Meghan Markle’s maternal family

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With Mother’s Day last Sunday and the wedding tomorrow of Miss Meghan Markle and Prince Harry of Wales, I thought I would write a post on some of her maternal ancestors. Often on Mother’s Day, genealogists consider their matrilineal ancestry as a way to honor their female ancestors.

The chronology of Meghan’s maternal grandmother was a challenging one. Reflecting modern life, over the course of a few generations women were married multiple times; sometimes their daughters’ surnames changed to those of their stepfather (sometimes much later in life!), and mothers’ maiden surnames were sometimes listed under their mothers’ later husbands’ names. I have summarized the line below with the relevant facts and sources. All ancestors are listed as black on the records when asked. The earliest generations of this family would have been enslaved until the end of the Civil War.

The family lived in the area around the Georgia–South Carolina border before moving to Sandusky, Ohio in the early twentieth century and making their way to California by the 1950s. The lineage should be considered preliminary, as I have ordered several additional twentieth-century records that might lead to corrections or additions to the facts below.


  1. Millie Jones was born in Georgia about 1815. She was living at Smiths in Hart County, Georgia in 1870 and 1880, in the latter census listed as the mother-in-law of Wesley Teasley. Her own marital status (whether single, married, or widowed) is not indicated.[1]


  1. Elcy Jones was born in Georgia about 1841. She was living at Smiths in 1880 and died before 1910. She married, probably in Georgia, before 1858, Wesley Teasley. He was born in Georgia about 1828. He was living in Hart County in 1910 as a widower with his son Robert.[2]


  1. Laura Teasly alias Bowers was born in Georgia in December 1863. She probably died at Lavonia – located in both Franklin and Hart Counties – in Georgia between 1930 and 1940. She married Felix Sad(d)ler in Habersham County, Georgia on 10 October 1885. Felix was born in Georgia in January 1867 and was living at Lavonia in 1940 with his second wife.[3]


  1. The Sandusky Register, 29 December 1958.

    Gertrude Sad(d)ler was born at Lavonia 16 April 1882 and died at Newark, New Jersey 28 December 1958. She married, first, about 1895, probably in Georgia, Hunter Allen. Hunter was born in Georgia about 1875. He likely died before 1905, when Gertrude married, second, Samuel Arnold. Samuel was born at Anderson, South Carolina 28 March 1877 and died at Sandusky, Ohio 27 June 1943.[4]


  1. Nettie Mae Allen alias Arnold was born at Seneca, South Carolina 23 June 1897 and died at Los Angeles, California 4 December 1980. She married in Erie County, Ohio 5 September 1917, John Linzia Williams, from whom she was divorced. He was born at Anderson, South Carolina 18 July 1887 (or 1892) and died at Flint, Michigan 27 June 1948. She had a relationship (possibly not married), about 1928, with James Forshey. He was born in Alabama about 1882 and was living at Youngstown, Ohio in 1930. Nettie married in Erie County 23 April 1938, Johnie M. McAfee. He was born at Dekalb, Mississippi about 1904 and was no longer living with Nettie in 1940. She married, by 1958, _____ Pritchard.[5]


  1. Click on image to expand it.

    Jeanette Forshey alias McAfee alias Arnold was born at Sandusky 4 September 1929. She died 27 December 2000, having lived most recently in Fresno, California. She married Alvin Azell Ragland, from whom she was divorced. He was born in Tennessee 21 February 1929 and died 12 March 2011. She married, second, before 1988, ______ Johnson.[6]


  1. Doria Loyce Ragland was born in Ohio 2 September 1956. She married at Los Angeles 23 December 1979, Thomas Wayne Markle, from whom she was divorced. He was born at Newport, Pennsylvania 18 July 1944.[7]


  1. Rachel Meghan Markle was born at Los Angeles 4 August 1981. She married, first, at Ocho Rios, Jamaica 10 September 2011, Trevor Engelson, from whom she was divorced. She will marry second, at St. George’s Chapel (Windsor Castle), Windsor, Berkshire 19 May 2018, HRH Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales.[8]


[1] 1870 Census; 1880 Census.

[2] 1870 and 1880 Censuses above; 1910 Census.

