Thursday, November 20, 2008

An exploration of the genealogy of George Washington illustrates the key to studying genealogy. If one traces his Washington ancestry in a straight line back from his Washington ancestors from Northumbia and even further, one can determine that Washington was descended from Malcolm III, King of Scotland. But if one traces the ancestry of Washington's maternal side at each generation, one discovers that the Washington males married well and repeatedly established relationships with the English royalty. Hence, George Washington is also descended from Charlemagne, William "the Conqueror", Henry I "Beauclerc", and is even descended from the French, Spanish, and Russian royal families. For this reason, at the end of the American Revolutionary war, a delegation went to Washington and asked that he become king of the new nation. Washington, however, refused and walked away from power. Later, he helped lead the effort for the drafting and adoption of the U.S. Constitution which established the position of President instead of a monarch, with Washington then being elected as our nation's first president. After two terms, Washington resigned and again walked away from power, breaking with the European tradition for centuries that power was hereditary and passed down through the next in line of the ruling family. But there is another lesson from studying the genealogy of George Washington. It turns out that, mathematically, every individual of European ancestry has to be descended from Charlemagne and probably other European royalty. The difficulty is establishing one's ancestry far enough back to discover such links. But all of us, whether of European origin or not, can probably claim some royal ancestors. So I think the ultimate lesson is not that one person has a better pedigree and thus is better than anyone else, but that instead we are all related! This is what I find fascinating about genealogy - as another way of studying history and all its interconnections.

Friday, November 14, 2008

According to the New England Historic Genealogical Society as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times and the New York Times on October 21, 2007, Barack Obama from his mother's side shares a common ancestry (11th cousin) with George W. Bush from Samuel Hinckley who lived in Cape Cod in the 1600's. They also stated that Barack Obama is related to presidents George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, and James Madison and is related to such other notables as Sir Winston Churchill, Robert E. Lee, and Vice President Dick Cheney (9th cousin once removed).

Eight of the U.S. Presidents are descendants of passengers on the Mayflower. These are: John Adams and John Quincy Adams (descendants of John Alden, William Mullins, Alice Mullins, and Priscilla Mullins), Zachary Taylor (descendant of Isaac Allerton and William and Mary Brewster), Ulysses S. Grant (descendant of Richard Warren), James Garfield (descendant of John and Francis Billington), Franklin Roosevelt (desendant of John Tilley, Joan Hurst Tilley, Elizabeth Tilley, John Howland, Isaac Allerton, Mary Norris Allterton, Mary Allterton, Degory Priest, John Cooke and Francis Cooke), George Herbert Walker Bush (descendant of Francis Cooke, John Howland, John Tilley, Joan Hurst Tilley, and Elizabeth Tilley), and George W. Bush (descendant of Francis Cooke, John Howland, John Tilley, Joan Hurst Tilley, Elizabeth Tilley, and Henry Samson).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain has dined with 10 different U.S. Presidents, the most recent being with President and Mrs. Bush. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth is a direct descendant of George Washington's great-grandfather, Colonel Augustine Warner, Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses? Typically, whenever Queen Elizabeth travels to America, she puts a wreath of his grave in the Washington family cemetery in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Did you know that Barack Obama shares a common ancestors with several of the previous U.S. Presidents? Also, did you know that 14 of the past U.S. Presidents share a common ancestry? This site is designed to share interesting facts and stories posted by myself and others about the genealogy of the U.S. Presidents. What is your story or interesting tidbit?