These Last Names May Reveal That You Have Royal Blood

Most of us don’t know all the details of our family trees. But you may have suspicions about your ancestors, even if you don’t know a lot your genealogy. For instance, certain last names in the depths of your family tree might link you to royal blood.

Read on to discover the last names that could reveal a link to royalty in your family tree.

What’s in a last name?

the british royal family in formal dress at a state function

Are you related to royals? | Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

A family’s status in society can persist for centuries. As Quartz reports, the English upper classes first adopted surnames in the 11th century.

Many of those original last names — including Baskerville, Darcy, Montgomery, Neville, Percy, and Talbot — “persisted at the very top of society for generations.” Such last names indicate you came from a wealthy family. But some surnames also reveal royal blood.

The Tab reports you may be able to find a link just by looking for last names associated with royalty in your family tree. The British aristocracy has a famously complex name system. But the family trees of prominent families are well-recorded.

Next: These last names could link you to British aristocracy.

1. Astley

Edward Astley Lord Hastings

Edward Astley a.k.a. Baron Hastings. | Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

  • Noble link: Baron Hastings

“Astley” could reveal aristocratic blood in your lineage. This name is associated with Baron Hastings, dating back to 1295 in England. According to the Surname Database, last names related to a location were often — as with Astley — first held by the local lord of the manor.

“We know from the surviving charters and rolls of the medieval period that Andrew de Astley, the first lord Astley, was recorded in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Warwickshire in the year 1295,” The Tab notes.

Next: A famous writer has this last name and title.

2. Byron

 

Lord Byron

Lord George Byron brought fame to the name. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

  • Noble link: Baron Byron

“Byron” is a surname associated with Baron Byron. The title was created in England in 1643, and it continues today. The Surname Database reports many people relate this name to the poet Lord George Byron.

As the Poetry Foundation explains, “Byron captivated the Western mind and heart as few writers have, stamping upon nineteenth-century letters, arts, politics, even clothing styles, his image and name as the embodiment of Romanticism.”

Next: One man with this title met a violent death. 

3. Capell

Earl Of Essex

Robert Devereux may be the most infamous Earl of Essex. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

  • Noble link: Earl of Essex

“Capell” is a surname associated with the Earl of Essex. The title dates back to 12th-century England. The Surname Database explains a locational surname, like Capell, was usually acquired by a local landowner or the lord of the manor.

The most famous Earls of Essex over the years? Robert Deveraux. This earl tried and failed to stage a coup against Queen Elizabeth I. So he was beheaded at the Tower of London in 1601.

Next: You’ll likely recognize this surname.

4. Clifford

Thomas Clifford, 1st Baron Clifford of Chudleigh

Thomas Clifford, 1st Baron Clifford of Chudleigh | Government Art Collection/Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Baron Clifford of Chudleigh

Dating back to 1672, “Clifford” is associated with Baron Clifford of Chudleigh. Interestingly, the title was created as “Clifford of Chudleigh,” rather than simply “Clifford,” to differentiate it from other Clifford Baronies created for members of this noble family.

As the Surname Database notes, Thomas Clifford originally received the title. And this Clifford actually became an early settler in Virginia. In fact, he left London aboard a ship called the Primrose in July 1635.

Next: An American TV star married the heir to this title.  

5. Courtenay

William Courtenay Earl of Devon

William Courtenay, Earl of Devon | GeorgiosArt/iStock/Getty Images

  • Noble link: Earl of Devon

Linked to the Earl of Devon, the surname “Courtenay” dates to the 12th century and was possessed by both the de Redvers and later by the Courtenays. The Surname Database reports two members of the Courtenay family, John Courtney and his wife, Sybbill, left London for America on a ship called the Paule in July 1635, bound for Virginia.

My So-Called Life alum Allison Joy Langer married Charlie Courtenay, reportedly without knowing “he was the son and heir of the Earl of Devon,” according to Vanity Fair.

Next: This royal-sounding name is a bit more unusual.

6. Coventry

Gilbert Coventry, 4th Earl of Coventry

Gilbert Coventry, 4th Earl of Coventry | National Trust/Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Earl of Coventry

“Coventry” certainly sounds royal. It’s linked to English aristocracy since 1623, thanks to its association with the Earl of Coventry. The Surname Database characterizes “Coventry” as an “English locational surname from the city of Coventry in the county of Warwickshire.”

