Meghan Markle’s American – and British – ancestors are revealed today in a DailyMailTV investigation.
The fascinating stories of her family’s past can be disclosed amid mounting belief that the star of Suits is about to become engaged to her boyfriend Prince Harry.
The British royal’s ancestors are well known, and traceable back many hundreds of years.
But for the first time DailyMailTV can reveal how Meghan Markle’s ancestors have been in the United States since before the Declaration of Independence, how one appears certain to have witnessed the final moment of the Civil War and another was a pioneering black teacher in the Jim Crow South.
It can also be disclosed that she has a series of British ancestors, who arrived in the U.S. during the reign of Queen Victoria, Prince Harry’s great-great-great-great grandmother.
Markle, 36, was brought up in Los Angeles, the daughter of Thomas Markle and Doria Loyce Ragland.
But an examination of both their family trees has revealed how on one side Markle is a descendant of members of the working and middle-classes of Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, while on her mother’s side, her family is from the South – where it was caught up in the horrors of Civil War and Jim Crow segregation.
At least two of her ancestors – a father and son who were her great-great-great-great grandfather and her great-great-great-grandfather fought in the Union cause in the Civil War.
Family time: Prince Harry spent time with Doria Ragland, Megan Markle’s mother, when she joined her daughter at the Prince’s Invictus Games in Toronto in September. Now DailyMailTV can reveal his girlfriend’s fascinating roots
Getting closer: The Daily Mail revealed this month how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had met the Queen for tea at Buckingham Palace. The couple were last seen together at his Invictus Games in Toronto in September
But a document found by DailyMailTV suggests it is also possible that her black great-great-great-great grandfather Joseph Betts enlisted in Alabama for a ‘colored regiment’ of the Union Army in 1864, suggesting he was a former slave who took advantage of his freedom to fight the Confederacy.
Markle has repeatedly spoken of her pride in her bi-racial heritage, describing herself as a ‘strong, confident mixed-race woman’ and saying that she is in awe of her past.
In a frank interview with Elle, Meghan said that her biracial identity created a ‘grey area’ and that it was a ‘blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating’.
Prince Harry was last seen with her in September at his Invictus Games in Toronto, and she brought her mother Doria Ragland to the closing ceremony in a sign of their closeness. This month the Daily Mail revealed that Prince Harry had introduced her to his grandmother Queen Elizabeth over tea at Buckingham Palace.
The Prince will be in the United States later this month when he attends former president Obama’s summit on urban renewal in Chicago.
DailyMailTV asked Pennsylvania-based genealogist Doug Nicol, who was worked on the TV series Finding Your Roots, to search for ancestors on Meghan’s father’s side, and Georgia-based genealogist Margaret Eves to look into Meghan’s mother’s family history.
Here are our findings.
BLACK PIONEERS IN THE JIM CROW SOUTH WHERE RACE HAUNTED EVERYDAY LIFE
Meghan Markle’s great-great grandfather Jerry Miah – or Jeremiah – Ragland was born in 1883, in Jonesboro, Clayton County, Georgia.
Although it is the county seat, Ragland’s family were not urban-dwellers but were ‘farmers’ – in reality, probably sharecroppers, and certainly poor.
His father’s name appears only on Jerry Miah’s death certificate, where he was named as Steve, while his mother was named as Texas.
DailyMailTV has been unable to establish the full story of Jerry Miah’s family, but was able to find a Steve Raglan or Raglin in census records in Georgia.
He was a black farmer who in the 1880 census had a daughter called Texas, then 12, and in the 1900 census an 18-year-old grandson called Jerry in an area close to what is now Clayton County, meaning it is possible that Jerry Miah Ragland’s mother was Texas and his grandfather was Stephen Raglin.
The turn of the century was transforming the South, and Jerry made a move, quitting cultivating the land and moving with his wife Claudia Ritchie to Chattanooga, Tennessee which was booming.
The city he moved to was part of the Jim Crow South, a place where race counted for everything.
His family’s racial group was carefully documented in the census – as ‘mulatto’, biracial – and his children went to segregated schools, and if they went further afield the family used segregated streetcars and buses.
It is unclear exactly when Ragland and his wife left rural Jonesboro, Georgia, and they may have come back and forward, as in 1920 their two younger children, Paul and Lillie were recorded as having been born in Georgia, while the elder two, Steve and Dora, were born in Tennessee.
The family lived in poor housing in an area known as Tannery Flats. The home on 620 West 9th Street is now demolished, with a parking lot where it stood, but Ragland was on the up.
According to his draft card in September 1918 Ragland was a tailor and he may even had has his own shop, at 818 Chestnut Street, on the edge of downtown. The address is now a hotel.
Pioneering: Dora Cooper was a teacher at what was then the James A. Henry Elementary School in Chattanooga, TN. Despire segregation and Jim Crow, she had been able to achieve a college education in Nashville
The 1920 Census says that he had his ‘own shop’. By 1930, the family had moved to better housing at 1021 Grove Street. Ragland was described as a presser in a tailor shop, working on his own account, meaning he appeared to still be running his own business.
His work paid off: in 1930 his daughter Dora was a teacher in public school. The school was the James A. Henry Elementary School, whose building still exists, and records show that she taught there for many years.
