Thursday, 2 June 2016

Week 22: Six Degrees of Separation

I am sure you are all aware that Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world.  The key word there is introduction, not related to.  And did you know that google has actually created a database that you can do a search to find out have many “degrees” any other actor is to Kevin Bacon?  What a hoot!

This all comes to mind when I find unusual/unexpected connections in the family tree, and I have found a couple of humdingers!

The first connection that I found (by far the most exciting) is the connection to David Kirke who fought Samuel du Champlain for the control of Quebec, Canada back in 1629.  A war had broken out between France and England, and Charles I of England had authorized the capture of French shipping and its colonies in North America. Champlain received a summons to surrender on July 10 from the Kirke brothers. Champlain refused to deal with them, misleading them to believe that Quebec's defenses were better than they actually were (Champlain had only 50 pounds of gunpowder to defend the community). Successfully bluffed, they withdrew, but encountered and captured the French supply fleet, cutting off that year's supplies to the colony. By the spring of 1629 supplies were dangerously low and on July 19, the Kirke brothers intercepted Champlain's plea for help, and Champlain was forced to surrender the colony. The colonists were taken first to England and then to France by the Kirkes, but Champlain remained in London to begin the process of regaining the colony. A peace treaty had been signed in April 1629, three months before the surrender, and, under the terms of that treaty, Quebec and other prizes taken by the Kirkes after the treaty were supposed to be returned. It was not until the 1632 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye that Quebec was formally given back to France. (David Kirke was rewarded when Charles I knighted him and gave him a charter for Newfoundland.) Champlain reclaimed his role as commander of New France on behalf of Richelieu on March 1, 1633.

Had David Kirke got Champlain's surrender a few months earlier, I wonder if Canada would still be bilingual today?

My maternal Great Great Great grandmother was Margaret Kirke.                                     
Click here to read more about the Kirke connection

The second connection that I never, ever, expected was a connection to Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States.  William Henry Palin, Captain of the Manchester Police married Catherine Gibson.  Catherine’s brother, George Gibson, had a daughter named Edith Gibson.  Edith then went on to marry Arthur Henry Neahr (1878 - 1928) and he had a sister named Hortense Neahr.  Hortense Neahr (1884 - 1948) then married William Bloomer and they had a daughter named Elizabeth Ann Bloomer (1918 - 2011) and she married Gerald R Ford.

The third totally unbelievable connection was to the royal family.  I have mentioned Sir William Robert Robertson in an earlier blog and that he married Mildred Palin and they had a daughter Helen M Robertson who married Lacey Vincent.  And they had a daughter Amanda who then married, divorced and remarried to Gerald Ward.  Every time I add a new name to the tree I do a quick google search to see if anything comes up.  I was dumbfounded when I saw that the same Gerald Ward was one of Prince Harry’s godfathers!!!!!

Another connection came up today, but this time inside the family tree. I was doing a general tidy up on the family tree and trying to check out all the hints on and there was a hint for Catherine Gibson who married William Henry Palin (see above).  Her mother had died and her father, Wood Gibson had remarried a Letitia Driffield.  I know I had someone else in the tree with the same last name, could they be related?  Sure enough, Letitia Driffield was sister to Louisa Driffield that married Francis Palin. 

How could that have happened?  How would they have met? 

Wood Gibson was a business man who traveled all over the world.  Chances are he traveled from his home in Wales to London where Francis Palin and Louisa lived.  Perhaps he went for a visit one day and while there Letitia was also visiting.  Both were widowed and perhaps they found that commonality comforting.  However, the romantic in me, envisions unseen fireworks over the dinner table.   Francis and Louisa married in 1852 and Wood and Letitia married in 1858.

Wood Gibson is the father-in law to William Henry Palin who is first cousin to Francis Palin. So two sisters end up marrying a cousin connection. 

It is indeed a small, small world!

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