Sunday, October 4, 2015

{42} 'Who Do You Think You Are' Correction: Sir Michael Stanhope (by 1508-1552) is *Not* Descended from Edward I

Frank Gardner reviews a pedigree with York Herald Peter O'Donoghue
at the College of Arms on Who Do You Think You Are
I love the television series Who Do You Think You Are, and regularly watch both the U.S. and U.K. versions. I think they do tremendous work, and am often moved to tears along with the celebrity participants when their genealogical journeys touch on human emotion. I've just finished watching the Frank Gardner episode, which originally aired in the U.K. last week. Mr. Gardner has traced his ancestry back to Sir Michael Stanhope, the brother-in-law of Lord Protector Somerset, who was wrongfully executed on Tower Hill in 1552. He then pays a visit to the College of Arms, where Peter O'Donoghue, York Herald, shows him a pedigree created in the early 19th-century tracing Sir Michael Stanhope's descent from Edward I, then another much earlier manuscript pedigree tracing Edward I back to William the Conquerer. Mr. Gardner is visibly moved, as his recently deceased mother had always claimed that their ancestors had come over with the Conqueror, and would've been pleased to have learned that they were descended from the Conqueror himself. Unfortunately, the 19th-century pedigree is incorrect - Sir Michael Stanhope was most definitely not descended from William the Conqueror, at least not through Edward I.

The 19th-century pedigree shows Sir Michael Stanhope's paternal grandmother Mary Jerningham, wife of Thomas Stanhope of Shelford, as the daughter of "Edward Jerningham of Somerleyton Co. Suffolk Esq. = Mary daughter of Richard Scrope," who in turn is shown to be descended from Edward I's daughter Joan of Acre.
The 19th-century pedigree showing a descent for Sir Michael Stanhope (d. 1552) from Edward I
This is impossible chronologically. Per his entries in both History of Parliament and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sir Michael Stanhope was born by 1508. This is a good estimate, as Sir Michael's father Sir Edward Stanhope died in 1511. Mary Scrope was the second wife of Sir Edward Jerningham of Somerleyton, who died 6 January 1515. Sir Henry Jerningham, the son of Sir Edward and his second wife Mary Scrope, was born 1509/10, per his entry in History of Parliament, which estimated this birthdate for him using his age as returned in his father Sir Edward's inquisition post mortem. We don't have an exact date of marriage for Sir Edward Jerningham and his second wife Mary Scrope, but as Sir Edward's first wife Margaret died in March 1503/4, per the inscription on her brass in St Mary Church, Somerleyton, any other child of Mary Scrope and Sir Edward Jerningham could not have been born prior to that date. Mary Scrope was not an ancestor of Sir Michael Stanhope, and her descent from Edward I does not apply to him.

Presumably the error stems from whichever herald composed the 19th-century pedigree. Per the Stanhope pedigree from the The Visitations of the county of Nottingham in the years 1569 and 1614, the paternal grandmother of Sir Michael Stanhope was “Margaretta (Elizabeth, Harl. 1400) filia Jerningham.” The Jerningham pedigree from the 1561 Visitation of Suffolk shows no Stanhope/Jerningham marriage. It does show that Sir Edward Jerningham and his second wife Mary Scrope had a daughter named Mary, but assigns her no husband, which means she either died young, or, if still living in the year 1561, was a middle-aged spinster.

