11 March, 2015

Kissin' Cousins on Both Sides of the Aisle


I have already written of my "cousin" Abraham Lincoln and our common ancestors. I have not explored much about other presidents, though I wouldn't be surprised to find myself "cousins" with several more. There are two others who have come to my attention accidentally while searching for other things online. 

I will leave the reader to guess which of the following dismayed me and of which I was glad to learn!


Cousin G W
First, I discovered that I am related via several early New England settlers to George W Bush and, of course, father George Herbert. Second, I stumbled onto a genealogy of Barack Obama a few nights ago and discovered a pair of shared great-grandparents with him as well! 

The first ancestor that I found in common with GW Bush, again accidentally while researching this ancestor, was John Lothrop (b 1584 in Elton, Yorkshire, England) of Barnstable who was my 9th and Bush's 11th great-grandfather. John was a highly influential figure in early New England, in fact he was the founder of the town of Barnstable, MA. However, his fame, or perhaps notoriety, began in England.


Rev John Lothrop
He was a graduate of Kings College, Cambridge and was appointed curate at a local Church of England parish. However John's beliefs, which were considered heretical, were not compatible with the Church and he left his position to become minister to a group of Independents who, like him, wished to do away with the hierarchy of the church. They also believed in freedom of religion and were among the first to support a separation of church from government, a radical thought at that time. Lothrop and his followers had to meet in secret, and were eventually discovered and imprisoned. His wife, Ann Howse, died  in prison due to the deprivations she suffered there, leaving their nine children in a perilous situation.

Undeterred, John Lothrop accepted a deal that he leave England in exchange for his freedom. He left for Plymouth aboard the Griffin along with a group from his congregation and his children, arriving in Boston on 18 September 1634. He preached for a short time in Scituate, then removed to the wilderness of Cape Cod where the town of Barnstable was founded by Lothrop and his parishioners.

Lothrop Home, Barnstable, MA
John married again to Ann Hammond and had a further five children. It seems that this family did not suffer infertility problems, and most of his children had large families, creating a pathway for many tens of thousands of descendants who live today all over the United States. (I am descended from no less than six of John Lothrop's fourteen children.) Other presidents who can claim Lothrop as their ancestor are Fillmore, Garfield, Grant, and F.D. Roosevelt. In addition both Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney are his great-grandchildren. In the entertainment arena, Lothrop descendants include Shirley Temple, Brooke Shields, Clint Eastwood, and Kevin Bacon. Literary figures that also descend from Lothrop are Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendall Holmes, among dozens of other well known people through the generations.

In addition to John Lothrop, George W and I share several other great-grandparents, including Nathaniel Foote, Austin Bearse and Samuel Hinckley.

Hinckley (b 1589 in Tenterden, Kent, England) happens to be
Cousin Barack
the ancestor who also connects me to Barack Obama. He and his wife Sarah Soule are Obama's tenth great-grandparents and my ninth. I know much less about this couple, but they arrived the year after Lothrop aboard the Hercules in 1635. Sarah's uncle, George Soule, was a passenger aboard the Mayflower in 1620 and a signer of the Mayflower compact. 


The Hinckleys and their four children settled first at Scituate and were followers of Rev. John Lothrop whom we have already discussed. They moved after several years to join Lothrop's parish in Barnstable. Their eldest son Thomas became Plymouth Colony's governor from 1681 to 1692 and was an important asset to the Colony throughout his life.

Famous descendants of Samuel Hinckley and Sarah Soule include Sarah Palin (again), financier John Pierpont Morgan Jr, and John Hinckley Jr, the attempted assassin of Ronald Reagan.

So, Barack Obama is my 9th cousin once removed and George W Bush my 9th cousin twice removed. The two of them are 10th cousins, once removed. We are all one big happy family! 

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