Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Curtsey while you're thinking; it saves time

I knew all that family history research would finally bear fruit. My notoriety is assured. Oh yes, I've discovered mildly famous relatives in my family tree before: a distant cousin who was Lord Mayor of Birmingham, a slighter closer cousin who not only captained two of the greatest luxury liners of the twentieth century and had someone ghost-write his memoirs and had same tome featured as a Reader's Digest Condensed Book, but also served as a consultant for the film A Night to Remember. Oh yes, and got an OBE. My own father, years after leaving us with his debts, went on to earn an MBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List for 2006. Honest to God. For fund-raising. My maternal grandfather, so I gather, is quite famous amongst entomologists for his studies of the tsetse fly. A great-uncle's home (so I'm told) became a museum devoted to his missionary work in the Congo and Cameroons. Oh, yes, my genes are marvelous.

This, however, beats them all. Ever heard of David Nightingale Hicks? Nope? Neither had I. He was a very well-known designer. Had his obituary published in The New York Times. He'd been sitting in my database for months sans his middle name, when I stumbled upon him in someone else's database, along with his wife: Lady Pamela Mountbatten. Remember when Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer? Okay, if you don't, here's a picture: Now, see the tallest of the three bridesmaids standing around looking less than enthralled? That's India Hicks, the youngest of David Nightingale Hicks' three children. She became a fashion model, had about four sons with her partner, and her brother is a famous architect and designer. She's also, due to her mum being a Mountbatten, about 462nd in line for the throne of Great Britain. That means if some catastrophe wipes out the 461 people ahead of her, I'll be fifth cousin to the Queen of England. (Her kids won't inherit the throne though; she never married their dad.) India Hicks, her moderately famous brother Ashley Hicks (who married an Italian who is probably Catholic, so I think he's not in the line of succession either), and her sister Edwina are great-great-great-great-grandchildren of William Hales of Aldgate, London. As am I.

You're impressed. I can tell. I gather from David Nightingale Hicks' obit, he'd be less than thrilled to meet me. Apart from being an unapologetic snob, he'd be appalled by our d├ęcor, which is stuck somewhere in Late Student/Early Child. However, I refuse to let a quibble like that stop me from going out to meet My Public this afternoon. Stand aside, you peasants. Make way for a fifth cousin of at least half a dozen people in the Line of Succession.

Lest this make you feel inferior, let me leave you with this thought: Anyone claiming a single drop of English blood can claim to be a direct (direct, mind you) descendant of Edward the First. A drop of Scottish blood gets you direct descent from Malcolm the First (I think), and a drop of Welsh blood ensures your ancestors as the great Welsh princes (though not the Princes of Wales). Anyone with a drop, just a drop of Western European blood can claim Charlemagne as a forefather. So get out there and embrace your greatness, people. Ain't genealogy grand?

1 comment:

Ann oDyne said...

POSH connections but Where's The Money? is how I feel everytime I discover a big house in my own family-tree.
India Hicks is frequently featured in CondeNast magazines, Vanity Fair being the one that hits my mailbox.

That MBE for fundraising is the basis for a novel, no doubt.

All the jokes about genealogists apply to me too.