Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell, as portrayed by Mark Rylance in BBC2's wonderful adaptation of Wolf Hall

Thomas Cromwell, as portrayed by Mark Rylance in BBC2’s wonderful adaptation of Wolf Hall

When I first traced a line of ancestry back to Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, I thought relatively little of it, but then realised how fortunate I was, as a professional genealogist, to be descended from the man who, in 1538, introduced the first parish registers to England and Wales – and thus inadvertently created the basis on which so much English and Welsh genealogical research is based. In recent years Thomas Cromwell has become unexpectedly famous again by being the subject of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. This is the line of descent:

Walter Cromwell
blacksmith, brewer, fuller and cloth-cutter of Putney on the banks of the Thames

Thomas Cromwell
Earl of Essex, 1485-1540

Jane Cromwell
illegitimate daughter, married William Hough of Leighton, Cheshire (his father Richard Hough (d. 1573/4) was a Member of Parliament who acted as Cromwell’s agent in Cheshire, whilst William worked for Cromwell from 1534 to 1540). That she was Cromwell’s illegitimate daughter is recorded in the Hough family’s visitation pedigrees, and the Domestic State Papers for 23 May 1539 include a reference in Cromwell’s accounts to a payment of £12 14s. 4d. for ‘apparel for Mrs Jane’. Jane and Richard had a daughter:

Alice Hough
married William Whitmore d. 1620

William Whitmore
of Leighton married Margaret Beeston

Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, my ancestor, who introduced parish registers to England in 1538.

Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, my ancestor, who introduced parish registers to England in 1538.

Winifred Whitmore
married Sir Edward Moore 1610-1644, baronet, who died of wounds fighting for Charles I at the Battle of Marston Moor.

Alice Moore
married Thomas Havers of Thelveton Hall, Essex d. 1697

William Havers
of Thelveton Hall d. 1737 married Mary Dormer

Thomas Havers
of Thelveton Hall d. 1780 married Henrietta Maria D’Ewes daughter of Sir Symonds D’Ewes and Delarivierre Jermyn, who was in turn great niece of Henry Jermyn Earl of St Albans, subject of my biography The King’s Henchman.

William Havers
Merchant in Dunkirk, 1732-1772, married Mary Wyke

William Havers
Secretary to the Catholic Club and farmer at Bacons, Ingatestone, Essex 1766-1837, married Mary Carpue

William Joseph Havers
Farmer of Bacons and Lord of the Manor of Shopland Hall near Southend, Essex 1813-1877, married Elizabeth Anastasia Slaughter

Stanislaus Joseph Havers
1852-1915 married Maria Julia Hammond

Angela Mary Havers
1885-1968 married Joseph Aloysius Alphose Adolph

Joseph Albert Stanislaus Adolph
1910-1995 married Beryl Ivy Waters (and secondly Gwendolen Mary Stepney)

Peter Joseph Adolph
married Jane Patricia Collingwood Rietchel

Anthony Adolph, genealogist

I am less pleased with the cousinship this gives me to Oliver Cromwell, but in genealogy you cannot help who you are related to.

Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex had a sister Catherine who married Morgan ap Williams, an innkeeper from Putney. Their son was Robert Williams alias Cromwell (d. 1544), whose son Sir Henry Williams alias Cromwell (d. 1604), ‘the golden knight’, was father of Robert Cromwell (d. 1617), who married Elizabeth Steward and was father of the infamous Oliver.

Oliver’s only truly royal ancestry came through his Welsh ancestry for his father’s line runs back as follows: Morgan ap Williams was son of William ap Yevan (and his wife Joan Tudor): William was son of Yevan son of Morgan son of Howell lord of Ribour, son of Madoc, son of Rhun, son of Gronwy, son of Llywarth, son of Gwrgan, son of Gurganny, son of Gurgany, son of Gurgany, son of Gwynestan Lord of Powys, son of Gwarth Voel Lord of Powys and Ceredigion).

Once Oliver had become Lord Protector, two other royal links were fantasised for him – that Joan Tudor was a daughter of Jasper Tudor, the uncle of Henry VII and that Elizabeth Steward was descended from John Steward, a Scotsman shipwrecked on the Norfolk coast in 1406, who was son of Sir Alexander Steward, a relation of James I of Scots. Neither story contains a grain of truth.

I was delighted to be asked to appear on the One Show’s special broadcast from Hampton Court, which was celebrating its 500th anniversary, in February 2015, to speak about my descent from Thomas Cromwell. Unfortunately, I was travelling in Scotland at the time, but it was till very nice to have been asked.