Colonial America – Hail to the Chief


In the spirit of the recent inauguration of our new President, I decided to take a look at presidential roots. Just when did the ancestors of our recent presidents arrive in the U.S? Have they been here for 100 years? 200 years? Surprisingly, the ancestors of every president since Nixon, with the exception of Ronald Reagan, have been traced back to colonial America, many of them before 1700. Several presidents are related to Mayflower descendents and even to other presidents.

Richard Nixon

Although born in California, Richard Milhouse Nixon’s ancestors settled primarily in the Mid-Atlantic states (NJ, NY, PA and MD). During the 1800s, several branches moved to Ohio. Nixon is of Irish, Welsh, English and German descent. He is related both to some Mayflower passengers and to royalty (King Edward III). Jeremy West, the novelist, is Nixon’s second cousin and he is related to ten other presidents (including Fillmore, Hayes, Taft, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, FDR, Ford, Carter and Bush).

Surnames (with earliest recorded date and place of birth/residence) include: Armstrong (1757, NJ); Baldwin (1721, PA); Brown (1771, Ireland to OH); Burdg (1783, NJ); Cattell (1743, NJ); Clayton (1777); Clemson (1660, England to PA); Griffith (1688, Wales to PA and DE); Hartley (1747, MD); Hemingway (1730, MA); Hussey (1634, PA?); Lytle (1751, MD); Malmsbury (1779, NJ); Matthews (1755, MD); McComas (1695, MD); McElwain (1760, PA); Mendanhall (1727, PA); Milhouse (1688, Ireland to PA); Miller (1701, Ireland to PA); Moore (Bef. 1759 Ireland to PA); Nixon (1752, PA); Price (1761, MD); Scothorn (1730, PA); Smith (1622, NY); Trimmer (1724, NJ); Vickers (1720, PA); Wadsworth (1745, MD); Wiley (1706, MD); Willets (1652, NY); Wilson (1764, DE)

Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr.

Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. in Nebraska. Little is known about his paternal lineage, but his maternal line has been traced back to the 1600s in New England. His maternal lineage is primarily of English descent and it is said that his paternal lineage was of Irish descent. Up until the mid 1800s Ford’s ancestors remained in New England and New York, gradually moving to Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Nebraska. Ford is descended from royalty (Edward I, Henry I of France) and from Mayflower passengers. He is also related to 14 other presidents (including Fillmore, Lincoln, Grant, Hays, Garfield, Cleveland, B. Harrison, Taft, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, FDR, Nixon and Bush).

Surnames (with earliest recorded date and place of birth/residence) include: Adams (1676, MA); Ayer (1686, MA); Chase (1690, MA); Collins (1679, MA); Comstock (1676, RI); Dagget (1697 ME); Davis (1674, MA); Dudley (1674, CT); Ely (1674, Plymouth England); Gifford (1686, MA); Goodspeed (1701, CT); Gove (1696, NH); Gridley (1650, CT); Head (1682, RI); Holmes (1639, CT); Jewett (1710, MA); Kelly (1678, MA); Little (1692, MA); Manney (1698, NY); Miller (1692, NY); Monroe (1665, CT); Noyes (1707, MA); Pinney (1663, CT); Roberts (1723, NY); Selden (1652, CT); Sheldon (1697, RI); Stickney (1677, MA); Vanderburgh (1685, NY); Wells, (1696, CT); White (1690, MA); Wilbur (1670, RI).

Jimmy Carter

James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr. was born in Georgia. His family has primarily remained in the southeast United States since the late 1700s, although early ancestors originally settled as far north as Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Rhode Island before moving to (primarily) South Carolina and Georgia. DeGregorio writes that Thomas Carter, Sr. emigrated from England to Isle of Wight County, Virginia in 1613. Carter is of Scottish, Irish, German and English descent and is related to four other presidents (including two Harrisons, Harding and Nixon).

Surnames (with earliest recorded date and place of birth/residence) include: Almy (1663, RI); Ansley (1726, NJ); Barksdale (1715, VA); Brown (1760, VA); Brownlee (1757, Ireland); Burnley (1715, VA); Carter (1680, VA); Clinkscales (1720, Scotland to MD); Cowan (1742, SC); Cox (1669, NJ); Dawson (1750, NC); Gaines (1726, VA); Gordy (mid-1700s, MD); Helms (1720, PA); Kay (1694, VA); Marcus (1744, NC); Morris (1655, NJ); Nicholson (1740, SC); Nunn, (1713, GA); Potts (1677 England to NJ); Preslar (1708, Germany to MD); Scott (1755, DE); Seawright (Abt. 1712 Ireland to SC); Terrell (1692, VA).

George Herbert Walker Bush

George Bush is primarily of English Heritage, although some ancestors emigrated from Germany. Bush has the distinction of being descended from at least two Mayflower passengers who settled in Massachusetts. Although his earliest American ancestors were in Massachusetts (with the Bolling line being in Virginia), successive generations had no compunction for keeping put in one place for very long. For example, the Walker line, which arrived in the late 1700s from England, were found in New Jersey, Illinois, Missouri and Maine, with each generation born in a new location.

Bush is a fouth cousin seven times removed of Benedict Arnold, an eighth cousin once removed of Winston Churchill, a ninth cousin twice removed of Marilyn Monroe, a tenth cousin once removed of Dan Quayle (his vice president) and is said to be related to 15 presidents (including Washington, Fillmore, Pierce, Lincoln, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Coolidge, Hoover, FDR, Nixon, and Gerald Ford) and is a distant relation to the wife of Woodrow Wilson. Finally, he is also descended from Henry I, Henry II, Edward I, William the Lion and Robert II of Scotland. It is also noted that Bush is a descendant of Dr. Samuel Prescott, who is credited with completing Paul Revere’s famous ride.

