President Obama and the Wordens


John Schuerman


Barack Hussein Obama II, as he is shown on his birth certificate (b. 4 August 1961, not ďJunior,Ē see appears to be related to the Wordens in a number of ways.Obamaís ancestry has been the subject of a number of media reports in the last few months and has been a hot topic on various websites, including the medieval genealogy newsgroup on Google Groups ( ancestry is also discussed by Gary Boyd Roberts on the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society: the most extensive examination of Obamaís ancestry is by William Addams Reitwiesner on discuss here some of the ways the President may be related to the Wordens.Of course, the relationships between Obama and the Wordens are through his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, b. Wichita, Kansas, 29 Nov. 1942, d. Honolulu, Hawaii, 7 Nov. 1995.


One of the most extensively reported descents of Obama is from William I (the Lion), king of Scotland (d. 1214), based on Gary Boyd Robertsís work (Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. 2006, p. 431, the descent of the immigrant Edward FitzRandolph). Peter Worden I, the immigrant to New England, is the 13th great grandson of King William I as I outlined in Wordens Past (Feb. 2004).However, there appears to be some question as to whether Obama is descended from William I.At generation 5 from William I, Roberts shows Alice de Ros, daughter of Sir William de Ros and Eustache FitzHugh and husband of Sir Geoffrey St. Quintin (Peter Worden is descended from Lucy de Ros, another daughter of William and Eustache).However, Douglas Richardsonís Magna Carta Ancestry (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. 2005, p. 119) lists six children of William and Eustache, a son William and five daughters, Lucy, Isabel, Margaret, Ivette, and Mary, not including a daughter Alice.Richardsonís source appears to be Complete Peerage (Vol. 11, p. 117), a generally reliable source.I have examined some, but not all of Robertsí references, but I cannot find evidence for this Alice, daughter of William de Ros.Hence, I believe that the descent of Barack Obama from William the Lion is in question.Other presidents who are claimed to have descended from William the Lion include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Rutherford B. Hayes (a descendant of Peter Worden), Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the presidents Bush.


For many Wordens the closest relationship to Obama is common ancestry from Joseph Holley and Rose Allen, immigrants from England in the early 1600s.Joseph and Rose had five children, among them Mary and Hopestill.Hopestill was the wife of Dr. Samuel Worden (1646-1716), a grandson of Peter Worden I.Dr. Sam and Hopestill are ancestors of many present day Worden descendants.Mary was the wife of Nathaniel FitzRandolph and, according to Reitwiesner, they are ancestors of Barack Obama as follows:


Joseph Holley = Rose Allen

Nathaniel FitzRandolph = Mary Holley

Samuel FitzRandolph = Mary Jones

Prudence FitzRandolph = Shubael Smith

Mary Smith = Jonathan Dunham

Samuel Dunham = Hannah ___

Jacob Dunham = Catherine Goodnight

Jacob Mackey Dunham = Louise Eliza Stroup

Jacob William Dunham = Mary Ann Kearney

Ralph Waldo Emerson Dunham = Ruth Lucille Armour

Stanley Armour Dunham = Madelyn Lee Payne

Stanley Ann Dunham = Barack Hussein Obama

Barack Hussein Obama II


The Holleys and Allens have been discussed in previous issues of WP.Rose Allenís father was George Allen, from whom Winston Churchill is descended, through his American mother.So descendants of Dr. Samuel Worden are distant cousins of Churchill, along with Obama.Another descendant of Joseph Holley and Rose Allen is President Jerry Ford.Dr. Sam and Hopestillís son, Peter Worden III married Mary Holley, a niece of Hopestill, so descendants of Peter III are doubly related to Obama through Joseph Holley and Rose Allen.


The father of the above Nathaniel FitzRandolph, husband of Mary Holley, was Edward FitzRandolph, who married Elizabeth Blossom.According to Roberts, Edward RitzRandolph is a descendant of John FitzRandolph (husband of Joan Conyers), who was a descendant of Hugh Capet, King of France, 987-996 (Roberts, Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants, 1993, p. 446, citing Magna Carta Sureties, lines 164, 155, 154 and Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 4th edition, lines 246, 151, 106; the descent in Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants does not appear in Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants, although it is referenced there).Peter Worden I is a descendant of Hugh Capet in at least 16 ways.Robertsí references indicate some uncertainty as to the descent of the FitzRandolphs from Hugh Capet.I am more certain as to the likely descent of Peter Worden from High Capet (see my website at


The supposed line from Hugh Capet to John FitzRandolph (and thence to Barack Obama) goes through Alice de Clare, daughter of Gilbert de Clare and Adeliza de Clermont.Peter Worden I is descended from Gilbert de Clare and Adeliza in four ways.

