Who Do You Think You Are?Meet the retired bomb-disposal expert who traced his ancestry to Henry VII
From TV shows such as Who Do You Think You Are? to individual public record searches, genealogy is growing ever more popular. But few can trace their family tree as far back as John Lloyd Thomas’ royal link, as Graham Henry found out
FLEETING references to obscure Welsh noblemen Maurice Wynn and John Wynn would not mean much, to most people. But in March this year, John Lloyd Thomas stumbled across a reference in the Western Mail that would prove to be the culmination of six years and thousands of hours of work – and gives him a better claim than most to be sitting on a throne.
The 76-year-old retired bomb-disposal worker was reading an article at his home in Rhiwbina, Cardiff, on the “Mother of Wales”, Katheryn Berain.
The article, by Bangor University academic Dr Katharine Olson, was featured as part of our Welsh History Month series – and he noticed her link to the noble Wynn family, from North Wales.
Maurice, Katheryn’ s third husband, and Sir John Wynn, her step-son, had already been identified by Mr Lloyd Thomas in his own family tree, which he started building in 2005, and which is peppered with ancestors from Denbighshire and Gwynedd.
Katheryn Berain was the granddaughter of Sir Roland de Velville, the supposed alleged illegitimate son of Henry VII, English king from 1457 to 1509 and father to the infamous Henry VIII, after an alleged extra-marital tryst with an unknown woman from Breton.
But it was this information that helped complete a personal history that snakes from Mr Lloyd Thomas to one of the most famous Royal houses in English monarchical history.
Sir Roland’s inauspicious status meant that, despite being older than Henry VIII, he would never be in line for power.
But this link means that Henry Tudor (Henry VII) was likely to be great-grandfather of the wife of the second great-grandfather of the husband of Mr Lloyd Thomas’ cousin, seven-times removed – a link the amateur genealogist concedes is “not the strongest claim” to the throne.
“I was always very interested in the history of the family, and my sister [Shirley Player, née Thomas] had already started,” he said.
“She had enrolled in Ancestry.co.uk and had put some information on, so I decided to join her – and the first thing I did was put myself on there.
“And once you do that, you tend to get hooked.”
He had also been inspired to research by his own father’s lost family tree, which he barely remembered from his childhood, and soon was spending hours at a time sifting through old records and photographs.
“Mr father joked that I should have been the Prince of Wales,” he said. “And he said he knew that it was passed down from his parents that the family had quite high connections.
“I know he was joking, and I didn’t know what he meant as I was too young, but he said that if the family had looked after its money, nobody need have worked again”.
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