Back to England

An advantage of having the same ancestor(s) as a celebrity or well-known person(s) is other researchers will do genealogical research on that individual(s), and, therefore, do your ancestry research for you. 🙂 Therefore, this web-site author has relied heavily and almost exclusively on other genealogical researchers’ published work.

In 2000 Charles Spencer, a younger brother of Princess Diana, the people’s princess, wrote about his Spencer line in a St. Martin’s Press, New York, published book, The Spencers, A Personal History of an English Family.  His book gives us five Spencer generations that are also in Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s and John Edward’s ancestral line.  They are:

  • William Spencer, of Defford, Worcs (fl.c.1330)
  • John Spencer, of Defford & Alice, dau. of Giles Deverell
  • Nicholas Spencer, of Defford & Joan, dau. of Richard Pollard, of Kent
  • Thomas Spencer, of Defford
  • Henry Spencer, of Badby, Northants (d. 1476) & Isabel, dau. of Henry Lincoln

(Princess Diana descends from Henry’s and Isabel’s son, John, whereas Audrey Mae, Edith Anna and John Edward (“Ed”) descend from their son, Thomas.)

(From page 13 of Andrew Morton’s book Diana, Her True Story, we get the following information:  Charles, Diana younger brother, “was heir to a rapidly diminishing but still substantial fortune accumulated in the fifteenth century when the Spencers were among the wealthiest sheep traders in Europe.”       From page 32 of Tina Brown’s book The Diana Chronicles, we read about the Spencers:  “The family was older by 250 years than that Hanoverian import of the eighteenth century, King George I, whose descendants are today’s House of Windsor.  The Spencers could trace themselves back to 1469, when they were a respected clan of prospering sheep farmers in Warwickshire, already in a position to lend money to the monarchy.”)

In 1956, Albert H. Spencer printed the booklet, Genealogy of the Spencer Family, which is located in the East Greenwich Free Library’s Mary E. Rice R.I. Historical and Genealogical Collection.  Information in the booklet is copied from the “Hartford, Conn. Times” and written by B.L.B.  Handwritten additions and corrections to the book are from the family records compiled by Mrs. Ella Kettelle, Miss Violet Kettelle and Miss Grace Kettelle.   This book gives us eight Spencer generations in Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s and John Edward’s ancestral line.

  • Henry G. Spencer. Will dated 1476.  Married Isabel, daughter of Henry Lincoln (Badby, Northamptonshire, England).
  • Thomas F. Spencer of Eton Secno, England, in 1433.
  • Robert Spencer, of South Mylles, Bedfordshire, later St. Albans, England. Married Ann Peck (Peake, Peak, Peek, Pack).
  • John Spencer, South Mylles, Bedfordshire 1533 at St. Albans, later in Edworth, Bedfordshire, England.  Married Christian Baker.
  • John Spencer, Jr., of St. George Parish, Edworth, Bedfordshire, England. At Edworth June 9, 1588 married Anne Lymer or Limer and died June 16,1560.
  • Michael B. Spencer, of Edworth, and Statford Court, England.
  • Gerard Spencer, baptized May 20, 1576 at St. Mary’s Parish, Statford, Eng.  Married Alice Whitbread and they had eight children.
  • John Spencer  (son* of Michael b May 5, 1611  but one of the Kettelle researchers prints “No proof”*),  Married Susanah Griffin.

In 1990, an article in New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) “Nexus” April/May gives the ancestry of Marilyn Monroe’s father who descends from John and Susannah (née Griffin) Spencer.  This research gives us another source of information on the last three Spencer generations,Gerard, Michael and John, mentioned above.

  • Gerard Spencer (1576-c1646) m. 1600 Alice Whitbread (c1580-1646)
  • Michael Spencer (1611-1653) m. Isabel
  • John Spencer (c1638-1684) m. Susannah Griffin

Oral tradition carried by Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald (1912-2007).  Ten generations in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, USA:

  • John (died 1684) & Susannah (née Griffin) Spencer
  • John (b.1666) & Audrey (née Green) Spencer
  • William (b.1695) & Elizabeth (née Rice) Spencer
  • William (b.1723) & Mary (née Manchester) Spencer
  • John (b.1760) & Huldah (née Johnson) Spencer
  • Richard Anthony (b.1798) & Roby (née Tarbox)  Spencer
  • Richard Anthony (b.1817) & Ann (Almy Tarbox) Spencer
  • Anna Maria (pronounced Mar-eye-ah) & John (Johnson) Spencer
  • William J.B. & Mary Jane (née Vaughn) Spencer, the parents of Audrey Mae, Edith Anna & John Edward (“Ed”).

