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Notes on the Ancestry of George Herbert Walker Bush (1924-2018), 41st U.S. President – By Gary Boyd Roberts

(This article was originally prepared for the New England Historic Genealogical Society website, American Ancestors,  and is reproduced here with the permission of the author.)

The Royal Descents of 900 Immigrants

Of about one-third New England, one-third mid-Atlantic, and one-third Southern ancestry, George Herbert Walker Bush was the first U.S. president probably related to over half of the American people—at least half of those with some colonial (pre-1776) forebears. His father was Prescott Sheldon Bush, U.S. Senator from Connecticut; Bush’s maternal grandmother was a niece of Cincinnati Reds baseball player James Wear “Bug” Holliday (1867-1910). A great-great-grandmother of the senator was a sister of the Dr. Samuel Prescott who completed Paul Revere’s “Midnight Ride” of 19 April 1775. Four ancestors (John Howland, his wife Elizabeth Tilley and her parents John Tilley and Joan Hurst) were passengers on the Mayflower. A fifth passenger, Francis Cooke, was also a likely ancestor.

Although not himself descended from Pocahontas and John Rolfe, Bush was descended from the Bolling and Worsham ancestors of Pocahontas’s only great-grandson, John Bolling. The 41st President was thus related to all of Pocahontas’s nineteenth-century and later descendants, who include First Lady Edith Bolling (Galt) Wilson, second wife of Woodrow Wilson; explorer Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr.; and the wife of New York City mayor John V. Lindsay. Other Worsham or Bolling descendants include Hamilton Jordan (Jimmy Carter’s chief-of-staff) and Mary Ann Randolph Custis, the wife of Robert E. Lee.

President Bush was descended as well from various medieval kings, including Edward I of England, who died in 1307, and Robert III of Scotland, who died in 1406. The President’s immigrant ancestors of royal descent were Robert Livingston the elder of New York, also an ancestor of Eleanor Roosevelt; the famed religious “heretic” Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson, and her daughter-in-law, Catherine (Hamby) Hutchinson; Rev. Peter Bulkeley, founder of Concord, Mass. (and Jane Allen, his first wife, who died in England); Elizabeth (Bullock) Clements and Dr. Richard Palgrave of Mass.; and Walter Aston and Dorothy (Beresford) Brodnax of Virginia. A possible kinship to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is through Thomas and Margaret (Williams) Mitchell, whose son married a daughter of Francis Cooke.

President Bush was several times related to his wife, the late Barbara (Pierce) Bush—via Richardsons and Kendalls of Woburn, Mass., Holbrooks of Weymouth, Mass., and probably other New England families. In addition to his son, 43rd U.S. President George Walker Bush, the 41st President was also related—albeit distantly—to Presidents J.Q. Adams, Fillmore, Pierce, Lincoln, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, T. Roosevelt, Taft, Coolidge, Hoover, F.D. Roosevelt, Nixon, Ford, and Obama—and among First Ladies, Abigail Adams, Abigail Fillmore, Lucy Hayes, Lucretia Garfield, Frances Cleveland, both wives of Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Taft, both wives of Woodrow Wilson, Florence Harding, Grace Coolidge, Lou Hoover, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, Nancy Reagan, and of course Bush’s own wife, as noted above. An especially intriguing descent, via Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson, is from English Spencers who are also ancestors of Sir Winston Churchill and the late Princess of Wales, and of George Washington, this last a tenth cousin seven times removed of the 41st President, and Bush’s 18th presidential kinsman. The kinship to Lincoln is through the almost certain mother, Bridget Gilman, of the immigrant Samuel Lincoln of Hingham, Mass. One kinship to Nixon is through the Lippincotts of New Jersey. The kinships to Obama, via the latter’s mother, are through Blossoms and Hinckleys, both of Plymouth, Mass.

Via only the above Livingston, Hutchinson, Bulkeley, Clements and Palgrave ancestors, President Bush was a cousin of a host of notable Americans, including, among political figures:

1. John Hancock

2. Stephen A. Douglas

3. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

4-5. Henry Cabot Lodge I and II

6. William H. Rehnquist

7. Mitt Romney

8. Sir Winston Churchill

Among literary figures or historians:

1. Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

3. James Thurber

4. Robert Lowell

5. Samuel Eliot Morison

Among actors:

1. Bette Davis

2. Katharine Hepburn

3-4. Henry and Jane Fonda

5. (prob.) Marilyn Monroe (via her alleged Gifford father)

6. Michael Douglas

7. The Beach Boys (Wilsons and Mike Love)


1. Eli Whitney

2. Elizabeth (Cady) Stanton

3. The American and British Astors

4. Norman Rockwell

5. Alan Shepard

6. Julia Child

Plus wives of:

1. Cotton Mather

2. John Singleton Copley

3. John Jay

4. Alexander Hamilton

5. Robert Fulton

6. Samuel F.B. Morse

7. Ernest Hemingway

8. Paul Mellon

9. Rudyard Kipling

10. John George Diefenbaker

11. Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon

Through Howland and Cooke of the Mayflower, Lathrops of Cape Cod and New London, and Stanleys of Hartford—among other families from whom I have traced many notables—the above list could readily be doubled. A final “fun” connection featured in the People Magazine article on this subject in 1989 is “Wild Bill” Hickok, a third cousin several times removed via common ancestors Israel Butler and Elizabeth Blossom of Martha’s Vineyard. Butler was a descendant of Gov. Thomas Mayhew of the Vineyard; Elizabeth Blossom was a descendant of Rev. John Robinson, minister to the Pilgrims in Leyden, Holland.

For more information about these and many more connections to famous persons, please visit our web page for Mr. Roberts’ recent two-volume work, Royal Descents of 900 Immigrants to the American Colonies, Quebec, or the United States.