Our cousin the King of England


Everyone hopes to find someone famous in their family tree. As you might suspect from the title, this is indeed the case. However, the first part of this story is about the power of the internet. A copy of a court case provided lots of genealogical detail (see The Importance of Being Ernest). I posted the data to the Internet.

Later a lady doing genealogical work checked for her grandfather. She didn’t expect to find anything, but tried anyway just for the heck of it. She was stunned to find out that she got a match. It turns out that her grandfather was one of the folks posted from the court case. She sent an e-mail and began correspondence.

She sent a number of wonderful pictures (see the Charles Butt Sr and Mary Van Stone) but the key thing she sent was a copy of the Van Stone scroll. Mary Van Stone was married to Charles Butt Sr. At the tiem there wasn't much known beyond her name, the day she died and some medical history (discussed later in the the Van Stone Family Curse). After receiving the Van Stone scroll we now had her family history going back five or six generations!

The further back you go in time, the easier it is to find more information. It gets more and more likely you will run into work somebody else had already done and posted. Searching for more information on the Van Stone spouses hit paydirt with Elizabeth Walter, the wife of Samuel Van Stone III (those Van Stones loved the name Samuel!). It seemed like the Walter family tree went halfway back to Adam. While entering data for some of the earliest Walters, it was noticed that a couple of them were born in Roch Castle, Wales. It turns out that we have some minor Welsh nobility in the bloodline.

Our direct ancestors are Richard Walter, brother of the infamous Lucy Walter, and William Walter, Richard and Lucy’s father, and owner of Roch Castle.

During the English Civil War King Charles I was beheaded and Oliver Cromwell ran England. The process was hard on the Walter family. Their castle was fought over and they ended up on the losing side of the Civil War. They went into exile. Charles, the son of the beheaded King was out of a job. With lots of time on his hands he became a 15th century playboy. He had numerous mistresses, including our Aunt Lucy. She bore him a son and a daughter.

Eventually Cromwell died and the people of England decided that they really preferred a King and invited Charles to take the throne, which he gladly did, becoming Charles II. As King, he remembered Lucy and her children fondly. He recognized her son James as his son and married him off into the noble Scott family, whose name he took. He became James Scott, Duke of Monmouth.

Our cousin the Duke went off to serve in the military and did extremely well, becoming a 15th century celebrity. He was young, handsome, daring, and successful.

Charles II was popular, but everyone’s time must end and so did Charles. Charles brother James II ascended to the throne. However, James II was quite unpopular. He was obnoxious, which wasn’t unusual in a King. His main offense was that he was a Catholic which in Anglican England during Protestant times was not well accepted at all.

Since our cousin was young, popular, a successful soldier, and a recognized if illegitimate son of Charles, he was a natural to consider as a contender for replacing the hated James on the throne. Cousin James listened to the plotters and agreed. He came ashore and had himself crowned King of England. Our cousin the King of England! Naturally, in order to truly sit on the throne the current King needed to be quite dead. James did not think highly of this option and rode out to defend his throne and his life. Unfortunately, the plotters were much better at plotting than at raising an Army. James skill at being a soldier wasn’t enough to overcome his disadvantage in numbers and his Army was defeated by the King. This incident became known as the Monmouth Rebellion

Cousin James was hauled off to the Tower of London where he was particularly clumsily beheaded for his treason. It is said it took eight blows to sever his head.

Having been on first the wrong side of the revolution and then on the wrong side of the rebellion, the Walters fortunes were ruined. Ancestor Richard moved to a quiet part of England. Several generations later his descendant Elizabeth married into the Van Stone family. The Van Stones eventually ended up in Canada and Mary Van Stone married into the Butt family.