The last record uncovered by DailyMailTV shows that Mrs Cooper – Meghan’s great-great aunt – was a teacher there in 1948.
And the 1940 census shows that Dora – by then a widow and back living at home as Dora Cooper – and her older sister, Lillie, had both been to college, despite the system being loaded against them.
Praised: Lillie Evans was included in Who’s Who Among African Americans, which detailed her time at college in Nashville and at UCLA when she was 51
DailyMailTV was able to establish that Lillie – who died Lillie Evans – attended Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State College, known as Tennessee A&I, in Nashville, from 1931 to 1932. She had previously been working as a maid in a department store in the city.
It appears likely that Dora Cooper was there too, completing the full four years which allowed her to teach in public school.
Like the rest of the education system in the South, the college was segregated – when it was set up it was called the Tennessee Normal School for Negroes – but for Ragland to have sent both his daughters to college was a remarkable step.
Sadly by 1940, he was out of work, and he died four years later of pneumonia.
The school where Cooper taught was itself segregated, and is now a site for a new charter school.
But Lillie Evans was to become a pioneer again, when she moved to Los Angeles some time after the war, with her second husband William.
In 1962, aged 51, she went back to college, studying for a year at the University of California, Los Angeles.
DailyMailTV was unable to determine what she studied, but at the same time she became a vice president and director of a realty firm in the city.
She was later included in Who’s Who Among African Americans.
Mrs Evans died in 2004 in Los Angeles, leaving no children. Her step-son, William D. Evans III, had predeceased her.
Meghan Markle’s grandfather, Alvin Ragland, had been her conservator for much of her later life and was responsible for her will, public records show, suggesting that Meghan would have known her throughout her childhood.
Alvin had been born in Chattanooga too, in 1930, and was a hotel bell boy at 14. His uncle also worked in the hotel trade, which would inevitably have been segregated. He went on to serve in the military.
THE FATHER AND SON WHO FOUGHT FOR THE UNION – AND ONE MAY HAVE WITNESSED LEE SURRENDERING
Meghan Markle can boast that at least two of her ancestors fought for the Union in the Civil War – and that they were father and son.
Her great-great-great-great grandfather Daniel Mangle and his son Thomas – her great-great-great grandfather – both served in Lincoln’s Army for more than a year, as the war entered its final stages.
And Thomas Mangle may well have seen the very last act of the war, as his unit was present when Robert E. Lee, the Confederate commander, surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
Daniel Mangle was an old man to go to war. He was 50 when he enlisted on September 20, 1864, and his first wife Catherine had already died after they had at least eight children together.
In 1850 he was a limeburner in Liverpool, Pennsylvania, but by 1860 he had been widowed, remarried to Amanda, and moved to Susquehanna Township, in Juniata County, further north, and become a farmer.
Veteran: Thomas Mangle was 71 when he celebrated his wife Louisa Long’s birthday. He had enlisted aged 18 in the Union Cause and was mustered into the 162nd Regiment, also known as the 17th Cavalry. The unit was deployed at some of the most notable battles of the last year of the war – and also at the Appomattox where it was outside the Appomattox Courthouse where Grant took Lee’s surrender. His father was an artilleryman at the same time
Last days of the war: As Thomas Mangle’s unit was deployed in the very last engagement of the war, which led to the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse (left), his father Daniel’s artillery regiment’s final actions were outside Richmond (right) the Confederate capital which was besieged by Grant until early April 1865
Service remembered: Daniel Mangle was buried in Juniata County after his death in July 1873. He had finished his time in the Union Army just over eight years earlier
His son Thomas was the first to enlist, joining up on February 16, and being mustered into a cavalry regiment, the the 17th Regiment, Pennsylvania Cavalry (162nd Volunteers) where he was a trooper in I Company.
That unit was to see engagement in some of the best-known – and bloodiest clashes – of the last year of the war.
After Thomas Mangle enlisted, aged 18, the regiment saw action at the Battle of the Wilderness. The three day battle left 28,000 dead between May 5 and 7, but by the end of the month the 17th were in action again at Cold Harbor on May 31 and June 1, and in other clashes such as the Battle of Todd’s Tavern and White House Landing.
Back in Pennsylvania, his father signed up too – leaving behind his four young children with his second wife including one called Thomas who was born while his older brother of the same name was deployed.
Daniel Mangle became an artilleryman, a private in the 3rd Pennsylvania Artillery (152nd Volunteers), serving in Battery M.
His son was on horseback as the Union Armies stepped up their campaign scenting victory, with his regiment becoming in fall 1864 part of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign which included the battles of Smithfield Crossing, Berryville and Opequan, before in 1865 being in Sheridan’s Expedition from Winchester, and then at the last battle of the war, Appomattox.
It is unclear if Thomas Mangle was there but I company was and its troopers were outside the home of Wilmer McClean as in the front parlor Grant gave Lee, in full dress uniform, the terms of surrender. Although there were skirmishes after that between units still to learn the war was over, it was effectively the final act of the Civil War.
The older man’s service was less mobile, reflecting how his unit was the sort of heavy artillery which were used in sieges.
