16 June 2008

Winston Churchill's Canadian Roots

In an address to a joint session of the US Congress on December 26, 1941, Winston Churchill famously said "I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British, instead of the other way round, I might have got here on my own."

The quote came back to memory at last Saturday's BIFHSGO meeting when I was approach by someone anxious to convince me that Churchill had an American Indian heritage. She showed me a chart of Churchill's ancestry from his mother Jennie Jerome, to her mother Clarissa ("Clara") Hall, to Clarissa Willcox, and to Anna Baker. Anna was annotated Nova Scotia 1761 - 1813.

Celebrity family history always gets attention. This story is well enough known that it rates a page
Had Iroquois Ancestors on the web site of The Churchill Centre. Anna Baker was supposedly born 27 May 1761, at Sackville, N.S. (before New Brunswick was founded). The hotly debated story, more fond myth appealing to a family romantic streak rather than documented fact, is that Anna Baker may have been raped by an Indian and so her daughter Clarissa Willcox may have been half-caste.

There doesn't seem to be any debate about Anna Baker being born in Sackville which is now in Canada. The family may have originated in New England, and returned to the USA as reverse Loyalists, but based on the birth location of his g-g-grandmother Churchill would have been able to claim some Canadian ancestry.

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