Editor’s note: In this formerly archived post by the late Carolyn Barkley, the basics of how to trace royal lineage, including how to get started in your royal lineage research and what key resources you may need, are discussed.
I have often viewed royal lineage research with more than a little skepticism. As a newly-elected genealogical society president, I can remember inviting visitors to a society monthly meeting to introduce themselves and tell a bit about the focus of their research. A man stood up, identified himself, and told us that he had researched his line back to Julius Caesar. This event was followed not long after by a woman in the society’s creative writing class who informed the group that she had done all her research back to David in the Bible – by way of Stonewall Jackson. I, perhaps wisely, did not ask to see her documentation. Despite my skepticism, however, I am aware that members of royal families, and to an even greater extent members of noble families, have documented offspring, and that for many of these offspring, lineages can be tracked through successive generations to modern-day individuals.
Given my interest in Barclay genealogy, I always search for that surname in royal/noble lineage publications. Almost invariably the Barclay included is John Barclay who was born in Scotland in 1659 and died in Perth Amboy, East New Jersey, ca. 1731. He was the brother of Robert Barclay of Urie, the “Quaker Apologist,” whose line extends back to Robert the Bruce. My research in the Barclay-Allardice Papers” some years ago in Edinburgh documented John’s grandchildren in New Jersey as John (b.1725), David (b.1727), Anne (b.1729), John (b.1731), Charles (b.1733), Peter (b. 1735), Robert (b.1737), Lydia (b.1739), Katherine (b.1742) and Richard (b.1745). While I have not done further research myself, thus far the Barclay Genealogical database does not include any descendants of these children. Despite a lack of documentation, many correspondents to the database are convinced that they descend from either Robert or John Barclay of Urie.
For many individuals, finding familial connection to an important person, preferably with noble or royal roots, is a much-desired research goal. Several motives prompt this desire, including the desire to qualify for any one of a variety of hereditary societies. Royal and noble lineage research, however, requires skill and perseverance; it is not easy.
Royal and noble research is no different than any other. You must start with yourself and move backward through time, documenting the details of each generation. Continue reading…