[3] Marriage Record; 1900 Census; 1910 Census [with three of Gertrude’s children from her first marriage to Hunter Allen]; 1930 Census; 1940 Census. Laura’s maiden name is given as Bowers in the Social Security application of her daughter Gertrude and the 1918 Ohio marriage of her daughter Essie. In the 1900 census, there is a woman named Nancy Bowers, age 71, widowed, mother of 25 children, 7 living, living in the household of Felix (listed as Fielding) and Laura Saddler; the relationship to the head of household is given as “Nancy,” an obvious error. Teasly is the surname on her marriage record, and appears to match the Laura in the 1880 census with familial connections to the earlier generation. Bowers may have been a family name as well.

[4] 1900 Census; 1910 Census; 1920 Census; 1930 Census; 1940 Census; Social Security Application of Gertrude Sadler Arnold; “Mrs. Gertrude Arnold,” The Sandusky Register, 29 December 1958, 10; World War II Draft Registration of Samuel Arnold; 1943 Ohio Death Certificate of Samuel Arnold; “Samuel Arnold,” The Sandusky Register, 28 June 1943.

[5] 1980 California Death Certificate of Nettie Pritchard (on order); 1917 Ohio Marriage record of John L. Williams and Nettie May Allen; 1920 Census; Social Security Application of John Linzia Williams; 1948 Michigan Death Certificate of John L. Williams; 1930 Census; 1938 Ohio marriage Record of John McAfee and Jeanette (Arnold) Williams; 1940 Census; obituaries of mother and step-father above. Nettie lists her step-father Samuel Arnold as her father on her 1938 marriage, and she is listed as Samuel’s step-daughter “Nettie Arnold” in the 1943 obituary.

[6] 1955 Fresno City Directory (as Jeanette Arnold); Social Security Application; Social Security Death Index; Social Security Death Index [from these records, it is not entirely clear if Jeanette Arnold and Alvin Ragland married].

[7] 1979 California Marriage Certificate of Thomas Wayne Markle and Doria Loyce Ragland (above right).

[8] biography for Meghan Markle.

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

24 thoughts on “Meghan Markle’s maternal family

  1. I’m curious about the term ‘alias’. Does that indicate she was sometimes known by one name and sometimes the other? Does it imply there is no legal relationship (daughter, wife, etc.)? Is ‘aka’ ever used, as in ‘also known as’? Thanks.

    1. Yes, I’m using alias since the surnames are different in the records that I cite. For instance Jeanette is listed with surname Forshey in the 1930 census, McAfee in the 1940 census, and then Arnold on records after that before her marriage.

  2. I live in Hartwell, GA and married to a Teasley, The Teasley family owned a plantation and had many, many acres in Hart County and crossed over into Elbert County. Lavonia is a 10 to 15 minute drive. The Teasleys were very good to their slaves and most of the slaves took the last name of Teasley. Thank your for all your research. Family Tree research is both aggravating and consuming. Mickey Teasley, Hartwell, GA

    1. Wow! Do you have any of the old plantation records? I live in Valdosta, Georgia and do a great deal of African American genealogy. Sometimes I can trace an individual through the plantation records, slave sales records, etc.

    2. Hi. I’m from Hart County as well. It is interesting to get involved in coming up with a family tree but it can get confusing as well with the different terminology. This is very informative!

  3. Hi, Thanks for your work on this. I think I might have a lead on Millie Jones’s possible owner, James Warren Jones, who resided in the same vicinity as the Teasleys.(Things can get tricky here in that the part of Hart County where they lived was actually in Elbert County, GA prior to 1854, and thus they are in the 1850 slaveholding census for Elbert, which provides ages and genders of their slaves but not names.) The date of Elsey Jones and Wesley Teasley’s marriage interests me, as, assuming they had not been manumitted, they would still have been enslaved well past 1863. You can contact me if you want more info on Jones. Also, How soon do you think you will have enough info to feel solid in the connections going forward to Meghan Markle? Best, Jim Cobb

