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  • #27 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: #26 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources:

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    In this third column on folkloric figures treated in my new Notable Kin Volume Two (NK2, available for sale from Carl Boyer, 3rd or the Society’s Sales Department for $30 plus $3.50 postage and handling), we turn now to descendants of perhaps the most legendary figures in Virginia and New England history. Pocahontas, Matoaka, or Rebecca, daughter of the Algonkian chief Powhatan, died in England at age 22 or 23, but by the Englishman John Rolfe left a son Thomas, born in Virginia, whose only child Jane married Col. Robert Bolling of Prince George County, Virginia and left a son, Col. John Bolling of Cobbs (1676-1729) — Pocahontas’s only great-grandchild — who married Mary Kennon, daughter of Richard Kennon and Elizabeth Worsham, and granddaughter of my ancestors William and Elizabeth Worsham. Robert Bolling married secondly Ann Stith and Mrs. Elizabeth (----) Worsham married secondly Francis Epes, Jr. Descendants of the Kennons, Worshams, Epeses, or the Bolling-Stith marriage I call "kin-of-kin" of Pocahontas — related to her entire progeny, but not descended from Pocahontas herself.

    The descendants of Pocahontas through probably the Civil War belonged very largely to the Tidewater plantation aristocracy — the Randolphs, Carters, Byrds, Lees, etc., who owned and governed much of colonial Virginia. Jane Bolling, a daughter of John Bolling and Mary Kennon, married Richard Randolph, son of the royally-descended William and Ann (Isham) Randolph of Turkey Island. Among their descendants are a grandson, the orator John Randolph, Jr. of Roanoke (1773-1833), and a great-granddaughter, Ann Cary Randolph (a first cousin once removed of the orator), who married the much older Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816), Revolutionary statesman, diplomat, and U.S. Senator; and Mary Anne Harrison, wife of New York mayor John Vliet Lindsay, Jr. John Bolling, Jr., a brother of Jane, married Elizabeth Blair; their son, John Bolling III, married a sister of Thomas Jefferson and was an ancestor of First Lady Mrs. Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, second wife of President Woodrow Wilson. Robert Bolling, a brother of John III, was an ancestor, via Wests and Floods, of U.S. Senator Harry Flood Byrd and explorer Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr. of the South Pole.

    Mary Anne Randolph Custis, wife of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, was a great-granddaughter of Peter Randolph and Lucy Bolling, a granddaughter herself of Robert Bolling and Anne Stith. President George Herbert Walker Bush and his son, Texas governor George Walker Bush, are descended from both the Bolling-Stith and Kennon-Worsham marriages, via Munford/Montford, Shellman, Fay, and Bush. Elizabeth Moss, third wife of attorney general, senator and Kentucky governor John Jordan Crittenden, was also descended from the Kennon-Worsham marriage, via Royall and Woodson. Lastly in this list are my two nearest cousins among Pocahontas’s "kin-of-kin" – senator and Treasury secretary William Gibbs McAdoo, Jr., descended from Mary Worsham, Elizabeth’s sister, and Richard Ligon, via Grills; and Hamilton Jordan, White House Chief of Staff under Carter, one of whose great-great-great-great-grandmothers, Helena (Ligon) McWhorter, was a sister of two of my own great-great-great-grandmothers, Mary (Ligon) Puryear and Elizabeth (Ligon) Bressie. Jordan and I represent to some extent the "New South" (in our cases, Atlanta and Houston), created in large part by descendants of nineteenth-century migratory pioneers.

    Among New England figures, probably the most "folkloric," besides Mayflower passengers, are the Salem witchcraft victims of 1692. Of those who were executed that year in Salem itself, fifteen left descendants. The best known of these fifteen are probably Rev. George Burroughs, of royal descent; the sisters Mary (Towne) Estey and Rebecca (Towne) Nurse; and John Proctor. Others include Mrs. Martha Allen Carrier, one of whose descendants "invented" air conditioning; Taft ancestor George Jacobs; Chester Allan Arthur ancestor Susanna (North) Martin; and Mary (Ayer) Parker, sister of an ancestor of President Gerald R. Ford.

    Rev. George Burroughs was a great-grandfather of Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831), colonial printer and founder of the American Antiquarian Society, one of whose own great-granddaughters, Agnes Parke Thomas, married Richard Olney, U.S. attorney general and Secretary of State under Cleveland. Via Fox, Johnson, and Call, Burroughs was also an ancestor of Walt Disney, the cartoonist, producer and founder of Disney Studios, Disneyland, etc. Descendants of Mary Estey include Hannah Este, wife of David Gouverneur Burnet, first president of the Republic of Texas, and diplomat David Kirkpatrick Este Bruce; a third descendant, via Cummings, Lamson, Wiggin, and Bennett, is Joan (Bennett) Kennedy, wife of Senator Edward Moore Kennedy and mother of Congressman Patrick Joseph Kennedy II (b. 1967). Rebecca Nurse was an ancestor of genealogist Walter Goodwin Davis, and Sarah (Towne) Cloyce, an accused but not executed third sister, was an ancestor of Red Cross founder Clara Barton (via Bridges and Barton) and of Pillsbury (Flour) CEO Philip Winston Pillsbury (via Harrington, Stevens, and Winston). Brothers of these three sisters were forebears of architect Ithiel Town (1784-1844); Mrs. Edith Stuyvesant Dresser Vanderbilt Gerry (wife of forestry pioneer George Washington Vanderbilt of Biltmore and of Senator Peter Goelet Gerry); First Lady Grace (Goodhue) Coolidge; novelist Kenneth Lewis Roberts, author of Northwest Passage; Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago; and actresses Lucille Ball and her daughter, Luci Arnaz, these last via Larrabee, Cummings, and Ball.

    Thus the descendants of Salem witchcraft victims, like those of almost all other 17th-century New Englanders, include a variety of notable figures. Pocahontas, with only one great-grandchild, probably has at most 250,000 contemporary descendants. Collectively the progeny of Salem witchcraft victims numbers probably several million, perhaps many more. The "kin-of-kin" of Pocahontas massively expand the "family" of her descendants, however, so that Southerners with a sizable quantity of Tidewater or southside Virginia ancestry can at least hope for such a connection. And New Englanders with much "north of Boston" ancestry – who usually, via these forebears at least, lack Mayflower descent – may hope for descent from witchcraft victims or their siblings. If descents from judges or accusers or their siblings are added (note Hathornes and Putnams especially), the likelihood of a genealogical connection to this most infamous moment in colonial New England history is even greater.

    I hope that this three-part survey of "folkloric" figures in Notable Kin, Volume Two has proved of interest to many readers. I shall next discuss the geographic divisions and best sources for the mid-Atlantic states (N.Y., N.J., Pa., and Del.), and may then return to Hollywood and entertainment figures in my latest book.
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