Meghan Markle Family History


Rachel Meghan Markle, better known today as Meghan Markle or the Duchess of Sussex, was born on August 4th, 1981 to Tom and Doria Markle in Los Angeles.  She identifies herself as being mixed race.

Her parents separated in 1983 when she was two years old.  Meghan lived with one parent, then the other, until her adolescence when she lived with her father.

Meghan attended college at Northwestern University near Chicago and returned to Los Angeles in 2003 to pursue an acting career.  She had small roles in films until her big break came in 2011 when she joined the cast of the USA Network show Suits and moved to Toronto.  Over its seven seasons airing, her character Rachel Zane started out as a paralegal and eventually became an attorney.

She first met Prince Harry in 2016 and they married in Windsor Castle two years later.  As Harry’s wife she became the Duchess of Sussex.  In 2020 Meghan and Harry stepped back from their role within the Royal Family and relocated to California.

Meghan’s Paternal Side

Markle numbers around 3,000 as a surname in America.  It is derived from the German name of Merkel meaning “descendant of Mark.”  There are some 20,000 Merkels in Germany today, the most famous being Angela Merkel, the recent German Chancellor.

Megan’s paternal Markle line dates back to a Johann Henrich Maerckel from Alsace who departed Rotterdam for Philadelphia on the Edinburgh in 1748.  Johann married Juliana Safftler in Pennsylvania and they settled in Codorus township, York county.  The spelling of their surname shifted from Maerckel to Markel and then to Markle within a generation.

This Markle family remained in Pennsylvania for nigh on two hundred years, first in York county in the southeast part of the state and then in Pennsylvania’s coal-mining area.  One Markle from coal country – John R. Markle from Luzerne county in NE Pennsylvania –  became in the 1890’s one of the most successful and wealthiest coal mining executives in the country.

In the early 1960’s three Markle brothers of Meghan’s line left Newport, a small coal-mining town in Perry county in central Pennsylvania, to pursue wider interests:

  • Michael joined the air force and later became an international diplomat
  • Dismas became a bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church
  • and Thomas (Tom), Meghan’s father, became  a TV lighting director

Tom married and divorced in Chicago before setting out for California in the early 1970’s.  He worked in Hollywood as a lighting director on the set of General Hospital, which was where he met his second wife Doria.  Their daughter Meghan was born in 1981.  However, the marriage soon broke up.

Despite Meghan spending time with her father growing up, the relationship became strained later on. Tom did not attend Meghan’s first wedding to movie producer Trevor Engelson, nor her second wedding to Prince Harry.  A further break between them occurred after Tom was caught selling letters from her to the tabloid newspapers.

Reader Feedback: It turns out that I’m related to Megan on her paternal line both through her grandma’s side there (Doris May Rita Sanders) and through her grandpa’s side there (Gordon Arnold Markle) through each of my paternal grandparents.  My grandma was a Markle from Pennsylvania.  B. Houk.

Meghan’s Maternal Side

Megan through her mother Doria Ragland is descended from African Americans who slaved away on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Their Ragland surname was said to have originated with a slave-owner William Ragland, a Revolutionary War veteran from Cornwall in England who had won a land lottery in Georgia.

Doria’s first identifiable Ragland ancestor was Richard Ragland.  He was born into slavery in Jonesboro, Georgia, but lived to see his children marry free after the abolition of slavery.  Post-1865, these Raglands were probably employed as sharecroppers.

Jerry Ragland of the next generation moved from rural Georgia to work as a bartender in Atlanta.  He married his wife Claudie there around 1904.  The family then moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where Jerry started up his own tailoring shop.  His son Steve was just a teenager when he married Lois Russell in Chattanooga in 1928.  The couple moved into the Russell home there.

Steve’s son Alvin grew up in Chattanooga, but moved to Los Angeles after his marriage and the birth of his daughter Doria in 1956.   His aunt Lillie, who had married a baseball player, had also moved out there.  She did well as a real estate agent and when she died she left her home to Alvin.

Alvin became an antiques dealer, traveling far and wide in search of unique items to sell at the trendy LA Melrose Trading Post market.  Unfortunately Alvin, Meghan’s grandfather whom she adored, died in 2011 at the age of 82 after falling while walking his dog.

Meghan undoubtedly relates more to this side of the family.

