September 2013 #2


Word is beginning to spread in Halesworth that it can now boast a royal connection.

While working on the ancestry of the new royal baby, Prince George, genealogist, writer and broadcaster, Anthony Adolph, who has recently appeared on BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?, has unearthed the fact that the Prince’s ninth great-grandfather through his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, was a Halesworth man. Benjamin Fairfax was a draper who lived and worked in the town over 350 years ago. He was the son of a vicar of Rumburgh (another Benjamin), who was dismissed in 1662 for his nonconformist views.

Benjamin’s sister married another local minister, Bartholomew Allerton of Bramfield who had, as a child crossed to America on the Mayflower and later returned to Suffolk. His two brothers, John and Nathaniel, were also nonconformist ministers in Suffolk and they were all distant cousins of the famous Roundhead general, Thomas Fairfax, who helped overthrow King Charles I in the Civil War. The Fairfax roots ran deep in the area at the time.

It was through Benjamin’s daughter Sarah, who carried on the family tradition by marrying another nonconformist minister, Philip Meadows, that the line continued down through the generations to Catherine Middleton and now to Prince George.

Now the hunt is on to try to locate the property in which Benjamin Fairfax lived, in the hope of adding a commemorative plaque to the building if it is still standing. Halesworth and District Museum Curator, Mike Fordham, has been trawling through the town’s manorial records in the hope of making a discovery. “So far he’s proving elusive” says Mike, “even though, as a draper in a town which was thriving on the linen trade at that time, he might have been quite a significant player. But there are other archives still to pursue and there just may be someone out there who has the missing piece of the jigsaw, perhaps in an old title deed to their house, still hidden in a loft somewhere”.

Halesworth resident, Doreen Hale, who first heard the news from Mr Adolph, has been delighted by first reactions in the town. “People are stopping me and whispering ‘I hear Halesworth has royal connections. Is it true?’ Someone said to me the other day ‘It’s just the lift the town needed’”.

Chairman of the Town Council, Annette Dunning, was surprised and excited to hear of the news. “It would be nice to think that a royal visit to the ancestral home could happen sometime in the future and to give us the opportunity to show off our active rural market town”, she said.