The History of the Markle Sparkle: Meghan's Royal Connection and Roots Uncovered in Historical Documents

While much is known about the family Meghan Markle is marrying into, the American actress and humanitarian’s ancestors are equally impressive — and include a royal connection as well, records show.

While much is known about the family Meghan Markle is marrying into, the American actress and humanitarian’s ancestors are equally impressive — and include a royal connection as well, records show.

“She really showcases a unique blending of American history, and we found incredible stories in her past,” Michelle Ercanbrack, a family historian at, told 

Historians at combed through billions of historical documents to uncover details about Markle’s lineage. 

"Her father is Caucasian and has German and English roots, and really deep colonial roots, and her mother is African American," Ercanbrack said. "So she really showcases a very unique mix." also found parallels between Markle’s life and the lives of her ancestors.

Markle’s Royal Roots

It appears Markle’s fiancé isn’t the only one who has noble roots on the family tree. 

"We did tap her into several well-documented royal lines — one’s through Edward III and one is through Roger Mortimer, who were kind of political rivals back in the 1300’s," Ercanbrack said.

After fleeing to France, Markle’s 21st great-grandfather and the 1st Earl of March, Roger Mortimer, returned to England in a grab for the throne.

With the help of his mistress, Queen Isabella, who was married to King Edward II, Mortimer invaded England and captured Edward III, the king and queen’s son. 

“They tried to overthrow Edward II and instead put... Edward III on the throne,” Ercanbrack said.

But it appeared Mortimer overstepped his boundaries and paid mightily for it.

“Eventually, Mortimer was charged with treason for having too much influence and was hanged, so he’s kind of an infamous character in history,” Ercanbrack said. 

The Move to America

Markle’s paternal three-time great-grandparents, Thomas and Mary Ann Sykes, immigrated with their daughter Martha to the U.S. in 1869. 

They settled in Pennsylvania and worked in coal mines, “which is kind of interesting, because Kate Middleton... comes from coal miners as well,” Ercanbrack said. “And so, Meghan and Kate have that connection in common."

Thomas Sykes suffered a fatal heart attack in a coal mine, leaving behind his wife Mary Ann to raise their five children alone.

"There’s so many examples of resilience and overcoming hardship in Meghan’s past that I hope is something they can continue... and give that narrative of overcoming hardship to their future children,” Ercanbrack said.

A Charitable Past

"Meghan has amazing examples of strong women, especially on her mother’s side," Ercanbrack said.

Markle’s second great-grandmother, Gertrude Sadler, made a name for herself as a civic-minded and charitable pillar of her community in Sandusky, Ohio, in the 1930’s.

“Gertrude was the president of the local chapter of a charity club and was also part of a good Samaritan’s group, and was involved in her local Second Baptist Church, so she was someone who was a mover and a shaker and was very humanitarian-minded," Ercanbrack said. 

As part of her charitable work, Sadler helped provide food and clothing for impoverished members of her community, "which you totally see reflected in Meghan as someone who has been very focused on humanitarian work, even before her now official royal duties as part of the royal family," Ercanbrack said.

The Latest in a Line of Strong Women

Markle’s maternal four-time great-grandmother, Nancy Bowers, was born into slavery in Georgia in the 1820’s. After emancipation, Bowers lived as the head of her household, providing for her family while working as a farmer.

“We found a 1900 census record for her, where she still was still living in Franklin County, Ga.," Ercanbrack said. “The thing that’s really interesting about that record is it asks, 'How many children were born to you and how many children are still living?' ... Nancy stated that she had 25 children, only eight of whom were still living.

“It gives this glimpse into, just, the sheer heartache of this woman’s life, as if being an enslaved person in [the south] wouldn’t have been hard enough, but she was dealing with huge amounts of loss and sorrow in life, and that’s part of Meghan’s DNA," Ercanbrack continued. "Something that she’s inherited, too, is that resilience and that need to make the world a better place."

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