Meghan Markle’s Family Tree

  • Meghan Markle’s Maternal Line
  • Richard Ragland from Jonesboro, Georgia (born into slavery) m. Mary
  • – Anthony Ragland (b. 1830) m. Viney Merit in 1867
  • – Mary Ragland (b. 1833) m. Simon Howard in 1867
  • – Matthew Ragland (b. 1833) m. Missouri Burton in 1869
  • – James Ragland (1838-1926) m. Mary Ellison in 1893
  • – Steven Ragland (1848-1926)
  • Steven Ragland m. Ellen Lemon (1850-1920) in Henry, Georgia in 1869
  • – Texanna Ragland (1868-1962) m. Cosby Smith
  • – Charlie Ragland (1870-1945) m. Fannie Henderson
  • – Otis Ragland (1878-1943) m. Ida Hickman
  • – Jeremiah (Jerry) Ragland (1881-1944), son of Texanna and unknown
  • Jeremiah (Jerry) Ragland from Georgia m. Claudia Ritchie (1885-1939) in Atlanta in 1904
  • – Dora Ragland (1906-1963) m. Mr. Lowman
  • – Steven Ragland (1908-1983)
  • – Paul Ragland (1912-1977)
  • – Lillie Ragland (1914-2004) m. William (Happy) Evans, baseball player
  • Steven (Steve) Ragland from Georgia m. Lois Russell (1914-1956) in Chattanooga in 1928
  • – Alvin Ragland (1929-2011)
  • Alvin Ragland from Tennessee m. Jeanette Arnold (1929-2000) in Chattanooga in 1955 (later divorced); rem. Ava Burrow in Los Angeles in 1983
  • – Doria Ragland (b. 1956)
  • – Alvin Ragland (b. 1985)
  • Doria Ragland from Los Angeles m. Thomas (Tom) Markle (b. 1944) in Los Angeles in 1979 (divorced in 1987)
  • – Meghan Markle (b. 1981)
  • Meghan Markle m. Trevor Engelson in 2011 (divorced in 2013); rem. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (b. 1984) in Windsor Castle in 2018
  • – Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (b. 2019)
  • – Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor (b. 2021)
  • Meghan Markle’s Paternal Line 
  • Johann Henrich Merckel (1732-1783) from Alsace m. Juliana Safftler (1735-1809)
  • – Jacob Markel (1761-1832) m. Margaret Trostel
  • – Johann Martin Markel (1766-1838) m. Susannah Ruhl
  • – Johann Henrich Markel (1772-1853)
  • Johann Henrich Markle from Pennsylvania m. Catherine Frasher (1767-1839)
  • – John Markle (1793-1868) m. Elizabeth Heiss
  • – Henry Markle (1795-1867) m. Elizabeth Kildough
  • – George Markle (1801-1880) m. Mary Kopp
  • – Frederick Markle (1804-1859) m. Hannah Walters
  • – Conrad Markle (1809-1876)
  • Conrad Markle from Pennsylvania m. Catherine Hovis (1812-1901)
  • – Isaac Markle (1839-1899)
  • Isaac Markle from Pennsylvania m. Leah Reisenberg (1844-1912)
  • – George Markle (1863-1923)
  • – Rebecca Markle (1865-1908) m. Victor Williard
  • – Agnes Markle (1875-1946) m. Robert Harmon
  • – Roy Markle (1877-1960)
  • George Markle from Pennsylvania m. Mary Mangle (1867-1899) in 1886; rem. Emma Mangle (1882-1952) in 1900
  • – Jacob Markle (1887-1901)
  • – Isaac Markle (1891-1972)
  • – Jane (Jennie) Markle (1894-1955) m. Daniel Kain
  • – George Markle (1896-1967) m. Hattie Sanders
  • – Charles Markle (1901-1996) m. Mary Marcus
  • – Earl Markle (1905-1992)
  • – Faye Markle (1907-1993) m. Roscoe Sarver
  • – Benjamin Markle (1909-1980)
  • – Paul Markle (1912-1993)
  • Isaac Markle from Pennsylvania m. Ruth Arnold (1892-1963)
  • – Gordon Markle (1918-1979)
  • Gordon Markle from Pennsylvania m. Doris Sanders (1920-2011)
  • – Michael Markle (1939-2021)
  • – Dismas F. Markle (b. 1942)
  • – Thomas Markle (b. 1944)
  • Thomas (Tom) Markle from Pennsylvania m. Rosalyn Loveless in Chicago in 1964 (divorced in 1975); rem. Doria Ragland (b. 1956) in Los Angeles in 1979 (divorced in 1987)
  • – Samantha Markle (b. 1964) m. Earl Hale in 1984 and Scott Rasmussen in 1987 (both divorced), and daughter Ashleigh (b. 1985)
  • – Thomas Markle (b. 1966) m. Tracy Dooley in 1990 (divorced), and sons Thomas (b. 1991) and Tyler (b. 1992)
  • – Meghan Markle (b. 1981)


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Written by Colin Shelley

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