Edward to Boris, how many times?

King of England (17/18 June 1239–7 July 1307)
King Edward I

Last week, I put together several charts relating to newly appointed U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. These charts were based on the research of Gary Boyd Roberts, and I had assisted him on some of Boris’s Pennsylvania and Connecticut ancestry, which resulted in five charts showing distant kinships to ten U.S. Presidents.

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Boris Johnson

The sixth chart was perhaps the most complicated. As was previously reported, and included in Gary’s The Royal Descendants of 900 Immigrants (RD900), Boris Johnson’s father is a descendant of King George II through the older sister of King George III. In researching the New England ancestry behind Boris’s mother, Gary found a descent from Mrs. Elizabeth Alsop Baldwin of Milford, Connecticut, who descends from King Edward I of England.

George II descends from Edward I in numerous ways. In making the chart, I picked a line that would include the most monarchs. This is fairly straightforward until you get to King Edward IV, who descends from King Edward III in three unique ways (none via an earlier king): through his sons Lionel of Antwerp, John of Gaunt, and Edmund of Langley. Edward IV is a great-great grandson of Edward III through John and Edmund, but a great-great-great-great grandson of Edward III through Lionel. Had I charted the descent through John or Edmund, Boris Johnson’s parents would be shown as twenty-third cousins. However, Gary preferred I chart the line through Lionel (as the second son of Edward III, this was the way the House of York claimed their right to the throne during the Wars of the Roses, despite their patrilineal descent from the fourth son Edmund). So I had the chart  go through Lionel, and Boris’s parents are shown as twenty-third cousins twice removed. (Would anyone besides Gary have actually cared if I did the chart through John or Edmund instead?)

I picked a line that would
include the most monarchs.

But how many different lines to King Edward I could I have actually charted out? While Gary’s RD900 indicates one descent behind Mrs. Elizabeth Alsop Baldwin, Douglas Richardson’s Royal Ancestry indicates a total of three descents (with many more to William the Conqueror).

The Edward I lines through Boris Johnson’s father are more numerous. They all go through his ancestor Prince Paul of Württemberg (1785-1852), with German noble ancestry on both sides of his family. The connections back to English kings go through Paul’s great-grandfather Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales (father of King George III), as well as two great-grandmothers—Prussian princesses and sisters Sophia Dorothea and Philippine Charlotte—who were granddaughters of King George I of Great Britain. Two other great-grandfathers—Frederick William, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt and Charles I, Duke of Brunswick—eventually tie back to English royalty through their common ancestor Maria of Austria, Duchess of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, descending via her Spanish ancestry from John of Gaunt. Through these connections (and there very well could be many more), Prince Paul descends from Edward I in ninety-six different ways.

This brings the total to at least ninety-nine unique descents to Boris Johnson from King Edward I. In terms of making a chart showing this common descent to Johnson’s parents, I could have made 297 different charts. I’m fine with the first one.

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About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

11 thoughts on “Edward to Boris, how many times?

  1. This is part of what fascinates me about genealogy-the many ways we are inter-related. Since he’s descended from the same kings I am, we’re cousins, too.

  2. As usual Christopher…excellent research. But how much of this has already been done? I know that Boris was featured on the UK version of who do you think you are. I wonder how much new ground this was

    1. Thanks. The line from George II to Boris’s father has been reported earlier, including in Gary’s RD900 as I mention. The new ground is what Gary discussed regarding Boris’s New England ancestry, and specific to this post, the royal descent of Boris’s mother via Mrs. Elizabeth Alsop Baldwin of Connecticut, making way for these Edward I lines to both of Boris’s parents. I’m not aware of Boris’s mother’s Baldwin line being reported elsewhere prior to Gary’s release last Friday.

  3. Thanks for preparing these charts, Christopher. It is fun and interesting to see these relationships.
    I have a question about the Strong Ancestry chart for Boris Johnson. I thought from various sources (e.g. https://www.americanancestors.org/databases/connecticut-vital-records-the-barbour-collection-1630-1870/image?volumeId=12316&pageName=270) that the given name of the Strong son who married Joanna Gillette was Josiah, but the chart has his given name as Joseph. Is there new evidence that his name was Joseph rather than Josiah?

  4. I am left a wee it creeped out. How many cousins have to intermarry in order for this to happen? Notwithstanding more current “leaders,” it makes me grateful that I was born a US citizen.

    1. Then I’ve got bad news: any U.S. citizen with a descent from European nobility or royalty is similarly inbred, though not as extensively as those of more recent royal or noble descent. Medieval royalty and nobility were just as inbred as their modern descendants. And even Americans with no known royal or noble descent will usually find a few descents from common ancestors within about 10 generations of ancestry.

      1. We are mostly aware of cousin marriage because of the intensive intermarriage among European royals, trying to keep their bloodlines “pure”- and resulting in the concentration of several disease causing genes. Most American (and Aussie) genealogists know, endogamous marriage was almost inevitable among the early colonists, especially with the slow-down of immigration after the 1600s flush. I enjoyed reading Chris’s story of his own line in this regard some time back in which one of his line went searching for a mate not surnamed Child.

        Enlarging the marriage pool was one of the reasons for traditional intertribal gatherings (and probably still are to a certain extent). That was not the only reason, of course: trade, treaties, alliances, seeing old friends and family were all part of it. But old-timers especially love to tell stories (always with a great deal of laughter and kidding) about how they met their marriage partner at a powwow. We’re starting to hear those stories again.

        I have several double cousinships among my Euro-Am relatives. One of my favorites is a second cousin with whom I share two connections at different times between the same two ancestral lines: we are so much alike he could be my brother.

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