Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Out of His Majesty's Tree : An American King James?

When sensationalist headlines on a genealogical subject appear in the media I jump on it immediately, and the most recent was of special interest for two reasons. First, the news concerned a “claim” to the British throne. Second, the person in whom the claim is vested is gay.

How could I ignore headlines like “This gay ex-Mormon may be the true heir to the British throne”?

I’ve been researching the bloodlines of all the English monarchs and have identified 21 individuals who are the senior bloodline heirs of royal dynasties. Disinheritance, conquest, assassination and Act of Parliament have all convoluted their bloodlines to produce our present, legally descended, sovereign.

What this means is that I know pretty much all there is to know about descendants – alleged, illegitimate, or otherwise - of all English monarchs since 1016. At no point does the family of James Knight Ord III appear.

James Knight Ord III (b.1976) is the gay ex-Mormon named by the Daily Mail, one of the UK’s most notoriously unreliable newspapers, as the heir of James Ord (1786-1873). This latter James has always been suspected as being the son of King George IV (while Prince of Wales) by his “wife”, the widowed Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert. Mrs. Fitzherbert was a Roman Catholic, and any British royal who marries a Catholic, even today, is barred from succession to the throne. It is likely that George had some form of marriage to Mrs. Fitzherbert but it would not have been legal, even if she wasn’t a Catholic, because it would also require Parliament to give its consent, which it didn’t (this is still true today – Prince Harry can’t get married until Parliament gives its consent).

Less than an hour’s research has proved that the Daily Mail didn’t do any of their own, otherwise they would know that James Knight Ord III belongs to a totally different family who just happen to have the same name as James Ord, the suspected son of George IV.

Family legends are found in many families, even my own, with the story of my great-grandmother being cheated out of her inheritance. In the Ord family the legend of the son of George IV has been passed down to the present day. Unfortunately, once a legend like this becomes common knowledge it’s not long before people who share the same surname assume it their family legend as well. Again, within my own family there has legend based on a case mistaken identity.

So, how do I know that James Knight Ord III isn’t descended from James Ord, the supposed son of George IV and Mrs. Fitzherbert?

I’ll break with my usual format and present all the evidence before you. Some of the documents may be difficult to read but they can be deciphered on very close examination.

First James Knight Ord III himself. As his name suggests he is the son and grandson of previous James Knight Ords. Both of these can be identified by their online obituaries here and here which both mention James Knight Ord III.

The name of James Knight Ord I’s wife is given in his obituary, and this can be verified with the marriage certificate below.

Both of James’s parent are mentioned on the marriage certificate. The family can be found on the 1930 US census in Barberton as shown below.

James B. Ord’s full name, date of birth and wife’s name are given on the US World War II Registration card below.

The marriage record below of James B. Ord to his third wife Mary Ellen confirms his date of birth and address as given on the above war registration card. It also names both of his parents.

The same parents are named on the death certificate below of Myrtle Ord. It also says that Annie E. Skidmore was English and that James was born in Pittsburgh. The address given at the bottom of the certificate says they lived in Clearfield, Du Bois.

The death certificate of James Sydney Ord below confirms both his birthplace in Pittsburgh and his wife’s name. It also confirms their residence as Clearfield. It names both of James’s parents.

We find James S. Ord and his parents living in Pittsburgh on the 1870 census below. Both parents were born in England.

The arrival of the Ord family to the USA is given in the passenger list below of the ship “City of Cork” that arrived from Liverpool on 1st November 1864.

Before going further let’s have another look at the passenger list. Five names above James Ord is Lord Edward Pelham Clinton. He was the older brother of Lord Arthur Pelham-Clinton.

Back to the Ords. Records which are not available to view online but have been transcribed and verified by indexes in the UK’s General Registry of Births, Deaths and marriages, gives James Ord’s marriage to Hannah Warner in St. Wereburgh’s church in Birkenhead on 1st July 1863. James’s father is named as Ralph Ord. So now we can find James Ord on the 1851 census below.

Ralph Ord is the direct male line ancestor of James Knight Ord III. Ralph was born in Sunderland, County Durham, in about 1802. This brings us back to the time of King George IV’s supposed son, James Ord. At the time Ralph Ord was born, James Ord had been living in the US for eleven years and was unmarried.

There is absolutely no evidence that says Ralph Ord was related to James Ord. Consequently, James Knight Ord III, claimed by the Daily Mail to be some kind of lost royal heir, has no family connection either.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news to James Knight Ord III and his family, but the family legend of being descended from King George IV isn’t theirs, it’s someone else’s. At some time in his family’s past one ancestor has assumed that they are the same family and adopted the legend as their own.

Perhaps it’s just as well that none of his family have any intention of pushing their claim to the throne, because there isn’t one. If only the Daily Mail would start to employ reputable investigative journalists all this embarrassment they have caused to James Knight Ord III and his family could have been avoided.

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