Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Queen's American Ancestors

Augustine Warner Jr.  The original portrait was
apparently destroyed in a fire. This is probably
the copy of the portrait that was made and is now
held by the George Washington Foundation
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has a family tree that is filled with the royalty and nobility of Europe.  It might surprising then to learn that the Queen actually has American ancestors.  Ironically enough, these same American forebears are also shared by George Washington, the old nemesis of the British.  My family also descends from these same common ancestors of Queen Elizabeth II and George Washington.

The most recent common ancestors of Queen Elizabeth, George Washington and myself were Augustine Warner Jr and his wife Mildred Reade of colonial Virginia.  Both Augustine and Mildred were born in the early 1640s in Virginia.  Their parents had migrated to Virginia from England (although Mildred's mother was at least half French).  Mildred Reade also has proven direct descent from King Edward III of England through her paternal grandmother.  Mildred's great-uncle Sir Francis Windebank was Secretary of State under King Charles II. 

Augustine Warner was born in 1642 or 1643 in Virginia.  In 1658, at about the age of 16, he was sent to England where he was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School in London.  After finishing his education, he returned to Virginia where he married Mildred Reade, the daughter of a prominent Virginian landowner.  They lived together on a Virginian estate given to them by Mildred's father until 1674 when Augustine inherited his family's estate - Warner Hall - from his father.  The land containing Warner Hall had originally been granted to Augustine's father in 1642 and the plantation house was built sometime after this date.  The estate is located in Gloucester County, Virginia on the Severn River, off of Chesapeake Bay.

Augustine was prominent in Virginia politics during his adulthood.  He served in the House of Burgesses from 1666 to 1677 and was its Speaker on two separate occasions.  He later served on the Governor's Council from 1677 to 1681.  Augustine was also closely involved with Bacon's Rebellion of 1676-1677, being a supporter of Governor Berkeley.  During the crisis, the rebels managed to seize Warner Hall, damaging the house in the process.

After the death of Augustine Warner in 1681, his widow Mildred and their children continued to live at Warner Hall.  Apparently, after Augustine's death Mildred was left with custody of a large amount of arms and ammunition (perhaps left behind during Bacon's Rebellion) and she refused to give them up until they were taken from her by force. The couple had three known sons, but all three died without producing children.  The surviving heirs of Augustine and Mildred Warner were thus their three daughters: Elizabeth Warner Lewis (my ancestor), Mildred Warner Washington Gale (George Washington's ancestor) and Mary Warner Smith (Queen Elizabeth's ancestor).

Elizabeth Warner married John Lewis and inherited Warner Hall from her brother George in about 1702 and lived there until her death in 1720.  She was my direct ancestor.  Another of her direct descendants was Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame.

A current photo of Warner Hall in Gloucester County,
Virginia, from the Inn at Warner Hall's website
Mildred Warner was married first to Lawrence Washington and second to George Gale.  In 1700, she moved with her second husband to England, where she died soon after.  Mildred is the grandmother of George Washington.

Mary Warner married John Smith and settled in Gloucester County, Virginia.  Their daughter Mildred Smith married Robert Porteus and moved to England in 1720.  Their descendants later intermarried with the English gentry and nobility.  Eventually, their descendant Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married George VI of England, making them ancestors of Queen Elizabeth. 

Warner Hall stayed in the family for about 200 years, being passed down to descendants of Elizabeth Warner Lewis.  Eventually, the plantation was sold to an unrelated family in the 1830s.  Unfortunately, the estate suffered at least two devastating fires that destroyed the original 17th Century home.  The owners then rebuilt a colonial-style mansion on the original foundation, and it is still standing to this day.  Warner Hall is currently a bed & breakfast (Inn at Warner Hall) and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Although the actual house dates from the 19th Century, there are numerous outbuildings and the family cemetery which survive from earlier times.

In 1957, Queen Elizabeth II made a trip to the United States and Virginia to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown.  During he trip, she visited Warner Hall and placed a wreath on the grave of her ancestor Augustine Warner.  During the trip she was also given a gift of a copy of a portrait of Augustine Warner.  In England, Warner Hall is apparently known as the "home of the Queen's American ancestors." During her 1957 trip, Elizabeth was quoted in a speech saying: "Yes, I am proud of my American ancestry and of the part they played in the war that we fought against us."

My relationship to Meriwether Lewis, George Washington and Queen Elizabeth II:



Sources:

1. Tyler, Lyon G. Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Volume I. Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York, 1915.
2. Sorley, Merrow E. Lewis of Warner Hall, The History of a Family. self published, 1935.
3. McAllister, John M. and Tandy, Lura B. Genealogies of the Lewis and Kindred Families. E. W. Stephens Publishing Co., Columbia, Missouri, 1906.
4. Bolitho, Hector. "The Queen's American Ancestors", unknown date. Retrieved from http://www.bigballoonmusic.com/goddardreagan/TheQueensAmericanAncestors.htm
5. "Augustine Warner, Jr.", in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_Warner,_Jr.
6. "Just a little bit of history" at Inn at Warner Hall, retrieved from http://www.warnerhall.com/bed-and-breakfast-virginia-history.asp
7. Tombstone inscriptions, Warner Hall Cemetery, Warner Hall, Gloucester Co., Virginia
8. Hudgins, William H. "The Queen Visits Soil of Her American Ancestors", Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 17, 1957

3 comments:

  1. Happy to meet you, cousin! Your relationship chart looks a lot like mine though I am descended from Elizabeth Warner's son David. The rest above is the same. Gotta love the famous ancestors. The Queen? What?! Anyway just wanted to say hi and let you know I like your site. Keep writing! --Teri Masters

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  2. I am a descendant of Robert Portues and Mildred Smith myself. Their daughter Elizabeth remained in Virigina and married Robert Downman. Their daughter Elizabeth Porteus Downman married Stokley Towles, my great, great, great grandfather.

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  3. I'm a direct descendant of Augustine Warner Sr. and Mary Cant Towneley through their daughter Sarah Warner (Augustine Jr.'s sister.) Hi cousins!

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