Child cooks

Throughout my childhood, I was frequently asked if I was related to the famous chef Julia Child. Until I was in high school, my family had a summer home in Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard. Our driveway from the main road, which was out of sight of the house, had an unassuming white sign saying “Child” and a similarly identified mailbox. While we lived there, my father learned that tour buses would occasionally claim that our home was that of Julia Child and her husband Paul, who had a house somewhere else on the island!

My great-grandfather’s second wife Hazel had a chance run-in with the noted chef, telling her the story and wondering if their husbands might be distantly related. Julia Child was dismissive, saying that their families could “never be related.” However, while once watching her show, Julia Child stated that her husband’s family was related to the husband of the nineteenth-century abolitionist, novelist, and cook Lydia Maria Child. Hmmm, my father’s family is distantly related to Lydia’s husband David Lee Child. How can Julia Child be distantly related to Lydia’s husband’s Child family but not my Child family?

I can say Julia Child was half-right. It’s true, her husband’s Child family is not related to my Child ancestors. The reason I know this is that Paul Child’s family is related to my grandfather’s stepsiblings, also surnamed Child! I mentioned my great-grandfather’s second wife: Hazel (Bleeker) (Child) Child (1888-1990), the only [step-] great-grandparent I ever met, was first married to Frederic Anthony “Fred” Child of Philadelphia, who descended from Henry Child, an English Quaker who purchased 500 acres of land in Pennsylvania from William Penn in 1687. Both Fred and Paul Child descend from Henry’s son Cephas Child of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, making Fred and Paul fifth cousins (see chart below).[1] So Julia Child’s husband was related to Hazel’s first Child husband. I know that Henry Child of Pennsylvania is not related to my ancestor Benjamin Child of Massachusetts; patrilineal descendants of both immigrants have taken Y-DNA tests, and Henry’s descendants do not match Benjamin’s. But this does end up making Julia Child my step-fifth-cousin-in-law, three times removed!

[This] does end up making Julia Child my step-fifth-cousin-in-law, three times removed!

But that also means Paul Child cannot be related to David Lee Child. However, Julia’s ancestors have been covered by Gary Boyd Roberts in Notable Kin and The Mayflower 500. I do end up being distantly related to Julia Child herself via the Packard family of Bridgewater, Massachusetts.[2] I’m also distantly related to Paul Child through his mother’s New England ancestors, but there are only so many charts one can make for each post!

What, then, was the inspiration for this post? My aunt recently e-mailed me a possible Child descent for Marjorie Webber (Child) (Evans) Husted (1892-1986) of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who helped develop the image of “Betty Crocker” and played the character on the Betty Crocker radio show, which began in 1927. Closer to my own family was my great-great-aunt, Georgie Boynton Child, author of The Efficient Kitchen. So I started to envision a chart about these four “Child cooks.” However, Marjorie’s patrilineal great-great-grandfather was William Child of Livermore, Maine. He married Anne Washburn in 1791, and the couple is treated in my most recent installment on the Orcutt family in the Mayflower Descendant. Anne Washburn is the fifth generation from William Orcutt of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, as well a descendant of Mayflower passengers Francis Cooke (twice over), and James Chilton and his wife.

While numerous trees online claim an earlier couple as William Child’s parents, the couple is unknown. My last article installment cites research by Gregory S. Childs of Clamart, France, a contributing editor of the Maine Genealogist, who has researched his ancestor William’s possible origins in Massachusetts extensively; this work might be the subject of a future article.[3] Greg’s Y-DNA matches mine, so whoever William’s father was, he was almost certainly a descendant of Wolstone Childe below, who was the father of Ephraim Child of Watertown, Massachusetts (part of the 1630 Winthrop Fleet). Ephraim made a return trip to England in the 1640s and brought several relatives back to Massachusetts, including four nephews – my ancestor Benjamin Child of Roxbury, Massachusetts, and brothers Joseph, Richard, and John Child, who settled with their uncle in Watertown.[4] However, William Child’s wife Anne Edson does descend (in two ways) from Samuel and Elizabeth Packard, my common ancestors with Julia Child, so I can include all four cooks in the chart below!

And, thus, while Julia Child, Lydia Maria Child, Georgie Boynton Child, and “Betty Crocker” may not all be related to one another, I am related to all of them. But can I cook?

Click on image to expand it.


[1] The children of Cephas Child’s son John are not covered in the 1881 Child genealogy. Five children of John and Mary (Shoemaker) Child (Sarah, John, Isaac, George, and Thomas) are given in the Genealogy of the Shoemaker family of Cheltenham. In 1775, Henry Child and his wife, previously members of the Buckingham Monthly Meeting, were admitted to the Abington Monthly Meeting, along with their four children: Isaac, Thomas, Amos, and Jesse.

[2] My own Packard ancestors were discovered as a result of this earlier post.

[3] Christopher Challender Child, “The Orcutt Family of Scituate, Bridgewater, and Massachusetts,” Mayflower Descendant 70 [2022]: 25-41.

[4] Myrtle Stevens Hyde and Paul L. Child, “Child-Foote-Goddard Connections,” The American Genealogist 63 [1988]: 17-28, which corrects several errors in the 1881 Child genealogy and establishes the family’s English origin. See here for my eight other descents from Benjamin and Mary (Bowen) Child of Roxbury.

Christopher C. Child

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.View all posts by Christopher C. Child