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  • Notable Kin: The New England Ancestry of Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s 28th President

    Martin E. Hollick

    Published Date : October 24, 2008

    When Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, introduced Drew Gilpin Faust at her inauguration as Harvard’s 28th president on October 12, 2007, she said that Harvard had at last in its 371 year history chosen, and with a dramatic pause she continued, a southerner.  With all due respect to her upbringing in Virginia, Dr. Faust was born in New York City, which is slightly north of the Mason Dixon Line.  Her father, McGhee Tyson Gilpin, was a thoroughbred horse breeder and Princeton graduate of 1942.  His ancestry includes families from Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania, including his maternal grandfather, Lawrence Davis Tyson, a 1883 graduate of West Point and U.S. Senator from Tennessee.  Faust’s mother, Catharine Ginna Mellick was from New Jersey and her ancestry is a mixture of New Jersey and New England forebears.

    Through her mother President Faust has two great-great-grandmothers with considerable New England ancestry.  Mary Whiting (Stowers), the wife of George Cook Lewis, a physician in New Jersey and Elizabeth Dunn (Ayers), wife of Andrew D. Mellick, of Plainfield, New Jersey, provide Faust with two Mayflower lines to Edward Fuller and Gov. William Bradford.  She also descends from at least two New Jersey residents whose Mayflower lines were once accepted, but now remain either unproven or incorrect: Temperance (Bonham), wife of Zebulon Ayers and Desire (Walker), wife of Joseph Freeman.  Faust has two ancestors of known royal descent, coincidentally, both women: Mrs. Agnes Harris Spencer and Mrs. Elizabeth St. John Whiting. 

    President Faust is a direct descendant of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, 18th century divine who was largely associated with the Great Awakening as well as the third president of Princeton.  Among the noted progeny of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards we find his grandson, Aaron Burr, the third U.S. Vice President, Faust’s first cousin, six times removed; First Lady Edith Kermit Carow (Mrs. Theodore) Roosevelt, a third cousin, three times removed; as well as short story writer O. Henry, the wife of inventor Eli Whitney, and poet Robert Lowell.  Through her descent from Alice Richards, wife of William Bradford, Jr., Faust is part of the Bradford/Richards/Hinckley family group which includes the late actor Christopher Reeve, Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, film icon Clint Eastwood , and inventor George Eastman (all Bradford descendants), both Presidents Bush and FDR, Senator John F. Kerry, and Mormon President Gordon Hinckley (Richards descendants). 

    Faust’s Mayflower descent from Edward Fuller is through his son Samuel Fuller whose wife was Jane Lathrop, the daughter of the Rev. John Lathrop and Hannah House.   The Lathrop family group includes Presidents Grant, FDR, and both Bushes, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and his father the late George Romney, both father and son publishers Charles Scribner, poet Hart Crane, park architect Frederick Law Olmstead, governor of New York and two-time presidential candidate, Thomas Dewey, actress Dina Merrill, fellow historian, John Lathrop Motley, U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace, Clint Eastwood (again), traitor Benedict Arnold, Psycho actor Anthony Perkins, the Dulles brothers Allen and John Foster, poets Henry Wadworth Longfellow and Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the latter’s son, the Supreme Court Justice, Chief Justice Melville Weston Fuller, the wife of Thomas William Lamont, namesake of one of Harvard’s libraries, the wife of Leland Stanford, railroad magnate and benefactor of the university which bears his name, and TV chef and icon, Julia Child.

    Another major family group that President Faust is a part is the Bulkeley family, derived from her ancestress Elizabeth St. John Whiting whose mother was Sarah Bulkeley.  Descendants of Elizabeth St. John Whiting include President Coolidge, film icon Bette Davis, and Anne Foster Bellows, the wife of Thomas Hill, the 20th president of Harvard.  The larger Bulkeley family includes both presidents Bush, astronaut Alan Shepherd, Ralph Waldo Emerson, patriot John Hancock, and another film legend, Katharine Hepburn. 

