I got a sort of nifty birthday present, today.
It’s yet another cool thing I’ve learned thanks to the relatives I’ve been able to meet through 23andme, the gene-analysis service and website that examines one’s actual DNA and compares it to all the other members’ DNA.
Turns out I’m related to Mark Twain!
A little context: I mean, yeah, I’m descended from King Edward III, but so are 10s of millions of other people, too. And while that’s still its own kind of cool, Mark Twain… he’s one of the actual good guys! An American Good Guy, no less! So you can see the chart showing our relation, when you click on this thumbnail:
But first, this:
Since I was a little kid I’ve known that I share my birthday with that lanky red-haired hero of the American Revolution, that smartie-pants whose land deal trumps Trump’s and all others’, that independence declaring, happiness pursuing, Hemings-hiding, quotable quillsmith and third President, that sage of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson.
And I’ve always been cool with that. He’s an admirable — if monumentally hypocritical — sort. Sharing a birthday…I mean we all are aware of the famous people born the same day as we were. But I was not related to him…not until now. Well, related as in-laws, anyway. My kids, however, are related to him because my wife is.
That’s on a’count of my wife’s dad being from Kentucky, and his people being among the first wave of white folks to settle there, and which means they all had been in Virginia before that for generations. And one of them, last name of Nethery, came from a line going back to a lady named Mary Tinsley. Mary’s great-great-great grandfather was a fella by the name of William Randolph, whose sons planted the English vine, as they used to style it, here in America in a rather big way down there in Virginia, becoming one of the FIRST first families of Virginia. See, Mary’s father, Edward Tinsley, was 3rd cousins to a certain Jane Randolph. And Jane, well she marred a wealthy guy named Peter Jefferson. And on April 13, 1743 they had a little baby boy named Tom. So Tom (Jefferson), author of the Declaration of Independence, 3rd President of the USA, father of the Hemmings children, was 4th cousins with Mary Tinsley, wife of a certain Ambrose Rucker, mother of Mary Rucker and ancestor of my wife and of my kids. Ahh, Tom. We’re finally family! (I “lol” here since that connection is so remote and well, not related to ME, that it’s funny.)
Here are some other suchlike amusements in the form of some people I AM related to:
Former President George W. Bush and I are 10th cousins
Bill Clinton and I are 8th cousins, twice removed
Only 6th cousins, but four times removed, with J.P. Morgan.
And, to bring it — in its way — full circle back to my birthday and good ole Thomas Jefferson (by a circuitous modus of recirculation), I’m also descended from a guy whose nephew got the phatt Oxford education, becoming something of a legal genius and political philosopher and in fact codified a certain format, or vision, for a certain type of republic rooted in the social contract (consent of the governed), the intent of which was nothing short of enabling the consentingly governed the free “pursuit of life, liberty and property.”
Sound just a leeeetle bit familiar? Indeed, when Jefferson was drafting the Declaration of Independence he borrowed the sentiment, changing “property” to “happiness”, from the writer John Locke. John Locke, nephew of my ancestor, Thomas Locke.