A LONG-forgotten document that lay in the basement of an English castle for 170 years has revealed the Dublin ancestor of the future king of England, Prince William.
The amazing link is contained in the Morpeth Roll – a long goodbye to George Howard, Lord Viscount Morpeth, when he left his post as chief secretary for Ireland in 1841.
The document is almost three times the length of Croke Park. It was signed by 257,000 people the length and breadth of Ireland, and was a 'thank you' to the popular politician who was a supporter of Catholic emancipation.
Among the names was that of Henry White of Booterstown, Dublin. Genealogists discovered that, in 1919, his great-grandson Luke Henry White married Lavinia Spencer. She was a sister of Albert Spencer – grandfather of the late Princess Diana, mother of Prince William.
Other signatories include Daniel O'Connell, believed to be one of the masterminds behind the roll, and Young Irelanders Charles Gavan Duffy and Thomas Davis.
Members of the public will be able to see if their own ancestors are on the historic roll by viewing it online at www.ancestry.com or by seeing it in person on a nationwide tour, which started in NUI Maynooth yesterday.
NUI Maynooth archivist Dr Paul Hoary found one of his own forbearers, M Hoary from Ballinasloe, Co Galway, completely by accident.
"I wasn't looking for it, I was trying to fix damage to the edge of a page when something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. It was a great thrill to find it.
"We wouldn't have been nobility at all so it showed the range of people who signed the roll," he said.
The reason he is so certain that the M Hoary is an ancestor is because the signature is almost an exact replica of his father's, who also hailed from Ballinasloe.
Most of the signatories were from the aristocracy, gentry and professional and merchant classes. However, further research may show that other socio-economic groups were also involved.
For 170 years, it lay in obscurity in the basement archive of Castle Howard in Yorkshire until it was loaned to researchers at NUI Maynooth to be conserved and digitised.
NUI Maynooth Prof Terry Dooley, who worked on the project, said it was believed to be the only such testimonial ever created.