Genealogy tools

How to find out if you’re related to Jane Austen

Not to brag, but Jane Austen is in my family tree. Granted, I’m about as closely related to her as I am to Lady Di (another relative). The point is that you’re all peasants to me now.

Just kidding – although Jane and Di apparently are my cousins. They could also be your cousins. I’ll tell you how to find out.

I’ve always been more of a Brontë fan than an Austen fan, but I watched a little bit of the Colin Firth version of “Pride and Prejudice” last night. Perhaps that’s why I opened up and saw this teaser: Jane Austen and I are seventh cousins (seven times removed).

It’s a wonder this never came up at the childhood dining room table.

Here’s our really close connection (read with sarcasm but still delight at discovering we’re “related”):

Thomas Throckmorton and Elizabeth Berkeley begat William and Mary. William is my great-grandfather (times 12). Mary was Jane’s great-grandmother (times five).

I discovered the very long distance connection through a new feature at If you know me – and most of you don’t – it would seem far more likely that I would be related to Lucille Ball than to Jane Austen. Both redheads (mine used to be natural). Both slightly nuts.

And wouldn’t you know it? Lucille and I are 11th cousins once removed! This connection is actually a little more recognizable than my connection to dear Jane. My grandfather’s beloved granny was descended from the Holleman family. Lucy and I share a Holleman ancestor. We last shared a real family connection in the 1500s before the family tree started growing in different directions so it’s not a close connection.

All you need to do in order to use the “Am I related tool” is to upload your family tree. Then, it’s just a matter of clicking on celebrities’ pictures to see if there’s a connection. Now, be warned. Unless you’re Colin Firth’s first cousin, most of these “connections” happened centuries ago. You’re not likely to be invited to a family reunion.

Here are the rest of my celebrity connections:

Sean Astin? Sadly, we’re not related.

Walt Disney? 9th cousin, 3 times removed. Had I only known that summer I sold ice cream at Walt Disney World!

George Washington? 7th cousin, 7 times removed.

Charles Dickens? No connection.

Babe Ruth? 12th cousin, twice removed.

Princess Diana? 11th cousin.

And, here’s where I should add another word of caution, as much as I’d like to be related to Lady Di. This connection is through John Millhollon, who’s as far back as we’ve gotten in our Millhollon family tree (Millhollon is my maiden name). I don’t know who decided that his mother was Martha Scroggin, whose ancestors were also the Spencers’ ancestors. So, it’s obvious that Family Search is taking my family tree and making it more robust using other people’s submissions.

Have fun with this, but don’t make a claim to the throne of England based on it.

Now excuse me. I have an inexplicable craving for a cup of tea.


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