Our Story.

History of the Ligon Family
By: The Rev. Dr. Albert Clinton Walling II
Abridged by: Kelly Anne Ligon Fisher

The Ligons in England

The Lygons and Beauchamps came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 ACE. Shortly thereafter, they married into the de Bracy family, becoming the lords of Madresfield Court. From then on, they have enjoyed a place of respect and standing in English society and in the eyes of the Crown. In St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle there are many Lygon and Beauchamp names on the walls. These are the names of those who have received England’s highest honor: Knights of the Garter.

The Lygons, with very few exceptions, have been unusually devoted to the crown, being loyal servants, close friends, and relatives of all of the royal houses from William the Conqueror to present day. The family has produced many Lord Stewards of the Royal Household; Ladies-in-waiting to the Queen and Gentlemen of the Household; and Prime Ministers from generation to generation. In fact, every king and queen of England since King Henry VII has been a direct descendant of the Beauchamp family, as King Henry’s maternal grandmother was Lady Margaret Beauchamp.

Some years ago, one of the world’s most eminent genealogists, Gary Boyd Roberts, made a study of the late Princess Diana, Princess of Wales and mother of HRH Prince William and HRH Prince Harry. The late Princess Diana had three lines of direct descent from Sir William Lygon and his wife, Lady Eleanor Dennis, both of whom are our direct ancestors from the 16th century. The Lygons and Beauchamps will appear as direct ancestors of the current royal household in three direct lines. The strong links between our family and the royal family is a proud and precious heritage and many members of the royal family have been guests of their Lygon cousins through the years.

On two notable occasions Madresfield Court, nestled in the Malvern Hills just two miles from the spa town of Great Malvern, has played a key role in the preservation of the United Kingdom and of the royal family.
The first was in the reign of King George III, when there was fear of a Napoleonic invasion of England with a threat to king and kingdom; the royal family called on their Lygon cousins to provide them with a safe place of refuge in the event of a French invasion of England. Madresfield Court, with its medieval moat, was officially designated a Royal Refuge. Thankfully the danger passed before the Royal Refuge was needed.

The second time was much more recent, during World War II. The Nazis were heavily bombing England and London, and the royal family was living under the threat of invasion. Once again, Madresfield Court was chosen as Royal Refuge for the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

The historic Madresfield Court is a visible symbol of the constancy of the Lygon family. The original structure was built in the early 12th century and the house has grown with the needs of its owners over the nine centuries since then. Madresfield has never been sold or bought during its long history, instead holding the distinction of being one of very few family homes to be owned and inhabited by the same family for nearly a millennia.

We as modern members of the Ligon/Lygon family can take pride in our heritage, especially as it relates to the royal family and the nation of our ancestral home. What a privileged heritage we have! It’s great to be a Ligon (or Lygon)!

The Ligons in America

Sir William Berkeley of Berkeley Castle, grandson of Lady Margaret Lygon of Madresfield, came to America in 1641 to serve as Royal Governor of the Colony of Virginia at the King’s appointment. Governor Berkeley invited his second cousin, Colonel Thomas Lygon of Madresfield, to accompany him to Virginia. Gov. Berkeley appointed Col. Lygon to some of the highest positions in the Virginia colony.

Col. Thomas Lygon married Mary Harris, daughter of Captain Thomas Harris, and they became the direct ancestors of the American branch of the Lygon family and began using the Ligon spelling. The American Ligons and their Berkeley cousins were highly influential in the formation of the new American country. Our combined families produced two governors of Virginia and countless leaders in the American colonies. It is noteworthy that Gen. George Washington, America’s first President, was directly descended from the Berkeleys and closely related to the Lygons of Madresfield Court and later of Virginia. 


Since becoming the lords of Madresfield Court almost 900 years ago, the English Lygons have displayed a graciousness of spirit and warm hospitality which can be seen in the many times they have opened their home not only to the royal family in England, but to their American cousins in the west.

In the 1930s the 7th Earl de Beauchamp, Sir William Lygon, extended a welcome to Wm. Daniel Ligon, Jr. of Virginia to spend a summer vacation at Madresfield Court. The result was a wonderful transference of historical records to the American branch of the family which resulted in Volume I of The Ligon Family & Connections.

Not only was the history of the English family shared, but both English and American branches became close relatives in mutual affection for each other. We have become one great family through those early efforts at getting to know each other; the Ligon Family & Kinsmen Association was born.

The LFKA makes a point of bringing together all branches of the Lygon/Ligon family tree, no matter how far-flung, by organizing regular family gatherings in both England and America that allow us to become one great family. Today, we are a rare family, separated by 3000 miles of ocean but one in spirit and one in family love.

Ancestral Home of Thomas Lygon:
Madresfield Court, Worcestershire, England
Marker #K-203
E. Hundred Rd, Rte 10, Chesterfield, VA
Thomas Lygon's American home:
Henrico County, Virginia