Audrey Mae’s, John Edward’s (“Ed’s”) and Edith Anna’s father is William J.B. Spencer who died in 1969.  The earliest we can trace their lineage back in time is to William Spencer in 1330

In the over six-hundred years of Audrey Mae’s, John Edward’s (“Ed’s”) and Edith Anna’s direct family line, there are eight John Spencers, four William Spencers, two Richard Anthony Spencers, two Michael Spencers and two Thomas Spencers.

Naming a child after his parent, grandparent or another ancestor was a long-established tradition.  Audrey Mae Spencer was named after her great, great, great, great, great, great, great (7 times) grandmother, Audrey (née Green) Spencer.  Edith Anna Spencer was named after her maternal grandmother, Lydia Edith Vaughn.  John Edward (“Ed”) is the seventh John Spencer in his direct line going back to 1330.

Historical sources, both primary and secondary, used in the collection of facts of the above twenty-one Spencer generations:

  • Following is a researcher’s work into Marilyn Monroe’s biological father’s line. Her alleged father, Charles Gifford, descends from the same John and Susannah (née Griffin) Spencer that Edith Anna, John Edward and Audrey Mae Spencer descend from. The following Spencer-Marilyn Monroe chart is found in the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s “Nexus” April/May 1990 publication.   This chart illustrates that Charles Gifford descends from John and Susannah’s son, Peleg.   Audrey Mae’s oral tradition has her line descending from John and Susannah’s son, John. The importance of this chart is that it gives us the names of the parents and grandparents of the first John Spencer in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. This research shows that John’s father was Michael Spencer and his mother was Isabel.  Michael Spencer’s father was Gerard Spencer and his mother was Alice Whitbread.

According to Marilyn Monroe’s ancestral line, the two generations before John (and Susannah) Spencer of East Greenwich, R.I. are John’s parents, Michael and Isabel, and John’s grandparents, Gerard and Alice.


Eleven generations of Edith Anna’s, John Edward’s (“Ed’s) and Audrey Mae’s ancestry in color and ten generations of Marilyn Monroe’s ancestry in black and white












According to the above researcher, John Spencer (c1638-1684) is the son of Michael Spencer (1611-1653) and Isabel (née        ,      -1674) Spencer.  (According to another source, Isabel’s birth name is Isabel Robbins and she was born about 1613 but “genealogy with documentation is mythology”.) Michael Spencer’s parents were Gerard Spencer (1576-c1646) and Alice Whitbread (c1580-1646).  Gerard and Alice were married in 1600. The references for this information is Flora Clark M/S “T1-02” and “M1-Part 1” NEHGS  “Nexus” April/May 1990, Vol. VII, No.2.

  • Following is another source of information about Gerard and Alice (née Whitebread) in England on page 19 of notebook. Web site does not know author of notes, except to say that E.A.B.’s (1835-1928)  work was referenced.


Page 19 “Brief outline, except No.6 which was snipped by D (sic)” The Article From Hartford Times, No. 7 in outline gives information on Gerard Spencer & Alice Whitebread, Web site author does not know the writer of notes


Page 20 of same notebook, Information on Fourth & Fifth Generations in East Greenwich. Web site author does not know the writer of notes

Why are there two different spellings for Whitbread and Whitebread?   According to an English couple that this web site author met in 2013, Whitebread is pronounced Whitbread in England.

  • An American Saga, The Alderman Family in America by Kirk Mitchell de la Torre Alderman gives us additional references to Audrey Mae’s, John Edward’s (“Ed’s”), and Edith Anna’s Spencer generations in England.  Information on web site,

Sir William and Isabell Garrard’s daughter Ann Garrard married John Spencer of South Mills, Bedfordshire, England.

