While I was in Florida, Rachel Hauke asked me about the relationship of my heroine, Marsali, and her cousin, Rose, who (for my purposes) is the daughter of the 4th Duke of Argyll. Except in the story he’s not the 4th Duke of Argyll yet; we’re still on the 3rd Duke. Specifically, Rachel wanted to know if Marsali is the niece of a duke, wouldn’t she have a title of her own? (If you’re wondering, the answer is no. Her father was the 4th Duke’s younger brother. Younger sons of a duke get an honorary title, but it doesn’t pass to their children.)
Apparently, part of the processing of information filtered down to that conversation because the specifics of the relationships have been bugging me for a couple of days. I finally sat down and waded through it in great detail this morning because my memory of the research I did last year only confused me. I had to draw out a family tree to find the problem. In a nutshell, the 1st Duke of Argyll had two sons. His older son, John, became the 2nd Duke. John had no sons, so his younger brother, Archibald, became the 3rd Duke. Archibald (the current duke in my story) also died with no legitimate sons (he may have had one with his mistress). The title passed to his cousin, John, who was the grandson of the 1st Duke through the 1st Duke’s second son. Confused yet?
I had to take it out that far because the future 5th Duke was in the army and fought at Culloden, which is where the story starts. It doesn’t help that the first five dukes were named Archibald or John. The part that confused me the most was that the 4th Duke’s father was also named John. I knew the title passed from John to Archibald to John; I just had the wrong one in my head.
By the way, for story purposes, Rose is the daughter of the 4th Duke and the sister of the 5th Duke. She is a fictional character, but according to my research, John the 4th’s first two children are identified as Unknown Campbell. I exploited that and plugged Rose into Unknown #2. Marsali, on the other hand, is the fictional only child of William Campbell, the 4th Duke’s younger brother.
I did this research here, and because it is sort of convoluted, I started with the 1st Duke rather than his parents. This allows you to see the first 4 dukes in order. Now mind you, this is the genealogical research for one main character and one secondary character. My hero, Peter, is a younger son of an Earl. I may have to figure out which earl, but I may be able to skip that and be vague. I’ll have to see how the story goes, but I have a feeling that Peter is going to demand his lineage, too. In retrospect, it might have been easier to do all of this and get it nailed down when I did my initial research last summer, but I didn’t know the characters would be so stubborn about their heritage. I should have known, I guess. I am dealing with English peerage, even if they are fictional.
All of this leads me to wonder: are Historical writers more prone to alcoholism than contemporary writers? Or other artists, for that matter?