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  • #78 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: Ten Further Hollywood Figures (or Groups Thereof)

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Published Date : March 11, 2005
    In the last several columns I covered the New England and some other ancestry of a wide variety of Hollywood figures—Carole Lombard, Jane Wyman, Rhonda Fleming, Janet Leigh, and Jamie Lee Curtis (col. 73); Richard [Tiffany] Gere (col. 74); and Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Tom Hanks, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Keanu Reeves, Henry Fonda, William Holden, Vincent Price, and Christopher Reeve (col. 77). In columns 73, 74, and 77, moreover, I list a group of “lesser” or “minor” Hollywood, television, or theatrical figures whose ancestry I have also traced—again, with the help of several Internet colleagues (Reitwiesner, McClure, Martindale, van de Pas, Battle, and Larsen). These figures include producer Leland Hayward and his daughter Brooke, author of Haywire and wife of actor Dennis Hopper and orchestra leader Peter Duchin; Robert Montgomery and his daughter Elizabeth; Kevin Bacon and his wife Kyra Sedgwick; the Baldwin brothers (Alec, William, Stephen, and Daniel); Patrick Swayze; John Lithgow; and Leonard Franklin Slye, the cowboy Roy Rogers. A pre-1978 Cash and Buffington genealogy by Ben Le Grande Cash, on p. xx, covers the known patrilineal ancestry of country singer Johnny [John R.] Cash. From Rhonda McClure’s website we can trace a relatively small part of the New England ancestry of Spencer Tracy, and the fine new LeRoy genealogy covers the distinguished New York ancestry of Helen Schermerhorn Morris, current wife of director Martin Scorsese and great-great-granddaughter of both a Newbold and two sisters of the Mrs. Astor (Caroline Webster Schermerhorn) of the “400.”

    Recent discoveries, often again brought to my attention by others, include a patrilineal Mareen Duvall line for the actor Robert [Selden] Duvall; New England ancestry for Naomi, Wynona, and Ashley Judd, descendants (but not patrilineally) of the immigrant Thomas Judd; a descent from Henry VII, King of England, to filmmaker Guy Stuart Ritchie, husband of Madonna (that line, and the Swedish royal descent of the young Gyllenhaals, will appear in the forthcoming 2005 or 2006 edition of RD600); New England ancestry for actress Halle Berry, a line developed in part by Christopher C. Child of NEHGS; a royal descent and Mason of Virginia line for “Nicky” and Paris Hilton, the former Elizabeth Taylor’s first husband; and, to my astonishment, as dictated to me by Bill Reitwiesner, a Col. Thomas Ligon line for actress Uma Thurman, recently of the “Kill Bill” movies. Major figures recently studied (but sometimes with parts of the proposed descent difficult to confirm from printed sources here) include Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, Sigourney Weaver, and Matt Damon (the first two are of course much better known and, to date, “greater” than the latter). The remainder of this column, and perhaps a later column as well, will consider recent findings on the ancestry of many of these figures.

    The actor Marlon Brando, Jr. (1924-2004) was the son of an earlier Marlon Brando and Dorothy Julia Pennebaker, and the grandson of Eugene E. Brando and Marie Holloway, and of William Johnson Pennebaker and Bessie Grace Gahan. Eugene E. Brando certainly had New England ancestry through his mother, Nancy H. Joslin of Herkimer Co., N.Y. (daughter of James and Charity), but this line cannot readily be further traced from printed sources at NEHGS; Eugene’s father, James H. Brando, was the son of Apollos/Paulus Brando and Catherine Van Orden, daughter of John Van Orden, Jr. and Catharine Persen, and granddaughter of John Van Orden and Trentje Catharine du Bois. Trentje’s father, Benjamin du Bois, husband of Catharine Zuyland, was the son of Solomon du Bois and Tryntje Gerritse Foochen, and grandson of Louis du Bois and Catharine Blanchan. Louis du Bois and his brother Jacques were Huguenot founders of New Rochelle; descendants of one or the other include U.S. senator Leverett Saltonstall, Massachusetts governor William Floyd Weld, and the Shrivers of Maryland, including Sargent and Maria (wife of bodybuilder, actor and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger). Brando’s maternal grandfather was a son of William Pennebaker and Sarah E. Salmon, and grandson of Samuel W. Pennebaker and Sarah Finley, daughter of George Finley and Mary Gaines, and granddaughter of William Gaines and Sarah Strother. Descent from the Virginia immigrant William Strother, of alleged royal descent, and an ancestor certainly of Zachary Taylor and probably of James Earl Carter, Jr., is almost certain, but Sarah’s immediate ancestry is again not covered in printed sources at NEHGS.

