A PRESENT from her daughter Gayle is how it all started for Linda Crawford-Skilton.
And once she’d taken up the offer of joining the ancestry service, she loved every minute of the research.
Linda, 65, from Hartlepool, already knew she was descended from a family with strong links to the East Durham pit industry.
“When I was a child, my pitmen father and grandfather used to tell us tales of losing our Earl of Crawford-Lindsay title in Scotland because Alexandra, the wicked master son of the 5th Earl, tried to murder his father.
“I never believed a word of it and took no notice, thinking it a fantasy.”
But she added: “Not only did I find this story true, but we had five Earls of Crawford, several Scotttish Stuart kings as well as English, French, German and several other crowned heads of Europe.
“I have discovered a plethora of kings and queens from England, France, Germany and Scotland in my family tree.”
Linda described her family history as “aristocracy by the bucketload” and added: “Some of them were beheaded and Henry VIII was my fifteenth generation great uncle.”
Much of her family roots have links to the Horden area.
Linda said: “I remember a large manor house in Horden called Horden Hall Farm that I always longed to take a peek inside.
“It belonged to the Conyers family in the 14th Century and lo and behold my family tree goes back to them. Yet my grandparents did not move to Horden till the pit was sunk in the 1900s.
“I am flabbergasted to find my family tree has more than 3,000 names on it and that I have blue blood running through my veins.”
The first people of note that Linda found on the service were the “1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Earls of Crawford-Lindsay as my father had told us of as children.”
She said she was “thrilled” at the link but there was more to come.
“I went on to find I was a direct descendant of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd kings of Scotland, the Stuarts.
“Their wives, my grandmothers were Joan Beaufort from a powerful family from John of Gaunt, leading on to King Edward the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd up to William the Conqueror.”
Her ancestry also established links to Eleanor of Castile and 12 French Kings, with the surname of Capet.
Once the Royal link was established, Linda found links to other Royal families in countries such as Denmark and Germany and said she found connections to “several Danish and German kings I have never heard of”.
It’s a rich tapestry of links and one which we could not do justice to in one week.
So watch out for more from Linda next week.