independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Briton amazed by Lincoln roots

Robert Gilchrist, 61, of Sydenham, London who has been confirmed as a living relative of US president Abraham Lincoln (Illinois Office of Tourism/PA)

A former civil servant has said he was "exhilarated" to learn he is the cousin of US president Abraham Lincoln.

Robert Gilchrist, 61, from Sydenham, south London, is an eighth cousin three times removed of the leader who ruled the country from 1861 to 1865 during its civil war and famously abolished slavery.

He was traced by British genealogist Anthony Adolph, who was tasked by the Illinois Office of Tourism to find descendants of the president in the UK following the success of the Hollywood film Lincoln, which earned Daniel Day-Lewis an Oscar for portraying him.

Mr Gilchrist said: "It was incredible to discover that I am a relative. It's a really amazing thing. I had a vague idea that there was a connection but nothing definite. I'd read in old family papers going back that there was a link going way back but I'd never pursued it. I've always had a great admiration for Lincoln as a great historical leader."

Mr Gilchrist's ancestors on his mother's side lived in in Hingham, Norfolk, before leaving for the New World in 1637.

The retired father of three had already traced his mother's genealogy to Samuel Gilman, who was baptised in Hingham in 1644.

With Mr Adolph's help, he discovered that Mr Gilman's father Robert was the son of an earlier Robert Gilman, who was a brother of an Edward Gilman.

It was Edward Gilman's daughter Bridget who was the mother of Abraham Lincoln's migrant ancestor Samuel Lincoln, making her the five times great-grandmother of president Lincoln and Robert Gilchrist an eighth cousin three times removed of the great man.

Mr Adolph said: "I never realised there were so many Lincoln enthusiasts out there who believed they were related to the Lincoln family. Several people tried to claim the title through inherited family trees which were unfortunately incorrect, but then we saw Robert's information and we knew we had found a strong contender."

Mr Gilchrist and his wife Jane have been invited to explore Lincoln's home town of Springfield, Illinois, where they will be able to walk in the footsteps of the president. They will visit his home, his law offices and the Capitol building where Lincoln worked as a legislator, along with the cemetery where he and his family were buried. They will also meet Lincoln experts at the Presidential Library and Museum where Day-Lewis researched his role.

Press Association

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