George Reade (1608-1671) and his wife Elizabeth Martiau (1625-1683) were the 9th great-grandparents of David M. Rusher and the 9th great-grandparents of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-). George Reade and Elizabeth Martiau lived and died in Goucester County, Virginia. Their daughter Mildred Reade (1643-1694) married Augustine Warner, Jr. (1642-1681). They were both born in York County, Virginia. Their daughter Mary Warner (1664-) married John Smith (1662-). Their daughter Mildred Smith (1680-) married Robert Porteus (1679-?) on 8-17-1700 in Goucester County, Virginia. Soon after their marriage, they moved to England, where their son Robert Porteus (1705-1754) was born. His daughter Mildred Porteus (1743-1815) married Robert Hodgson, Sr. (1739-1808), and their son Robert Hodgson, Jr. (1773-1844) married Mary Tucker (1775-). Their daughter Henrietta Mildred Hodgson (1805-1891) married Oswald Smith (1794-1863). Their daughter Frances Dora Smith (1832-1892) married Claude George Bowes-Lyon (1824-1904). Their son Claude George Bowes-Lyon (1855-1944) married Nina Cecelia Cavendish Bentin (1862-1938), and their daughter Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon (1900-2002) married George Windsor VI (1895-1952) who was the King of England. Their daughter is Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen's American Ancestors
by Hector Bolitho
When Queen Elizabeth II visited Virginia in October 1957, there was one episode overlooked in the brilliant celebrations; she was given an oil painting--no more than a copy, of a copy, of a portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller. But it was of her American ancestor, Augustine Warner II, and it adds a surprising face to the immense collection of portraits of the Queen's forbears whose roots were otherwise still in Britain or Europe.
Mr. Anthony Wagner, Richmond Herald, was the first to trace this remarkable link with colonial Virginia, that relates Queen Elizabeth, through a Bowes-Lyon marriage, back to both George Washington and General Robert E. Lee. Augustine Warner I, born in England or Wales, in 1611, and who emigrated to Virginia when he was 39, was the ancestor of all three of them, through the marriages of his son and daughter. As Mr. Wagner wrote at the time of his research; "It is somewhat ironical that among Washington's nearest of kin now living, should be numbered the Queen of Great Britain".
The first Augustine Warner must have been a gentleman of some importance; he used the arms of an English family--now difficult to identify--and he left England in the first year of Oliver Cromwell's "reign", no doubt to satisfy his beliefs, and to save his fortune. When he arrived in Virginia he built a fine house on an arm of the Severn, that flows into the York river and then into Chesapeake Bay, where the first English emigrants had sailed, in 1607, and formed the tragic settlement of Jamestown. There were dangers still, but Augustine Warner prospered; he became a Colonel of the Militia, a Justice, and a Burgess in the General Assembly. He sent his only son, also Augustine, back to England to be educated at the Merchant Taylor's School, for it was the habit with these southerners to cling to their Englishness, while the emigrants to the northern states tried to mould a separate American character, and forget the land of their nativity.
Augustine II also became a public man; when he returned to Virginia, with his smattering of English education, he prospered and was elected Burgess for Gloucester County, then Speaker to the House. He was a gallant ancestor for any family tree, with more vigour and will than the faint copy of the Kneller portrait reveals. As soon as Nathaniel Bacon began his armed rebellion against the royal governor, in 1676, Warner led troops against him, in the King's name. There is a record of him returning to Warner Hall after the rebellion was quelled: he was described as "a rather thorough Royalist . . . an honest, worthy Person and most Loyall sufferer by the Late Rebells; who was plundered as much as any, and yet speakes as little of his losses, tho' they were very greate".
General Robert E. Lee
Augustine Warner II, had a sister, Sarah, who married Lawrence Townley, and they were the ancestors of General Robert E. Lee. Augustine himself married Mildred Reade, daughter of a neighbour. She also was a person of character, worthy to be the ancestress of both Queen Elizabeth II and George Washington. When Augustine died in 1681, his widow, with her daughters to defend, kept her husband's arms and ammunition and refused to give them up until they were taken from her, by force.
The name Warner disappears from the story: the only memorials to Augustine I and Augustine II are an early Victorian mansion, still called Warner Hall, built on the site of their mid-seventeenth century house--and the little graveyard near by. I went there, the winter before last, and scraped the snow from the flat tomb stones so that I could read the names, and the dates of their birth and death.
The interest moves to the daughters of Augustine II, and his widow, who had the care of them when her husband died. The eldest, named Mildred, after her mother, married Lawrence Washington and was grandmother of the first President of the United States of America. Mary was married to John Smith, of Purton, another fine plantation nearby. They are the branch of the tree that interests us most because it is from them that we trace the way, through the Bowes-Lyon family, to the present Queen.