    President Faust descends from Jeremiah Mason and Mary Clark, also ancestors of Senator Kerry, her sixth cousin, once removed.  Jeremiah’s paternal grandparents were Daniel Mason and Margaret Denison, she a descendant of William Denison and Margaret Chandler, early immigrants to Roxbury, Mass.  Their granddaughter Elizabeth, daughter of Daniel and Patience (Dudley) Denison married John Rogers, the 5th president of Harvard.  John and Elizabeth (Denison) Rogers were the parents of Margaret Rogers, the wife of John Leverett, the 7th president of Harvard, and Elizabeth Rogers who married John Appleton who were, in turn, the parents of Margaret Appleton, the wife of Edward Holyoke, the 9th president of Harvard.  A sister of Margaret (Appleton) Holyoke was Elizabeth who married Jabez Fitch and was an ancestress of Abbott Lawrence Lowell, the 22nd president of Harvard.  Thus the Denison family can now claim at least five Harvard presidents in their ranks.

    Through the ancestors of Jonathan Edwards, Faust is also a descendant of Thomas Willet, the first mayor of New York City, her birthplace, and the Rev. Thomas Hooker, founder of Hartford, Connecticut.  Lastly, the Rev. Jonathan Edwards’ maternal grandfather was the Rev. Solomon Stoddard, Harvard Class of 1662, whose mother Lucy Downing, was the daughter of Emanuel Downing and Lucy Winthrop, the sister of Gov. John Winthrop, whose sermon on the Arabella, President Faust quoted in her inaugural speech.  Through the Downings, Faust is a kinswoman to the Adams family, including both presidents and the later professors of Harvard, Brooks and Henry Adams. 

    Presented below in modified notable kin style is the ancestry of President Faust.  Note that ancestors Elizabeth C. Tompkins and George Cook Lewis were not traced further and may have additional New England ties.

    Catharine Drew Gilpin, b. 18 September 1947, New York, New York, now known as Drew Gilpin Faust, A.B. Bryn Mawr (1968), A.M., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania (1975); McGhee Tyson Gilpin & Catharine Ginna Mellick; Kenneth Newcomer Gilpin & Isabella McGhee Tyson, Roger Drew Mellick & Catharine Whiting Ginna; Henry Brooke Gilpin & Hattie Newcomer, Lawrence Davis Tyson & Bettie Humes McGhee, George Phelps Mellick & Ella Hartley, Daniel Frederick Ginna & Catharine Whiting Lewis; Bernard Gilpin & Sarah Thomas, Benjamin Franklin Newcomer & Amelia Louise Ehlen, Richard Lawrence Tyson & Margaret Louise Turnage, Charles McClung McGhee & Isabella McNutt White, Andrew D. Mellick & Elizabeth Dunn Ayers, Stephen A. Ginna & Elizabeth C. Tompkins, George Cook Lewis & Mary Whiting Stowers; Simeon Ayers & Abigail Dunham, Uriah Morris Stowers & Catharine Spencer Whiting; Ezekiel Ayers & Charlotte Cotheil Freeman, James Dunham & Ursula Dunn, Mason Whiting & Mary Edwards; Zebulon Ayers & Temperance Bonham, Matthew Freeman & Margaret Cotheil, John Dunham, Jr. & Mary Gilman, Hugh Dunn & Abigail Carman, William Whiting, Jr. & Anna Mason, Timothy Edwards & Rhoda Ogden; Joseph Freeman & Desire Walker, John Dunham & Mary Drake, Jeremiah Dunn & Sarah Hull, William Whiting & Anna Raymond, Jeremiah Mason & Mary Clark, Rev. Jonathan Edward & Sarah Pierpont; Benajah Dunham & Dorothy Martin, Benjamin Hull, Jr. & Sarah Drake, Samuel Whiting & Elizabeth Adams, Daniel Mason, Jr. & Dorothy Hobart, Timothy Edwards & Esther Stoddard, James Pierpont (Harvard Class of 1681) & Mary Hooker; Edward Dunham & Mary Bonham, Benjamin Hull & Rachel York, Rev. John Whiting (Harvard Class of 1653) & Sybil Collins, William Adams (Harvard Class of 1671) & Alice Bradford, Daniel Mason & Margaret Denison, Jeremiah Hobart & Elizabeth Whiting, Richard Edwards & Elizabeth Tuttle, Solomon Stoddard & Esther Warham, Samuel Hooker (Harvard Class of 1653) & Mary Willet; Nicholas Bonham & Hannah Fuller, Rev. Joseph Hull & Agnes (---), William Bradford, Jr. & Alice Richards, John Mason & Ann Peck, Edward Denison & Elizabeth Weld, Samuel Whiting & Elizabeth St. John (RD) (parents of Elizabeth), William Edwards & Agnes Harris (RD), Anthony Stoddard & Lucy Downing, Rev. Thomas Hooker & Susannah Garbrand, Thomas Willet & Mary Brown; Samuel Fuller & Jane Lathrop, William Bradford (MF) & Alice Carpenter, Thomas Richards & Welthean Loring, William Denison & Margaret Chandler, Sir Oliver St. John & Sarah Bulkeley, Emmanuel Downing & Lucy Winthrop; Edward Fuller (MF) & (---), Rev. John Lathrop & Hannah House.