That left him, like his son, in a key place in Civil War history, as his unit was part of the siege of Richmond, the Confederate capital. Grant had surrounded Petersburg, close by, and used heavy artillery like that manned by Daniel Mangle, to bombard the Confederate position.
Eventually the Confederate government of Jefferson Davis fled Richmond on April 2, 1865, meaning that Daniel’s war was over a full week before his son’s.
The 17th Cavalry was among those regiments which were part of the Grand Review of the Armies in Washington D.C. just a few weeks later at the end of May.
Daniel Mangle’s company was in the seven miles of cavalry which processed down Pennsylvania Avenue on May 23 on horseback in front of Andrew Johnson – the president who had only taken office on April 15 after the assassination of Lincoln.
Daniel was to live until July 1873, but his son married Louisa Long, four years his senior, and aged 71 was photographed with his family as they celebrated her 75th birthday. He had outlived both his eldest daughter Mary-Jane and then outlived her husband George Markle – Meghan Markle’s great-great-grandfather.
He was to die in 1925 aged 89, one of the fading generation who could remember the horrors of the civil war.
DID MEGHAN’S ANCESTOR BECOME ONE OF THE CIVIL WAR’S BLACK SOLDIERS?
A document uncovered by DailyMailTV raises the tantalizing possibility that one of her African-American ancestors became a part of the Civil War too.
Markle’s great-great-great-great-grandfather was Joseph Betts. Public records about him are limited but in 1870, he was living in Madison County, Alabama, according to that year’s federal census and was said to be a 51-year-old ‘farmer’ in an area close to the town of Gurley.
He had a wife Catherine, 45, and five children: Sarah, 19; Thaddeus, 17; Jacob, 14 (who was Meghan Markle’s great-great-great-grandfather); Isaac, 11; and Genesse, eight. All but the eight-year-old were recorded as working as ‘farm laborers’ and none could read or write.
It appears to be the first time the Betts family were enumerated in a census; there is no record of them in the 1860 Census. But that one, taken under slavery, simply enumerated how many slaves there were, not their names or family relations.
Document: Joseph Betts is the name of one of Meghan Markle’s great-great-great-great-grandfathers – and also of a black man who enlisted in the Union Army not long after slaves were emancipated in the area where her ancestors lived. Although it is not definitively clear if her ancestor was a member of the ‘colored troops’ like ‘Gordon, a slave’ who was the subject of a woodcut at the time, it is a tantalizing possibility
Encouragement: The Union actively recruited for African-Americans to join the army and while this posted from the north survives, they also enlisted newly-freed slaves as Confederate territory fell
The first reference to Joseph Betts was in 1867, which describe him as ‘colored’ and registered in Madison County on July 1, 1867.
He was hardly the only Betts man in the area – others were James, Giles, Taylor, and William, but none of their ages had been recorded.
The records do not say if the Betts had been slaves, but their sudden appearance is suggestive that they may have been.
Additionally, at least two slave owners with the surname Betts are enumerated in the 1860 Census, and a record at the Freedmen’s Bureau mentions ‘Betts Plantation’. It was common for slaves to take the surnames of their former masters, simply because they had been deprived of the chance to have a proper name.
But it is the record of the Union Army’s muster rolls which provide a suggestion that Joseph Betts may have fought in the Civil War.
The records show that a Joseph Betts Alabama at Athens, Alabama, enlisted on August 22, 1864, and was transferred to the 40th United States Colored Infantry regiment.
The age of the solider is 24, which is far younger than the age the Joseph Betts in the Census of 1870 would have been in 1864, but there are other reasons to believe that it could be the same man.
Firstly, there were no official documents for slaves to establish their age, a cruel fact of life in the slave states, so the accuracy of any of the records is open to question. It is also possible that someone keen to sign up would lie about their age, and an army in need of men may not have questioned him too hard.
Athens, Alabama, is close to Madison County, where the Betts lived, and the 1870 Census shows no other black Joseph Betts in Alabama likely to have have served in the Army – the other two were 20 and 17 in 1870, making them 14 and 11 in 1864, less likely candidates to have been part of the regiment.
The area around Hunstville, Alabama, had been taken by the Union first in April 1862, but that occupation ended before the Emancipation Proclamation, and then in fall 1863, which meant that if Joseph Betts was a slave, he would have been freed by the time of his enlistment.
It appears impossible to tell definitively if Joseph Betts was Meghan’s ancestor – but it cannot be easily ruled out.
The 40th U.S. Colored Infantry was used to guard railroads in Tennessee, and had first been raised on February 29, 1864. Its men ended their service in April 1866.
The ‘colored regiments’ were first authorized by Lincoln in the Emancipation Proclamation, and in May 1862, burgeoning numbers of volunteers led to the establishment of the Bureau of Colored Troops. As Confederate territory fell, newly-freed slaves joined up.
But there was a limit on their new freedom; the entire army was segregated, and the African-American troops could never rise from the ranks, as all officers were white.