    The actor [Charles] Robert Redford [Jr.] (b. 1937) is the son of an earlier Charles Robert Redford and Martha Hart, daughter of Archibald Hart and Sally Pate Green, daughter by Martha Bugg of Eugene Green, son of Edwin Jeremiah Green and Eliza Jane Young. These immediate generations behind the actor I cannot readily document from NEHGS printed sources, but Eliza Jane Young is said by George Larsen to be the daughter of Ulysses Anson Young (b. 1812) and Mary Anne Rochester. Ulysses Anson (or Selden) Young appears on p. 149 of the Selden genealogy, and p. 293 of Ely Ancestry, where, however, his wife, possibly only his first, is given as Sally Herrick. Ulysses Young’s ancestry is mostly traceable; he was the son of Anson Young & Eunice Selden, grandson of William Henry Young & Lydia Swift and of Elijah Selden & Eunice Comstock, and great-grandson of Zephaniah Swift & Lydia Chipman, Samuel Selden, Jr. & Elizabeth Ely, and Abner Comstock & Eunice Goodspeed. Comstock and Goodspeed are ancestors of Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr.; I share New Haven ancestry with Elizabeth Peck, wife of Richard Ely (III) and mother of Elizabeth (Ely) Selden, and Zephaniah Swift and Lydia Chipman are both Mayflower descendants. Zephaniah Swift was the son of Jireh Swift & Abigail Gibbs, daughter of Thomas Gibbs & Alice Warren, daughter by Sarah Walker of Nathaniel Warren, son of Richard Warren of the Mayflower & Elizabeth Walker. Lydia Chipman was the daughter of John Chipman, Jr. & Marcy/Mary Skiffe, daughter of Stephen Skiffe & Lydia Snow, daughter of Anthony Snow & Abigail Warren, another child of Richard and Elizabeth; John Chipman, Jr. was a son of John Chipman & Hope Howland, daughter of John Howland & Elizabeth Tilley, both of the Mayflower.

    Theatrical producer and literary agent [William] Leland Hayward [Jr.] (1902-1971) was the husband of actress Margaret Sullavan (previously married to actor Henry Fonda and director William Wyler); socialite Mrs. Nancy “Slim” Gross Hawks (formerly wife of director Howard Hawks and long-time friend and favorite of author Truman Capote); and Hon. Mrs. Pamela Beryl Digby Spencer-Churchill, former daughter-in-law of the British Prime Minister, later wife of New York governor and diplomat [William] Averell Harriman, and herself ambassador to France. Leland’s daughter Brooke Hayward (b. 1937), author of the autobiography Haywire, has been married to actor Dennis Hopper (b. 1937) and orchestra leader Peter Duchin. Leland’s parents were William Leland Hayward & Sarah Coe Ireland, daughter of Frank P. Ireland & T. Eloise Coe, daughter of Isaac Coe & Sarah L. Bacon. Coes have appeared several times in “Notable Kin” columns, notably as ancestors of Jennie Jerome and Sir Winston Churchill, and of actress Jane Wyman, first wife of Ronald Wilson Reagan. Coes also figure in the ancestry of Barbara Pierce Bush (note especially the article on her ancestry in The Report (fully cited in my study of her presidential connections in the fall 2005 issue of New England Ancestors) Among ancestors the Coes share with me and various figures treated in column #58 of this series are the immigrants Paul and Martha (Hale) Peck of Hartford, whose daughter Martha married John Cornwall. Joseph Cornwall, a son of these last, married firstly Abigail Harris and left a daughter Elizabeth, wife of Ichabod Miller. Their daughter Rachel Miller married Eli Coe and was the mother of Eli Coe, Jr., who married his cousin Lois Coe (daughter of Joseph Coe [III] & Elizabeth Cornwall, daughter by his cousin, Mary Cornwall, of Nathaniel Cornwall, son of Joseph Cornwall & Abigail Harris above), and was the father of Isaac Coe, husband of Sarah L. Bacon.

