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.

Christopher C. Child

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.View all posts by Christopher C. Child