Genealogy Thoughts

A distant relative of mine, John Butler, recently contacted me after finding my genealogy research here at Mr Papa’s World. During the holidays, he sent me a big packet of his genealogy research including a bunch of pictures that included some of Suzanne’s Great-Grandfather.

Today, I had the first opportunity to take a look at the info he sent me. While I really didnt get into the data, one piece of paper he included had some genealogy numbers on it. I found it intriguing as it made me think for a few minutes. The paper was entitled How Lucky Can You Get? and was attributed to Major Robert E Butler. The writing goes a bit over the top about luck and being here, but I found the numbers interesting. The paper is a bit dated from the 1970s, but that would just make the numbers even more staggering. The English in some areas is also lacking, but I wanted to post it exactly as I received it.

Have you ever thought about the odds that you would be here reading this? Prepare yourself for a shock. Obviously, you have am other and a father, and each of them had a father and a mother. This makes you having four recent ancestors, and so on. The following is a chart that reveals how many direct ancestors you had in the 1600’s, assuming births were from 30 year old ancestors.

1 (your self) 1970

2 (parents) 1940

4 (grandparents) 1910

8 (great grandparents) 1880

16 (great great grandparents) 1850

32 (great great great grandparents) 1820

64 (great great great grandparents) 1790

128 (great great great great grandparents) 1760

256 (great great great great great grandparents) 1730

512 (great great great great great great grandparents) 1700

1024 (great great great great great great great grandparents) 1670

If any one of the 1042 ancestors had died before having your specific ancestor was born and had your direct ancestor, some time near the time America was settled by Europeans, your would just not be here reading this.

It gets more mind boggling! If you extend this ancestral chart to the time of William the Conqueror, you would have to have had approximately 8,783,048 direct ancestors.

As a reference, the total population of the British Isles in 1066 AD was about 2 million persons.

So count your blessings and incredible good luck that you are here and reading this!

In my genealogy research, I hadnt really thought about the staggering number of folks I was looking for. Going back to the 1600’s, I have over a 1000 direct ancestors!!:cwy: Add in their families and other distant family members, and the pool of folks is huge. I better get busy!


  1. I can only gulp! I thought I was doing pretty good when I inputted over 2000 individuals during the summer. I guess I need to do way more work!!!! Help.

  2. Anne Pechuls says

    These numbers are staggering. Thanks for all your hard work, Steve.


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