Saturday, October 20, 2007

Who Do You Think You Are?

I enjoyed Matthew Pinsent's appearance on this programme very much. Whilst there was the usual interest in relatively recent relatives - great uncles who died in the Great War - Pinsent unearthed a so-called 'golden relative', a knight of the realm who would therefore figure in Burkes' Peerage and whose ancestry would be traceable a long way further back. Indeed Pinsent was able to trace his family tree back through Edward I to Biblical King David and stopping only at God so detailed were the records. I kid you not.

Thing is, whilst this made great tele, there were thirty two generations between today and King Edward I. Coincidentally, if you double the number one, 32 times you get the population of the earth. To put this simply, go back 32 generations and we could all have a common ancestor. Now in my case the records probably don't exist but if I were to follow the right line back, eventually I'd reach a monarch too. Bound to.

Great tele; rubbish maths.

2 comments:

Jonathan Potts said...

A bit of a mistake in your maths, Steve. Problem is, if you go back enough generations, you're likely to find many relations of the type:

my mother's father's father's mother's mother's mother is also my father's father's father's mother's father's mother

...or suchlike. Chances are, the multitude of such relations when you look back 32 generations is such that you have several orders of magnitude less than 2^32 great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandparents. Hence the likelyhood of one of them being a king may still be relatively small.

St said...

But 32 generations back would get you the population of the earth (5 billion). I'm only looking for the population of the country (50 million) which has expanded 10 fold in the last 32 generations too.

I accept there may have been some inter-marrying in the Tilley clan, especially in the early years when my war-like ancestors mainly bred through rape, but I'm pretty convinced I could get to monarchy if I could research the right line.