    Actor Robert Montgomery (1904-1981), father by (first wife) Elizabeth Bryan Allen of “Bewitched” actress Elizabeth Montgomery (1933-1995, two of whose four husbands were actors Gig Young and Robert Foxworth) was a son of Henry Montgomery & Mary Weed Barney, daughter by Mary Ann Deverell of Nathan Barney, Jr., son by Hannah Carey of Nathan Barney, son by Elizabeth Ackley of Benjamin Barney, son by Sarah Luther of John Barney, son of Jacob Barney & Mary Danforth. This last was the daughter by Hannah Allen of Samuel Danforth, Jr., son of Rev. Samuel Danforth & Mary Wilson, daughter of Rev. John Wilson and the royally-descended Elizabeth Mansfield.

    Actor Kevin [Norwood] Bacon (b. 1958) is the son by Ruth Hilda Holmes of Edmund Norwood Bacon, son of Ellis Williams Bacon & Helen Atkinson Comly, daughter by Lydia Townsend Atkinson of Robert Comly, son of Charles Comly & Deborah Anne Newbold. This last was the daughter by Abigail Howell of Samuel Newbold, son by Rebecca Atkinson of Joshua Newbold, son by Sarah Core of Barzillai Newbold, son of Michael Newbold & Rachel Clayton, these last ancestors of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Princes William and Harry. Other mid-Atlantic and some New England ancestry is also traceable for the actor; his wife Kyra Sedgwick (b. 1965) is the daughter by Patricia Rosenwald of Henry Dwight Sedgwick V, son of Robert Minturn Sedgwick & Helen Peabody, and grandson of Henry Dwight Sedgwick III & Sarah Minturn, and of Groton School headmaster Endicott Peabody & Fannie Peabody, his first cousin. This last couple, and the royal descent of their children from Mrs. Mary Gye Maverick is treated in my Notable Kin, Volume One (1998), pp. 76-79. Much New England ancestry of note can also be traced for H. D. Sedgwick III and Sarah Minturn. The former, son of H. D. Sedgwick II and his first cousin Henrietta Ellery Sedgwick, was the grandson maternally of Robert Sedgwick & Elizabeth Dana Ellery, covered under #s 13 and 30 of “Notable Descendants of Governor Thomas Dudley (RD),” column #63 in this series. Ellerys and Sedgwicks produced various men of note, plus novelist Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867). Kyra’s most recent “notorious” cousin was Warhol “Factory” actress Edith Minturn “Edie” Sedgwick (1943-1971), daughter of Francis Minturn Sedgwick & Alice Delano DeForest and granddaughter of the above Henry Dwight Sedgwick III & Sarah Minturn. “Edie” and Kyra are first cousins once removed.

    New England ancestry and a royal descent for cowboy Roy Rogers (1911-1998) struck me initially as extraordinary. Born Leonard Franklin Slye, Rogers was the son of Andrew E. Slye and Mattie Womack, daughter by Patricia Adeline Hatchett of Archer Womack, son of William Womack and Jacintha Kibbe of the well-studied New England family. Jacintha’s parents were Moses Kibbe, Jr. & Sarah Everman, who moved to Greenup Co., Kentucky from Adams Co., Ohio. The descent of Moses Kibbe, Jr. from Boston minister Rev. William Skepper/Skipper (RD) is as follows: Moses Kibbe & Ruth Butler; Jacob Kibbe, Jr. & Abigail Warner; John Warner & Tabitha Abbe; Thomas Abbe & Sarah Fairfield; Walter Fairfield & Sarah Skepper/Skipper; Rev. William Skepper/Skipper & Sarah Fisher.

