Family of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

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Further information: Ancestry chart
Family of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Arms of Michael Middleton.svg
Coat of arms granted to Michael Francis Middleton (the father of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) on 19 April 2011, as the armigerous head of the family.[1]
Ethnicity English
Current region Bucklebury, West Berkshire, England
Earlier spellings Middeltone, Mideltuna, Middeltune
Place of origin United Kingdom
Notable members Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Michael Francis Middleton
Carole Elizabeth Middleton
Philippa Charlotte Middleton
James William Middleton
Connected families Lupton, Goldsmith

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is a member of the Middleton family, the daughter of Michael and Carole Middleton and sister of Pippa and James. Shortly before her royal wedding to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, in April 2011, a coat of arms was granted to her father Michael Francis Middleton as the armigerous head of the family of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.


Michael and Carole Middleton

Michael Francis Middleton was born in 1949 in Leeds where he spent his early years in Moortown.[2] His father, Peter Francis Middleton (1920–2010), was a pilot and his grandfather, (Richard) Noel Middleton (1878–1951), was a solicitor.[3] Noel's wife, Olive Middleton (1881–1936), was a member of the Lupton family who, according to City of Leeds archives, were "woollen manufacturers and landed gentry; a political and business dynasty".[4][5][6][7]

Like his father, Peter, and grandfather Noel, Michael Middleton was educated at Clifton College, the public school in Bristol.[8] At Clifton, all three generations of Middleton men boarded at Brown House.[9] The archives at Clifton record that Michael Middleton was a college prefect, had represented the school at rugby in the 1st XV and had also gained his tennis colours.[10] Middleton declined to follow in his father Peter's footsteps of studying at New College, Oxford University.[11]

Following Clifton, Middleton worked briefly as a British Airways flight attendant. Having graduated from the company's own internal course, he then worked for BA as a flight dispatcher.[12][13]

It was reported in June 2014, that Michael's great grandfather, politician Francis Martineau Lupton, was the first cousin of Sir Thomas Martineau, whose nephew was World War II Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.[14][15][16] Research has revealed that Michael Middleton is a direct descendant of King Edward III.[17][18]

Carole Elizabeth Middleton (née Goldsmith) was born on 31 January 1955 at Perivale Maternity Hospital in Ealing.[19][20][21] The daughter of a builder, Ronald Goldsmith (1931–2003), and Dorothy Harrison (1935–2006), she was raised in a small house in Southall,[22] and attended the local state schools.[23]

The couple met when they both worked for British Airways (BA) as flight attendants.[8] By 1979, Michael had been promoted within BA, becoming an Aircraft Dispatcher, one of British Airways' elite Red Caps,[24] at London Heathrow Airport, where he kept track of the airline's fleet on the ground. The couple were married on 21 June 1980, at the parish church of St James in Dorney, Buckinghamshire.[25] They bought a semi-detached Victorian house in Bradfield Southend near Reading, Berkshire.[8]

The couple have three children (two daughters and one son). Following the birth of their daughters Catherine Elizabeth (born 1982) and Philippa Charlotte (born 1983),[26] the family briefly moved to Amman, Jordan, where Michael worked from 1984 to 1987.[27]

Business success and inherited wealth[edit]

Their third and youngest child, a son named James William, was born in 1987.[8] It was at this time, when Catherine and Philippa were at a pre-school at St Andrew's School, Pangbourne, that Carole set up Party Pieces, a company which began by making party bags and which now sells party supplies and decorations by mail order. By 1995, the firm was being run by both parents and was moved into a range of farm buildings at Ashampstead Common. Also at this time the family purchased Oak Acre, a six bedroom Tudor-style manor house in Bucklebury, Berkshire.[28] By 2012, the couple were the owners of nearby Bucklebury Manor, a Georgian mansion with an estate of some 18 acres. Their grandson, Prince George spent his first few weeks at Bucklebury Manor.[26][29][30][31][32]

The Middleton's business was successful, and over the space of a few years the Middletons are reported to have become very wealthy.[33] This wealth, combined with the large trust funds Michael Middleton inherited from his grandmother Olive Middleton, enabled the Middleton tradition of independent education to continue.[34][35][36] Both daughters were sent to the independent Downe House, a girls' boarding school in Cold Ash, and finally the public school; Marlborough College, Wiltshire. Their brother James also attended Marlborough.[37]

Shortly before his elder daughter's royal marriage, Michael was granted a coat of arms. This features three acorn sprigs, one for each of his children. The oak represents England and strength as well as the family's home district of West Berkshire. The white chevronels symbolise peaks and mountains, said to represent the family's love of the Lake District and skiing, and the gold chevron represents Carole Middleton's maiden name of Goldsmith.[38]