    1. Jim, in the 1860 slave schedule, James W. Jones of Smiths, Hart County, Georgia, had one 43 year old and four 44 year old female slaves (, all possible matches for Millie. Another possibility in the same place is Solomon S. Jones who had one 45 year old female slave in 1860 (image 2 of the same schedule). On image 1 of the same schedule, the listing for Osborn G. Teasley includes a 30 year old male. In his will, dated August 1862, Osborn G. Teasley bequeathed his “negro man Wesley” to his son William. Two of the witnesses to the will of Osborn G. Teasley were an S. S. Jones and a Wm. S. Jones. In the 1860 census, William S. Jones, age 20, was a member of the household of Solomon S. Jones in Smiths, Hart County (presumably he was Solomon’s son). Osborn G. Teasley and his family are on the previous page of the 1860 census, as is a man whose surname and initial match another of the will witnesses. Wesley Teasley and two of Osborn Teasley’s sons, William and Beneger, are listed on the same page in both the 1880 census and in the 1880 agricultural schedule, where they have 35, 40, and 35 acres of tilled land, respectively. William and Beneger were land owners and Wesley “rents for shares of production” according to the agricultural schedule.

      1. Janet, This is great stuff. I am working from home and don’t have access to here and can’t see the 1860 slave schedule for Hart County. In the 1850 slave schedule for Elbert, J.W. Jones has a 35 year old black female, which would correspond to Millie’s 1815 birthdate, if that is correct. There are 11 slaves in all, including several young females, one of whom might be Elsey. I am from Hart County, myself and know that the Teasleys, who are entertwined with my own family, lived in Smith’s District near the Joneses. James Jones, the patriarch of the Jones family, and his wife had a slew of children, including the names you mention. This raises the possibility, I suppose, that Millie might have been owned by more than one Jones. Thanks for filling in some big gaps. If only there were some family records to document the names for the slaves.

        1. Another document of interest for the story of the life of Wesley Teasley and his family after the civil war may be this Georgia tax record,, dated 1872-1880. Wesley is in a list of more than 30 freedmen employed by Joel L. Turner. The value of Wesley’s farm animals is listed as $75, his household and kitchen furniture $5, and his plantation and mechanical tools $5. Joel L. Turner was a physician as well as the owner a large amount of land (1700 acres in Smiths). Dr. Turner’s now historic home is described here, In the above Georgia tax document, Gibbs Sadler (the name of the father of Laura’s future husband Felix/Fealin/Fielding Sadler) is listed on the previous page as one of three employees, all with surname Sadler. The name of the employer is obscured by the binding. There are many additional listings for both Wesley Teasley and Gibbs Sadler in the Georgia tax record set.

          1. Janet, More incredible info. Thanks so much! I have been wracking my brain for ways to cross-check Millie’s owner.

  4. Not to be nit-picky, and I’m certainly not an expert on royal titles, — but I don’t think Prince Harry is “a Prince of Wales”. Only the heir-apparent to the throne, in this case, Harry’s father, Prince Charles, is Prince of Wales.

    1. Harry was formerly “A” Prince of Wales, obviously, he was not “The” Prince of Wales. Nothing to worry about now, as both sons are now Dukes in their own right.

  5. It is correct that Harry’s father is THE Prince of Wales, but Prince Harry was always officially styled “Prince Harry of Wales” prior to receiving the title Duke of Sussex.

  6. “Jeanette Forshey alias McAfee alias Arnold was born at Sandusky 4 September 1929. She died 27 December 2000, having lived most recently in Fresno, California. She married Alvin Azell Ragland, from whom she was divorced. He was born in Tennessee 21 February 1929 and died 12 March 2011. She married, second, before 1988, ______ Johnson.[6]”

    Jeanette Forshey’s (possibly first but certainly previous to Alvin A Ragland) partner or husband was Joseph Johnson with whom she had at least two children; Joseph Johnson JR (c 1948) and Saundra Yvonne Johnson Wyngate (1 Apr 1950) previous to her marriage/partnership with Alvin Azell Ragland who fathered their daughter Doria Loyce Ragland, born 15 Sept 1956 and from whom she was either apart or divorced by his 6 May 1983 marriage to Ava D Wrice Burrow.

    I hope there’s more from this tree to come; my family is tiring of me going on and on about how the ancestors come and go, never to be traceable again. Thanks for posting this!


  7. Wonderfully done! What program did you write this in; I may wish to do a similar writeup with my own family. Thanks. JSM

  8. Christopher, this is why I like to use things like the public record index and websites like…Not 100% certain of the accuracy but I have found they are reasonably accurate for birth dates and family structure. Unfortunately there are even Genealogist, mainly Mr Dick Eastman who would like those removed, which would make doing descendency of people nearly impossible without finding out where they are residing.

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