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Genealogy is more interesting than you think. I was reading a recent Deseret News article about George Bush's family tree and was intrigued by his relationship to John Lothrop (or Lathrop), a prominent English and Massachusetts minister. The article called Lothrop the "Grand Central Station of genealogy because so many prominent people have descended from him."

I did some nosing around and discovered that Rick Price, of Richard Price and Associates, a Salt Lake genealogy firm, is the bona fide expert on Lothrop. He has written a pamphlet tracing Lothrop's life and genealogy, and traveled to Massachusetts in 1984 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Lothrop's birth.According to Price, Lothrop's descendants today number in the neighborhood of 20 million, over 100,000 of whom are Mormons. Lothrop's posterity, says Price, have remained "strongly religious and patriotic. There is just no one like him in terms of posterity." Lothrop was Price's ninth great-grandfather.

The secret, says Price, is that Lothrop was married twice, had large families, and 12 of his 15 children survived to adulthood. These children made unique contributions, and then numerous descendants made interesting, diverse contributions of their own.

Lothrop was a minister in the Church of England in the 1620s, but came into conflict with Anglican leaders over church policies. He embraced the Puritan movement, and favored simpler forms of worship and stricter controls over morals. In 1632 these differences led to his imprisonment in Newgate Prison, a facility designed for felons.

By 1634, Lothrop's followers were released from prison, but Lothrop was retained because he was considered too dangerous in his preaching. Even when his wife became ill and died, he was not released. After various complaints that his motherless children needed care, he was granted release on the promise that he would go into foreign exile.

In 1635 he ended up in New England, where he became a Puritan minister in Scituate, Mass. Conflicts with some members of his congregation led to his decision to relocate on Cape Cod at Barnstable, where he remained until his death in 1653, at the age of 68. His second wife, Ann, gave birth to six additional children, four of whom grew to adulthood.

Despite his early conflicts with authority, Lothrop was a strong proponent of free will and championed tolerance among the rigid Puritans. He was beloved by his people and had a profound influence on them.

Price has discovered that there are numerous strongly religious Lothrop descendants, particularly among the Congregational, Episcopal, LDS and Christian Science churches. Approximately one-fourth of the early Mormons in Nauvoo, and half of the original LDS Quorum of the Twelve were Lothrop descendants.

Mormon leaders in the Lothrop line include six presidents of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Joseph Smith, Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, George Albert Smith, Wilford Woodruff and Harold B. Lee. In addition, other prominent Mormons are Parley P. Pratt, Frederick G. Williams, Marion G. Romney and Nathan Eldon Tanner.

Prominent people in various fields of interest who are also Lothrop descendants are Alfred Carl Fuller, founder of the Fuller Brush Co.; Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin; Benjamin Spock, physician and writer; Sir Robert Laird Borden, prime minister of Canada; J.P. Morgan, financier; and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet.

In addition, there are Lewis Comfort Tiffany, artist and philanthropist; Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary War figure; Dina Merrill, actress; Marjorie Meriwether Post, founder of General Foods; Oliver Wendell Holmes, U.S. Supreme Court justice; Kingman Brewster, former president of Yale; James Ford Rhodes, historian; and Frederick Law Olmsted, architect.

Prominent people in politics include U.S. Grant, Thomas E. Dewey, John Foster Dulles, Adlai E. Stevenson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, former Sen. Wayne Morse, George Romney, T.H. Bell, former Rep. Dan Marriott and George Herbert Walker Bush. Only Stevenson and Roosevelt were Democrats.

The conclusion is inescapable that not only did Lothrop have an incredible number of descendants, but a great many of them were achievers of the first order. These people did some impressive things! Undoubtedly, Lothrop's personal example set the stage - or maybe he just had great genes.

I wonder how successful my descendants will be.