"Tales of pioneer hardship and deprivation have been told many times. Yet still we remember in wonder, that people accomplished so much with so little; that men and women with simple tools, their bare hands, and their own inventiveness cleared the land, drained the swamps, made their own clothing and provided their own food. Through all these difficulties God was with them and they wanted their children educated intellectually and spritually." from Norfolk Street United Church history

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ancestry.ca Discovers 'Princess Kate' and Jane Austen are Related

Canada's leading family history website finds common ancestor between the Duchess of Cambridge and the legendary Pride and Prejudice author

TORONTO, June 28, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - As the royal newlyweds embark on their first official tour of North America, arriving in Canada on June 30, Ancestry.ca, Canada's leading family history website1, today announced that the former Catherine Middleton and Jane Austen, one of the best known and most popular novelists in the English-speaking world, are related.

Catherine, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, and Austen, best known for her novels focusing on lower gentry or middle class women and their romantic interactions with men of higher rank and wealth, are related through their common ancestor Henry Percy, the 2nd Earl of Northumberland. Percy, who lived in the first half of the 15th century, is Kate's 16th great-grandfather and Jane Austen's 10th great-grandfather, making them 11th cousins, six times removed.

Though her work touched on many topics, from economics to equality, Jane Austen is largely considered to be the pioneer of the romantic fiction genre. Her novels are known for their biting social commentary and her heroines for their spirit, intelligence and wit; they are readers and walkers; they are loyal friends and sisters.

"Finding this connection between the Duchess of Cambridge and Jane Austen is very exciting since, in many ways, Catherine is the modern Jane Austen heroine: a middle class girl marrying the future King of England," said Lesley Anderson, Family Historian for Ancestry.ca. "Jane Austen may have written about happily-ever-after but it seems Catherine has found a nonfiction hero to spend her life with - far past the epilogue."

Sisters and Friends

Throughout her life, Jane Austen's best friend and strongest supporter was her elder sister Cassandra. In fact, when Cassandra was sent off to boarding school at age 10 in 1783, eight-year-old Jane refused to be separated from her sister, demanding to go also.

The close relationship between the Austen sisters is easily comparable to the bond Catherine shares with her younger sister Pippa, who served as Catherine's maid of honor at her recent wedding, attended the same boarding school as her older sister and then followed her to Scotland for university.

While all her novels conclude with a happy marriage between the heroine and her hero, neither Jane nor Cassandra ever married. There is, however, every expectation that Pippa will follow her sister's example and marry her own prince charming.

Fame and Fortune

As the Royal Couple's visit will demonstrate, the celebrity and fame surrounding Catherine has only increased since her wedding.

Born in 1775, Jane Austen is perhaps best known for her works Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, two of six novels she wrote in addition to lesser known short stories and unfinished works. Her writing brought Austen little fame or fortune during her lifetime, though today a cult of "Jane-ites" has emerged around the world. Numerous sequels to her works have been penned, various film adaptations of her novels produced, and a new generation of female readers, often speculating on their romantic endeavors, asks themselves "What would Jane do?"

Royal Connections

Henry Percy, the ancestor who connects Catherine and Jane, was born in 1392 at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England. Percy was a 2nd great-grandson of King Edward III - meaning that King Edward is also a distant great-grandfather of Catherine Middleton.

Percy spent his youth in Scotland because his father and grandfather were killed fighting against King Henry IV of England. He reconciled with King Henry V (after Henry IV's death) and was tasked with protecting the Scottish border. He was killed in 1455 during the first battle of the War of the Roses, at St. Albans, England. The Wars of the Roses were a series of English civil wars fought over the English throne.

About Ancestry.ca

Canada's leading family history website, Ancestry.ca has 128 million Canadian records in such collections as the complete Historical Canadian Censuses from 1851 to 1916, Ontario and British Columbia vital records from as early as 1813, Quebec Vital Records (The Drouin Collection), Canadian Passenger Lists and U.S. / Canada Border Crossings.

Ancestry.ca was launched in January 2006 and belongs to the global network of Ancestry websites (wholly owned by Ancestry.com Operations Inc.), which contains six billion records. To date more than 24 million family trees have been created and 2.4 billion names and 60 million photographs and stories uploaded. (Figures current as of April 1, 2011)

The Ancestry global network of family history websites -Ancestry.ca in Canada, www.ancestry.com in the US, www.ancestry.co.uk in the UK, www.ancestry.com.au in Australia, www.ancestry.de in Germany, www.ancestry.it in Italy, www.ancestry.fr in France, www.ancestry.se in Sweden and www.jiapu.com in China.

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