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William Moseley Descended from Welsh Schooner Captains

William Moseley, star of The Chronicles of Narnia films and The Royals TV series, comes from a line of distinguished sea captains.

William Moseley the actor for Hollywood Ancestry by Mike Batie.
William Moseley by the sea in 'The Little Mermaid.' / Image via Netflix

You probably know actor William Moseley best from The Chronicles of Narnia movies and the E! series The Royals. This is the third installment I'm doing on his ancestry, which, thanks to help from William, I've been able to find many fascinating branches of his family tree.

William Moseley in Narnia and The Royals - Hollywood Ancestry by Mike Batie
William Moseley in 'The Chronicles of Narnia' films (left) and 'The Royals' (right). / Images via Disney and E!

William Moseley's Descent from Welsh Master Mariners

William Moseley ancestor chart of Welsh mariners by Mike Batie.
William Moseley's line of descent from Welsh master mariners. / Chart by Mike Batie • Image via E!

As you can see from the chart above, William's ancestry on his mother's side can be traced back to his sixth great grandfather on the Shaw line, with nearly all of the men being captains of schooner sailing vessels and colliers (coal miners, and transporters of coal by ship).

William Moseley rowing a boat in Narnia.
William Moseley's family are no strangers to boats. Moseley in the Narnia films. / Image via Disney

I was able to follow a couple of William's ancestors and found what ships they were working on or in command of over the years.

Humphrey Shaw (2nd Great Grandfather)

Moseley's second great grandfather, Humphrey Shaw, was born in June 1846 in Connah's Quay, Flintshire, Wales. His parents were Thomas Shaw and Phoebe Hughes. As a descendant of schooner captains, Humphrey carried on the family trade.

Map of the British Isles showing the location of Connah's Quay in Wales.
Location of Connah's Quay, where two of William Moseley's schooner captain ancestors were born. / Chart by Mike Batie

A schooner is a type of sailing vessel that is defined by its rig, being fore and aft rigged on two or more masts. Schooners were used for cargo, passengers, and fishing. William Moseley's ancestors are often referred to in records variously as masters of coasting, schooner, and coasting schooner vessels.

A coasting vessel boat built at Connah's Quay.
An example of a coasting vessel, this one built at Connah's Quay where William Moseley's ancestor Humphrey Shaw was from.

Below is part of the progression of Humphrey Shaw's career on the sea that I was able to find in historical records.

1871 - Able seaman on the ship Daisy, a 91 ton coasting schooner, with his older brother William Shaw as mate. They were under the command of Captain Marrow.

1888 - Master of the ship Problem of Chester, a 90 ton coasting vessel.

1891 - Master of the ship Alfred, a 73 ton schooner. Under his command is also his sixteen year old son, Thomas, as an ordinary seaman.

1901 - Master of the ship Hilda, a 90 ton sailing schooner. His sons are listed as part of his crew.

Humphrey Shaw passed away on 13 October 1923 in Flint, Wales. He left £424 10s in his personal effects, with Thomas Shaw and Hugh Shaw, master mariners, as executors of his will.

Humphrey Shaw on the ship 'Alfred.'
1891 record of Humphrey Shaw with his son on the ship 'Alfred.'

British schooner like one William Moseley's ancestors captained.
A British schooner vessel built in 1880, similar to the schooners that William Moseley's ancestors captained.

Record of the crew of the ship 'Hilda' showing William's Moseley's Shaw ancestors.
Record of the crew of the ship 'Hilda,' showing Humphrey Shaw as master, with three of his sons as crew under him.

Hugh Shaw (Great Grandfather)

Hugh Shaw was born 15 October 1881 in Connah's Quay in Wales, to Humphrey Shaw and Mary Elizabeth Dennis.

Hugh married Nora Elizabeth Emma Aldridge on 19 January 1910. Below is a copy of their marriage record. Note the signatures of Hugh and his wife Norah in the lower left corner.

Marriage record of William Moseley's great grandparents, Hugh Shaw and Norah Aldridge.
Marriage record of William Moseley's great grandparents.

Parish church in Arlingham where William Moseley's great grandparents were married.
Parish church in Arlingham where William Moseley's great grandparents were married.

Below are some of the ships I was able to find Hugh on in records:

1901 - Hugh is listed as an able seaman on The Hilda, a 90 ton sailing schooner. His father, Humphrey Shaw, is master, and his brother Thomas is mate, and his other brother William is ordinary seaman.

1914 to 1918 - Hugh was a part of the merchant shipping fleets in World War I, upon which King George V bestowed the title of "Merchant Navy."

1919 - Appears in the Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Index of First World War Mercantile Marine Medals and the British War Medal.

1939 - Master of the ship Camborne, with his sons listed as part of the crew.

Record of Hugh Shaw being awarded the Mercantile Mariner Medal.
Record of Hugh Shaw being awarded the Mercantile Mariner Medal and the British War Medal in 1919.

Front and back to the Mercantile Marine War Medal.
A Mercantile Marine War Medal like this one was awarded to Hugh Shaw for his service at sea during World War I.

The record shows a check mark next to 'British Medal,' which indicates that Hugh was also awarded the British War Medal, an example of which is shown below.

British War Medal, showing the front and back.
An example of British War Medal, which was awarded to Hugh Shaw in 1919.

1939 record showing Hugh Shaw as master of the ship Camborne.
1939 record showing Hugh Shaw as master of the ship 'Camborne,' with his sixteen year old son serving as mate.

Hugh Shaw passed away on 17 January 1966 at Gloucester Royal Hospital in England.

Map of the British Isles showing the location of Arlingham, Gloucestershire, England.
Map showing the location of Arlingham in Gloucestershire, England, where William Moseley's Shaw ancestors settled. / Map design by Mike Batie

As the descendant of the Shaw schooner captains, William Moseley was in a live action movie of The Little Mermaid (2018). I can't help but wonder if William's seafaring ancestors ever shared tales of mermaids — or saw one [wink].

William Moseley as Cam in The Little Mermaid - Hollywood Ancestry by Mike Batie
William Moseley by the sea in 'The Little Mermaid.'

Other articles on William Moseley:


About the Author

Storytelling binds generations. Films and family history are both powerful forms of storytelling that do just that. Family history research has been a passion of mine since I was a teenager. Having researched my own family tree extensively, I enjoy looking into the family trees of notable people. It gives me a sense of their background and what shaped them and their family into who they are today. To see their roots and where they come from is always inspiring. Being a history geek, I’m often in awe of the historical experiences of their ancestors and how they connect to the present day. I hope to inspire others to research their own family trees and find out where they come from by sharing interesting insights from the family trees of some of my favorite artists and entertainers.

— Mike Batie




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