Jernigans, Downton Abbey and King Tut

Here’s a question for you. What is the link between the Jernigan/Jernegan family, Downton Abbey, and King Tut?  Well, I’ll tell you.

As a dedicated Downton Abbey fan, I thought it would be fun to dig into the family of the Earls of Carnarvon to see if somewhere, way back, there just might be some connection to the English Jernegans.  For those of you who don’t already know, Highclere Castle, the real-life location of the fictional Downton Abbey, is the home of the Earls of Carnarvon.

At this stage, I consider this more of a fun exploration instead of an extensive research project, but from the online sources I was able to locate (and the fact that the families of English nobility are usually well documented), it does appear that the more recent Earls of Carnarvon, including the current Earl, are descended from the Jernegan family.

Highclere Castle

And what does any of this have to do with King Tut?  Again, for those of you familiar with the history, George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon (1866-1923) was the famed “Egyptologist Earl” who financed the expedition to the Valley of the Kings in which Howard Carter discovered the intact tomb of King Tutankhamun.

The 5th Earl was also the first of the Carnarvon Earls to be descended from the Jernegan family.  His descent came from his mother, Evelyn Stanhope, who married the 4th Earl, Henry Herbert, in 1861. The current Earl, George Herbert (b. 1956), is the great-grandson of the 5th Earl so he too is, or appears to be at this stage, a Jernegan descendant as well.

The Jernegan/Carnarvon connection goes back to the late fifteenth/early sixteenth century with John Jernegan of Somerleyton (d.1503) and his wife, Isobel Clifton. Their daughter Mary married Thomas Stanhope, and it was through that Stanhope line that we have the eventual marriage of Evelyn Stanhope to the 4th Earl.

While the Jernegan/Jernigan family may not have quite the history at Highclere Castle that we have at Somerleyton, perhaps this will give you a different perspective the next time you sit down to enjoy an old episode of Downton Abbey.


John Jernegan (?-1503) = Isobel Clifton
Mary Jernegan = Thomas Stanhope
Edward Stanhope (d.1511) = Avelina Clifton
Michael Stanhope (c.1507-1552) = Anna Rawson (c.1515-1588)
Thomas Stanhope (d.1596) = Margaret Port
John Stanhope (b.c.1611) = Cordell Allington
Philip Stanhope (c.1656) = Catherine Hastings (d.1636)
Arthur Stanhope (1627-1657) = Anne Salusbury
Charles Stanhope (1655-1712) = Frances Topp
Arthur Charles Stanhope (1715-1770) = Margaret Headlam
Philip Stanhope (1755-1815) = Henrietta Thynne
George Stanhope (1805-1866) = Elizabeth Weld Forester (1802-1885)
Evelyn Stanhope (1834-1875) = Henry H.M. Herbert (1831-1890)
George E.S.M. Herbert (1866-1923) = Almina Wombwell (1877-1969)
Henry Herbert (1898-1987) = Anne Tredick Wendell
Henry G.R.M. Herbert (1924-2001) = Jean Wallop (b.1935)
George Herbert (b.1956, current Earl of Carnarvon)

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