The hunt is on for Norfolk people with links to Abraham Lincoln
12:10 02 February 2013
American history books would have looked very different had Abraham Lincoln’s six-times-removed great-granddad not been involved in an unseemly domestic dispute in Norfolk.
Today, almost 204 years after the birth of America’s most-famous president, genealogist Anthony Adolph is working with the Illinois Office of Tourism to find Lincoln’s British relatives to help celebrate the UK premiere of Steven Spielberg’s epic film ‘Lincoln’.
And it’s likely the president’s men (and women) could still be living in Norfolk, the home of Abraham Lincoln’s great, great, great, great, great, great-grandfather, Richard Lincoln.
Richard married four times in his life and, after his death, the son by his first wife – Edward - expected to benefit from his father’s inheritance. Instead, his father left his property and wealth to the son he shared with his fourth wife.
A heated dispute followed but Edward lost the battle and returned to his home in Hingham a bitter man.
Historians believe that had Edward inherited his father’s money his son Samuel might never have left Norfolk to make a new life in America and Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have been born Stateside.
Samuel was born in Hingham, Norfolk in 1622 and died in Hingham, Massachusetts in 1690, having left Norfolk as a 15-year-old to start a new life in the New World.
He left the county with the Lawes family from Norwich, a weaving dynasty for whom he had been working as an apprentice.
He married Martha Lyford in the late 1640s and the pair had eleven children. Their fourth son was Mordecai Lincoln who became a blacksmith and, crucially, an ancestor of Abraham Lincoln.
Mr Adolph, author of The King’s Henchman and contributor to BBC2’s Heir Hunters and Who Do You Think You Are? is searching for Abraham Lincoln’s British ancestors and hopes to find one to take advantage of a free trip to Illinois, the home state of the president.
“There was quite a big Lincoln family in Hingham and while some relocated to America, many remained in Norfolk parishes and their descendents still live in the county today,” he said.
“I have been contacted by several people who believed they were related to Abraham Lincoln but so far, I haven’t been able to find any definite connections. By the time he became president, people back in England may well have forgotten that they’d had relations who had moved to America.
“To find someone who can prove they are related to Abraham Lincoln would probably mean finding someone who had traced their genealogy and who had already undertaken work to discover their past.”
Mr Adolph himself has recently discovered Norfolk roots which link him to the Fairfax family of Norwich who are also descendants of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
“It goes to prove that you never know what you’ll find when you start delving into the past. When I traced my Fairfax ancestors I had no idea that a woman at the other end of the line would become the consort of our future King,” he said.
“Kate is my 10th cousin once removed. It wasn’t enough to get me an invite to the wedding but it was an interesting piece of information to discover and goes to prove that you can’t predict what you’re going to find when you investigate your family tree.
“In just the same way, people in Norfolk could very well find that they’re related to Abraham Lincoln.”
• If you believe you could be distantly related to Abraham Lincoln, contact Mr Adolph through his website, www.anthonyadolph.co.uk. The deadline for enquiries is Monday and successful applicants may have a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to Illinois where they can visit the house Lincoln shared with Mary Todd, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Springfield cemetery where he is buried.