MEGHAN’S BRITISH FOREBEARS WHO WANTED A NEW LIFE IN THE UNITED STATES (TWO OF THEM CALLED MARY)
British ancestors: Prince Harry’s great-great-great-great grandmother was Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Emperor of India. But among Meghan Markle’s ancestors are two great-great grandmothers and a great-grandfather who left her reign for the United States
If Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were looking for a topic of conversation with his grandmother Queen Elziabeth when they met they could have covered how the actress can trace her roots to England and maybe also the British colonies.
DailyMailTV’s genealogists unearthed relatives of Meghan’s that could be traced back to England and were part of the waves of immigration to the US in the 19th Century.
English people moved to America at first to flee religious persecution, but by the Victorian era it was for the chance at a new life.
Among them was George Sanders, one of Meghan’s second great grandparents who was born in 1841.
He emigrated to America somewhere between the years of 1858 and 1860 – official records are inconsistent – and was originally born in Essex, a county in England just east of London. In official documents, he named his mother as George Sanders and Elizabeth Raynor.
His wife was Maria Ellsworth who was born in Wentworth, New Hampshire. They married in 1869 in Wentworth and had five children.
The American dream may not have been consistently successful for him: when he married he was recorded as a laborer, for much of the late 1800s he worked in a dye house according to the census returns, but one of the couple’s son’s wedding certificates in 1907 says that George was working as a laborer and by 1910 he was unemployed.
He was the only one of Meghan’s British ancestors traced by DailyMailTV to cross the Atlantic as a single man.
One appears to have made a far more daring crossing: as a mother of young children.
Mary Ann Short , Meghan Markle’s great-great-great grandmother was born, according to US documents, on October 30, 1835.
Evidence of tragedy: Mary Sykes – born Mary Short – was recorded in the 1900 census as having had 11 children, but just four were then living. She had immigrated from England aged 34 and her husband had died less than ten years later
But she was not to travel to the United States for another 34 years, arriving in 1869, according to the 1900 Census.
She arrived with her husband Thomas, and at least two children – Martha Jane, known as Mattie, Meghan Markle’s great-great grandmother, and Sally – and they appear to have settled quickly in coal country, in Tower City, Pennsylvania.
But public records show that the family was no stranger to tragedy, with Thomas Sykes – Meghan’s great-great-great grandfather – dying aged just 43 in 1878, leaving Mary Ann to bring up their four children alone. In the 1880 census she was the head of the family and ‘keeping house’, raising the question of where the family’s income was coming from.
And in the 1900 census, when the family were living in Greenwood, Juniata County, a new question in the census asked how many children mothers had given birth to, and how many survived on the day of the census. The response for Mary Ann: 11 children, of whom just four survived.
Mattie Sykes, Meghan’s great-great grandmother was to marry Adam Arnold, a successful farmer, and herself have seven children. She had been naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1871, and records show that she and Adam gave a home to their mother in her later life.
Mary Ann died on July 28, 1907, by when she was already grandmother to Meghan’s great grandmother Ruth Ann Sykes, who was born in November 1892.
Also born in England – or one of Queen Victoria’s then colonies – was another of Meghan’s second great grandparents, Mary Bird. She was born in May 1862, the daughter of Thomas Bird and his wife, also, Mary.
Where she was born is unclear, as it was recorded differently in official documents in the U.S. public record mention England, the Isle of Man and Malta, which was then a British colony. Her mother was Mary Smith, born in Ireland – and possibly a native Irish speaker – and her father was Thomas Bird, born in England.
British-born: Mary Bird, Meghan Markle’s great-great grandmother, was born in 1862 either in Britain or its colony of Malta, as as claimed on her death certificate (right). She immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager and married George Merrill, living the rest of her life in New Hampshire
She immigrated to the U.S. in 1881, and married soon afterwards, aged 18, to George Merrill, in Meredith, New Hampshire.
What is more intriguing is a family legend of a royal link – one which DailyMailTV is so far unable to verify.
One family legend claims that Mary Smith had in fact worked for the royal family before her daughter’s birth.
Intriguingly, the Mail on Sunday reported last month, a database of Royal Household staff reveals a worker called M. Bird, who appears in the Windsor Castle Weekly Disbursement Book in 1856, which fits with the time that Mary would have been there if the legend is true.
The family belief was that she then migrated to New Brunswick, Canada, with her husband, and that her daughter then moved to the United States. So far however, no official records have emerged to back the suggestion.
British-born Mary Bird went on to marry George Merrill, a carpenter and make a life in New Hampshire, giving birth to nine children, of whom eight survived: Arthur, Hattie, Gertrude – who was born in June 1887 and became Meghan Markle’s great grandmother – Nellie, Fred, David, Edgar and Helen.
AMERICANS BEFORE WASHINGTON LED THE STATES TO FREEDOM
Ancient: The Newbury Elm in the Massachusetts town was already almost 30 when Jacob Merrill was born, long before the Revolutionary War. He and his wife Sarah True are the oldest ancestors traced by DailyMailTV
Meghan’s most distant relatives discovered by DailyMailTV were her fifth great grandparents who were married in Newbury, Massachusetts on November 21, 1762.
Jacob Merrill was 30 – so born in 1732 – and his wife Sarah True was around 34, so it could have possibly been a second marriage for both of them.
