Were These GoT Actors Born to Play Their Roles? Ancestry Research Revealed

Celebrity, Family History
25 September 2017
by Rebecca Dalzell

On Game of Thrones, lineage is powerful and perilous. Family ties can get you killed.

Now in its 7th season, the show continues to reveal secrets of its characters’ identities.

It turns out, the actors on the show are descended from fascinating figures themselves, according to new research from Ancestry.

These GoT actors have real-life ancestors as noble, brave, and strong as anyone in Westeros. Can you guess who’s most noble?

Kit Harington (Jon Snow)

Season seven revealed that Jon Snow is the son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, making him the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

The actor who plays him also has noble roots, according to Ancestry researchers.

Kit Harington is a descendant of baronets and earls. In 1611, Edward II created the Harington Baronetcy, which made the family a royal and political power.

One direct ancestor was the 3rd Earl of Dartmouth, who was appointed the top royal officer, the Lord Chamberlain.

Great-grandfather Sir Richard Harington was 12th Baronet and High Sheriff of Herefordshire. He was also a judge for the British Empire in Bengal, India.

In 1939, a great-uncle, Kenneth Harington, married into the royal family: Queen Elizabeth’s cousin, Cecilia Bowes-Lyon.

Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister)

When playing the power-hungry Cersei Lannister, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, Lena Headey is conniving and manipulative.

In real life, the English actress comes from more honorable stock.

Percy Headey, her great-grandfather, was a police officer who enlisted in World War I, serving with the Duke of Wellington’s regiment.

He was probably stationed near Ypres, Belgium, during the Battle of Passchendaele, a gruesome scene worthy of Westeros. Fighting in torrential rain on clay soil, thousands of soldiers drowned in sinking mud.

Percy Headey was probably one of them. According to the Army Register of Soldier’s Effects on Ancestry, he was killed in action on August 7, 1917, in Belgium.

Percy Headey’s Death Record.

Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)

Once weak and living in exile with her dragons, Daenerys Targaryen has grown into a brave warrior who creates a mighty army.

Emilia Clarke’s family tree includes soldiers who were similarly courageous.

Her great-grandfather Albert Clarke was badly injured during World War I. According to his service record, he suffered gunshot wounds to his knee and shoulder, however, he survived the war.

Emilia’s great-grandfather Albert Clarke was badly injured during World War I

In the 19th century, her ancestor John Mooty was a weaver in Ireland. Perhaps to escape poverty, he signed up for the army and fought for the British Empire in India.

Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth)

Brienne of Tarth is born to a noble family, but she’d rather be a knight. As a skilled fighter, she can hold her own against men in battle.

Actress Gwendoline Christie comes from a family of strong-headed women.

Her great-great-great-grandmother Mary Randall ran a pub. It was considered men’s work, but once her husband died, Randall took the helm and hired her sister, daughter, and nieces. According to the 1861 census, there was only one man on the premises — a servant.

Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)

Maisie Williams, who plays the fearless Arya Stark, has a relative as determined as her character.

Her maternal great-grandfather, Henry Pitt, was a merchant marine during World War I. Though not formally part of the navy, he and his crew transported military goods across the English Channel.

In June 1917, a German U-boat torpedoed his ship. Burial records show he died in the attack.

Maisie’s maternal great-grandfather, Henry Pitt died during a German U-boat attack

Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)

Initially young and naïve, Sansa Stark has grown up to become hardened, brave, and smart.

Ancestry researchers found parallels on actress Sophie Turner’s family tree.

Her great-grandfather Cyril Cotton was only 19 when he joined the British Army Service Corps in 1915. The unworldly soldier learned the way of war quickly. According to his pension file, he received the Victory Medal for his service.

A Victory Medal like the one Cyril received, which references the Great War.

Turner has a bookish relative as well. The 1871 census lists her ancestor William Rogers as a “Scripture Reader,” which meant he traveled around the country reading the Bible to others.

Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister)

War has forever changed Tyrion Lannister. It also shaped the character of one of Peter Dinklage’s ancestors.

The American actor’s great-great-uncle Frank X. McCarten was drafted into the U.S. Army when the country joined World War I. He was honorably discharged in 1919.

McCarten continued to serve. He was a prominent figure in Bridgeport, Connecticut, joining the police force and becoming a city alderman. Newspapers reported that his excellent political maneuvering helped maintain order.

Could you, like your favorite Game of Thrones actor, be following in your ancestors’ footsteps?

Disclaimer: HBO and the individuals discussed here are not affiliated with Ancestry and do not endorse Ancestry products.