Your Blogmeister’s Desk
Back in 2006, this story interested me. Eighty percent of today’s English are direct descendants of the Edward III (reign 1327-1377)
A while later, I read a story, but lost it, that genetic analysis done of English babies born in 1947 shows that there is an 80% chance that any one such person is a direct descendant of any person who lived during the reign of King John, of Magna Carta fame (1199-1216), including King John himself. To look at it another way, John or any individual that was one of his contemporaries is a direct ancestor of 80% of English persons born in 1947.
To swing it back around to Edward III, while it’s true that 80% of Britons are direct descendants of Edward, it is also true that 80% of Britons are direct descendants of someone who made a living cleaning horse manure out of stables in the fourteenth century.
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are direct descendants of Edward III.
That so many Britons are direct descendants of royalty is so inconsequential that it and £2 gets you a cheap cup of coffee in London. What it means is that everyone is a direct descendant of someone important in history that we’ve all heard of.
I’m thinking about the veracity of this theory.
Consider one of today’s most exclusive hereditary-entry clubs: The Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (DSDI). I don’t know how many members it has, or how many it could have, but I do know that only fifteen of the 58 signers have living descendants today.
Let’s say that a generation is 30 years, and every signer had two children, and every one else will have two children.
So it goes like this:
2076: 59,392 (Tricentennial)
2376: 60,817,408 (Sexicentennial)
2676: 62,277,000,000 (Nonicentennial)
2706: 124.5 billion
2736: 249.1 billion
2766: 498.2 billion
2796: 996.4 billion
2826: 1.993 trillion
2856: 3.985 trillion
Notice I have separated them by five generations removed from the signers per bundle, for easy counting.
Using this as a guide, next year, you could fit the whole DSDI in a typical large city hockey/basketball arena like the Scottrade Center. Even at the year of the tricentennial, they could fit in the Edward Jones Dome.
But as you can see, two to the power of n is powerful as n increases. Nineteen generations removed or 570 years gets you almost to California’s current population. Twenty-three generations removed or 690 years gets you above the current population for the whole country. Twenty-seven generations removed or 810 years gets you above the current world population. Thirty-one generations removed or 930 years gets you higher than the estimate for the current number of human beings that have ever lived. Of course, who knows what the world’s population will be in 810 years or what the estimate for the total number of people who have ever existed will be in 930 years. What we do know that with each generation, there are twice as many descendants as there were in the previous, while each given descendant becomes genetically less and less like an actual 1776 signer. And at some point, maybe between the 15th and 20th generation, the 450th and 600th anniversary, being DSDI will become both numerically too ubiquitous and genetically too irrelevant to be special. Depending on the carrying capacity of the world and other factors, definitely by the 29th generation or 870 years out, being DSDI and being human will become the same thing.
That said, the part about King John and King Edward III is not only plausible, but probable. It’s amazing that only 80% of b. 1947 Britons are direct descendants of John; seems like they virtually all should be.