Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Ancients -- John of Gaunt

Over the holidays, much of what you hear or read in the news tends to be less hard and sometimes much more interesting. On the weekend, a widely reported news item noted that Benedict Cumberbatch and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are 16th cousins 1x removed and share a common ancestor, John of Gaunt, who is Cumberbatch's 17th great grandfather.

Well, hello cousin Benedict! John of Gaunt (1340-1399), first Duke of Lancaster, is my 18th great grandfather. As Duke of Lancaster, he led the Lancastrian forces against his Yorkist cousins in the Wars of the Roses. Yes, John is another of my Plantagenet ancestors, and today's royal family are also his direct descendants.

John fathered at least eight children by three different mothers, including my direct ancestor, John Beaufort (abt 1373-1410), whose mother was Katherine Swynford (abt 1350-1403). Katherine is another of my fascinations. She bore John four children. They married in 1396, and their children were later legitimized by Richard II and the Pope, but were barred from inheriting the English succession.

John of Gaunt was buried with his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster at Old St. Paul's Cathedral, which was destroyed in the 1666 Great Fire of London. Read more about Benedict Cumberbatch's and my great grandfather here.

The never ending story continues....


© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

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