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Tyne & Wear Roots of Royal Girlfriend

by Fiona Thompson, Sunderland Echo

She may become our next Queen - but Kate Middleton can trace her family's roots right back to the coalfields of Wearside.
Prince William's girlfriend has been educated at public schools and led a luxury life as the daughter of successful business owners.

Now historians have discovered that her ancestry can be traced back to the pitmen who mined the coal seams of Hetton, then in County Durham and now part of Wearside.

Her great-great-great-great grandfather James Harrison was born in 1794 and in 1821 he and wife Jane moved from Byker in Newcastle to Low Moorsley when the shaft of Hetton Lyons was sunk.

They lived in a two-up two-down miner’s cottage on the main street, with James working in a pit where conditions were appalling and wages low.

His son John, born in 1834, also went on to work at the colliery and married a girl called Jane Liddell from Sherburn Hill. The couple had 10 children.

Her relations moved around Hetton, living in homes on Nicholas Street, Downs Lane, Downs New Houses and Lyon Street and would have drunk in some of the 30 pubs opened in a village where just 1,000 people lived.

They could have also been involved in the riots against the owners and authorities who took little interest in the safety of the workforce, and faced a cholera epidemic, pit disasters and poverty.

The family’s break from the toil and danger of life down the pit finally came when Kate’s great-grandfather Thomas, born in 1904, became an apprentice to his maternal grandfather as a carpenter.

He met his wife-to-be Elizabeth Temple in Durham and the couple moved to Sunderland before settling in Ealing, West London, where they had a daughter, Dorothy.

It was her daughter Carole who married trainee pilot Michael Middleton and went on to have three children - including 24-year-old Kate.

There is now increasing speculation that she will marry Prince William, a fellow graduate of the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and become his Queen when he succeeds to the throne.

Councillor Anne Rankin, of Hetton Town Council, has studied genealogy and believes people of the town will be fascinated to find out if they are related to the same family.

She said: "I think it’s brilliant.

"It might get people more interested in their own history to see if they are related."

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