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Kate Middleton - a Unitarian "Who Do You Think You Are"

Harriet Martineau

Kate Middleton comes from a long line of Unitarians and English Dissent with family connections to James Martineau, the theologian and hymn writer, described as "the greatest leader of the Unitarians in Victorian England" by J. B. Schneewind, and his sister, Harriet Martineau, the journalist and campaigner for women's rights. Harriet Martineau is described as one of the leading thinkers of the 19th century and "a woman of immense strength of character".


Kate's father's roots lie in Leeds and her great grandparents Richard Noel Middleton and Olive Christiana Lupton were married in 1914 at Mill Hill Unitarian Chapel. Her parents and both sets of grandparents, however, were married in the Anglican tradition.


Olive's father, Francis Martineau Lupton was a former member of Leeds City Council and a member of a prominent Unitarian family who played a large part in the life of Leeds . His wife, Hariet Albina Davis, died young as did three of his sons tragically in the First World War. His three brothers also rose to prominence in the City; two becoming Lord Mayor. Francis M. was a Liberal Unionist and was the first chairman of Leeds Unhealthy Areas Committee which was responsible for major slum clearance.


Their father Francis Lupton ran a textile business, and was one of the founders of Yorkshire College (later the University of Leeds ). Their mother was Frances Elizabeth Greenhow, who like her aunt Harriet Martineau and uncle James Martineau, has the distinction of an Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) entry. They were married at Hanover Square Chapel, Newcastle-upon-Tyne .


James Martineau

Frances was a pioneer for education for women. She was honorary secretary of the Yorkshire Ladies Council for Education for fourteen years and was a powerful drivng force of the organisation. She was also active in the Leeds Ladies Educational Association with both organisations facilitating the taking of university examinations by girls. When entrenched local charitable interests would not support girls' educaton she was part of a committee which raised funds through a joint stock company to establish Leeds Girls High School in 1876. She also helped establish a school of cookery to teach local women the value of nutrition which expanded and led to the formation of the Yorkshire School of Cookery for "instructresses", which later became part of a teacher training college.


The parents of Frances were Thomas Michael Greenhow, a surgeon and sanitary reformer and the founder of the Newcastle School of Medicine and Surgery, and Elizabeth Martineau, sister of James and Harriet. Harriet and Elizabeth's parents, Thomas and Elizabeth Martineau, were Unitarians from Norwich and held progressive views on the education of girls. Thomas was a textile manufacturer who had been baptized at the Octagon Chapel in Norwich .


Thomas's great-grandfather, Gaston Martineau was a French Huguenot, born in Bergerac, Dordogne who fled the country in 1685 as a result of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had guaranteed freedom for French Protestants. He was a surgeon as were his son and grandson. Through the Martineau connection three of Kate Middleton's ancestors were amongst those Anglican clergymen ejected from their living following the 1662 Act of Uniformity; Benjamin Fairfax (Rumburgh)), Henry Finch (Walton-on-the-Hill, Lancashire), and John Meadows (Ousden).


Kate Middleton's roots run deep in the branch of dissent which evolved into modern Unitarianism. Her ancestors were leaders of their local communities and committed to the public good, particularly in education. In this they are representative of many Unitarians of that era and this continues today amongst Unitarian communities with their concern for social justice.


Note: Information on the ancestry of Kate Middleton has been compiled by William Addams Reitwiesner and Michael J. Wood ( www.wargs.com/royal/kate.html ).


The family tree (below) is drawn from their investigations.


For more information please see: www.martineausociety.co.uk

Middleton Tree

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