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john-kerry_2392391bPhoto Telegraph

In the 2000 Presidential race, the contender John Forbes Kerry for the Democrat Party, was often described as being the grandson of Czech grandparents, (that should put you off the scent), a war hero with a silver star and three purple hearts, and the man lucky enough to have married the heiress of a baked bean manufacturer.  All this was undoubtedly true, but he was also described and noted as being the distant relative of George Bush.

This was in the usual shock-horror-fancy-that school of journalism.  Most articles (and there were not many of them) when they chose to elaborate on the interest that this aroused (which was admittedly not very much) took the line back up through nine generations of his extraordinarily well connected grandmother Margaret Tyndal Winthrop, to the two daughters Margaret and Elizabeth Reade of Edmund and Elizabeth Reade who lived way back in the early seventeenth century.  The other sister’s line led back down to the Bushes. This was the same Winthrop family that had produced the first Governor of Virginia and a Speaker of the House.  Boston Brahmins the lot of them linked to the Dudley Winthrop political family.

Note was made in some articles of four Presidents in the family, and the Bushes were the obvious first two and Pierce, through Bush’s mother Barbara Pierce Bush would be the next but who was the fourth?  It was not at all clear whom this distant noble might be but the assumption left with the reader was that it must be at least if not even more obscure, the kind of nugget only to be diligently winkled out of the woodwork by dusty old genealogists.

Of course you can guess that it was deal sight nearer than that!  Kerry had the distinction, and we may decide how much of an advantage he thought it was, to have an uncle, one Alastair Forbes, a charming malicious, gossipy journalist and bon viveur who made much of his connection not just with the young Senator but also with his own cousinship to F D Roosevelt as discussed in an interesting article in The Spectator dated 28 May 2005 at page 47. Presidential family was therefore not so very far away after all.

Senator Kerry’s connection with F.D. Roosevelt lies through Elizabeth Tailer and her husband John Nelson who were his ancestors through their daughter Rebecca.  Senator Kerry is descended through the Stoughton family William Stoughton Lt-Gov of Massachusetts who lived 1631-101 and presided over the Salem Witch trials and later became Chief Justice of Massachusetts 1695-1701 see Dictionary American Biography. Other sources include on Stoughton in general -Roberts, Gary Boyd Genealogical Thoughts 22 & 58; and Reitweisner, William Addams The Ancestors of Senator John Forbes Kerry at http://members.aol.com/wreitwiesner/candidates 2004/kerry html.  Powell, Kimberley Ancestry of John Forbes Kerry at http://genealogy.aboutcamlod/presidents/p/john_kerry.htm  Most of the Kerry-Stoughton-Tailer-Nelson-Temple descent has been described at Roberts Gary Boyd The Royal Descents of 600 immigrants to the American Colonies of the United States (Baltimore 1993) pp 148

Thus the first Presidential contest of the twenty-first century was fought out in the grand old manner with two scions of the old oligopoly.

American Presidential campaigns are endlessly fascinating beasts!  I mean where else in the world can one be attacked simply because one went to the bother of learning a foreign language?  Indeed where else can the mere fact that you speak French of all things, be held against you?  In America of course – at least during a Presidential campaign.

Senator John Kerry, whose faultless French should have been a bonus, showing a travelled cultivated intelligent mind, acquainted with the wider world, was castigated during the 2000 campaign simply because he could speak this, the vilest of languages. Instead, his opponent G W Bush, a man who struggled to speak English, made out it was a sign of dangerous anti-Americanism, a definite proof that he was a closet traitor, a dangerous subversive.  Surely this was not the sort of man you could sit down with, have a beer, pass wind and discuss manly things like sport?  French you say?  My, the man must be a socialist after all.

Interestingly John Kerry does actually have strong French socialist connections.  His first cousin Brice Lalonde was the President of the Union national estudiales de france (UNEF) The students brought France to its knees in the riots of 1968.  After that Brice became an environmental activist and a French Green party politician.  Brice’s mother was Fiona Forbes and thus he and John Kerry share a set of maternal grandparents.  He was a candidate in 1981 for French President and became mayor of Saint Briac-sur-Mer living on the Forbes family estates.  Oligarchs across the pond.

Now the world weary ,old jut jawed oligarch is nominated to get back in the cabinet as Secretary of State, releasing that other oligarch Hillary to start her long road to the White House.

This of course means a special election in Massachusetts which opens all sorts of possibilities.  Will Ted Kennedy jnr run?  Obligated you understand by public pressure to come forward. Will Victoria Kennedy Ted Kennedy’s widow step up to the plate and be a possible Interim Senator? Simply to serve the people of course.  Oh yes 2013 the year of the oligarchs!

Copyright David Macadam 2012