The Middletons have been described by the British press as "minted" and "moneyed middle class, with a smattering of blue-blooded antecedents".[39][40]


The Middletons' first daughter, Catherine Elizabeth "Kate" Middleton, now known as HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, was born on 9 January 1982. After finishing at Marlborough, she went to study at University of St Andrews. It was here, while living at St Salvator's Hall, that she met Prince William.[41][42] After a long relationship, and a six-month engagement, she married Prince William at Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011.[27]

In December 2012, it was announced that Catherine and William were expecting their first child; Catherine gave birth to a son, Prince George of Cambridge, on 22 July 2013, who is third in line to the throne. The Duchess' second pregnancy was announced on 8 September 2014, and she gave birth to a daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, on 2 May 2015.

Their second daughter, Philippa Charlotte "Pippa" Middleton, born on 6 September 1983, attended the same schools as her sister Kate and then studied English literature at the University of Edinburgh.[43] There she shared a house with Lord Ted Innes-Ker, a son of the Duke of Roxburghe, and with Earl Percy, heir of the Duke of Northumberland.[43] Following graduation, in 2008 she took an events management / marketing job with Table Talk, a London-based events catering company.[44] She also writes for Spectator, Vanity Fair and The Party Times, an online magazine which is an off-shoot of her parents' company.[45]

James William Middleton, their youngest child and only son, was born on 15 April 1987. He was educated at St Andrew's School, Pangbourne, and Marlborough College. He started a degree in Environmental Resources Management at the University of Edinburgh before leaving in 2006 after one year to start his own cake-making business, the Cake Kit Company.[46][47] His company was later reported to have lost nearly £17,000 by April 2012.[48]

Both of Catherine's siblings played a prominent role in their sister's wedding: Pippa was the maid of honour and James read the lesson.[49][50]

Paternal ancestors[edit]


Middleton is a habitational surname originating from numerous different places in England and in southern Scotland. There are over 30 places similarly named which are derived from the Old English elements: midel + tūn (middle + enclosure, settlement); although some other places have different origins and derived from other elements, such as: micel (large, great), or *(ge)mȳthel (confluence).[51][52] Early recorded instances of the surname are: de Mideltone in 1166, within the Eynsham Cartulary;[53] de Midilton in 1221, within a charter to the Abbey of Arbroath;[54] and de Midelton in 1327, within the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex.[53]

Generations of Middleton Lawyers

Michael Middleton's family line came from Leeds in Yorkshire: his grandfather Richard Noel Middleton, great-grandfather John Middleton and great-great-grandfather William Middleton, were all solicitors in that part of England. Richard Noel was later the director of William Lupton and Sons Ltd., the wool manufacturing firm which his wife Olive, had inherited in 1921.[55][56] Michael Middleton's niece, Lucy Middleton, is also a practicing solicitor in London.[57][58]

Michael's father was commercial pilot Peter Francis Middleton (1920–2010), who had studied English at New College, Oxford University. He left Oxford in 1940 to serve as an RAF fighter pilot during World War II.[59] Middleton flew alongside Prince Philip as the Duke's co-pilot on a two-month flying tour of South America in 1962. British Pathe newsreel film shows Middleton alongside the Prince during the tour.[60][61]

Michael's mother, Valerie Glassborow (1924–2006), who would later marry Peter Middleton, worked at the Second World War Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) in Bletchley Park, along with her twin sister, Mary. The codebreaking regularly penetrated the secret communications of the Axis Powers – most importantly the German Enigma and Lorenz ciphers and is the birthplace of the world's first programmable, digital, electronic computer: Colossus.[62]


Main article: Lupton family

Peter Middleton's mother, Olive Middleton (1881–1936), was a member of the Lupton family who, according to City of Leeds archives, were "woollen manufacturers and landed gentry; a political and business dynasty". It was reported in September 2013 that Baroness von Schunck, née Kate Lupton had been invited to the coronation of King George V in 1911. [39][5][63][7] As Members of Parliament and local politicians, the Lupton family contributed to the political life of both the UK and to the civic life of Leeds, especially in the areas of education, housing, and public health, for several generations.[5] Several members were Lord Mayors of Leeds. They were prominent Unitarians, a branch of English Dissenters, and worshipped at the Mill Hill Chapel, where a stained glass window commemorates the family.[64]

