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Sarah Palin is not an obvious oligarch.  She has managed to master a look which, in America, is seen as “hockey mum” in Britain might better be called “chav”, or indeed as it might be termed in Scotland “scheemie”.

It’s a mixture of urbanised “downhome” spiced with grass root working man’s concerns like guns and killing things.

It plays well, and she has ended up as the poster girl for the Tea Party brigade.

However, she is also noted as being the descendent of passengers who arrived in America way back in that half forgotten dream time of the coming of the Mayflower.  The Mayflower was the boat that brought over the Pilgrim Fathers to found the Plymouth Colony in 1620.

To Americans this is a foundational event.

As we saw when we looked at the Tafts, a descent from the Mayflower is almost a necessity for the politician that hopes to rise to Vice President, or better.  Taft, poor soul, probably never ever did have such descent, but Sarah has it in buckets.

And, as we might expect, there is more twaddle poured out about this boat then you could shake a Puritan at.  Ancestry is only part of it.  Class is what this is really about.  In America a descent from this boat load of passengers is even more important than having had a granny who went down with the Lusitania.

There are some very overheated claims made.  The best I found is the assertion that somewhere between 25 and 30 million citizens of America today can state a descent from the passengers of the Mayflower.  I find this difficult to believe as this is about one tenth of the entire population of the USA.  (Especially as no one is meant to actually know about these ancestries –they are just there waiting for you).

That one boat load of 51 passengers, out of all the boats that ever came to America, could give rise to this enormous number of descendants, when the entire diaspora of a small country like Scotland over all the centuries has been estimated at only 20 million worldwide, makes this claim, at best, fanciful.

I feel that with these claims, those making them are trying at one and the same time to make the Mayflower both foundational and universal, a bond shared by all solid Americans.  Which I just can’t see.

It might be that some are confusing a descent from passengers of other boatloads of the militant puritans that came to Massachusetts in the years following the Mayflower, during that period called “The Great Migration”.  It might be that some, like Taft, accept tall tales too readily.

In any event, any one descent would deserve comment.  Any two descents would be just that much rarer and more worthy of note.  Descents of three or more of these fifty one passengers are much, much, rarer.  They would indicate a descent from a number of closely related families.  A descent that implies oligarchy.

Mrs Palin, former Governor of Alaska, and former candidate for the great office of Vice President of the United States, has around seven such descents whom I can find.

These are from William Brewster, John Howland, Stephen Hopkins, Joan Hurt, John and Elizabeth Tilley and Richard Warren.  In addition, oh yes- Sarah has additions-she has a descent from Thomas Prence a governor of the Plymouth Colony.

Here are four of these lines spelt out in detail:–

SARAH PALIN-Charles Heath-Nellie Brand-Mag Ruddock-Thomas Ruddock-Rhoda Damma- Rhoda Thayer-Micah Thayer-Elizabeth Samson-Stephen Samson –HENRY SAMSON

SARAH PALIN-Sarah Sheeran-Helen Gower-James Gower-Arthur Gower-Cornelius Gower-Susan Noton-Lydia Claghorn-Suzzanah Gibbs-Abigale Smith-Abigale Warren – RICHARD WARREN

SARAH PALIN – Sarah Sheeran-Helen Gower-Cora Strong-Augusta Godfrey-James Godfrey-Ben Godfrey-Knowles Godfrey-Knowles Godfrey-Mercy Knowles-Richard Knowles-Mercy Freeman-Mercy Prence-Patience Brewster-WILLIAM BREWSTER

SARAH PALIN-Sarah Sheeran-Helen Gower-Cora Strong-Augusta Godfrey-James Godfrey-Knowles Godfrey-Knowles Godfrey-George Godfrey-Deborah Cooke-Deborah Hopkins-GILES HOPKINS-STEPHEN HOPKINS

And we should note that Bush, Obama and Palin all have descents from Samuel and Sarah Hinkley.  Bush and Palin also have common descent from Simon Newcomb of Edgarton MA and Lebanon CT.

Not quite the hick she makes out eh?

Copyright David Macadam 2010