A Pres­i­den­tial link

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - READER STORY -

It is also through the Pratt line that David’s wife and chil­dren are re­lated to one of the great­est Amer­i­can pres­i­dents. In the 1630s, nu­mer­ous ships crossed the At­lantic car­ry­ing English set­tlers. “One of th­ese in 1637 was The John and Dorothy out of Ip­swich, bound for Bos­ton,” says David. “Among its pas­sen­gers was the fam­ily of Frances Lawes in­clud­ing, as a ser­vant and an ap­pren­tice weaver, a 15-year-old boy, named Sa­muel Lin­coln, born in Hing­ham, Nor­folk.

“Some­time be­fore 1650, this young man mar­ried Martha Ly­ford, who was prob­a­bly from Ire­land. This cou­ple had 11 chil­dren. One of them was Morde­cai and an­other was Thomas. Abra­ham Lin­coln was di­rectly de­scended from Morde­cai, while my chil­dren are de­scended from his brother Thomas. The line goes through Thomas’s daugh­ter Sarah who mar­ried an­other Phineas Pratt, the grand­son of the man who trudged through the snow and saved Ply­mouth. As de­scen­dants of Phineas and Sarah, my chil­dren, Alice and John, share com­mon an­ces­tors with Abra­ham Lin­coln in Sa­muel Lin­coln and Martha Ly­ford.

“While Alice and John can­not claim to be di­rectly de­scended from the great­est of Amer­i­can pres­i­dents, he is cer­tainly a blood re­la­tion. In fact, they are fifth cousins four times re­moved.

“Of course, I know ev­ery­one who’s gone into this kind of thing thinks that their own fam­ily his­tory is fas­ci­nat­ing, but I do be­lieve that my wife’s fam­ily is quite un­usu­ally in­ter­est­ing,” says David. “Par­tic­u­larly the fact it hooks in with my pro­fes­sional work as well – the Lin­coln con­nec­tion was amaz­ing.

“No-one in my wife’s fam­ily had any idea about that. There was noth­ing in the ‘ fam­ily leg­end’. It gave me great sat­is­fac­tion to re­veal all this stuff to the fam­ily and they were un­der­stand­ably quite ex­cited by those rev­e­la­tions. My chil­dren were also very in­ter­ested; my son, John, in par­tic­u­lar, be­cause he did Amer­i­can Stud­ies at univer­sity and wrote a mas­ter’s the­sis on Abra­ham Lin­coln – and this was be­fore he knew of the con­nec­tion. For Christ­mas one year, I gave him a fam­ily tree that showed ex­actly how he was con­nected to Abra­ham Lin­coln. He rather en­joyed see­ing it all laid out for him.”

A se­lec­tion of David’s his­toric books, which have been es­sen­tial to his ge­neal­ogy re­search

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