    Sources: The immediate ancestry of President Faust is gleaned from newspaper articles: “In Faust, Early Bold Streak” by Marcella Bombardieri and Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe, 25 February 2007; New York Times 22 October 1942 (parents’ engagement), 31 December 1966 (mother’s obit), 22 June 1947 and 3 April 1983 (obits of her Gilpin grandparents), 4 December 1968 and 31 July 1989 (obits of her Mellick grandparents), 20 December 1916 (engagement of her Mellick grandparents), 24 August 1925 and 25 March 1951 (obits of George P. Mellick and his wife Ella, the obit for George Mellick notes his membership in the Mayflower Society and SAR), 8 November 1895 (obituary of Andrew D. Mellick), 7 January 1914 (obituary for Daniel F. Ginna), 16 January 1905 (obit for Stephen A. Ginna), ; Washington Post of 24 June 1947 (obituary of her paternal grandfather); Social Security Death Index #068-24-7421 (father, McGhee Gilpin) and #230-52-8618 (Isabella Tyson Gilpin); Dictionary of  American Biography 19:104-5 (Tyson); Patty Barthell Myers, The Ancestors and Descendants of Lewis Ross Freeman with related families (1995), pp. 5-13, 21-2, 47-8, 421-3, 429-30, 439, 473, 466, 448 (Ayers, Freeman, noting that Elizabeth Dunn Ayers appears in this work); William H. Edwards, Timothy and Rhoda Ogden Edwards of Stockbridge, Massachusetts and their Descendants (1903), pp. 1-15, 28-29, 126, 129, 134, and 137 (Edwards, Pierpont, Ogden, Whiting, Lewis, noting that Catherine Whiting Ginna appears in this work, which is part of Google Books); NEHGR 93 (1939):203-4 (Bible record of Simeon Ayers and Abigail Dunham); Biographical Note for the Gilpin Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection #4535 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; National Register of the SAR (1902), p. 706 (George P. Mellick); Mayflower Families Through Five Generations 4 (E. Fuller), pp. 3-4, 6-8, 13-14, 34, 36-38, 105-6 and 22 (Bradford), pp. 1-8, 17-18, 55-57, 206-7; Mayflower Families in Progress: George Soule (5th ed. 2006), p. 10 (Walker which relies on Mayflower Quarterly 50:31-40); The Ancestry of Thomas Chalmers Brainerd (1948) (Whiting, Collins, Lathrop); connections to notable kin via the extensive writings of Gary Boyd Roberts, including The Ancestry of American Presidents (1995), Notable Kin, vols., 1 and 2 (specifically 1:107 which lists the progeny of Jonathan Edwards), and various notable kin columns appearing in the NEHGS NEXUS, New England Ancestors and online at, specifically nos. 65 (Clint Eastwood) and 56 (John Lathrop Descendants); and the work of William Addams Reitwiesner at, specifically the ahnentafel of George W. Bush and John F. Kerry.  For the royal line of Elizabeth St. John Whiting to Henry II of England see RD600, pp. 442-44 and Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry (2004), p. 629; the royal line of Agnes Harris Spencer Edwards to Hugh Capet of France at RD600, pp. 548-50.

    Martin Hollick is a reference librarian at the Harvard Law School Library.

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