Ann and John Spencer’s son, Michael, born 1532 in Edworth, Bedfordshire, England, a midland county of England, bounded by the counties of Northampton, Cambridge, Herts, and Bucks with the silver thread of the River Great Ouse that winds and loops its way across North Bedfordshire, and away from the towns, the river links a string of beautiful limestone villages in the Ouse Valley.

Some years later, he came to live in Stratford in 1576, with his wife, Elizabeth Agnes Limer (married on January 25, 1555) and their eleven children.

Garrard, the son of Michael and Elizabeth Spencer, was born at Stotfold, Bedfordshire, England, on May 20, 1576 and baptized on the same day at St. Mary’s Parish. On November 10, 1600, in Upper Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire, England, Garrard Spencer married Alice Whitbread (1578 – 1629). Alice was the daughter of John Lawrence Whitbread (1548-1598) and Eleanor Radcliffe (1550- 1628) of Upper Gravenhurst, Bedshire, England. It was from his grandfather (Sir William Garrard) that he received his name, which was provincialized to Jared in New England.”

The above web site gives us the names of John’s (this is the John Spencer who married Susannah and was a Founder and Early Settler of East Greenwich) great-grandparents. They are Michael, born 1532 in Edworth, Bedfordshire, England, etc. and Elizabeth Agnes Limer (married on January 25, 1555). On that page is another sources of John’s (Early Founder of E.G.) grandparents as Garrard and Alice (née Whitbread) Spencer. Also, John’s father is Michael, one of the sons of Garrard and Alice.

  • Another source re Gerald Spencer was from a note that web site author copied from a book on Vaughn ancestry when she was in Rhode Island decades ago.  Exact title and other information on book is not remembered.  Needless to say, this was long before the planning of this web site ancestral research work.  Audrey Mae, Edith Anna and John Edward (“Ed”) were also Vaughn descendants. See below where Gerald (sic)  was baptized same year as Gerard was born in above notations :

Notes jotted down by web site author from a published book on Vaughns in East Greenwich, Rhode Island or America.

  • McPartland’s book The History of East Greenwich, Rhode Island gives the following information:  “Among John’s possessions was a Spencer coat-of-arms which indicated that he descended from Sir Robert Spencer of Northampton, England.”  The above notes on page 19 gives the name of a Robert Spencer as an ancestor to Gerard. Was that the same Robert in the above list?  More research is needed.
  • East Greenwich Free Library houses the following booklet, Genealogy of the Spencer Family, which gives us another reference to Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s and John Edward’s (“Ed”)’s ancestors, Henry Spencer (d. 1476) and Isabel (née Lincoln) Spencer, who are also in Princess Diana’s direct line .  Three of the seven pages that web author copied are as follows :


page 1, “Genealogy of the Spencer Family”, Printed by Albert H. Spencer. 1956, Booklet in East Greenwich Library, (Edworth is the place where Michael is from).


page 2, Michael Spencer is the seventh child of Gerard & Alice Spencer and, therefore, the next generation. However, this researchers does not record Michael as next generation.


page 3 This research again mentions Michael as the son of Gerard and Alice Spencer, but does not give him the next generation label. Instead he had John, the son of Michael, as the next generation.

  • REMEMBERED SPENCERS (Michael Spencer), compiled in Feb. 14, 1988 by Karen Spencer, 9805 Woodland NE, Alb, NM 87112,  traces the first John Spencer in East Greenwich back to Michael Spencer of Lynn, Mass. 1653. Michael was the seventh son of Gerard and Alice (née Whitbred) Spencer. Michael came to America, ca.1632. He was at Cambridge, Mass.,m 1634. Considered a freeman 1637-8. He then moved to Lynn, Mass. in 1638. A copy of this thirty-one page booklet is located in the East Greenwich Free Library.


  • New message received on April 27, 2017 from a Michael Spencer on               Michael Spencer responded to this web-site author’s question “Are we related?”.   “Four Spencer brothers from Stotfold, England (William, Thomas, Michael and Gerard) plus their sister, Elizabeth, migrated to the Massachusetts colony in the early 1630’s.  Michael, Gerard and Elizabeth moved from the Boston/Cambridge area to relocate in Lynn, Mass. … Michael’s son John moved to Rhode Island and became a founder of East Greenwich in that colony as well as the patriarch of the Rhode Island clan of Spencers. … Our common ancestor is the father of the four emigrant brothers, who remained in England. His name was Gerard, … ”  (This message gives further documentation that John, the founder of East Greenwich, is the son of Michael and not the nephew of Michael as one researcher had questioned.)