Surnames (with earliest recorded date and place of birth/residence) include: Bangs (1680, MA); Beaky (1818, MD); Blossom (1705, MA); Bocher (1703, Germany to MD); Bolling (1681, VA); Breek (1732, MA); Brigham (1680, MA); Brodnax (1674, England to VA); Bush (1759, CT); Butler (1696, MA); Champion (1677, VA); Child (1700, MA); Cocke (1688, VA); Davenport (1686, RI); Davis; 1740; DE; Fauth (1721, MD); Fay (1700, MA); Foree (1822, KY); Goffe (1687, MA); Guild (1690, MA); Hamblen (1683, MA); Herrick (1708, CT); Holliday (1755, Ireland to KY); Horton (1698, MA); House (1715, RI); Howard (1696, MA); Keeler (1683, CT); Kingsley (1693, MA); Lewis (1694, NY); Lillie (1690, MA); Martin (1718, MA); May (1663, MA); McCune (1750, PA); McLelland (Scotland to PA); Mercer (1671, MD); Mounce (1701, MD); Munford (1727, VA); Newcomb (1665, ME); Phillips (1695, MA); Pierce (1692, MA); Prescott (1677, MA); Shannon (1742); Sheldon (1818, RI); Shellman (1723, Germany to MD); Shriner (1728, Germany to MD); Smith (1642, MA); Stackhouse (1692, PA); Stevens (1717, CT); Stillman (1654, MA); Uncles (1795, England to Ohio); Vanderburgh (1725, NY); Walker (1797, NJ); Wallingford (1699, MA); Weir (1750, TN); Wheeler (1697, MA); Whippo (1763, NY); Whiting (1699, MA); Wood (1719, MA); Woodworth (1701, RI); Yancey (1748, VA)

Bill Clinton

William Jefferson Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe IV but changed his name to Clinton when his mother married Roger Clinton. Clinton’s family is primarily a southern family, with ancestors emigrating from the southeastern states (VA, NC, SC) through Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky to Arkansas. Clinton is not related to any other President, although his is the third cousin twice removed of James Alexander Lockhart, who served in the North Carolina House of Representatives in the mid-1800s and was the son-in law of Thomas Samuel Ashe, also an North Carolina Legislator. Ashe’s grandfather, Samuel Ashe, was a delegate to the 1776 North Carolina Convention. Clinton’s maternal line is of Irish descent.

Surnames (with earliest recorded date and place of birth/residence) include: Blythe (1801, SC); Farr (1765, PA); Gresham/Grisham (1792, NC); Lockhart (1765, VA); May (1812, NC); Payne (1768, SC); Reaves (1799, KY); Russell (1790, NC); Slate (1798), NC); Snelgrove (1792, SC); Spradley (1737, VA); Wilson (1791, KY).

Al Gore

Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. was born in Washington DC, the son of a U.S. Representative. Although Gore was born in the Nation’s Capital, his family is essentially southern. Of primarily English descent, Gore’s ancestors settled mainly in VA, PA and NJ, moving south to TN and AR. Al Gore is the eighth cousin once removed of Richard Nixon and the fifth cousin four times removed of “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

Surnames (with earliest recorded date and place of birth/residence) include: Alexander (1795, SC); Box (1827, TN); Bryant (1742, NC); Denny (1775, NC); Filger (1725, NC); Gatlin (1818, NC); Gore (1669, VA); Grigsby (1761); Hancock (1780, SC); Holloway (1686, England to NJ); Joyner (1830, TN); Kellam (1780, VA); Kelly (1749); Lafon (1784, NC); Maderas (1707, VA); Maris (1660, England to PA); McNeil (1819, TN); Pharo (1681, NJ); Robinson (1734, VA); Schooley (1650, England to NJ); Simcock (1658, England to PA); Stanford (1815, NC); Stephenson (1750, NC); Stuntson (1776, SC); Todd (1743, NC); Waggoner (1755, PA); Waln (1650, PA)

George Walker Bush

In addition to his father’s lineage above, George Walker Bush can claim descent from the Mayflower passengers through his mother’s line.

Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney was born in Nebraska and, during the 1800s his family was primarily in the Midwest. However, his earliest ancestors remained, for the most part, in Massachusetts and Maryland. Cheney’s ancestors have been traced back to 1592 in England, as well as Ireland and France. He is the tenth half cousin of President George Walker Bush, a relation to Harry S. Truman and a distant relation to the poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

Surnames (with earliest recorded date and place of birth/residence) include: Adams, (1612, MA); Breed (1704); Cheney (1640, MA); Day (1678, MA); Duvall (1630, France to MD); Emerson (1590, MA); Fletcher (1592, England to MA); France (1605); Hughes (1750); Hyde (1626, MA); Ijams (c. 1670, MD); Kidder (1626, MA); Langley (1732, MD); Marsh (1647); Page (1614, England to MA); Parker (1651); Perham (1669, MA); Pritchard (1710, MD); Rolfe ; Taylor (1742, MA); Tyler (1671, MD); Underwood (1650, MA); Webster (1639, MA); Whitter (1620, Ireland to MA)

Unless otherwise noted in the Ancestral reports, all information was taken from: Roberts, Gary Boyd “Ancestors of American Presidents”, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, MA c. 1995