At the time Newbury had already been settled for 100 years – the first arrivals came in 1635 – and it had well-developed farming, fishing and shipbuilding industries.
Thousands of cattle grazed around the village on its salt marshes and Jacob was probably a farmer too.
In 1763 America’s first primary school was founded in nearby Byfield and was known as Dum’r Charity School. It was later named Dummer Academy and is now The Governor’s Academy.
His son David Merrill was born on November 12 1768. He was too young to fight in the American Revolutionary War, which began in 1775 and ended in 1783, because by the time he was a teenager the US had won its freedom from Britain.
David moved to New Hampshire and married his wife Sarah Lee on February 16 1806 in Moultonborough, where she was born.
David had an age gap with his wife; he was 37 when they married and she was around 27.
Nicol said that David could been widowed or could have spent some time working getting his fortune together before he found an eligible bride.
He died in Holderness, N.H., at the age of 90 in 1859 – an extraordinary feat of longevity on the eve of the Civil War – and his death certificate lists the cause as ‘typhoid fever’. Under his ‘color’ the death certificate read: ‘White’.
Nicol said that describing somebody’s ethnicity in such a way on a official document was ‘just the way things were done’ back then.
He said ‘Even if somebody was black or American Indian or if they were free black in the North. it was just the way of doing things, it was standard procedure, just like calling people male or female’.
Typhoid fever, the condition which killed David, was one of the biggest dangers to settlers in America and would claim nearly 30,000 lives during the Civil War alone.
David would have likely caught it through dirty water and at the time there were no treatments and none of the medicine we take for granted today.
His death would likely have been painful and patients developed red lesions known as ‘rose spots’.
His bowel could also have become paralyzed in a condition known as ‘adynamia’ by 18th century physicians.
Even the treatments had their own dangers and doctors who prescribed the chemical calomel caused mercury poisoning in many of their patients.
One of the first Americans: David Merrill, Meghan Markle’s fourth-great grandfather was born when his native Massachusetts was still a colony, and died aged 90 on the eve of the Civil War. His grave is in Holderness, New Hampshire
MAKING A LIVING IN NEW HAMPSHIRE’S TOUGH FARMING COUNTRY AND BOOMING INDUSTRIAL CITIES
THE OLDEST PHOTOGRAPHED ANCESTORS
DailyMailTV was able to obtain photographs of Meghan Markle’s great-great-great-great grandparents John Smith and Mary Mudgett.
Remarkably they were born in 1972 and 1797, long before the birth of photography. That there are photographs of them shows their comfortable position. John Smith was a successful farmer and his son-in-law Jacob Merrill, to whom he sold the farm, was also to die wealthy.
An entire branch of Meghan Markle’s family – all of her grandmother Doris Sanders’ relatives – lived in New Hampshire.
The earliest trace confirmed by DailyMailTV was Sarah Lee, Meghan Markle’s great-great-great-great grandmother, who was born in the state in 1777.
Meanwhile David Merrill, Meghan’s fourth-great grandfather, moved there and their son Jacob Lee Merrill was born on March 24 1818 in Holderness.
He was Meghan’s third great grandfather and was 71 when he died on July 1 1889 in nearby Meredith where he had lived for many years.
He was married around 1843 to Mary Smith, who was born on March 20 1822 in Center Harbor, New Hampshire.
Mary Smith’s parents were also born in the first years of the independent United States.
John Smith was born in Center Harbor in 1792, while his wife Mary Mudgett was born in 1797 in the state. They were Meghan Markle’s great-great-great-great grandparents and the oldest ancestors DailyMailTV was able to obtain photographs of.
John Smith was a successful farmer and later sold his farm to his son-in-law Jacob Merrill.
But it would not have been an easy living: describing life as a farmer at the time, Nicol said: ‘It was hard work, dawn to dusk type work.
Successful: Jacob Merrill’s will showed how he had managed to make a good living in tough conditions in New Hampshire, leaving a substantial fortune to his widow and children
‘They may have had milk cows but the soil isn’t that great in New England so it was a hard life to scratch a living out of the soil.
‘They mostly would have grown hearty grains like rye or barley and sweet corn which would have been used for feed livestock. Wheat was more fragile than rye so they grew those things for baking.’
But it was a successful living. In 1870 the Federal census stated he had personal property of $2,000 and real estate worth $6,500, meaning he was comfortably off.
Jacob’s will shows that when he died in 1889, he left a substantial estate. His eldest son John was by that time jointly farming what he called Laddplace, their farm near Ladd Mountain, in Laconia, and he inherited ‘half the home farm where I now dwell’.
As well as that Jacob’s son George Merrill – Meghan Markle’s great-great grandfather – received $500; Jacob’s daughter May Louisa Knowles the same amount; her sister Julia Ann Webster $300; and $50 each to all his grandchildren. His widow Mary would receive the remainder, suggesting a substantial fortune.
Life for George Merrill appears to have been tougher. He owned his own home – perhaps helped by his father’s generosity – in Laconia, a city which had a growing industry. It was an early entry to the industrial revolution, with the first major textile factory opening in 1823.
New Hampshire life: George Merrill (right) was born in the state to parents who were born there too, and lived with his British-born wife Mary Bird
By the late 1800s, the city’s biggest employer was the Laconia Car Company which made train carriages and tourists flocked to Weirs Beach.
