Was Richard Cromwell married to the grand-daughter of a Jerseyman?

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Richard Cromwell, son and successor of Protector Oliver
Dorothy Maijor (Mauger?) from an etching in the National Portrait Gallery

Mike Bisson embarks on a genealogical detective story

Was Richard Cromwell, the son and successor of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, married to a descendant of the Mauger family of Jersey?

Leslie Sinel’s Jersey through the Centuries, published in 1984, refers to Richard Cromwell’s wife as “Dorothy Mauger, the grand-daughter of a Jerseyman”. This reference does not appear in A Chronology of Jersey, by Ralph Mollet, on which Sinel’s work is based.

Major, Maijor or Mauger?

Most references show Richard Cromwell’s wife as Dorothy Maijor (or Dorothea Major) (1627-1676), described in Wikipedia as the daughter of a Hampshire gentleman and landowner. Dorothy Major is shown in several genealogical charts as the daughter of Richard Major (1610-1644) and Jane Ironmonger. Richard Major was in turn the son of another Richard Major (or Maijor) (1580- ) and Anne Kingswell. This Richard is shown as the son of John Maijor (1560- ), son of another John Maijor (1540- ). There are also other charts which show the line going back to Bonaventure Maijor and two more John Maijors.

Although Major, Maijor and Mauger are all pronounced the same, there is no indication in these genealogical charts of any connection with Jersey. A search in the main family history databases for a Richard Mauger born in 1610 or 1580 draws a blank – indeed, although the Mauger surname goes back to the 13th century in Jersey, there is no sign of any Richards until the 17th.

It is presumed that Sinel’s reference to Dorothy ‘Mauger’ having a Jersey grandfather was meant to be to the paternal line, and there is certainly no indication that Jane Ironmonger’s father was from the island.

American research

Further investigation, however, suggests that there was a link to the Jersey Maugers, but much further back than suggested by Sinel. American Joseph Major posted this reference to a genealogy group website in 1998:

"Professor Russell Major of Emory University, Georgia, has published a book on the history of the Major family. There have been substantial losses in the records of Hampshire (Richard Major's birthplace) but he thinks it most likely that Richard Major's father was named George Major. John Maijor, the ancestor of Richard Cromwell's wife Dorothy Maijor, had a family tree drawn up showing the descendants of his great-grandfather John Major né Jean Mauger, emigrant from the Channel Islands, which lists two George Majors but none of their children."

George and Jean were certainly very common names in the Mauger families in Jersey, so it is possible that Richard Cromwell's wife Dorothy was, indeed, a descendant of the Jersey Maugers, although the link appears to have been a few generations before her grandfather.

Payne's Armorial

But wait a minute! If there was one genealogist who loved to make connections between Jersey families and noble, notable or notorious Englishment it was J Bertrand Payne whose Armorial of Jersey included many family trees showing the descendants of emigrants from Jersey to England. What, if anything, does Payne have to say about the Maugers?

The answer is 'quite a lot'. He confirms the ancestry of Dorothy Maijor shown in on-line genealogical charts, and not that proposed by Professor Russell Major, although the connection to Jersey seems to have been at about the same time.

Payne shows two unconnected trees for the Maugers of Handois. One is Descendants of George Mauger of Handois which is already included among Jerripedia's family trees. The second is as follows:

  • 1 John (Jean) Major (Mauger) formerly of Handway (Handois) Jersey, a descendant of Sir Marcus Major (sic)
    • 2 John Major
      • 3 Bonaventure Major
        • 4 John Major, Alderman of Hampton
          • 5 John Maijor, Mayor and Alderman of Hampton m Anne Serle, d of John of the Isle of Wight
            • 6 Richard Maijor m Anne Kingswell, d of John of the Isle of Wight
              • 7 Dorothy Maijor (1627- ) m Richard Cromwell, s of Oliver
            • 6 Jane Major m 1, John Barton; 2, Nicholas Pescod
            • 6 Katherine Major m Thomas Wolfreys
            • 6 Anne Major m William Woolgar
            • 6 Dorothy Major m William Lacington
          • 5 Robert Major m Mary Peter
            • 6 John Major
              • 7 Anthony Major
                • 8 John Major m Charity
            • 6 Robert Major
            • 6 Samuel Major
            • 6 Anne Major
          • 5 Katherine Major
          • 5 Alice Major
          • 5 Joane Major

The main difference between this tree and the online data today is that it shows Dorothy Maijor's father as Richard, married to Anne Kingswell, whereas recently compiled trees show this Richard as her grandfather, with her father another Richard, married to Jane Ironmonger. However, the year of birth given for this Richard, 1610, makes it unlikely that he was Dorothy's father. The information from American sources adds to the confusion, showing Richard Major (1615- ) and Jane Ironmonger emigrating to Virginia, USA. If this birth date is correct, he would clearly have been too young to be Dorothy's father, so perhaps he is a red herring in the story and J Bertrand Payne's version of events is correct.

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