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Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 13:29 GMT
George W Bush, Essex boy
George W Bush
George W Bush faces polling day
Presidential candidate George W Bush is an Essex boy at heart.

The Republican hopeful can trace his family roots back to the tiny Essex village of Messing, near Colchester.

But critics of the much-maligned county will be disappointed to learn that the W in Bush's name stands for Walker, not Wayne.

The Bush connection first came to light when Bush's father George entered the White House.

Stars and stripes

Villagers in Messing will once again have a local boy to root for as US election results begin to roll in.

"There's more than a little interest in George W Bush's chances amongst the villagers," said vicar of Messing, the Rev Dr Chris Garland.

"Much was made of it here when George Bush Senior was elected president.

"A letter was sent inviting him to come and see his ancestral home, and the White House wrote back and sent a 4ft Stars and Stripes, which still hangs in the church."

Reynold Bush, the son of a yeoman farmer, emigrated to America from Messing in 1631, building himself a new life in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Historical records show that Bush was a fairly common name in Messing from 1391 to 1597.

There are 37 references to Bushes in church documents.

Cottage industry

The Bush connection has spawned a cottage industry in Messing.

There are coffee mugs on sale in All Saints' Church, priced 2.50, with the motto: "Messing: birthplace of Reynold Bush, ancestor of George Bush, President of the USA".

Messing has held several Independence Days, when it has declared itself separate from the rest of the UK.

Cheeky

A cheeky plaque in the village restaurant reads: "George's Bush's ancestors never lived here."

"It's all just a bit of a laugh," said local historian Roger Carter.

"If George W gets elected we'll have a party on Inauguration Day - it's a good excuse."

The village, population 250, was mentioned in the Domesday Book, added the 58-year-old retired civil servant, who has lived in Messing for 25 years.

There are no Bushes in Messing these days, but 76-year-old Margaret Bush, of Canvey Island, Essex, said: "I've never heard of that - I'm surprised - I wonder if we're related?

"You never know, do you?"

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See also:

07 Nov 00 | Broadband
Final push for Bush and Gore
07 Nov 00 | Americas
Bush-Gore dash for votes
03 Nov 00 | Americas
Bush admits driving while drunk
06 Nov 00 | Broadband
Bush and Gore target core voters
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