If Ross Harman’s colleagues don’t already treat him like royalty, maybe they should.
DEUTZ Australia’s unassuming BD Manager – Engines is related to two Kings of England. Not only that, he boasts blood ties to Australian cricket royalty in Sir Donald Bradman, and movie stars Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, and Johnny Depp.
Ross has spent more than 25 years tracing his family tree, which has revealed an array of fascinating ancestors. As well as the regal links, Ross is a descendant of a man widely known as the father of Canberra, John Gale.
Gale (1831-1929) founded what became Queanbeyan’s first newspaper, the Queanbeyan Age, in 1860. He established several other papers and in 1894 became editor of the Queanbeyan Observer.
Gale also served in the NSW Parliament and was instrumental in arguing that Canberra would make a better national capital than Dalgety, which was also considered.
“He put forward a very extensive argument giving the benefits of Canberra over Dalgety,” Ross says.
Edward I was the son of Henry III and King of England from 1272–1307, during a period of rising national consciousness. Edward’s son, Edward II, was King from 1307 to 1327.
Those links are via Ross’s mother’s family. He has been unable to reach further back than 1740 on his father’s side, as relatives may have moved from counties to Hampshire, making records hard to find.
Sir Donald Bradman is Ross’s eleventh cousin, three times removed. But, sadly, it didn’t bestow cricketing prowess on his distant relative. “I love cricket, but I was not as good as my cousin,” Ross says.
Ross uses a range of sources to trace his family tree, including birth, death and marriage records, and websites such as ancestry.com.au, familysearch.org and myheritage.com.
He discovered the movie star connections through the connection through the BYU Family History Library, which is normally open to the public but has temporarily restricted access due to COVID-19.
DNA testing has also opened a whole new world for those researching family histories. Various companies offer testing that can confirm whether people are related based on DNA samples.
Ross has used various sources to help others trace their roots, which he says can be very satisfying – but may also reveal some surprises and uncover long-held family secrets.
When his children have married, Ross has presented them and their partners with carefully researched family histories.
“There are so many skeletons,” he says, adding that most are innocuous by today’s standards, such as children born out of wedlock. “Everyone’s got them and there’s nothing to be afraid of.”