Interested in the Peerage?

Some of you interested in the Vanderbilt families are also quite interested in the Peerage, i.e. English nobility.  I first became acquainted with the Peerage myself through my interest in the Vanderbilt’s.   To be more specific, as I was doing some work on Consuelo Vanderbilt and her marriage to the Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill (aka “Ninth Duke of Marlbourough”), I came across the website, which had further information on his lineage.

Well, Family Search Labs, who I believe is just doing wonderful things, has a website they launched in November called Community Trees that includes more information about “the peerage.”   The Community Trees project represents detailed work by many groups to create comprehensive lineages linked to source documentation on several major groups of communities or lineages.  I was particularly excited by this project though because of the technical infrastructure they are using for the site.

The site is developed with the very same genealogy software that I use for my own family tree and that I have been using for the Vanderbilt Family Genealogy and is called TNG: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding.  I personally credit TNG with being the reason my interest in genealogy & family history became an obsession more than just an interest.  You see, the advantage that TNG offers is the ability to share your family history data in a highly interactive, flexible, and content-rich format that I have not found to be paralleled by any other online family tree building program (IMHO).   As I became more interested in the Vanderbilt’s,  I knew TNG would be a suitable platform as I could build upon their trees and also link to any source documents as I found them and make the interactive trees available for anyone else who was interested.

Getting back to my point, one of the databases included in Community Family Trees is one for the the peerage and you can browse it here (it may take awhile to load because of the large size of the database).  As I explored it, I went to see if any Vanderbilt’s were in it and sure enough, found Consuelo and her husband.  Her ancestral lineage stops with her father though, Wililam Kissam Vanderbilt.  I imagine their approach for those marrying into the peerage has been how I treat some of my non-direct trees when a person marries in – include a parent or two and then move on.  However, there is potential here to build this up as I have been trying to do on my own site!

Check it out – my page for Consuelo and theirs.  Of course, given the initial feed of their data, there are things that could be expanded up on as I have done w/ my tree.  For example:

  • they have Conseulo’s birth date as “abt. 1875.”  She was born in 1877.  I have her 1880 census record linked to my page that shows she was 3 years old at the time.
  • they have her as deceased, but no date of death.  She died December 6, 1964 and I have linked to my page an obituary published the following day in the New York Times newspaper.
  • i’ve got pictures from newspaper articles attached to her record, including one of my favorite ones that has drawings of her and her bridesmaids
  • they don’t have her mother attached to her record, Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt.  As I’ve learned though, her mother was the reason she married the Duke in the first place; there’s a book about them (which I still have not read), called Conseulo and Alva Vanderbilt: the Story of a Daughter & Mother in the Gilded Age, that goes into details about their relationship and what happened with this marriage.

Overall though, I envision this project has such great potential! If more people collaborated to help build these sets of trees and provide sources and documentation as TNG is built to do, it would be a great boon for the genealogy & history communities.  In just a few clicks, I’m able to see the Duke’s ancestry back several generations.  Since TNG includes a PDF generator, I can even get a handy PDF file.

Take some time to explore Community Trees – you may find someone else of interest in there too.   You can read about the trees they do have on their Learn More page.


2 thoughts on “Interested in the Peerage?

  1. As a researcher on the Progressive Era and historian about Ellen Swallow Richards of MIT and Boston, I have recently become interested in the Vanderbilt History. We live near the Biltmore House in Asheville and have visited many times, However, several weeks ago during my visit, I purchased 2 books about Alva and Consuelo Vanderbilt. The Glitter and the Gold that has been mentioned in other comments is Conseuelo’s Autobiography.Her accounts of living through the beginning of the German occupation of France are quite revealing. I am now reading Alva’s Biography by Margaret Hayden Rector entitled Alva, That Vanderbilt-Belmont Woman. Already, I am finding there are obviously two sides to the story. Very captivating reading. I am now eager to purchase the one entitled Consuelo and Alva. I have visited the Newport Mansions as well as Blenheim Palace in Woodstock England, so feel quite at home with the stories these people tell. I am wondering if any of the Vanderbilt homes that were built in NY on Fifth Avenue are still in existence?


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