In the introduction to her transcription of the 1515 will of Sir Edward Jerningham, Nina Green assigns to him a sister Margaret (or Mary) Jerningham married to Thomas Stanhope, and cites editions of Burke’s Perrage and Collins’s Peerage as her sources. But this placement does not match to the 1561 Jerningham pedigree, which gives that couple no such daughter, nor does it work chronologically. The parents of Sir Edward Jerningham (d. 1515) were John Jerningham (d. 1503) and Isabel Clifton, and they were married in 1459. The father of Sir Michael Stanhope, Sir Edward Stanhope (d. 1511), was born in 1469. A man born in 1469 could not be the grandson of a couple married ten years previous.
Sir Michael Stanhope (by 1508-1552)

We may never know exactly how Sir Michael Stanhope descended from the Jerningham family, but thanks to chronology, we can be certain that he was not at all descended from the baronial Scrope familes, nor descended at all from Edward I. An error made by a herald working in the early 19th-century, long before the computer age and centralization of genealogical records, is understandable. Anyone working with the published Visitation pedigrees is aware how frustrating they can be, as most contain no vital dates (birth, death, marriage) at all. Hopefully the herald at the Visitation, working with the representative of the family, was accurate as to the living members and one or two generations previous. But there was no way of verifying the accuracy of these, really until the 19th-century.  Thankfully today there are many secondary sources - the modern biography entries linked to above, for example - as well as now easily available primary sources such as inquisitions post mortem, wills, and other original documents in the National Archives.

The emotion Frank Gardner felt at the discovery of his descent from Edward I and William the Conqueror is not invalid, however, for he has many other, lines of descent from Edward I through his mother, which do hold up when chronology is applied to them. There actually is one through the same Scrope family as in the televised pedigree above, through the wife of Sir Michael Stanhope's namesake son.

Edward I had a daughter
1) Princess Joan ‘of Acre’ (1272-1307) m. 1) Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Gloucester (1243-1295), and had
2) Lady Margaret de Clare (1293-1342) m. 2) Hugh Audley, Earl of Gloucester (c.1291-1347), and had
3) Lady Margaret Audley (c.1321-1349) m. Ralph, 1st Earl of Stafford (1301-1372), and had
Margaret (née Stafford), Lady Neville -
see Generation 5
4) Hugh, 2nd Earl of Stafford (1341-1386) m. Lady Philippa Beauchamp (c.1340-bef.1385), and had
5) Lady Margaret Stafford (c.1365-1396) m. Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland (c.1364-1425), and had
6) Lady Margaret Neville (1396-1464) m. Richard, 3rd Lord Scrope of Bolton (1394-1420), and had
7) Henry, 4th Lord Scrope of Bolton (1418-1459) m. Elizabeth Scrope (d. 1504), and had
8) Richard Scrope of Bentley (d. 1485) m. Eleanor Washbourne (d. 1506), and had
9) Eleanor Scrope (c.1476-by 1509) m. Sir Thomas Wyndham of Felbrigg Hall (d. 1522, descended from Edward I), and had
10) Mary Wyndham (c.1508-1596) m. Erasmus Paston, Heir of Paston Hall (by 1508-1540, descended from Edward I), and had
11) Gertrude Paston (c.1539-1605) m. Sir William Reade of Osterley Park (c.1538-1621), and had
12) Anne Reade (c.1579-1616) m. Sir Michael Stanhope of Sudbourne Hall (c.1549-1621, son of the Sir Michael Stanhope who was beheaded in 1552), and had
13) Jane Stanhope (1601-bef.1645) m. Sir William Withypool of Christchurch (d. 1645, descended from Edward III), and had
14) Elizabeth Withypool (d. 1669) m. Leicester Devereux, 6th Viscount Hereford (1617-1676, descended from Edward III), and had
15) Hon. Frances Devereux (c.1659-1688) m. William, 4th Viscount Tracy (d. 1712, descended from Edward III), and had
16) Hon. Elizabeth Tracy (1680-1747) m. Robert Burdett, Heir of Bramcote (1680-1716, descended from Edward III), and had
17) Dorothy Burdett (1715-1794) m. Rev. John Rolleston, ancestors of Grace (née Rolleston) Gardner, mother of Frank Gardner

Frank Gardner is also descended from Lady Mary Carey “the Other Boleyn Girl”, sister of Queen Anne Boleyn, through his ancestor Robert Burdett (see Generation 16 above). There is a school of thought that one or both of Mary Boleyn’s two children with her husband Sir William Carey were in actuality her children by Henry VIII, which would make Frank Gardner a possible descendant of that monarch as well.
Lady Mary (née Boleyn) Carey