The life of these 17th Century planters on the Tidewater of Virginia was comfortable and almost elegant. There was still danger from a2 chance savage arrow, for the Indians were not yet all subdued. But the houses of the prosperous settlers from England were set in splendid gardens; they were furnished with libraries and treasures brought across the Atlantic and served by numerous negro slaves. Many of the houses remain, in 20th Century Virginia, alienated from the less tranquil Yankee north and preferring the ghosts of what was, to the realism of the rest of America.
Mary Warner, married to John Smith, remained in Virginia, but their daughter, Mildred, brought the blood back to England; she was the wife of Robert Porteus, another Virginian planter and a member of "His Majesty's Council or Upper House or Legislature in that Province". His house on the Tidewater had the nice name of Newbottle. Robert Porteus was married in 1700 and he stayed in Virginia until 1720, long enough for Mildred to present him with the first of his big brood of nineteen children.
Changes in Virginia
By 1720, the pattern of life in this part of Virginia had changed. From the early vicissitudes of the Jamestown colony had emerged a small landed aristocracy, of families like the Warners, the Smiths and the ancestors of Robert Porteus. But the hinterland was now being opened up by hordes of new settlers, and there were three times as many negroes as there had been at the beginning of the century. Small farmers and planters interfered with the patriarchal pattern in which Robert Porteus had been brought up, so he decided to emigrate to England, with his family, "quitting a situation so perfectly independent and comfortable" so that his children could have "better instruction" at English schools.
Robert Porteus settled with his family, first at York and then at Ripon. He was buried in the south aisle of the Cathedral and his white marble memorial, high on the wall, tells us, in an amiable flow of words, the details of his life. We read,
Near this Place are deposited the Remains of ROBERT PORTEUS ESQR. a native of Virginia, & a Member of His Majesty's Council or upper House of Legislature in that Province. From thence he removed to England, and resided first at York, afterwards in this town, where he died August 8, 1758, Aged 79 years.
Duchess of Marlborough
With the return of Robert Porteus a new theme came into the history of the relationship between Virginia and England. He was an absentee landlord and the victim of "negligence or dishonesty" on the part of his agents who sent him, as he complained, "little more than a fourth part of what ought to have been his real income". But he remained in England and when his first wife died, he was married again, to another Virginian--Elizabeth Jennings, said to be distantly related to Sarah Jennings, Duchess of Marlborough. They produced a second family, including one remarkable son--the eighteenth of the brood of nineteen. He was Beilby Porteus, the scholar and poet who became Bishop of Leicester and then, in 1787, Bishop of London. The vigorous blood enlivened by the generations in Virginia had not become pale: Beilby Porteus was a belligerent leader in the ecclesiastical changes of his time; he was an ardent evangelist, a supporter of Sunday schools, and was strong-willed enough to turn against the source of his family fortunes in his fight to abolish slavery.
The Bowes-Lyon Family
The important son, who belongs to the theme of this story, leading to the Bowes-Lyon family, had been born in Virginia in 1705. He was named Robert, after his father, and he also went into the Church, but more modestly than his younger half-brother.
We walk near the Cambridgeshire-Bedfordshire border for the next scene in the story: from Potton, three miles to the parish of Cockayne Hatley.
Robert Porteus had been admitted to Cambridge University in 1725; in 1736, when he was thirty-one years old, he married Judith, daughter of Thomas Cockayne, whose family had been lords of the manor for 300 years. The story loses its colonial flavour and becomes quietly English. Within the park of Thomas Cockayne was the little church of St. John the Baptist, with its Flemish carvings, to which Robert Porteus was appointed rector.
From then, through four modest generations, we come to the marriage of importance. The Reverend Robert Porteus had named his daughter Mildred, in memory of Virginia, and she married Robert Hodgson of Congleton, in the County of Chester. Their daughter, Frances Dora, married Claude Lyon-Bowes--later Bowes-Lyon--13th Earl of Strathmore, in 1853.
Thus we come, through nine generations, from Augustine Warner, rejecting England in Cromwell's time, to his descendant, married to Lord Strathmore when Queen Victoria had been on the throne for sixteen years. The Queen's notions about the marriages of her children were to change soon after this; there came a time when, disgusted by the jealousies and intrigues of princes in Europe, she encouraged a different fate for her family, she wrote that "Money without goodness or affection was useless" and that "a young lady of the nobility, well brought up," was far better as a wife for one of her sons than "an unsuitable princess".
The pattern of alliance was being formed, quietly: in 1855, the 14th Earl of Strathmore was born and in 1881, he married a daughter of the Rev. Charles William Frederick Cavendish-Bentinek. They were the parents of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother whose marriage to the Duke of York, in 1923, inspire the monarchy with a power of character and graciousness that has enriched it into our own time.