Reitwiesner shows a descent of Obama from Martha Eltonhead (married Edwin Conway), a 17th Century immigrant to Virginia, who is a central figure in American genealogy as the ancestor of thousands of people living today. Marthaís royal and aristocratic ancestry has been explored extensively.I do not know of any Wordens who are descended from Martha Eltonhead, but, according to Douglas Richardson (Plantagenet Ancestry, 2004, pp. 290-93) Eltonhead is descended from Henry II, King of England (1154-1189).Peter Worden is a 14th great-grandson of King Henry II.


One of the links in the descent from Henry II to Martha Eltonhead is William Stanley (b. abt. 1474-75, d. aft. 1528) m. Anne Harrington.Anne Harrington is the daughter of James Harrington and Isabel Radclyffe.Peter Worden I is descended from both the Harringtons and the Radclyffes.Strangely, Isabel Radclyffe is apparently the both the wife of James Harrington and a daughter of Agnes Harrington (I have not figured out the relationship of James to the rest of the Harrington family).Through her mother, Isabel is the great granddaughter of Sir Nicholas Harrington and Isabel English, sixth great grandparents of Peter Worden.Isabel is also the third great granddaughter of John Radcliffe and Joan (the identity of this Joan is in some dispute; she is usually shown as a Holand, but my colleagues and I have cast doubt on this; see my article in WP, February 2008).Joan is the 9th great grandmother of Peter Worden I (through another husband, Edmund Talbot) and John Radclyffe is a descendent of Richard Radcliffe (d. 1326), both a ninth and tenth great grandfather of Peter Worden.So these relationships provide additional connections between Obama and the Wordens.(The Radcliffe relationships in this paragraph depend largely on Burkeís Landed Gentry, 18th edition, 1972, pp. 738-741; Burkeís must be used with caution.)


The website;m=RL;i=68234;l1=23;i1=2336479;l2=25;i2=2171509

gives a descent of Martha Eltonhead from Edward I (Gary Boyd Roberts also talks about a descent of Eltonhead from Edward I, but does not give it). Question has been raised about this descent in the medieval genealogy newsgroup. This website also shows many relationships between Obama and John McCain, including from Edward I.


However, Douglas Richardson (Magna Carta Ancestry, 2005, pp. 304-06) shows the descent of Martha Eltonhead from Saher de Quincy, Earl of Winchester and Magna Carta surety.As I discussed in the August 2006 issue of WP, Saher de Quincy was an ancestor of Peter Worden.I believe this cousinship between Obama and the Wordens is secure.


Of course, as with anyone with European ancestry, it is to be expected that Barack Obama is descended from Charlemagne.Several of the persons mentioned above are descendants of Charlemagne, including Saher de Quincy, William the Lion, Henry II, Hugh Capet, the de Clares, and the de Clermonts.Most are descended from Charlemagne in multiple ways, for example, Saher de Quincy in at least seven ways.I have observed there are at least 160 ways Peter Worden is descended from Charlemagne (see the August 2007 issue of WP; I havenít finished exploring this topic, there are likely hundreds more) so through Charlemagne it is likely that the Wordens are related to Obama in hundreds of ways.


Among other individuals alleged to be distant cousins of Barack Obama are Lyndon Baines Johnson, Charles Addams, John Steinbeck, Christopher Reeve, Brad Pitt, Harold McMillan, Sarah Louise Heath Palin, President Jimmy Carter, Katherine Hepburn, Brit Hume, Harry Truman, Richard Cheney, Robert Byrd, John Pierpoint Morgan, John Hinckley (attempted assassin of Ronald Reagan), both presidents Bush, Gordan Hinckley (former president of the Mormon Church), Birch Bayh Jr. and III, Georgia OíKeefe, John Glenn, James Madison, and Robert E. Lee.I have not checked out any of these claimed relationships and as to Peter Worden Iís relationships to these people, I can be certain (relatively) only of that to the Bushes (through William the Lion).


I have contemplated whether Barack Obama has more royal blood than I have.Of course, neither of us has very much.If he is descended from Edward I (not a certainty, as I indicate above), it is likely he has more.If Henry II is the most recent royalty for both of us, it might be about even.Obama may have African royalty in his ancestry.Apparently that was part of his family lore, but in his book, Dreams From My Father, he indicates there is no evidence for that.But that evidence goes back only a few generations.


John Schuerman lives three blocks from the Obamaís Chicago home.He may be reached at