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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 October, 2004, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
John Kerry's Welsh roots unveiled
John Kerry in New Mexico
A long way from Tenby, John Kerry in New Mexico on the campaign trail
As the US presidential candidate John Kerry heads into the final stages of his campaign, a west Wales town will be keeping a particularly close eye on his battle with George W Bush.

Genealogists in the United States say the Democratic contender can trace his ancestry back to Tenby.

William and Elizabeth Jenkins emigrated from Pembrokeshire in the mid 17th century.

Now Tenby's mayor Sue Lane has written to Mr Kerry wishing him luck.

"It's been a bit of fun, it's only been emerging this weekend while we try to connect the years together, we've kept it under wraps," said Mrs Lane.

They must have been one of the first settlers out there
Tenby mayor Sue Laneon Kerry's ancestors
Mr Kerry was born in 1943 in Colorado and his family moved shortly afterwards to Massachusetts.

A US genealogy website has traced his ancestors back through eight generations to a William Jenkins, who married Elizabeth Lewis in the Pembrokeshire town on 2 September, 1673.

They had a daughter, Margaret, who was born in Tenby on 23 May, 1674.

Some time over the following years, the couple and their daughter emigrated to the US, as records show Margaret married a Thomas Paschall in Haverford meeting house in Pennsylvania in 1692.


"Their emigration seems to be very early - they must have gone in 1675. They must have been one of the first settlers out there," Tenby's mayor added.

John Kerry on the campaign trail
John Kerry on the campaign trail

"There had been two civil wars and the plague and it must have been very hard.

"Tenby's fishing port had gone downhill and it was only much later the tourism seemed to pull it back on its feet."

Although the genealogy site records the links from Margaret to the present day John Kerry, there is still a three generation gap between William Jenkins and the earliest-known ancestor of present day Jenkins family members.

So some of Tenby's residents have been trying to roll back the years with trips to see records held at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

"Over this length of time the branches have spread out but it seems to be the one branch of the Jenkinses that comes right the way through," said Mrs Lane.

Pembrokeshire already has links with another political family as it has claimed Hillary Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady has ancestors from the county.

With election day on 2 November, millions of American voters have already cast their ballots as about 30 states allow early or absentee votes.

A total of 1.3m Americans had voted in eight battleground states as of Friday, the Washington Post reported.

If Kerry wins, Tenby will no doubt enjoy its presidential connections.

But it will not be the first part of Wales to claim links with the White House: it is said that nine American presidents are of Welsh descent.


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