    Equally surprising, as regards Yankee/Southern connections in the ancestry of “popular” artists, is the New England ancestry and my own distant connection to country singers Diana Ellen “Naomi” Judd (b. Ashland, Kentucky 1946); her daughter (by Charles Jordan) Christina Claire Ciminella “Wynonna” Judd (b. 1964); and a second daughter (by husband Michael Ciminella) Ashley Tyler Ciminella, the actress Ashley Judd (b. 1968). “Naomi” Judd is the daughter of Charles Glen Judd & Pauline Oliver, granddaughter of Roy Ogden Judd & Sally Ellen Moore, and great-granddaughter by a non-marital liaison with James Oliver Moore of Mary Jane Judd, daughter of Elijah Hubert Judd & Frances Pack. The father of Elijah Hubert Judd, Increase Sumner Judd, was born in Lenox, Mass. in 1804, married Margaret Fields of Russell Co., Va., and died in Lawrence Co., Kentucky in 1870. Increase S. Judd was the son by Abigail Reed of Seymour Judd, son by Lucy Miller of Uriah Judd, Jr., son of Uriah Judd & Mercy Seymour. Mercy was the daughter by Hannah North of Samuel Seymour, son of Richard Seymour, Jr. & Hannah Woodruff, daughter of my ancestors Matthew Woodruff & Hannah ---- of Farmington, Conn. Seymours, of course, became a Yale presidential family; other surnames in Mercy’s ancestry included Newell and Olmstead.

    In an earlier column I expressed my pleasure at finding myself a sixth cousin of actor Keanu Reeves. I am now pleased to report, courtesy again of Bill Reitwiesner, my distant kinship (8th cousin) to Uma [Karuna] Thurman (b. 1970) of the recent “Kill Bill” series, former wife of actors Gary Oldman and Ethan Hawke. Her mother, Nina Birgitte Caroline von Schlebrügg, was formerly married to 1960s “guru” Timothy Leary. Her father, Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman of Columbia University, was the son by Elizabeth Dean Farrar of Beverley Reid Thurman & Huella Bedford, who appears on page 352 of the 1994 Bedford genealogy I used several years ago at the Houston Public Library. Huella was the daughter by Grace Gibson of Benjamin Watkins Bedford III, son by Sarah Mildred McGehee of Benjamin Watkins Bedford, Jr., son by Martha Anne Whyte of Benjamin Watkins Bedford, son by Anne Robertson of Thomas Bedford, Jr., son of Thomas Bedford & Mary Ligon Coleman. This last was the daughter of John Coleman & Mary Ligon, daughter of my ancestors Richard Ligon & Mary Worsham, granddaughter of the royally-descended Col. Thomas Lygon/Ligon of Va.& Mary Harris, and via Worshams “kin-of-kin” of Pocahontas. My kinship to Uma Thurman is more remote than that to Mr. Reeves, but is still within the range of eighth cousins.

    The actor Alec (Alexander Rae III) Baldwin (b. 1958), husband of actress Kim Basinger, William Baldwin (b. 1963), Stephen Baldwin (b. 1966), and Daniel Baldwin (b. 1970) are sons of Alexander Rae Baldwin, Jr. & Carol Newcomb Martineau, grandsons of Alexander Rae Baldwin & Ruth Noble, great-grandsons of Sylvester Davis Baldwin & Helen Irene McNamara, great-great-grandsons of Roswell C. Baldwin & Hannah Miles, and great-great-great-grandsons of Sylvester Baldwin III & Esther Brown. Sylvester had a royal descent via Mrs. Alice Freeman Thompson Parke of Mass. and probably Conn., an ancestress of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Esther was twice descended from John Howland & Elizabeth Tilley, both of the Mayflower, and three times of Parke descent shared by the late Princess (twice through Diana and W. G. Harding ancestors Thomas Parke & Dorothy Thompson). These lines can be outlined as follows: Sylvester Baldwin III & Esther Brown; Sylvester Baldwin, Jr. & Rebecca Bryant, Roswell Brown & Esther Williams; Sylvester Baldwin & Bridget Chesebrough, Jedediah Brown, Jr. & Anna Holmes, John Williams & Keturah Randall; Jonathan Chesebrough & Bridget Minor, Jedediah Brown & Abigail Holmes, Joshua Holmes III & Mary Richardson, William Williams & Martha Wheeler, John Randall, Jr. & Mary Holmes; Joseph Minor & Bridget Chesebrough, Joshua Holmes, Jr. & Fear Sturgis (parents of Abigail, Joshua III, and Mary), Samuel Richardson & Anna Chesebrough, John Williams & Desire Denison, William Wheeler & Hannah Gallup; Edward Sturgis, Jr. & Temperance Gorham, Nathaniel Chesebrough & Hannah Denison (parents of Bridget and Anna), John Williams & Martha Wheeler, George Denison, Jr. & Mercy Gorham, Isaac Wheeler & Martha Parke (parents of William and Martha); John Gorham & Desire Howland (parents of Temperance and Mercy), George Denison & Bridget Thompson, Isaac Williams & Martha Parke, Thomas Parke (PW) & Dorothy Thompson (PW) (parents of Mrs. Martha Parke Wheeler); John Howland & Elizabeth Tilley of the Mayflower; John Thompson (PW) & Alice Freeman (PW, RD) (parents of Bridget and Dorothy), William Parke & Martha Holgrave (parents of Mrs. Martha Parke Williams), Robert Parke (PW) & Martha Chaplin (PW) (parents of Thomas and William).

