Abraham Lincoln1

b. 12 February 1809, d. 15 April 1865
Abraham Lincoln|b. 12 Feb 1809\nd. 15 Apr 1865|p1819.htm|Thomas Lincoln||p1806.htm|Nancy Hanks|b. 5 Feb 1784\nd. 5 Oct 1818|p1818.htm|||||||Abraham Hanks|b. c 1745\nd. c 1790|p1814.htm|Sarah Harper|d. c 1790|p1815.htm|

3rd cousin 3 times removed of Louise Underwood.
3rd cousin 5 times removed of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Underwood and Allied Families
Appears on charts:
Pedigree for Abraham Lincoln: Theory of William E. Barton and Paul H. Verduin (the illegitimate theory)
     Abraham Lincoln was born on 12 February 1809 in Hodgenville, Hardin County, Kentucky.1 He was the son of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks.1 He died on 15 April 1865 in Washington, D.C., at age 56.1
     There are many theories regarding the ancestry of Abraham Lincoln, but most Lincoln scholars believe that Joseph, son of John, son of William I, was his maternal great-grandfather. A notable exception is Adin Baber whose theory was that Lincoln's great-grandfather was Luke, son of William I. A current Lincoln scholar is Christopher C. Child whose article in a recent issue of "New England Ancestors" gives an overview of the major theories. He contends that although Baber "undertook a tremendous amount of research on all Hanks descendants, Nancy's [Lincoln's mother's] parentage was not documentable." He further asserts that Baber based his theory solely on his own family tradition. Other than his own theory that he shares with several other scholars, he gives the most credibility to the theory of Paul H. Verduin who expanded on the theory of William E. Barton. His theory is that Lincoln's mother Nancy Hanks was the illegitimate daughter of Lucy Hanks, a daughter of Joseph first mentioned. Verduin cites a statement by William H. Herndon, Lincoln's law partner. Herndon said that in a conversation between the two of them about ten years before Lincoln was elected President, Lincoln said:
"Billy, I'll tell you something, but keep it a secret while I live. My mother was a bastard, was the daughter of a nobleman so called of Virginia. My mother's mother was poor and credulous, etc., and she was shamefully taken advantage of by the man. My mother inherited his qualities and I hers. All that I am or ever hope to be I get from my mother, God bless her."
There is no known reason why Herndon would lie. Furthermore, Lucy Hanks appeared in Mercer County, Kentucky, in 1789 on charges of fornication which were apparently dropped after her marriage to Henry Sparrow in 1790. Child believes, however, that Verduin made a major mistake in his assumption that Lucy Hanks was a daughter of Joseph, stating that Lucy had no interaction with the Joseph Hanks family except for being the mother of Joseph's granddaughter. Verduin shows Lucy, born circa 1761, as the second child of Joseph and Nanny (Lee) Hanks and omits James; Child shows James, born circa 1761, as the second child and omits Lucy.

     Child's theory is that Lincoln's grandmother was Lucy Shipley who married James Hanks, a son of Joseph, and had a legitimate child, Nancy. However, that Joseph had a son James is purely circumstantial, and is based on interaction between Lucy and the Shipley family. Child believes James died about 1785 making Lucy a young widow and accounting for the lack of records.

     This writer has no opinion on which theory has the most merit. As one who does not admire Abraham Lincoln, and who believes he was the biggest despot this country has ever known, it is difficult to stir up more than a casual interest in his ancestry. However, a relationship to any famous person has benefits couched in the sheer volume of research undertaken by credible scholars and genealogists. For instance, while Adin Baber's theory of Lincoln's ancestry may not prove out, his research on the Hanks line of most interest to the writer, has.
Appears on charts:
Theory of William E. Barton and Paul H. Verduin
Theory of Adin Baber and David Andrew Sturgill
Theory of Louis A. Warren, Ralph E. Pearson, Raymond Martin Bell, and Christopher C. Child.2


  1. [S267] Adin Baber, Nancy Hanks, of Undistinguished Families; a genealogical, biographical, and historical study of the ancestry of the mother of Abraham Lincoln (Kansas, Illinois: Adin Baber, 1960).
  2. [S295] Christopher Challender Child, "The Maternal Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln, The Origins of Nancy (Hanks) Lincoln, A Study in Appalachian Genealogy", New England Ancestors vol. 4 (Winter 2003): 25-29.