Friday, 27 April 2012

Just Cuz (s)

“Listen here, Pilgrim…”

In a general sense, a pilgrim is any traveler who is on a journey to a holy place, but in the United States “Pilgrim” generally refers to any of the early settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts who came seeking religious freedom.  The Pilgrims’ Plymouth Colony established in 1620 was the second successful English settlement in the U.S. after Jamestown and eventually came to be the oldest continuously inhabited British Settlement in the U.S.

The Mayflower was the ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth, and its story is well known as a symbol of early European colonization of North America.  But between 1600 and roughly 1640 over 250 ships arrived in Virginia and Massachusetts and with over 7100 families considered to be pilgrims. There are millions of Mayflower descendants living today and many millions more who can legitimately be called descendants of other New England pilgrims. Featured below are just a few who all trace their bloodlines back to the same Plymouth colony family, the Soules (Sooles).

George Soule (1595-1679)

George Soule was one of the original 102 Pilgrims who arrived in 1620 on the Mayflower and was one of the forty-one signers of the Mayflower Compact, the governing document of the Colony. George and his wife Mary had nine children, and it is their second, John, from whom our first two featured cousins descend.

Richard Gere is an actor who starred in numerous hit films including American Gigolo, An Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Woman.  Richard is George Soule’s 9th Great Grandson.

Richard Gere → Homer Gere → Albert Gere → George Gere →Sarah Tewksbury → Lucinda Fuller → Consider Fuller → Archippus Fuller → Sarah Wright → Sarah Soule → John Soule → George Soule

Dick Van Dyke is an actor and comedian best known for the TV series The Dick Van Dyke Show and films Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Bye Bye Birdie.  Dick is also a 9th Great Grandson of George Soule.

Dick Van Dyke    Hazel McCord  → Charles McCord →  Susan Child → David Lorenzo Child → Susannah Tinkham → Isaiah Tinkham → Sarah Soule → Zachariah Soule → Benjamin Soule → John Soule → George Soule


Sarah Soule (Soole) (1600 – 1656)

Sarah was George Soule’s eldest sister.  Both were children of Thomas Soule (1569 -1615) and Mary Iddenden (1573 -1656).  Sarah married Samuel Hinckley in 1617 in Hawkhurst, Kent, England and had at least the first six of their nine children before moving in 1635 to join her brother in Massachusetts. Three of her children, Susannah, Thomas and Elizabeth, figure in this note.

Sarah and Samuel’s eldest was daughter Susannah, born 1607. Among Susannah’s 9th Great Grandchildren are two political adversaries from the bitterly fought 2008 U.S Presidential election.

Sarah Heath Palin is a former Governor of Alaska and Republican Party nominee for Vice President in 2008.
Sarah Heath  Sarah Sheeran →  Helen Louise Gower →  James Carl Gower →  Arthur Collins Gower →  Cornelius Norton Gower →  Susannah Norton  → Lydia Claghorn →  Susannah Gibbs  → Abigail Smith →  Shubael Smith →  Susannah HinckleySarah Soule

Barack Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States.

The Obama link to the Plymouth colonists was first revealed during the 2008 campaign by researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Palin’s connection was first announced in a 2010 press release by, which also sponsors the NBC show Who Do You Think You Are?

Barack H. Obama  S. Ann Dunham →  Stanley A. Dunham →  Ralph W. E. Dunham →  Jacob William Dunham →  Jacob Mackey Dunham →  Jacob Dunham →  Samuel Dunham →  Mary Smith →  Shubael Smith →  Samuel Smith →  Susannah Hinckley  Sarah Soule

Sarah Soule and Samuel Hinckley’s second child after Susannah was Thomas, born 1618.  Thomas held several prominent government roles in the colony during his lifetime including serving as its Governor from 1680 – 1692.  Through his son Samuel, born to his first wife Mary, Governor Thomas is the direct ancestor of two U.S. Presidents.

Thomas’s 9th Great Grandson is George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 and Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

George W. Bush  George H.W. Bush  Dorothy Walker →  George Herbert Walker →  Martha Adela Beaky →  Mary Ann Bangs →  Elijah Keeler Bangs →  Lemuel Bangs →  Joseph Bangs →  Mary Hinckley →  Samuel Hinckley →  Gov. Thomas Hinckley  Sarah Soule

George H.W. Bush was the 41st President of the United States (1989-93), and a former Vice-President of the U.S. and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He is the father of 43rd President George W. Bush, and Gov. Thomas Soule’s 8th Great Grandson.


Sarah and Samuel’s fourth child, their third daughter, was Elizabeth, born 1631.  It is through Elizabeth that we are able to connect our family tree to the impressive collection of celebrities and political figures outlined above.  Elizabeth is the 8th Great Grandmother of Jennifer Lanthier and her siblings.
Jennifer, Kateri and James Lanthier    Jane Frances McDougall →  Cyrus William McDougall →  Mary Louise Parlee →  Zachariah Parlee →  Henry Parlee →  Peter Parlee →  Lydia Robbins →  John Robins →  Mary Parker →  Elizabeth Hinckley  Sarah Soule

Summing up, Jennifer, James and Kateri are Sarah Soule’s Ninth Great Grandchildren, President George H.W. Bush’s 10th Cousins, 10th Cousins 1x Removed of President George W. Bush, President Barack H. Obama and Sarah Palin, and 11th Cousins of Richard Gere and Dick Van Dyke.

One Big Happy Family

Before one gets too excited, proud or embarrassed of any of these connections, a little perspective is needed.  By the time one gets back to 9th Great Grandparents, each of us has over 2000 direct bloodline branches in our family tree (assuming no overlaps, which is almost never a valid assumption) so chances are someone famous is in there.  But looking at it the other way is far more impressive. If one assumes an average of three reproducing offspring per family per generation, a conservative assumption given the much larger families of yester-year (and again assuming no overlap due to inter-relation marriages), any single descendant today of one person 11 generations ago such as Sarah Soule’s father Thomas, would have 11th cousins numbering in the hundreds of thousands tracing to that ancestor.  If the average number of children per generation is assumed to be five, that total number of cousins climbs to the tens of millions.  Add a couple of additional generations and you quickly get to a hypothetical cousin pool that exceeds the current population of the planet.  How is that possible?  Because we started by assuming no inter-relation marriages.  In fact the vast majority of marriages in any family tree can be found to be between relations if one had full information to trace back far enough.  The fun is in finding the connections and hoping they are far enough back to ensure the health of the gene pool.

Steve Rogers is married to Jennifer Lanthier and undoubtedly some sort of distant cousin to her.

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