Olive's father was Francis Martineau Lupton who, along with his four brothers, grew up at Beechwood, the family seat in Roundhay.[65] Two of his brothers became Lord Mayor of Leeds – Sir Charles, (founder of the law firm DLA Piper) in 1915 and Hugh in 1926. In their official roles they played host to Royalty.[61] In April 2014, it was reported that British Pathe had discovered newsreel footage from 1915 of Francis Martineau and his three brothers inspecting troops near Leeds.[66] Also discovered was footage from 1927 of a royal visit in which Mary, The Princess Royal, and her husband Lord Harewood are being greeted by the incumbent Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Leeds, Hugh and Isabella Lupton.[61][67]

Francis Martineau Lupton's mother was Frances, a pioneer of girls' education who co-founded Leeds Girls' High School. Her father was Thomas Michael Greenhow of Newcastle, where he founded the Newcastle Medical School in 1834. Her maternal family was the Martineau dynasty of Birmingham; her aunt, the sociologist Harriet Martineau being especially close to her.[68] It was reported in February 2014, that London's National Portrait Gallery, of which Catherine is patron, holds nearly 20 portraits of her ancestors; siblings Harriet and Dr James Martineau, a friend of Queen Victoria.[69]


The Rev. Thomas Davis, a Church of England hymn-writer is also Kate's paternal ancestor.[70][71][72][73]

Maternal ancestors[edit]


The paternal Goldsmith family of Carole Middleton came from London. Carole's maternal family, the Harrisons, were working-class labourers and miners from Sunderland and County Durham two generations before.[74]

Royal ancestry[edit]

According to genealogists Patrick Cracroft-Brennan and Anthony Adolph, the Middleton siblings descend, via their mother, from Elizabeth Plantagenet, King Edward IV's illegitimate daughter by Elizabeth Lucy, via Sir Thomas Blakiston Conyers, 9th Bt. of Horden, Durham.[75][76] Thus, Catherine and Prince William's closest common ancestors are Sir William Blakiston of Gibside Estate and his wife Jane Lambton, making them eleventh cousins once removed,[75][76] These findings echo Christopher Challender Child's research, published in 2011.[77] It was reported in December 2014 that the famous Blakiston-Bowes Cabinet, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, provided proof that Catherine shared ancestry with Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Catherine and the Queen Mother share a common ancestor, County Durham's Sir William Blakiston, whose great granddaughter, Elizabeth Blakiston, married into the Bowes-Lyon family who were ancestors of the Queen Mother, née Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The cabinet was made in Newcastle to celebrate the union of the two gentry families. Reports suggested that Catherine and the Queen Mother's blood cousinship was the reason why Catherine wore the Queen Mother's tiara when she wed Prince William.[78][79][80][81]

Genealogical research by William Addams Reitwiesner, also published in 2011, found that Catherine is descended from Sir Thomas Fairfax (c.1475–1520) and his wife Agnes Gascoigne, an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales, and a descendant of King Edward III, via Michael Middleton's grandmother Olive Middleton née Lupton. This ancestry makes Catherine and Prince William fourteenth cousins once removed.[82][83][84]


Arms of Family of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Arms of Michael Middleton.svg
The coat of arms was granted to Michael Middleton by the College of Arms on 19 April 2011. Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms, the senior officer of the College of Arms, helped the family with the design.[85]
19 April 2011
Per pale Azure and Gules, a chevron Or, cotised Argent, between three acorns slipped and leaved Or.[85]
The dividing line (between two colours) down the centre is a canting of the name 'Middle-ton'. The acorns (from the oak tree) are a traditional symbol of England and a feature of west Berkshire, where the family have lived for 30 years. The three acorns also denote the family's three children. The gold chevron in the centre of the arms is an allusion to Carole Middleton's maiden name of Goldsmith. The two white chevronels (narrow chevrons above and below the gold chevron) symbolise peaks and mountains, and the family's love of the Lake District and skiing.[85]

Family Tree[edit]

Television and film portrayals[edit]

William & Kate, a television movie about Catherine's romance, was released on 18 April 2011, with Catherine and William played by Camilla Luddington and Nico Evers-Swindell respectively. Other members of the Middleton family were played by: Christopher Cousins (Michael Middleton), Serena Scott Thomas (Carole Middleton), Mary Elise Hayden (Pippa Middleton), and Calvin Goldspink (James Middleton).[86] A number of television programmes were also shown in the UK before the wedding which provided deeper insights into the couple's relationship and backgrounds, including When Kate Met William[87] and Channel 4's Meet the Middletons.[88]


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  88. ^ TV review: Meet the Middletons; Help! My House is Infested; The Reckoning The Guardian, 18 April 2011

Further reading[edit]

  • Hall, Coryne (October 2013). "Well Connected". Majesty (London: Rex Publications Limited) 34 (10): 38–39. The Duchess of Cambridge may have working-class ancestors but she has distinguished ones too. 

External links[edit]