    I shall postpone Halle Berry, Matt Damon, Robert Duvall, “Nicky” and Paris Hilton, the current Mrs. Martin Scorsese, Patrick Swayze, Spencer Tracy, and Sigourney Weaver, for some of whom I would like to undertake further research, for a future column.

    Sources (besides websites evoked above, Internet fanzines and various biographies and autobiographies):

    1. Brando:Who’s Who in America, Millennium Edition (2000), pp. 528-59; William Heidgerd, The American Descendants of Chretien du Bois of Wicres, France, 20 parts (1968-84), #s A-3, B-14, C-72, D-198 (pt. 1), E-520 (pt. 3), F-1165 (pt. 4) (to Mrs. Catherine Van Orden Brando); The Virginia Genealogist 39 (1995): 16-21. I have not seen n.a., “A Genealogy of the Brando Family,” tss., n.d., FHL Film #0930157, item 1.
    2. Redford: S. S. Rogers, E. S. Lane and E. Van D. Selden, Selden Ancestry: A Family History (1931), pp. 79-109, 124-25, 149 and M. S. Beach, Rev. William Ely, and G. B. Vanderpoel, The Ely Ancestry (1902), pp. 62-65, 98-99, 178, 293; J. A. Comstock, A History and Genealogy of the Comstock Family (1949), pp. 11-12; Robert S. Wakefield, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Vol. 18, Family of Richard Warren, pt. 1 (1999), pp. 1-2, 7-9, 31-32, 38-39, 122-23, 154, pt. 3 (2001), pp. 11, 101, and J. H. Chipman III, A Chipman Genealogy (1970), pp. 1-8, 11-12.
    3. Hayward:American National Biography (ANB), 24 vols. (1999), 10: 431-32 (Leland Hayward) and Charles Kidd, Debrett Goes to Hollywood (1986), p. 28, J. Gardner Bartlett, RobertCoe, Puritan, His Ancestors and Descendants, 1340-1910 (1911), pp. 178-79, 184-85, 273, 397; E. E. Cornwall, William Cornwall and His Descendants (1901), pp. 11, 17, 23-24 and D. L. Jacobus and E. F. Waterman, Hale, House and Related Families (1952), pp. 256-58, 261 (Peck, Cornwall).
    4. Montgomery: ANB 15: 708-9 (Robert Montgomery); E. D. Preston and W. C. Barney, Genealogy of the Barney Family in America (1990), pp. 17-18, 40-41, 93-94, 187, 343, 551-52; J. J. May, Danforth Genealogy (1902), pp. 23-26, 34-37 and Register 155 (2001): 3-28 (Wilson, Mansfield). See also Rhonda R. McClure, Finding Your Famous [and Infamous] Ancestors (2003), pp. 14-17.
    5. Bacon and
    6. Sedgwick: Who’s Who in America, Millennium Edition (2000), pp. 189-90 (Kevin and E. N. Bacon), 4415 (Kyra Sedgwick); National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol. 48 (1965), p. 463) (E. W. Bacon) and Harvard Class of 1951: Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Report (1976), p. 892-83 (H. D. Sedgwick V); G. N. Comly, Comly Family in America (1939), pp. 180-81, 329, 537, 694, 936-51 (Michael Newbold to E. N. Bacon); H. M. Sedgwick, A Sedgwick Genealogy: Descendants of Deacon Benjamin Sedgwick (1961), pp. 221-25, 232, 239; Rev. F. W. Pyne, Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Volume 1, The New England States, 2nd ed. (2002), pp. 338-39, 341, 346, 356, 368-69.
