8th Earl of Carnarvon
Owner, Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey)
Who is George Hebert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon?
George Herbert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon (aka Lord Porchester) is the current owner of Highclere Castle which you may know as television's Downton Abbey. As one might expect, the Earl's ancestry is filled with British royalty with lines back to Alfred the Great, Charlemagne and a number of Magna Carta sureties. However, his ancestry also includes some surprising and less famous ancestors who are no less interesting.
The Mummy's Curse
The Earl's great-grandfather George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon. He was the principle financial backer of Howard Carter's Egyptian excavations including that of King Tut's tomb. He was said to have been one of the victims of "The Mummy's Curse." Daily Mail correspondent Arthur Weigall reported that he watched Lord Carnarvon enter King Tut's tomb joking and laughing and turned to the Daily Express correspondent H. V. Morton and said, "I give him six weeks to live." Six weeks later, the Earl died in Cairo. After the Earl's death, his wife Almina continued to finance the excavation.
The Tower of London
The Earl's ancestry through his American mother, Jean Wallop, leads to a surprising connection to the execution of King Charles I. She was the daughter of a Wyoming rancher who himself was the son of the 8th Earl of Portsmouth, Oliver Wallop. It is through Lord Wallop that a descent from Robert Wallop can be traced. Robert opposed King Charles I during the English Civil War and was one of the judges at the King's trial. At the Restoration, he was sentenced to life in prison and upon each anniversary of the King's execution to be "drawn upon a sledge to and under the gallows of Tyburn with a halter around his neck." He died at the Tower of London in 1667.
Another of the Earl's ancestors through his mother is his 3rd great-grandfather Charles S. Morehead. Charles was the 20th Governor of Kentucky and the grandson of Mrs. Kerenhappuch Turner, the Revolutionary War heroine of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. The Earl can also claim kinship with at least three more Governors of KY and NC through the Morehead family.
The Mayflower, 1620
A couple of surprising connections were the Earl's descents from two Mayflower passengers, Richard Warren and Isaac Allerton. These descents are also featured in Gary Boyd Roberts's book The Mayflower 500 released in 2020. There's probably not too many in the British peerage who can claim such descents. Even in the U.S., only about 1 in 10 can.
Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey)
Finally there is the Earl's great-grandmother Almina (Wombwell) Herbert, wife of the 5th Earl mentioned above. She is the real-life Countess who turned Highclere Castle into a WWI convalescent home for the wounded. She was an illegitimate daughter of the banker and philanthropist Alfred Rothschild. He gave Almina a huge dowry upon her marriage to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon which was used to pay the Earl's huge debts and maintain the castle. Sound familiar Downton Abbey fans?
Please note: The ancestor reports on this website have been compiled from thousands of different sources, many over 100 years old. These sources are attached to each ancestor so that you can personally judge their reliability. As with any good genealogical research, if you discover a link to your own family tree, consider it a starting point for further research. It is always preferable to locate primary records where possible. FamousKin.com cannot and does not guarantee the accuracy and reliability of these sources.