The fun with ancestry.

in #history5 years ago

For several years I have been working on my family tree, and last year, I had a breakthrough.


What I was searching for:
My mother’s maiden name is Hardwick and her direct ancestors come from the home village of the famous Bess of Hardwick. It was therefore more than likely she was a descendant.

Bess of Hardwick
Elizabeth Hardwick (1527-1608)


The Hardwick family moved to Derbyshire from Sussex in the mid thirteenth century, and by the time of Elizabeth’s birth, they farmed an estate of a few hundred acres around Ault-Hucknall. This made them ‘gentleman-yeoman’ and they lived at a small manor house.

Not much is known of Elizabeth until her marriage at around the age of 15 to Robert Barlow. Robert died a year later without issue (no children). Both had been in service and Bess moved on to work for other families, where she met her second husband, Sir William Cavendish, a widower with three children and 20 years older than Bess. They married at the home of the Grey family at 2 in the morning, against the wishes of his children.

Sir William Cavendish

Bess and Sir William bought the Derbyshire estate of Chatsworth from my 14th Great Uncle, Francis Leche.

Chatsworth House

Francis Leche’s grandfather was Bess’s Step-grandfather. Both the Hardwick and the Leche families were struggling at the time.
Sir William died 10 years later and Bess married Sir William St Loe who introduced Bess to the Queen.

Queen Elizabeth I

St Loe lasted 9 years, and Bess married George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury and became one of the the richest women in England, second only to the Queen.

George Talbot 6th Earl of Shrewsbury

Bess was a powerful business woman and worked hard to promote her family, even arranging a secret marriage between Bess's daughter Elizabeth Cavendish and Charles Stuart, 1st Earl of Lennox. This was something only the Queen was allowed to do, and during her life, she ended up locked in the Tower of London three times for crossing the Queen.

Hardwick New Hall

Her son, William Cavendish, inherited both estates consisting of over 90,000 acres and the Cavendish family still own and live at Chatsworth House.
Chatsworth House is one of England’s grandest stately homes and I can’t believe my ancestors once owned it, (even if it was a rundown manor house at the time).

Bess Hardwick's line died out with Bess’s brother, James, who had no children and is why she inherited Hardwick Hall My family ties to Bess are through her half-sisters, and my mother’s Hardwick line must therefore start before the time of Bess’s father.
My mother’s family, along with a Derbyshire family ended up living next door to each other sometime before 1835 and both worked in the Iron foundry. The two families linked up through marriage and it is through the Pegg or Pegge line that we trace the family back to Bess.

Charles Fitzcharles Pegge

The breakthrough.

I was reading about the English Civil war in the middle 1600s when I spotted King Charles II, Charles_II_(de_Champaigne).jpg
who had lots of mistresses. One particular acquaintance produced two children. She was Catherine Pegge, and on checking, she turned out to be my 9th Great aunt.

Her Father was Thomas Pegge and her mother Catherine Kniveton. The Pegges had supported the Royalists in the Civil War and when they lost, were exiled to Bruges, along with the King. It was there that the relationship between Catherine and the King produced FitzCharles, 1st Earl of Plymouth and Catherine FitzCharles (she either died in infancy or survived to be 101, depending on who writes the history books).

Once you have a breakthrough, especially into aristocracy, things get easier and more interesting.

My ancestors are from famous and royal families and many of them have great tales to tell.

Famous ancestors on mine

I can now trace my family back at least 1250 years and include some of the great names in European history.
From the woman who married her way to the top, to the woman who slept with the King.

For some reason, which I have not yet discovered, when Charles II returned to the throne in 1651 he did not bring the Pegge family with him and it was a few years before they had their estate and name reinstated.

Catherine de Braganca of Portugal

Charles II married Catherine of Braganza in an arranged marriage in 1661 and Britain gained a Dowry from Portugal of Tangiers (FitzCharles died there while defending it) and seven islands of Bombay. It also included trading privileges with Brazil and the East Indies and £300,000. She was quite a catch and the two Catherines get mixed up a lot.

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