    7. Rogers (Slye): D. P. Hanna, Kibbe Genealogical Notes (1972), pp. 46-47, 59-60, 85; Cleveland Abbe and J. G. Nichols, Abbe-Abbey Genealogy (1916), pp. 12-14; W. C. Fairfield, Descendants of John Fairfield of Wenham, Volume 1: First Five Generations (1953), pp. 8-10, and TAG 20 (1943-44): 77-85 (Skepper/Skipper). For Rogers himself see Current Biography Yearbook 1983, pp. 328-31.
    8. Judds: Sylvester Judd, Thomas Judd and His Descendants (1856), pp. 62, 65, 71-72 (to Increase, who “removed to western Virginia”), G. D. Seymour and D. L. Jacobus, A History of the Seymour Family (1939), pp. 42-46, and S. W. Abbott, Woodruff Genealogy: Descendants of Mathew Woodruff of Farmington, Connecticut (1963), pp. 1-65.
    9. Thurman:Who’s Who in America, Millennium Edition (2000), p. 4918 (Uma and Robert Thurman) and New York Times, 15 Nov. 1962, p. 37, col. 3 (obituary of B. R. Thurman, Jr.); Billy Roy Bedford and Luetta Bedford Kirker, The Bedford Family of Virginia and Descendants Thereof (1994), pp. 13-18, 29, 62-63, 110-11, 215, 352; W. D. Ligon, Jr., The Ligon Family and Connections, vol. 1 (1947), pp. 306-18, 328-52, 383-84, 751-54, and The Virginia Genealogist 22 (1978): 253-55, 23 (1979): 80, 38 (1994): 48-51.
    10. Baldwins:Who’s Who in America, Millennium Edition (2000), pp. 215-16, 218 (the brothers); C. C. Baldwin, The Baldwin Genealogy From 1500 to 1881 (1881), pp. 243, 245-46, 253, 265 (Sylvester, Sr. to Sylvester [Davis] Baldwin) and A. C. Wildey, Genealogy of the Descendants of William Chesebrough (1903), pp. 25-26, 50, 148, 302-3, 305, 316, 341; E. G. Denison, J. M. Peck and D. L. Jacobus, Denison Genealogy (1963), pp. 1-3, 7-8, 301-2, 364, 368; E. P. White, John Howland of the Mayflower, Volume 1 [Gorham] (1990), pp. 1-12, 14-17, 26-27, 59-60, 119-21, 245-46, 248-49, 253-54, 483-84 (Howland, Gorham, Sturgis, Holmes, Brown, Randall, Denison, Williams); F. L. Weis, “Robert Williams of Roxbury, Massachusetts, and Some of His Descendants” (typescript, 1945), pp. 18-21, 40-41, 103-4, 271-72; R. P. Anderson, The Parke Scrapbook, Number 2 (1967), pp. 21-29, 37-38, 42-43, 66, 77 (Parke, Williams, Wheeler).

    Note: The above sources fully cover the outlined descents for Leland and Brooke Hayward, Robert and Elizabeth Montgomery, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, and Uma Thurman. For Brando, Redford, Roy Rogers, Judds and Baldwins, however, printed sources seem to document only the New England or colonial ancestry of Mrs. Catherine Van Orden Brando (and Mrs. Sarah Finley Pennebaker), Ulysses Anson (or Selden) Young (Redford), Mrs. Jacintha Kibbe Womack (Roy Rogers), Increase Sumner Judd, and Sylvester Davis Baldwin. My next column may be personal.

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