The place name was first recorded in the year 1043 as “Couaentree” and later as “Coventrev” in the Domesday Book of 1086. The BBC explains the Domesday Book served as a record of the landholdings and settlements  in England, and it’s “still valid as evidence of title to land.”

Next: A famous British actress has this royal last name.

7. Dormer

Charles Dormer (1632-1697), 2nd Earl of Carnarvon, 3rd Baron Dormer

Charles Dormer, 3rd Baron Dormer | Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Baron Dormer

A surname associated with Baron Dormer, this title dates back to 1615. But “Dormer” reveals an interesting tidbit on English history all on its own.

As the Surname Database explains, at least 15% of British last names come from nicknames. That’s the case with Dormer, which probably served as “a nickname for a heavy sleeper, or perhaps given the ribald humour of the medieval period, the reverse.”

Next: This name has an interesting meaning, too.

8. Frankland

Edward la Zouche, 11th Baron Zouche

Edward la Zouche, 11th Baron Zouche | Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Baron Zouche

The Tab reports “Frankland” is associated with Baron Zouche. (A title originally dating to 1308.) The family descended from Alan la Zouche, a Breton who settled in England during the reign of Henry II.

The Surname Database reports the unusual name of Frankland “forms a status name for someone who lived on a piece of land that he was under no obligation to pay rent for, or to work for in lieu of rent.”

Next: Many people associate this name with Robin Hood.

9. Hastings

Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon

Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon | National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Earl of Huntingdon

“Hastings” could indicate royal blood thanks to its association with the Earl of Huntingdon. Dating back to 1065, this title was associated with the ruling house of Scotland. It’s also linked with Robin Hood in English folklore.

The Surname Database reports “Hastings” derives from pre-5th century Norse-Viking. It likely referred to a Viking tribe “sarcastically named by the Anglo-Saxons, who were less than delighted at their arrival.” Viking raiders also invaded Scotland, which could explain why the name shows up there, too.

Next: Several titles are connected to this name.

10. Herbert

Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke

Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke | National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Baron Herbert and Earl of Pembroke

If the last name “Herbert” is part of your family tree, you have a couple reasons to suspect aristocratic heritage. This name is associated with both Baron Herbert and the Earl of Pembroke. The title Baron Herbert dates to 1461, and Earl of Pembroke dates to the 12th century.

The Surname Database explains the last name Herbert or Harbert “derives from the male given name Haribeort, of the pre-7th-century. It’s composed of the elements ‘heri or hari,’ meaning an army, and ‘berht,’ bright or famous.”

Next: This name goes hand-in-hand with one of the highest titles. 

11. Howard

Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk

Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk | National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Earl of Suffolk

“Howard” is associated with the Earl of Suffolk. The king created this title when he created the title of the Earl of Norfolk. And the Surname Database reports, “When the final definitive history of famous English surnames is written, the surname of Howard will surely be near the head of the list.”

The publication explains, “The highest heraldic rank in England is that of Earl Marshall, responsible for all events in which the monarch takes a ceremonial role. This title is held by the Duke of Norfolk, whose family descend from Sir William Howard who died in 1308.” Over the years, 37 different coats of arms have been granted to families with this illustrious name.

Next: This unusual name is linked to an even more unusual title. 

12. Kenworthy

Joseph Kenworthy, 10th Baron of Strabolgi

Joseph Kenworthy, 10th Baron of Strabolgi | Bassano Ltd/Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Baron Strabolgi

The Tab puts “Kenworthy” on the list of aristocratic ties, thanks to its association with the Baron Strabolgi. As The Guardian explains, the barony was revived in 1916. At the time, it remained in abeyance for more than 300 years. (Abeyance refers to the state of a title that isn’t being used. In abeyance, it awaits the appearance of the true owner.)

The Surname Database reports “Kenworthy” dates to the late 13th century. Interestingly enough, a Thomas Kenworthy, with his wife Ann and daughter Mary, sailed aboard the Roscius from Liverpool to New York in 1846.

Next: This last name could link you to English royalty.

13. Lumley

Richard Lumley, 2nd Earl of Scarbrough

Richard Lumley, 2nd Earl of Scarbrough | National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Earl of Scarbrough

Another of the last names that could mean you have some royal blood? “Lumley,” thanks to its ties to the Earl of Scarbrough. This title was originally created in 1690 for Richard Lumley. Lumley numbers among the ranks of “the Immortal Seven, the English noblemen who invited William of Orange to invade England and depose his father-in-law, James II.”

