My Ancestral Connection to Cloris Leachman (1926-2021)

On the 27 January 2021, American actress and comedian Cloris Leachman (1926-2021) died at the age of 94. With an acting career that spanned over seventy years, Leachman had many memorable roles including her roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Last Picture Show (1971), Young Frankenstein (1974), and Malcolm in the Middle. Recently, I discovered an ancestral connection to Leachman, which will be discussed below.

Both Leachman and my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), are descendants of Thomas Mitchell (1566-aft. 1622) and his wife Margaret Williams (ca. 1568-1628). Reportedly, Leachman is a descendant through Thomas and Margaret’s son Experience Mitchell (ca. 1602-1689), while my paternal grandmother is a descendant through their daughter Constant Mitchell (ca. 1620-aft. 1690). Although Experience and Constant are widely reported as siblings and the children of Thomas and Margaret, some accounts suggest there relationship was different. Despite the fact that Experience is referred to as being the “brother” of Constant in the will of Constant’s husband, John Fobes/Vobes (ca. 1613-1660), there is some proposed uncertainty as to whether the use of “brother” meant sibling or brother-in-law. In the second sense, it is believed that Constant was not the daughter of Thomas and Margaret Mitchell, but the sister of Experience’s wife, Mary UNKNOWN (ca. 1620-aft. 1662), whose parents are currently unknown. Although this may be possible, and would still reflect a ancestral connection of Leachman, Constant being the daughter of Thomas and Margaret is most commonly reported in sources, such as Ezra Stearns’ Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire (1908). Thus, this relationship is maintained here.

The following chart shows the decent of both Cloris Leachman (1926-2021) and my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), from Thomas Mitchell (1566-aft. 1622) and Margaret Williams (ca. 1568-1628).

Cloris Leachman’s Line:My Grandmother’s Line:
1Thomas Mitchell (1566-aft. 1622) m. Margaret Williams (ca. 1568-1628)1Thomas Mitchell (1566-aft. 1622) m. Margaret Williams (ca. 1568-1628)
2Experience Mitchell (ca. 1602-1689) m. Mary UNKNOWN (ca. 1620-aft. 1662)2Constant Mitchell (ca. 1620-aft. 1690) m. John Fobes (ca. 1613-1660)
3Jacob Mitchell (1643-1675) m. Susanna Pope (1649-1675)3Elizabeth Fobes/Forbes (1657-1737) m. Joseph Russell (1650-1739)
4Mary Mitchell (ca. 1674-bef. 1740) m. Samuel Kingman (1670-1742)4Mary Russell (1683-1752) m. John Lapham (1677-1734)
5Susanna Kingman (1697-1760) m. Solomon Packard (1689-1782)5Thomas Lapham (1705-1779) m. Abigail Wilbor (1711-1775)
6Joanna Packard (1725-?) m. Isaac Allen (1719-?)6Sylvia Lapham (1731-1805) m. Solomon Lapham (1730-1800)
7Jennet Allen (1759-1840) m. John Thompson (1755-1827)7Duty Lapham (1775-1846) m. Mary Colwell (ca. 1772-1812)
8Archibald Thomson Sr. (1782-1859) m. Abigail Emerson (1786-1861)8Benjamin Lapham (ca. 1807-1860) m. Cemantha Broadway/Bradway (ca. 1813-1847)
9Archibald Thomson Jr. (1813-1873) m. Olive Gleason (abt. 1817-1886)9William B. Lapham (1838-1925) m. Emoline Pauline Reynolds (1844-1886)
10Rosaltha Thompson (abt. 1838-aft. 1920) m. Charles Baring Eugene Claiborne (1827-1889)10Horace Irving Lapham (1869-1927) m. Anna Margaret Leishman (1875-1951)
11Rose Claiborne (1871-1951) m. Robert Parker Leachman (1862-1933)11Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955) m. Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985)
12Berkeley Claiborne Leachman (1903-1956) m. Cloris Votruba Wallace (1901-1967)12Margaret Ann Lapham (1936-2004) m. William G. Kernan (LIVING)
13Cloris Leachman (1926-2021) m. George Englund (1926-2017)

Based on the generations of descent from Thomas Mitchell (1566-aft. 1622) and his wife Margaret Williams (ca. 1568-1628) listed above, my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), and Cloris Leachman (1926-2021) are 10th cousins, once removed. This makes Cloris Leachman my 11th cousin, once removed.

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