George later worked as a contractor and by time of his death in 1924 he was a watchman, according to his death certificate.
Nicol said that moving from the fields to this kind of work was common for older men.
He said: ‘When he was a contractor he may have injured himself and taken whatever job he could get.
‘I’ve seen stories where people work on farm machinery and lose fingers and have their arms chopped off. There wasn’t such a thing as retirement, they worked until they couldn’t move.
‘Watchmen were like a security guards. He may have been at a factory or another person’s farm. It could have been a general store in the village. My guess is it was a small factory of some sort.’
However, George Merrill was to lay the foundations for a new American life in one form as they built a summer home on Bear island, in Lake Winnipesaukee, close to Laconia.
Eventually, their granddaughter Doris Sanders – Meghan’s grandmother – would move to Pennsylvania and meet Gordon Markle, ending the link to New Hampshire.
THE MARKLE WHO MARRIED TWO SISTERS – AND HIS FAMILY’S UPS AND DOWNS IN INDUSTRIAL PENNSYLVANIA
Meghan Markle’s ancestors include many generations who lived in eastern Pennsylvania working either in industry or farming.
Among them were George Benjamin McClellian Markle, who was born in Juanita, Pennsylvania, in 1864, the son of Isaac Markle, who was the oldest Markle DailyMailTV was able to trace.
George Markle was a farmer whose family life encapsulated the joy and tragedy that so many others went through at the time.
He had six children over 11 years with his first wife Mary Jane Mangle, who he had married in 1886, before her death in 1899 at the age of just 32.
But that was not to be the end of his family life: in fact he then married her sister Emma Louise Mangle in 1900 when she was just 18 and he was 36 – twice her age. That makes her both Meghan Markle’s great-great aunt and her step-great-great grandmother.
The couple had seven more children, and by the arrival of their last child in 1919, George was a father of 13.
Jacob, born in 1887 was the eldest, followed by Emma Louise in 1889, Isaac Thomas – Meghan Markle’s great-grandfather – in 1891, Jane Rebecca in 1894, GeorgeMcLellian jnr in 1896 and John Adam in 1998. With Emma Louise Charles Reynolds was born in 1901, Earl in 1905, Fay Lewtisha in 1907, Benjamin Franklin in 1909, Paul Chetwyn in 1912, Lero Chester in 1915 and Howard Luther in 1919.
The large family lived on his farm, and the 1910 census describes him as an employer, suggesting that as well as his children helping on the farm – among them Isaac who in 1910 was a farm laborer – it was large enough to have other workers.
Prosperity was to allow George Markle to take in his father-in-law Thomas Mangle – the man who fought in the Civil War – and in a family photograph as they celebrated Thomas Mangle’s wife Louisa Long’s 75th birthday, Emma is present with all her sisters except for the late Mary Jane.
In fact his Civil War veteran father-in-law was to outlive George Markle, who died in March 1, 1923, aged just 57. He died in 1925, ten years after his wife.
In the picture: George Markle was 51 when this family photograph of Louisa and Thomas Mangle, his parents-in-law, was taken in 1917. It is unclear which of the men is George although the most likely candidates appear to be at the right of the first row, beside Thomas and Louisa, or in the center of the row behind them
Also present in the family picture, it appears certain, is Isaac Thomas, who was born on August 13, 1891. He would have been 26 at the time and was newly married to Ruth Ann Arnold, who was a year his junior.
The family picture was taken around July 1917, but months earlier Isaac had staked his claim to stay in Pennsylvania when he signed up for the draft.
The system was introduced in April 1917 as the U.S. entered World War I and Isaac had to register. He was 25, tall and of medium build, with brown eyes and a full head of brown hair – and he claimed exemption because he had to support his wife.
Grandfather: Gordon Markle was 58 when he posed with his son Thomas’s elder two children, Samantha and Thomas Markle Jr, for this family portrait
Isaac was a fireman with the Pennsylvania Railroad, the country’s largest railroad whose passenger and freight trains served the north-east. It was a grueling job but it was part of the growing urban middle class with a real possibility of advancement.
The couple were living in Harrisburg, PA, directly opposite the railroad tracks, and they were to only have one child, Gordon Markle.
His marriage to the Arnolds united two families from eastern Pennsylvania. Ruth Ann’s father Adam owned 75-acre a farm in Greenwood Township, about 30 miles from Juniata County, paying $180 for it in 1895.
He was later to become a hotel landlord as well, and eventually moved to Millersburg, closer to Harrisburg, and it is clear that Ruth remained close to him and his British-born wife. In fact in the 1920 Census they lived next door to her parents.
The Liverpool Sun, reported on February 20, 1925, noted that Isaac Markle and his wife had spent Friday with ‘Mrs Adam Arnold’, and that on Thursday of the previous week, Clair Fry and Willard had called at the Markles’ home.
Adam Arnold died of stomach cancer in September 1941, while his wife died a year later.
Later in life Isaac worked for Pennsylvania Power and Light, moving to Liverpool, in Perry County, just outside Harrisburg.
