October 16th, 2009

Bricklayer cements Matt Damon and Ben Affleck together!

We always see them together, there are pictures of them together all over the Internet, and they collaborate together and they even grew up together, and now we find out they are related!

According to the New England Historic Genealogy Society, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, two prominent Hollywood actors are tenth cousins. Apparently, they share an ancestor by the name of William Knowlton Jr. He was a bricklayer from England who came to the U.S. in the 1630’s, a time when England was aggressively settling the new Colony of Massachusetts.

Here is what I found out about our Mr. William Knowlton Jr.:

“William Knowlton was born in 1615 in Kent, England. He lived in Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts in 1642. He died in 1655 in Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts. William Knowlton, son of Captain William Knowlton, was born in Kent, England, 1615. He settled at Ipswich and was a brick mason by trade. He was a member of the First Church of Christ (Congregational). He was admitted a freeman in 1641 – 1642. He was given commonage with pasturage for one cow and a share in Plum Island. He sold to Edward Bragg, of Ipswich, December 12, 1643, a house and lot he had bought of John Andrews. He died in 1655. The account of the estate was presented in the Essex court by his brother, Thomas Knowlton, in 1678. Thomas stated that he had kept two boys from the age of five to eight and a girl from one year old till she married.”

This quote is from a transcription of the Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Vol. 3, pg. 17

Further information I found out was that William Knowlton’s parents were William Knowlton and Ann Elizabeth Smith. He married Elizabeth Knowlton, but none of my sources could identify her maiden name. His children were, Thomas Knowlton, Nathaniel Knowlton, William Knowlton, John Knowlton, Benjamin Knowlton, Samuel Knowlton, Mary Knowlton.

It would be interesting to see this family tree descending from William Knowlton Jr. to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck!

This very interesting bit of genealogical information has hit the newspapers and now has a lot of people wondering about their connections to people they know. The original article goes on to say that Ben Affleck has genealogical ties to the late Princess Diana and to 16 U.S Presidents, although they don’t name all of them, just Barack Obama.

You might be interested to find out also that if you have ancestors in New England, your chances of finding familial ties to U.S. Presidents is quite high. It is estimated that over 100 million Americans are related to one or more of the 42 U.S. Presidents. Another bonus, if you can link yourself to a U.S. President, there is proven documentation of their lineage that you can use to build your family tree. Who knows, you may be able to link yourself back to royalty.

I would like to point out that all of this information and the press release about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck came from a paid subscription genealogy website that did not make it on my list of the best places to buy a genealogy membership because their information is very specific.

However, the New England Historic Genealogy Society has very good records of New England settlement and colonization, if you are looking to find some connections with your English ancestors, you might want to join. They even have a genealogist on staff to help you with your research.

It must be a surprise for Ben and Matt to find out they are related, but really when you think about it, if you go far back far enough, we’re all related!

Have you found any surprises like this in your genealogy search?