Skip to content
  • Start your family tree
  1. Blog Home
  2. Discoveries
The Crown season 5 actors

Family trees of The Crown actors reveal secrets and surprises

Ellie Ayton, author at Findmypast
Ellie Ayton
7 November 2022

Political scandals, strong-willed characters and a story that transcends nations. You’d be forgiven for thinking we’re talking about the events of The Crown, but in reality, we mean the stories contained within the family trees of those who star in the hit Netflix series.

The latest season of The Crown on Netflix continues the fictional dramatization of the life of late Queen Elizabeth II and the events that shaped her reign. And this time, we’re heading into the ‘90s. The is show set to cover the Windsor Castle fire of 1992 and the divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Discover drama and scandal in your family tree with two weeks free

The star-studded cast of The Crown season five includes Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II, Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret, Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana, Dominic West as Prince Charles, Jonny Lee Miller as John Major, Bertie Carvel as Tony Blair, and Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker-Bowles. They take over the roles from the likes of Claire Foy, Olivia Coleman, Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies, who played the lead roles in the earlier seasons.

Believe it or not, Imelda Staunton is married to Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter, and their daughter is Bessie Carter of Bridgerton fame. Perhaps the acting genes run in the family.

We took to our family history records to uncover connections and stories for some of the other cast members, from a strong-willed miner to an outspoken journalist and a James Bond actor. Read on to see what we found.

Jonathan Pryce

Born in Flintshire in 1947, veteran actor Sir Jonathan Pryce has a whole host of acting credits to his name, from Game of Thrones to Tomorrow Never Dies and Pirates of the Caribbean. His family is predominantly Welsh, and his roots speak of strong characters in the face of adversity.

Young Jonathan Pryce

A young Jonathan Pryce spotted in the Illustrated London News, May 1, 1985.

His great-grandfather, Elias Leighton, was at the center of a high-profile court case in 1872. His employer, Mr Ormiston of the Flint Marsh Colliery Company, withheld his wages. Elias refused to take this lying down, and sued the company.

Jonathan Pryce's great-grandfather in the newspapers

Mr Ormiston appeared at the Flint Petty Sessions to answer the charges. According to the report, Elias and other employees had arrived at work, but found the conditions to be too dangerous and the ventilation poor. Nothing was done to improve this, and they refused to work. Elias and another, James Gore, were dismissed without notice.

Elias wasn’t the only one in Jonathan’s family tree to strive for something better. In 1946, Jonathan’s father, Isaac Price, wrote a letter to a local newspaper, stating his intentions to run as a candidate in the local elections.

Jonathan Pryce's grandfather in the newspapers

Flintshire County Herald, March 29, 1946.

Isaac and his wife Margaret ran Sycamore Stores in Holywell. They appear many times together in the newspapers attending local events. In his own words, Isaac says he will ‘endeavor to serve all alike irrespective of any political party'. This was just a year before Jonathan’s birth.

Dominic West

Actor Dominic Gerald Francis Eagleton West is of Irish descent and was born in Yorkshire. His paternal grandmother was Winifred F Eagleton, who was born in Missouri to Irish-emigrant parents. We’ve been able to trace her migration story through our extensive genealogy records.

She appears on the 1910 US Census with her Irish-born parents, Thomas F Eagleton (1860) and Mary (1862). They immigrated in 1879 and 1885 respectively. Winifred and her brother Mark were both born in Missouri.

Dominic West’s grandmother on the 1910 US Census.

Dominic West’s grandmother on the 1910 US Census. See the full record here.

Her parents had left Ireland for the United States, and later, Winifred began to make her own journey. She filled out a passport application in 1921, not long after she appeared on the 1920 US Census with her brother. According to the application, she planned to travel for around a year, visiting Britain, France, Belgium and Holland.

Dominic West's grandmother's passport application from 1921

Part of Winifred’s passport application, which features her signature. View the full record here.

Though she did return to the US aboard the Carmania in the same year from Southampton, she must have later returned to Britain. She married Dominic’s grandfather Harold Ernest George West in Manchester in 1924. Harold was the director of a chemical company and was no stranger to travel himself. We found him heading to Seattle in 1921 (aboard the Empress of Asia), and to New York in 1928, 1945 and 1947. 

Jonny Lee Miller

Acting clearly runs in the genes for Jonny Lee Miller. He’s the grandson of Bernard Lee, who starred as M in 11 of the earlier James Bond films. Bernard Lee’s origins have always been a bit of a mystery. Until now.

Bernard Lee with Diana Churchill in The Desperate Hours

Bernard Lee with Diana Churchill in The Desperate Hours, pictured in The Sphere, April 30, 1955.

Some say John Bernard Lee was born in London, others say in County Cork, Ireland. The release of the 1921 Census of England and Wales, exclusively online at Findmypast, cracked this case.

Jonny Lee Miller’s grandfather, Bernard Lee, in the 1921 Census.

Jonny Lee Miller’s grandfather, Bernard Lee, in the 1921 Census. View the full record here.

The record shows John Bernard Lee, born in Brentford, living with his brother Edmund, their mother Nellie, and their stepfather, Welshman Edward Owen Jones in West Derby, Liverpool.

At some point between the 1911 and 1921 censuses, Jonny’s great-grandfather, Charles Edmund Lee, died. We know this because the family appears on the 1911 Census, but Nellie has remarried by 1921.

Charles Edmund Lee was also an actor, and was born in Armagh in 1864 - key details gleaned from the 1911 Census. We believe Charles died in 1917, spotting his will from that year.

Thanks to the 1921 Census, Jonny can now trace his ancestry back further than ever before. There’s no end to the secrets and surprises waiting to be unlocked, especially now that the 1921 Census is included in our Premium subscription.

Bertie Carvel

A connection to politics runs strong for the actor playing Labour prime minister Tony Blair. Bertie Carvel’s great-grandfather was John Lees Carvel, a parliamentary journalist for The Star. He served in the Royal Navy Air Force as a lieutenant during the First World War.

John Lees Carvel’s RAF record from 1918.

John Lees Carvel’s RAF record from 1918. See the full record here.

In 1947, he published remarks made to him by the Labour Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, about the upcoming budget. The prime minister at the time was Clement Attlee.

Report of the leaked Hugh Dalton's leaked Budget in 1947.

Hugh Dalton’s Budget was leaked after he shared his plans with John Lees Carvel, and the story made the headlines, like this one in the Derby Daily Telegraph, December 18, 1947.

The news made the evening papers. The stock market was still open, and it caused economic chaos. As a result of the leak, Dalton quickly resigned.

Ready to uncover secrets, surprises, and scandals in your own family tree? Start your journey with Findmypast, and don't forget to share your discoveries with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Image credits:

Jonathan Pryce, Georges Biard, Wikimedia Commons

Jonny Lee Miller, Genevieve719 on Flickr, Wikimedia Commons

Lesley Manville, Mark Kari, Wikimedia Commons

Dominic West, Ian Smith, Wikimedia Commons