1) Lady Mary Boleyn (c.1499-1543) m. William Carey of Aldenham (c.1496-1528, descended from Edward III), and had
2) Katherine Carey (c.1523-1569) m. Sir Francis Knollys of Rotherfield Greys (c.1512-1596), and had
3) Henry Knollys of Ewelme (1541-1582) m. Margaret Cave (1549-1606), and had
4) Elizabeth Knollys m. Sir Henry Willoughby, 1st Baronet of Risley (1579-1649), and had
5) Anne Willoughby (1614-1688) m. 1) Sir Thomas Aston, 1st Baronet of Aston (1600-1646, descended from Edward III), and had
6) Magdalen Aston (d. 1694) m. Sir Robert Burdett, 3rd Baronet of Bramcote (1641-1716, descended from Edward I), and had
7) Robert Burdett, Heir of Bramcote (1680-1716) m. Hon. Elizabeth Tracy (1680-1747, descended from Edward III and Sir Michael Stanhope), and had
8) Dorothy Burdett (1715-1794) m. Rev. John Rolleston, ancestors of Grace (née Rolleston) Gardner, mother of Frank Gardner

Television (and it's sister the internet) reaches such a wide audience, I think it important that the genealogy shown be as accurate as possible. In that spirit, I offer this correction, and have submitted it to both the College of Arms and the Who Do You Think You Are message board.

Cheers,            -----Brad


  1. I heard back very promptly from the College of Arms. It turns out the mis-assignation of Sir Michael Stanhope's paternal Jerningham grandmother as a daughter of Sir Edward Jerningham (d. 1515) and his second wife Mary Scrope, dates all the way back to the late sixteenth-century. After looking over the chronology issues, they agree that Mary Scrope could not have been an ancestor of Sir Michael. They are in the process of adjusting their records. I'm very pleased to learn that the College also places high value on genealogical accuracy, in addition to the renowned work done there on heraldry. I'm now as determined as ever to pay a visit to the College on my next visit to London!

  2. I want to thank Carol Jamieson for bringing my attention to a very well-researched article, 'The Origins of the Stanhope Family' by Michael Stanhope, which can be found online:

    Mr. Stanhope has the wife of Sir Thomas Stanhope (d. 1494), paternal grandfather of Sir Michael Stanhope (by 1508-1552), as Mary Jerningham, daughter of John Jerningham of Somerleyton (d. 1503) and his wife Isabel Clifton. This agrees with Burke's and Collins and other peerage works, but as I pointed out in the post above, it is impossible chronologically. John Jerningham married Isabel Clifton in 1459, and Sir Thomas Stanhope's son Sir Edward Stanhope was born in 1469. It is chronologically impossible for Sir Edward to have been the grandson of John Jerningham and Isabel Clifton. Instead, Sir Edward's Jerningham mother has to be further back in the Jerningham family.

    She may have been a sister of the John Jerningham who married Isabel Clifton, though the Jerningham pedigree taken by the herald at the 1561 Visitation does not assign any siblings to that John. It does, however, give him an aunt Margaret Jerningham, with no marriage assigned to her. Per early Stanhope pedigrees, the wife of Sir Thomas Stanhope was "Margaretta filia Jerningham." It seems very likely, then, that the wife of Sir Thomas Stanhope (d. 1494), and so the paternal grandmother of Sir Michael Stanhope (by 1508-1552), was Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Jerningham of Somerleyton and Love Appleyard, the grandparents of the John Jerningham (d. 1503) who married Isabel Clifton.


  4. After watching the program the other day I got quite excited thinking I was a descendant of William the conqueror,but then like yourself found discrepancies, and got in touch with the College of Arms. To which they was certain the information on the programme was correct,but coming across you excellent website and explanation, I find myself doubtful again.