The Surname Database identifies “Lumley” as “the family name of the earls of Scarborough.” The publication adds that this surname “originates either from the village of Castle Lumley, in the parish of Chester-le-Street, County Durham, or from Lumby, a former township within the parish of Sherburn in the county of Yorkshire.”

Next: Many associate this name with one of the oldest English titles. 

14. Maxwell

Dudley FitzGerald-de Ros, 24th Baron de Ros

Dudley FitzGerald-de Ros, 24th Baron de Ros | Vanity Fair/Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Baron of Ros

Maxwell also numbers among the last names that could reveal a link to English aristocracy. That’s thanks to its association with the Baron of Ros. The title dates to the late 13th century. For a time, the English considered it the oldest barony. (That actually gave it precedence over all other English titles).

The Surname Database reports that the name “Maxwell” comes from a place near Melrose in the former county of Roxburgh. “The placename originated when Maccus, son of Undewyn, a Saxon lord, in the reign of David 1, obtained a grant of land on the Tweed River before 1150 and from the salmon pool attached thereto called ‘Maccus’s Wiel.'”

Next: This name has an illustrious history.

15. Robertson

Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton

Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton | Sir Anthony van Dyck/Wikimedia Commons

  • Noble link: Baron Wharton

Next on the list? “Robertson,” a name associated with Baron Wharton. That title dates to 1544. But the family forfeited it in 1729, when the last male heir was declared an outlaw. (How’s that for some interesting family history?) The title was erroneously revived in 1916. That means that many historians consider the current Barony as a new Barony, with the precedence of the older but extinct Barony.

The Surname Database reports that “Robertson” has more than 40 entries in Dictionary of National Biography. Plus, it has no less than 25 Coats of Arms, making it a very distinguished name. A Nicholas Robertson became an early emigrant to America. He left from London aboard a ship  called Blessing, striking out for New England in June 1635.

Next: Historians characterize this as one of the most noble names in English history.

16. Russell

Edward Russell, 26th Baron de Clifford

Edward Russell, 26th Baron de Clifford | Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

  • Noble link: Baron de Clifford

Do you see “Russell” on your family tree? Then you may have ties to English aristocracy. The Tab reports this name dates back to the year 1299 and is associated with Baron de Clifford. The Surname Database characterizes “Russell” as “one of the most famous and noble names in British history since the Conquest of 1066, when it was a Norman introduction.”

The National Biography bears more than 60 entries for Russells. Plus, the Database says, “Over sixty Coats of Arms have been granted to bearers of this illustrious name.” Interestingly, you’ve likely heard of the third Earl Russell. He’s better known as philosopher Bertrand Russell.

Next: This name could link you to a king of England. 

17. Stanley

Edward Geoffrey Smith Stanley Derby (1799 - 1869), 14th Earl of Derby

Edward Geoffrey Smith Stanley Derby, 14th Earl of Derby | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

  • Noble link: Earl of Derby

Finally, “Stanley” could reveal some royal blood, thanks to its association with the Earl of Derby. The title dates back to 1139. It actually merged with the Crown upon Henry IV’s coronation.

The Surname Database characterizes the name as “one of the oldest and noblest of all English surnames, with the Stanley family who hold the earldom of Derby tracing their descent from a companion of Wilham the Conqueror, Adam de Aldithley.”

Next: Didn’t recognize any of these names? Keep this in mind. 

Still no luck? Remember: We’re all descended from royals

The Magna Carta King John

We’re all a mix of royals and peasants. | Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

If you can’t find any family members associated with royalty, don’t despair! The Tab reports, “Statistically, we’re all descended from the royals,” with or without last names known for aristocratic associations.

A Yale professor once said if anyone living in the year 1200 left any descendants still alive today, then that person, statistically speaking, is an ancestor of “every single person on the planet.”

The upshot? King John sat on the throne in 1200. The Tab explains that “means we’re all descended from King John. But we’re also all descended from King John’s servants and King John’s pig handler.” That’s a good way to keep it all in perspective.

Read more: Wedding Traditions Every Royal Bride and Groom Must Follow

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