13    Mar 201413 comments

Our Stories: Connecting with royalty

MyHeritage members often share the stories of their own research - but Michael Hewitt of the UK tells the story of the work he is doing for a friend on the LYON family.

Mike, 79, lives in Burtonwood, Warrington, UK. Now retired as a lecturer in computers and with the disabled, he received an Honours B.Ed from Manchester Metropolitan University. He has four adult children from his first marriage and three step-children from his second marriage.

He was born in Holland before WWII to English parents from Hull. Following the war, he moved to Belgium until 1952, when he joined the Welsh Guards and attended Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. He lived in the US for eight years and returned to the UK in 1964.

Mike became interested in family history when he traced his mother’s side to 1500 and discovered some 900 ancestors. On his father’s side, he found only 1,770 people because his great-great-grandfather had been sent to Tasmania as a convict in 1837 and was killed there. Along the way, other people have asked him for help on their family trees.

Sylvia Lyon, a family friend, asked Mike to help research her mother’s family, who had lived in Cornwall around 1500.

Then I took on her father’s Lyon family to find that she was related to the Queen. The Queen’s mother is Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who married King George VI.

Mike has traced the Lyon family to 1066 with some difficulty, although the family claims descent from Rome in the year 590. He has not pursued this claim.

The Lyon family in UK at the turn of the 20th century - 9 Lyon children

The family served all the Scottish kings in high office from Robert the Bruce until James VI who became James I of England. The family home - Glamis Castle in Scotland - is still a working castle. Since 1387, the Earls of Strathmore have lived there.

Aerial view of the Lyon home since 1376 - Glamis Castle, Scotland

In the 1600s, many Lyons family members migrated to America and Mike has traced over 12,000 members of them. There are some 1 million members of the Lyon family alive today – not all directly related to the Royal family.

After Mike joined MyHeritage in 2009, bringing his GEDCOM with him from another service, he was called by a MyHeritage representative:

When I joined MyHeritage I was flooded with people wanting to verify family members. I was surprised to get a call from a MyHeritage representitive who pointed out the benefits of the site for promoting my book which will hopefully be published in March or April. There is so much to learn about your site.

MyHeritage has helped Mike improve his own family relations by encouraging them to take part in the research for the Hewitt, Frieman, Dowe, Twort and other families. There are 888 people in the Hewitt tree, but there are many branches. The Lyon tree has 10,404 currently but it is always changing; they live in the UK (Yorkshire, Lancashire) and in the US (California, Colorado and Florida).

He says he is flooded with SmartMatches. Most of the matches are from the UK and US, with some from Australia.

Several times he has found unknown or long-lost relatives through MyHeritage SmartMatches. He even found a mother for a relative who had never known her.

When asked to share a story from his research, Mike says there are almost too many to name. Among them, he has been able to reconstruct an early Lyon family tree from 1066, and found interesting ties with the Knights Templar and medieval history.

Mike shares his tips with those just starting out on their ancestral journey:

  • Make sure that you have as many details of your family while they are alive. You will need all the details you can get before the 1911 UK census to lay a foundation.
  • I once spent three months tracing my grandfather, Charles Hewitt, whom I knew as a child until I discovered that his name was Frederick Charles Hewitt – my middle name! Things like this can cause wasted time and effort.
  • Do not jump to conclusions. Make sure to check everything you can with other family members.

Did you enjoy Mike’s story? Share your comments below.

Search for your ancestors:

Comments (13) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Yes. I have some Lyons connections but they are in Northampton.
  2. Great story - thanks for sharing Michael! I agree with your suggestions too. Talk to your family now and learn all you can. Love the photo of the Lyon family!
  3. Fascinating!!!! story Michael.
  4. Glenn please tell me more about the Northampton connection - have traced Richard Lyon from 1066 to Warkworth and Banbury and other Northants. villages - they are all in the book which is going to print in 2 weeks. See www.thelyonfamily.org.uk for more details.
    Mike
  5. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story and guess what my project is next!!! Have seen Lyon come down to my Whakapapa as my g-g grandparents come to NZ from Cornwall.
  6. Loved reading your story Michael, I too am related to Queen Elizabeth the 2nd on my great great grandmothers side.
  7. Great story and good work....there are Lyon in Canada too.
  8. I am related to all Royalty due to Links to the Barons of Hilton and links that go back to William the Conqueror and possibly further back than that too. Family Finder DNA test has confirmed this too.
  9. Hi Mike, I have researched the family of the Scottish Kings right back to Adam & Eve & also the lines of King Charles the 2nd who I thought was in my family tree at one stage, turns out the line was a different Gillham. The list is a big one but if you like I will compile the names & email them to you. It is fascinating. regards Liz Rickards [nee Mewett].
  10. our family are in Australia,my grandmothers maiden name was bowls-lyon
  11. Hi Mike, I guess many have royal blood in their veins, and my family have carried that knowledge for many hundreds of years as they made claims to the Lovat Fraser lineage, which are inter married to the Lyon family via Violetta, younger sister of John Lyon, 3rd Lord Glamis. However until DNA is done to provide the truth, it is supposition to assume, as all records were destroyed in late 1700s, in case they fell into the wrong hands in Ireland, around the troubled times.
  12. My mother's maiden name is Lyons. I've never been able to trace back to where her family came over the the states from but I found this article very interesting.
  13. Interesting stuff. I've traced my Banks family back to
    Benjamin Banks, who married and Elizabeth Lyon, daughter of Richard, who seemed mostly around the New York, Ct. area.
    Found the websight interesting with a lot of names I've marked as tentative ancesters that were familiar.

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