the royals go, we have to be careful because the information on these trees is not always correct. Until the facts are verified with correct sources, the hints are suspect.

I also appear to be related to royalty...I am still working on my tree on Ancestry and doing my own research. I’ve learn some lessons over the last 6 years.

Best of luck!
by Susan Ellen Smith G2G6 Mach 1 (17.4k points)
The Ancestry DNA test is probably fine, but it's unlikely to confirm your relationship to Jesse Bradley, who is your 6th great grandfather. Autosomal DNA generally can't be used to confirm relationships that far back in your tree.
+10 votes

If I may be permitted to observe.....being so many degrees from X does not actually make one related to X in terms of blood relationships.

Most of these x degrees from involve climbing up one family tree, crossing over to another by marriage, going down the tree of the brother of that person to reach another ladder to be climbed up, wash rinse and repeat until you actually reach one that IS in your bloodline.

It really is no indicator of anything and personally I do see why people get so excited about it, but then I am just an elderly curmudgeon who is 28 degrees from James Beard45 degrees from Anthony Bourdain26 degrees from Julia Child26 degrees from Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec35 degrees from Joop Braakhekke27 degrees from Isabella Beeton27 degrees from Gustava Björklund43 degrees from Margaret Fulton42 degrees from Edna Lewis and 32 degrees from Loralee Hutton on our single family tree, none of whom are relatives in any way. :) :)

by David Loring G2G6 Mach 2 (27.5k points)
I agree it isn't a blood line connection but it does give our members and others a picture of how our ancestors are connected or can be connected to a much bigger family tree.

I sometimes send a screen shot of my connections to my siblings as a tool to help in getting them more interested in our family history.

"David Loring is 29 Degrees from Edison Williams."

laugh That is an impressive profile you have there! I love the sense of humour, sorry should that be humor?

David you are also 31 degrees from my husband, 32 if you count me, but the connections are all on my husband's side
And Edison shares 41% of his coding DNA with bananas. This claim is unsourced, but I spoke to a geneticist who assures me that this is correct, and that I too am also related to bananas. This is more exciting than being connected to St. Patrick by 53 degrees. Thanks, Edison.

Waaahaha! laughlaugh Near choked on my coffee!!!! I guess with all these degrees floating around some of you may be connected to the three.

Next result, Edison Williams is 25 degrees from my husband, all these connections must start in North America and and wander around back in time before making a connection in some cases back to Scotland, England and Ireland. 

I have no connections in Canada or the rest of North America being a first generation immigrant, I do have lots of interesting inlaws on my husband's side, various branches of his family have been here since the late 1700s, many were UEL. The rest of them came before 1850.

Wow! This brief comment thread has already netted me more mentions on G2G than any in the past six months. Clearly I need to rethink my communications strategy.

And maybe I should create a profile for a banana and enter a GEDmatch number for comparisons. Naw... Better not.

David, I almost hate to spoil the fun of some very funny comments by making a serious post here.  But some people do care about connections, and it can be very interesting to discover them--not so much one by one, but to recognize the overall patterns.  The 100 Circles project attempts to do that.

I would love to trace my ancestry back to bananas.  But I'm quirky that way.  ;-)
@Julie. Indeed it can be interesting however really the point I was trying to make was that just because there are connections does not mean, as the OP asked, that you are descended from Royalty or any nobility. Henry of Lancaster is 29 Degrees from me but he is not a relative or I should say I am not descended from him.
Quite right.
Well the original poster may not have made a clear distinction between the connection finder and the relationship finder - they must have been using both - but there was not only a 20 degree connection but also a relationship as 7th cousins 15 times removed.

Both finder tools have a useful function for spotting weak points in kinship lines.
+6 votes
If you go back far enough, everyone is related to royalty or leaders of the past. They say anyone of European descent alive today is a descendant of Charlemagne. I imagine there are many millions of descendants of Genghis the Khan running around too.
by Lincoln Lowery G2G6 Mach 1 (17.4k points)
Over 11 million I believe.

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