For the 44th President of the United States, ancestry and distant relatives were often brought up during his presidential campaign. It was found that Obama had many famous relatives, but was George Washington one of them?
Barack Obama is related to George Washington, but very distantly. Obama is George Washington’s 12th cousin eight times removed, meaning that they are eight generations ago, one of Obama’s ancestors was George Washington’s 12th cousin.
Read on to find out more about how Obama is related to George Washington, if all presidents are related or not, and some of Obama’s other famous relatives.
Sir Nicholas Harrington
Sir Nicholas Harrington, Lord of Farleton, also sometimes recorded as Sir Nicholas Haverington, is the common link between Barack Obama and George Washington. Harrington was allegedly a knight born in Farleton, Lancaster, England in between the years of 1345 and 1347.
He and his wife, Isabel English, had nine children. Obama and Washington were descendants of two of these children; Obama is related to Harrington through Sir William Harrington, of Hornby, and Washington through Harrington’s daughter, Agnes Harrington, who married a man named Richard Sherburne and became Agnes Sherburne.
Twelve generations of the family went by, and George Washington, the first son of Augustine Washington and Mary Ball, was the 12th cousin of Susannah Hickman, a descendant of Sir William Harrington and one of Obama’s ancestors. Another eight generations went by before Obama was born, making him the 12th cousin eight times removed of George Washington.
Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was mostly English, as well as a little bit German, Irish, Scottish, Swiss, and Welsh. Her lineage was what linked Obama to George Washington, and Obama also has Kenyan ancestry from his father, Barack Obama Sr.
Most people consider first, second, and sometimes third cousins to be their close family, while anyone further than a third cousin is then a distant relative. While Obama and Washington share a common ancestor, the two are extremely distantly related, and Sir Nicholas Harrington provides a relatively weak link between the two.
The President Bloodline
There’s a theory that all of the Presidents of the United States of America were related, and while there is some theoretical truth to this, it’s important to understand how this could be possible.
Martin Van Buren was the only President to have no British ancestry, which means that he is likely not related to the other presidents. The rest, though, all have some British ancestry, meaning that they’re very likely related, though distantly.
If you go back far enough, there are billions of people who could be your ancestors, a much higher number than the population at the time. With how lineage works, everyone alive today likely has the same ancestor in their family tree at some point, and some geneticists even estimate that everyone on Earth is at least a 50th cousin to everyone else.
This first common ancestor of everyone alive today must be very, very far back in time, but an ancestor linking the presidents of British ancestry – and most other people of British ancestry as well – would be much more recent and is speculated to be King John of England.
Watch the YouTube video below for a more in-depth explanation of why the presidents – and every human being today – are distantly related to each other.
Obama’s Famous Relatives
While many Americans can claim Obama as a famous relative in posts like this one, they are still fairly distantly related. Who are some famous relatives Obama can claim for his own?
Aside from every other president except Van Buren, Kevin Bacon is Obama’s 6th cousin twice removed, and their common ancestor’s name is Shubael Smith, born in the early 1690s. Brad Pitt, another famous actor, is Obama’s 9th cousin through their ancestor Edwin Hickman.
He also has distant relatives in politics–Dick Cheney, the Bush family, Sarah Palin, and more.