His steady place in the new middle class was not quite to rub off immediately on his only son, Gordon Arnold, Meghan Markle’s grandfather, who was born in March 1918.
The 1940 census show that he had finished education at the 8th grade and worked as a service station operator – but that in the last year he had only worked 20 weeks out of the year. At the time the U.S. and especially the industrial north-east were still struggling with the legacy of the depression.
Unusual career path: Fred Markle, Meghan’s uncle, was ordained a priest in 1974 in the obscure Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church and is now Bishop Dismas Markle, with a tiny church in Florida
When he registered for the draft on October 16 that year, he was unemployed. But like his father he was tall, at six feet, and weighed just 150lbs, with blonde hair and brown eyes.
While his service in the war is unknown, he married Doris Mary Rita Sanders the next year, and was said to be a shoe worker.
The couple lived most of their lives in Newport, PA, close to where they were both born and had two children: Thomas Markle and his brother Frederick. Gordon died in the early 1980s, but Doris was to be a big part of Meghan Markle’s life, dying in 2011 aged 91.
It was Meghan’s father and her uncle who were to end the family’s long association with Pennsylvania.
Frederick, the older of the two, followed an unusual path, first studying at a Catholic monastery, and then being ordained a priest in the obscure Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church of America in 1974.
He moved to Florida where he still lives, running his church as Bishop Dismas. It is unclear how he became part of first the Catholic Church, then the obscure Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church, which has no official connection to either.
Although there have been claims that Meghan Markle is Catholic – she was educated at a private Catholic school – there is no evidence that this is the case or that any of her ancestors were. If she had been Catholic, her marriage to Prince Harry would have meant either renouncing her faith, or the prince giving up his place in the right of succession to his grandmother’s throne.
Thomas Wayne Markle was to follow a different – and more glamorous – path from his clergyman brother. He moved to Chicago and became a lighting designer in television studios.
In 1975, he made his parents proud by winning an Emmy. Although Thomas Markle’s Emmy has been frequently discussed, DailyMailTV can disclose for the first time exactly what it was for: it was a local Chicago Emmy for his work in lighting design on Chicago public TV station Channel 11 WTTW’s Made In Chicago series.
Syndicated as Soundstage it continues to be a fixture of public television, showing popular music performers in concert. Markle received the award at the Arie Crown Theater on Sunday June 15, in what was a good year for WTTW, which won eight of the 29 awards at the Chicago Emmys that year.
THE BIG MOVE WEST AND FINDING LOVE ON A MOVIE SET
Meghan Markle has described herself as a Los Angeles girl, growing up in the sunshine.
But she is not the first member of her family to grow up there – her mother did too, as her father Alvin Ragland and other members of his family moved out west and made it her childhood home.
Born in September 1956, she attended Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, which had been newly integrated. It had a strong academic history, and is also known for its links to Hollywood, perhaps unsurprising as it is on the borders of West Hollywood.
It was a far cry from the segregated system where her father was educated, leaving young and becoming a hotel bell boy, and where her great-aunt Lillie taught in Tennessee.
Among its other notable alumni are David Arquette, the actor, Tito and Jackie Jackson of the Jackson Five, actresses Mila Kunis and Demi Moore and Slash from Guns N’ Roses.
California sunshine: Meghan Markle was born in L.A. to Doria Loyce Ragland and Thomas Wayne Markle. Although they later split she has spoken lovingly about her happy childhood
Markle family: Thomas Markle and his brother Fred – also known then as Father Dismas in the obscure Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church of America, and now Bishop Dismas – spent time with Meghan Markle in the 1980s and with their mother, and her grandmother, Doris Markle, who died in 2011
Siblings: Meghan Markle has a sister born Yvonne Markle, now Samantha Grant, 52, and brother Thomas Markle Jr, from her father’s first marriage to Roslyn Loveless, now 72
Her father’s move out west was not the only one by a Ragland. In fact his father Steve moved too, dying in May 1983, just long enough to have met his great-granddaughter Meghan, and his uncle, Paul also moved, dying in California in 1977.
And Ragland’s aunt Lillie moved to the city by the early 1960s, where she was a successful realtor.
Thomas Markle Jr, however, came in a very different form – single and ready to party.
AND HERE’S WHAT WE STILL DON’T KNOW
DailyMailTV’s investigation remains ongoing – because a quarter of Meghan Markle’s family tree is still a mystery.
The identity of her mother’s mother remains unknown.
That means we were unable to look into her past – and into a family story which Meghan Markle has discussed, about how one of her ancestors was called Wisdom.
Markle has told how he was a slave on a plantation in Georgia who chose a surname at emancipation, and took Wisdom.
The 1870 Census has five possible men who could match that family story, but DailyMailTV has so far been unable to substantiate any links between them and the Suits actress.
Thomas Markle Sr, however, proved a very different prospect – successful, single and ready to party. Six foot three and with a glamorous career as a Hollywood lighting director, he already had one marriage under his belt.
That union, which had lasted just eight years, had come to an end 24 months earlier in 1976 when he left his family in Chicago to move to Los Angeles to pursue his film career.
His former wife, Roslyn Loveless, now 72, took her two children, Yvonne – who now goes by the name Samantha – and Thomas Jr, and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she later remarried and had a second son, Bobby Lucero, now 37.
