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.


  1. G'day. THANK YOU for the research. That's AWESOME. Just so you know. The Daily mail rang me to get a comment on their story well after it was already written.

    It's true that round about the time I hit my teen years, that my grandfather told me the story. He had told my dad the same, and my dad always said he was mad for believing it.

    Nevertheless as I've done genealogy, and contacted different Ords, Especially James Ords, sure as shit, we all get fed the same story regardless of what branch of the family it is. It makes for an odd curiosity that James Ords in Australia and South Africa, and all over the US and the UK are passed down the same story. It also makes for fun curiosity that they keep naming us James. grrrr. lol

    This tells me that there is some grain of truth to be found somewhere in it. Not that It means that I personally am the heir to the throne. Or hold any lineage of the sort. Quite the contrary, actually.

    Additionally, I expressly told the Daily Mail, that I didn't think my family was the actual direct family line that would be able to claim the line of descent, since My family is said to have originated in the village of Sunderland Bridge (now replaced by a motorway), and migrated from Manchester in 1860 to Western Pennsylvania. Later moving into Eastern Ohio. And I didn't know how far back those lines crossed.

    In fact, My genealogy is now fully documented in the LDS (Mormon) Church's archives, which are also shared with Ancestory.com and FamilyHistory.com (both Provo, Utah Companies).

    Any ways I told the DM when they rang that the James Ord who lives in Christchurch Virginia, is actually a descendent of the Maryland Ords, and would likely hold more sway for such a claim.

    I assume they ran with the story because it makes better headlines. "Gay Mormon is our real King" lol.

    All in all its just fun. And if it spurred ANYONE to get into genealogy and learn more about their roots. Then that makes the article worth while in my book. Because shouldn't we all reach out to the past and learn about our history?

  2. Incidentally, Mary Broadhurst was not my Grandfather's Mother. She was my Great grand father's second wife. Her husband had abandoned her and her first child. She was the neighbour of my Great grandparents.

    My grandfather's mother died of Tuberculosis when he was a child. I actually have photos of my grandfather at age 5 when he had to live in the sanatorium with his mother for several months during a quarantine.

    After the death of his first wife that my great grandfather (whom I knew as a child) married Mary Broadhurst, and adopted her son Duane. My Grandfather and Duane had grown up together since they lived a block from each other and they remained the best of friends. Uncle Duane served in the Army Air Corps during the war and went to the UK to fly. I believe he may have even attended Oxford at some point. But I need to ask my Dad's cousin Tommy about it. Eventually he ended up in the Bay Area, and our family ended up in Hampton Roads, VA.

  3. Many thanks for getting in touch, and I'm especially grateful to you for correcting and expanding on some points. The new information wiil be put into my files.