  • Charles Spencer’s, the Ninth Earl Spencer’s, recently published book, “THE SPENCERS a Personal History of an English Family” begins with his (and therefore, Princess Diana’s) Spencer Family Tree.  His family tree goes back to the same generation in 1476 as that of the above REMEMBER SPENCERS (Michael Spencer) by Karen Spencer. (see above pages) Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s and John Edward’s (“Ed’s”) ancestors, Henry Spencer, of Badby, Northants (d.1476) and Isabel (née Lincoln) Spencer is, also, Princess Diana’s ancestors.  According to Charles Spencer’s family tree, and thereby Audrey’s, Edith’s and Ed’s family tree, Henry Spencer’s father is Thomas Spencer, of Defford.  Thomas Spencer’s parents are Nicholas, of Defford, and Joan (née Pollard) Spencer.  Nicholas’ parents are John, of Defford, and Alice (née Deverell) Spencer.  John’s father is William Spencer, of Defford, Worcs (fl.c 1330).

Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s and John Edward’s (“Ed’s”) descendants are indebted to the above researchers, genealogists and authors for their published work on their ancestry which is the connecting link to our ancestry in England.  Especially because Audrey Mae’s oral tradition, as well as her Spencer family written tradition, did not go back any further than the first Spencers, John and Susannah, in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Apparently, Spencer descendants were no longer interested in their English ancestry, but were very proud of their Yankee history in the “New World”. A conversation around 1950 substantiates this web site author’s conjecture.  When Audrey Mae’s father scolded one of his young granddaughters for commenting that she was English, he lectured her: “You are a Yankee! I never want to hear you say you are English again. You are a Yankee!”  Apparently she heeded his words as she said it was a decade or more before she would ever mention that again.

Why did these intelligent, educated Yankees not pass their English ancestry on to their descendants? Could the following paragraph be the reason why the Yankee ancestors were no longer interested in their English ancestry?

“Rhode Island Colonial Conditions:  In none of the American colonies was the democratic sentiment so intense as in Rhode Island, where all marks of rank and distinction were early repudiated and persistently ignored with a popular unanimity  and vigor that has imbued the descendants of Rhode Island  families with a deep seated repugnance to every form of hereditary pretension, a feeling that in some instances is carried to rediculous (sic) extremes.  …  The general indifference to the subject accounts doubtless for the inattention and neglect with which the Spencer coat of arms has been treated, which tradition says belonged to him and which are now time stained and crumbling.”  page 24, “Spencer Family History and Genealogy”, Robert C. Spencer, 1889.

The web site author laments the fact that Audrey Mae’s father is no longer alive as author would love to know why William J.B. (aka Joseph Briggs), an intelligent and well-respected leader in the community,  felt so strongly about the subject of his ancestry.  After all, he was 100% English when it came to his genetics and bloodline. He died in 1969 at the age of ninety-one; the above conversation with his granddaughter was in the 1950s. Another missed opportunity because often the young people do not realize the value of history and of story-telling until the older generation is gone.

Descendants no longer feels this animosity, especially since pretty Princess Diana, the People’s Princess, was a Spencer by birth, and Audrey Mae often said her fourth daughter looked like Diana. (Web site author laments the fact that she didn’t find proof of Audrey Mae descending from some of the same ancestors as Princess Diana until after Audrey Mae’s death in 2007.)

Also, Winston Spencer Churchill gives the Spencer descendants an additional sense of pride in their Spencer family name.  Winston’s father was Randolph Spencer Churchhill who was in this same Spencer ancestry as Princess Diana.  Winston Churchill, the prime minister in England during World War II, was instrumental in the Allied successes.  Sections of his speeches to the British Empire are still quoted today. 🙂

The English writer Anthony Burgess once said, “It’s always good to remember where you come from and celebrate it. To remember where you come from is part of where you’re going.”

Historians and Spencer descendants, if you have any additional information on the Spencer Ancestry in England, please add a comment to this to this web site and the web site editor will add this to the site.  Thanks!