Markle Sr’s two children, now aged 52 and 51, would eventually come to live part time with Ragland and their father and were in Los Angeles when Meghan was born.
But in 1977, the children were 800 miles away in Albuquerque and Markle Sr. was free to devote himself to his career – spending much of his time on the set of medical drama, General Hospital.
It was there and that year that he met Ragland, who at the time was a 21-year-old working as a make-up artist on the show.
Despite the 12-year age gap, the pair swiftly became an item and just over 18 months after meeting, they married quietly in LA on December 23 1979.
Less than two years later, the couple became parents to their only child Meghan who was born on August 4 1981.
At the time, Markle Sr and Ragland were living by the beach in Santa Monica but soon moved to the suburbs with their daughter – choosing a comfortable four-bedroom home in Woodland Hills.
An hours’ drive from the beach, the suburb is famously one of a trio, including Tarzana and Calabasas, where young professionals are wont to move when they start families.
Family: Ava Burrow, 64, was Meghan’s father’s wife. Their son Alvin Joffrey Ragland, 34, is Meghan’s uncle but was born after her.
As a young Hollywood professional, Markle Sr. certainly fitted in, although Ragland didn’t find the transition quite so easy – Meghan would later write that her mother, while pushing her in her pram, would be mistaken for the nanny by their wealthy neighbors.
And according to Thomas Jr, some members of the family also found it difficult to accept African-American Ragland.
He told DailyMailTV that his sister would ‘tell people that Doria was the maid because she’s black’. For her part she has denied such claims.
The family’s stint in suburbia didn’t last long and a few years after they arrived, the Markle clan – including Meghan and her half-brother – decamped to Hollywood.
And it was there that Meghan started school; attending the Little Red Schoolhouse, which counts actor Robert de Niro, singer Elle King and designer Zac Posen among famous alumni.
But although Meghan loved class, at home things were difficult where Markle Sr. and Ragland were growing apart.
FORGET MEGHAN MARKLE – MEET HRH THE DUCHESS OF SUSSEX
He is simply known as Prince Harry but His Royal Highness Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, is likely to gain another title when he marries – the Duke of Sussex.
British princes have traditionally received a dukedom when they marry, with his brother Prince William being named Duke of Cambridge when he married Kate Middleton.
The most likely title for Prince Harry to be given has been widely speculated to be Duke of Sussex.
The wife of a duke is known as a duchess.
Additionally, Prince Harry’s wife will be given the style Her Royal Highness because he is styled His Royal Highness, or HRH for short.
That means marriage would make Meghan Markle into Her Royal Highness Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
She will not however receive the style princess, in common with Kate Middleton, who is HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
However she would be entitled to describe herself on official documents listing her occupation as ‘princess of the United Kingdom’.
If the couple have children, they will be entitled to be called princes or princesses.
The pair eventually divorced in March 1988 – shortly before their daughter turned seven. Neither have gone on to remarry, although both remained devoted to their daughter whose custody was shared between them.
Thomas Jr, 51, told DailyMailTV: ‘Meg has been intelligent since the day she was born so I think she figured out things were wrong for herself.
‘But she knew she was completely loved by both sides of the family and she didn’t sweat it and she didn’t have anything to worry about.’
Less than two years after Meghan was born, the Ragland family welcomed another new addition – 29-year-old Ava Burrow who in May 1983 became 53-year-old Alvin’s second wife.
And within months of the wedding, a second new family member arrived: Alvin and Ava’s son Alvin Joffrey who was born on September 20 the same year and is Meghan’s uncle despite being younger than her.
Alvin Joffrey, who likes to be known as Joffrey, is now 34 and living in Los Angeles where he works as a graphic designer specializing in fashion.
But much of his childhood was spent in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where both his parents come from and where Ava taught in a local school.
Ragland’s father Alvin, meanwhile, ran an antique shop – a business he relocated to the West Coast after he split from Ava and moved back to California in the early 90s.
For a time, Ava remained in Tennessee with their son but returned to California herself in the early 2000s. Now retired, she lives in the desert city of Indio where she cares for her elderly mother Alvenia Reed, 82.
From 1988 onwards, Meghan would spend weekdays with her mother and most weekends with her father, her half-brother and her Markle grandmother Doris, who later relocated to Sanford, Florida, to live with her eldest son, Frederick, now 75, who runs his own church under the title Bishop Dismas.
Other members of the extended family now include his wife Theresa, 66, two adult sons, David, 34, who is married to Jackie, 42, and lives in Pennsylvania with their three young children, and Nick, 38, who lives in Florida.
Samantha Grant has been married twice, first to Earl Hale, a lawyer, with whom she had children Ashleigh Hale, 32, and Christopher Hale, 30; and secondly to Scott Rasmussen, 59, a film armorer with whom she had daughter Noelle, 19.
Thomas Markle Jr was married to Tracy Dooley, now 52, and the couple had two children, Thomas Dooley, 26, who is married to Ronnie Tanner, and Tyler Dooley, 25. Thomas Jr is now engaged to Darlene Blount, 37, and lives in Grants Pass, Oregon.