PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON:THE “ONE MAN MELTING POT”

PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON:
THE “ONE MAN MELTING POT”
Historian Ruth Illingworth looks at the historical lineage that makes up Boris Johnson, who once called himself a ” One Man Melting Pot”

One of his great-grandfathers was a Turkish journalist and politician;a great – great grandfather was a Rabbi in Lithuania; His great x3 grandmother was a Circassian slave girl from the Russian Caucasus. His mother was American and he himself was born in the United States;he is descended from a British monarch and two German Princes;his first wife was half Italian and his second wife half-Indian.His American stepfather was of Hungarian parentage.

One of his great x4 grandfathers was Irish and his godmother,Lady Rachel Billington,is a sister of Thomas Pakenham of Tullynally Castle,Castlepollard.. Brought up a Roman Catholic and a convert to Anglicanism,he has Jewish and Muslim ancestry and a Sikh mother-in law. It is not surprising that Britain’s new Prime Minister,Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson,once described himself as ” a one man melting pot.”

The Turkish great-grandfather was Ali Kemak, the grandson of a slave girl brought to Turkey from Circassia. Kemak was a prominent journalist in the Ottoman Turkish Empire in the years before the First World War and was on good terms with Sultan Abdul Hamid. In 1909,the London “Times” newspaper described Kemak as “amongst the leading men of letters in Turkey.”

He served briefly in the Turkish government in 1919 and was one of the Turkish delegates to the Paris Peace Conference in the aftermath of the First World War. He was murdered by a lynch mob in Ankara in November 1922 during the Turkish War of Independence. His Anglo-Swiss wife settled in Britain and one of her grandchildren was Boris’s father Stanley.

On the maternal side of his family,Boris Johnson is a great-grandson of a noted Jewish-American scholar,Elias Avery Lowe,who was a well known paleographer. Born in Lithuania in 1879,Lowe was the son of a leading silk merchant.

He emigrated to America in his teens and married Helen Tracey Porter,a noted translator who was particularly famed for her translations of the works of the great German novelist Thomas Mann.


She also wrote a play called “Abdication” which received its premier at the Gate Theatre in Dublin,produced by Micheal MacLiammoir in 1948. Her grandfather was a Rabbi in. Lithuania.

The Prime Minister’s mother,Charlotte Fawcett Wahl is a noted artist. Born in 1942,she and her siblings were close friends of the Pakenham family. Charlotte is a descendent of the noted British suffragette,Millicent Garrett Fawcett. Her father,Sir James Fawcett,was a distinguished lawyer who helped write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the UN in 1948 and served on the European Commission for Human Rights from 1962 to 1982.

Boris Johnson also has German ancestry-as seen in his third name-von Pfeiffel. His great x3 grandfather was Prince Paul of Wurrtemburg-a prominent aristocrat in mid-19th century Germany Another German ancestor was Frederick Eugene,Duke of Wurttemburg. A more distant ancestor was King George the Second of Great Britain and Ireland Through this German lineage,the Prime Minister is distantly related to Queen Elizabeth and to the King of Spain..

Johnson is the first Prime Minister of the UK to be a baptised Roman Catholic-although he is was later confirmed as an Anglican (Church of England),and now appears to be a follower of the religion of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. He speaks French,German,Spanish,Italian and Latin. Part of his schooling took place in Brussels when his father was working there as an MEP and an European Commissioner.
By
RUTH ILLINGWORTH
Historian