finding your roots

Quakers in Early America


Actor Kevin Bacon’s Quaker ancestor immigrated from England to America for the chance to freely practice his religion. Arriving in the New World, the ancestor bought huge plots of land from the well-known Quaker leader William Penn. Watch video.

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  • cris

    April 18, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    ummmmm, …wheres the real kevin bacon??? what have you done with him??? oh my

  • May 25, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I am writing my comment here under this video clip from the Kevin Bacon/Kyra Sedgwick instalment of FYR as there does not appear to be another place where one can leave a comment about a specific episode.

    Anthony Woolhouse was mentioned toward the end of the episode as the common ancestor of Kevin Bacon and U.S. President Barack Obama. If we are thinking of the same Anthony Woolhouse (1533-1587) from whom I descend, he was a very well-to-do Londoner who came originally from a landed family settled at Glapwell in Derbyshire. Of course, we shouldn’t forget that he had a wife too, and she was equally an ancestor of Anthony’s descendants. Her name was Millicent Strelley (1540-1606), and she and Anthony Woolhouse were married on 12 Apr. 1558 in the Church of England parish church of St Matthew Friday street, London.

    Considering all the effort this series takes to be politically correct, I am surprised that Millicent’s name got omitted. After all isn’t it a basic fact of genealogy that men don’t usually reproduce alone. One need hardly be a militant feminist to find the omission of Anthony Woolhouse’s female partner extraordinary.

    Actually, while Anthony Woolhouse’s ancestry is known on some lines for many generations, and includes the royal descent mentioned in the episode as well (via his mother, Margaret Baker), Millicent Strelley’s ancestry is to me far more intriguing because it is largely unknown but holds hints of fascination.

    Surviving records show that Millicent’s father, John Strelley (d. 1559), citizen and vintner of St Leonard Eastcheap in the City of London, was clearly connected somehow to the knightly family of Strelley of Strelley in the English county of Nottinghamshire. Researchers have so far not managed to establish quite how.

    Millicent’s mother, the earlier of John Strelley’s two known wives, is normally named simply as Alice, with no maiden name because nobody seems to have found it. Actually, my researches lead me to believe that it was likely Addington.

    So on both sides of her ancestry, Millicent Strelley promises to yield some interesting findings for a careful sleuth. And as she bore all of Anthony Woolhouse’s 10-12 children (it’s not certain how many daughters named Mary they had, as they kept using the name due to infant mortality), Millicent Strelley really deserves to be remembered along with her husband, as, one might argue, the heavy lifting half of an extremely fecund ancestral couple

    And a final point of interest to me as a citizen of a country (Canada) founded in large measure by a group whom the late Queen Mother termed Her Majesty’s Loyal Americans, the roughly one third of British subjects in the 13 colonies who remained loyal to the British Crown at the time another third revolted (the final third were waiting to see which way the fight went before making their move), it may be worth stating that Anthony Woolhouse and Millicent Strelley have among their many descendants the current British and Canadian Sovereign, HM Queen Elizabeth II, who descends from them via none another than the Queen Mother’s American Loyalist ancestry.

    Indeed as a Loyal inhabitant of the Americas myself, I was amused to have found this royal connexion buried in a FYR episode I watched on the original date of our national holiday, May the 24th (Victoria Day or Empire Day), which we still celebrate in the Loyal Third of North America as the Sovereign’s Official Birthday, though now on the Monday nearest it (and which you, fittingly for genealogists, mark as Memorial Day).

    I hope that my comments will have gone some way toward seeing Millicent Strelley’s memory redeemed… or, as Professor Gates might say, redempted!;)

    Richard Carruthers-Zurowski (B.A., Modern History, Balliol College, Oxford, & M.A., Oxon.), West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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About the Series

The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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