The Mystery behind Eliza Kewark and her Linkage to India

London: Eliza Kewark is one name that links British Royal Family and India. Researchers have discovered that  Eliza Kewark was great grandmother of Prince William and Prince Harry.

Prince William

British Prince William

The DNA analysis of saliva samples taken from the Duke of Cambridge’s (Prince WIlliam) relatives have established a direct lineage between the 30-year-old prince and Eliza Kewark.

Eliza Kewark was housekeeper to Prince William’s great grandfather Theodore Forbes (1788-1820), a Scottish merchant who worked for the East India Company in the port town of Surat in Gujarat.

Researchers have discovered letters from Eliza to Forbes pleading for her to be allowed to see him. When Forbes died on a ship back to Britain in 1820 his  referred to Eliza as his “housekeeper” and the mother of his “reputed natural daughter” Katherine.

In 1812, Kewark gave birth to Prince Williams’s great grandmother, Katharine Scott Forbes.

Eliza, who lived conjugally with Theodore Forbes, had two children — daughter Katharine Scott Forbes and son Alexander Scott Forbes.

When Katharine was eight years old and Alexander six, they accompanied Theodore on a ship bound for Britain, but he died on board and was buried at sea. His two children were sent to his family in Aberdeenshire. Katharine stayed on with her relatives, but her brother was sent home to Surat soon after his arrival due to his increasing home sickness.

The Scottish relatives made Eliza Kewark, his great grandmother out to be an Armenian, as interracial marriages were a taboo at the time, and the Indian connection was lost in family gossip with time.

Scottish-based company BritainsDNA carried out tests on DNA supplied by two of Eliza’s living direct descendants, who are both third cousins of Princess Diana’s mother, Frances Shand Kydd.

The tests revealed that William  and Harry carry Kewark’€™s mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Eliza’s mtDNA was passed on by her daughters and granddaughters directly in an unbroken line to Princess Diana and then on to Prince William and Prince Harry.

It has been confirmed that mtDNA of Eliza Kewark of Surat was of Indian heritage. The specific mitochondrial DNA R30b is rare even in India, where only 0.3 per cent of people carry this lineage.

Jim Wilson, a genetics expert at the University of Edinburgh and BritainsDNA who carried out the tests, said that Eliza’s descendants had an incredibly rare type of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), inherited only from a mother. It has so far been recorded in only 14 other people, 13 Indian and one Nepalese.