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Orson Welles

his cousinship with Jean Margaret Kennedy
through the Wilcox family

Orson Welles Orson Welles and my natural great-grandfather, John Kennedy, of Melita, Manitoba, Canada, were half-7th cousins through the Wilcox family of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, as follows:

   (his unknown first wife) = Daniel Wilcox = Elizabeth Cooke
           _________________|    d. 1702    |________
           |                                        |
   Daniel Wilcox (Jr.)                        Susannah Wilcox
     = Hannah Cook                           = Jonathan Head
           |                                        |
   Daniel Wilcox (III)                          Joseph Head
     = Sarah ----                           = Bathsheba Palmer
           |                                        |
    William Wilcox                             Jonathan Head 
   = Dorothy Allen                            = Ruth Little
           |                                        |
    Benjamin Wilcox                          Jonathan Head, Jr.
  = Elsie Lanning                          = Hepzibah Livermore
           |                                        |
     Daniel Wilcox                          Orson Sherman Head
   = Mary McIntyre                      = (1) Mary Jane Treadwell
           |                                        |
     Jemima Wilcox                           Mary Blanche Head
   = Francis Comfort                    = (1) Richard Jones Welles
           |                                        |
    Margaret Comfort                      Richard Head (?) Welles
   = John Kennedy (IV)                       = Beatrice Ives
           |                                        |
     John Kennedy (V)                      (George) Orson Welles
 = Samantha Helena Young                       (1915-1985)
            |                                actor, director
   Jean Margaret Kennedy           
= Richard H. Mitchelson, Jr.                 
   (my natural grandparents)

Sources: The entire Wilcox-Welles line is given in Gary Boyd Roberts, Notable Kin: an anthology of columns first published in the NEHGS NEXUS, 2 vols. (Santa Clarita, California: Carl Boyer, 1998, 1999), 2:119, 120-21, which is where we first learned of Welles’s Wilcox descent. Welles’s Wilcox and Cooke lines are covered in a well-known study by Conklin Mann of the ancestry of his kinsman Winston Churchill, “Two Famous Descendants of John Cooke and Sarah Warren,” New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 73 (1942): 159-62 and accompanying ancestor tables; the title of this article is unfortunate in that Churchill (unlike Welles) in fact had no Cooke descent, as had already been pointed out by Moriarty in his 1933 article cited below. More detailed studies of individual lines include:

  • Bowman, George Ernest. “Wilcox Notes,” Mayflower Descendant, 16 (1914?): 239-43, which includes extensive extracts from the 1702 will of Daniel Wilcox.
  • G. Andrews Moriarty, “The Mayflower Ancestry of the Descendants of Daniel Wilcox of Portsmouth, R.I.,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 87 (1933): 73-74, which shows that the Mayflower ancestry (through the Cookes) of some of the descendants of Daniel Wilcox did not apply to his son Daniel, our ancestor. The false Cooke ancestry is still being propagated through the Internet.
  • G. Andrews Moriarty, “One Branch of the Rhode Island Wilcox Family,” The American Genealogist, vol. 19 (1942), pp. 23-31, 177, with correction in vol. 24 (1947), p. 260; however this article omits (doubtless unintentionally) Daniel Wilcox’s daughter Susannah, wife of Jonathan Head, whose existence is vouched for by her father’s will.
  • Jane Fletcher Fiske, Thomas Cooke of Rhode Island: A Genealogy of Thomas Cooke alias Butcher of Netherbury, Dorsetshire, England, who came to Taunton, Massachusetts, in 1637, and settled in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in 1643, 2 vols. (Boxford, Mass.: the compiler, 1987), 1:67-69, which gives a superb account of Hannah Cook (no relation to Elizabeth Cooke), along with her husband and children.
  • H.F. Johnston, Daniel Wilcox of Portsmouth, R.I., and descendants (ca. 1958), 36 pp., reprinted from his magazine Your Ancestors, vols. 10-12, which begins with Daniel Wilcox who died in 1702.
  • Walter Eliot Thwing, The Livermore family of America (Boston, 1902), pp. 103-4, 184, 323, for the line from Hepzibah (Livermore) Head to her granddaughter, Mary Blanche (Head) Welles, where, however, the latter’s son is called Richard Hodgson Welles.
  • Albert Welles, History of the Welles family in England and Normandy, with the derivation from their progenitor of some of the descendants in the United States (New York: privately printed, 1876), 252-53, treating Richard Jones Welles and his son, who is here too called Richard Hodgson Welles.

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From the Genealogy Page of John Blythe Dobson
URL = johnblythedobson.org/genealogy/famous/Welles.html
This page written 28 December 2000
Last revised 27 June 2001