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Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009
Abraham Lincoln's Norfolk family
Abraham Lincoln (Photo: HO/AFP/Getty Images)
Abraham Lincoln has a history of Norfolk connections

Thursday, 12 February, 2009, saw the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th and possibly the most famous of all American Presidents.

Had his six-times-removed great-grandad not had a domestic dispute in Swanton Morley, near Dereham, Abraham may never have been born an American.

"Richard Lincoln married four times and this caused a dispute over his will," said David Stone, a local historian.

To celebrate the bicentenary, there are a host of events in village.

The great, great, great, great, great, great-grandfather of Abraham Lincoln was Richard Lincoln, a resident of Swanton Morley.

Around the time of his death, a domestic dispute led to an event that may have changed the history of the US and the world forever.

"Richard Lincoln had a son by his first wife and as expected, that son would have gained Richard's inheritance, but he also had two daughters and a son by his fourth wife," said David Stone, a local historian.

They arranged a grand ceremony... A couple of months later they realised to their horror they'd got the wrong site!
David Stone
"This younger son Henry was the apple of his eye, so he left all his property to him. This didn't go down too well with the elder son Edward and there was a considerable dispute of which, in the end, Edward lost out.

"He probably went back to his cottage in Hingham none too pleased. It is quite possible that had Edward succeeded in getting his father's inheritance, then Edward's son Samuel may never have gone to America and Abraham would have never existed."

There are many places named after the Lincoln family in Hingham, near Norwich, where Edward Lincoln lived. The birth place of Richard in Swanton Morley has been much more controversial.

"Richard lived at The Angel pub in Swanton and he wrote his disputed will and died here," said David.

"In the past there has been dispute over which building he lived in.

A slave ship
Abraham Lincoln ended slavery
"In the early 1940's, a local rector and architect perused the idea of Lincoln to find out exactly where this house was and they came to the conclusion that they'd found the plot down the road from Lincoln House Nursing Home.

"They arranged a grand ceremony at the American Embassy in London with the ambassador, on the anniversary of his birthday. A couple of months later they realised to their horror they'd got the wrong site!

"The true site was here at The Angel. A much smaller celebration ensued and the National Trust was then presented with the land around here."

Abraham events

To mark the bicentenary, the Friends of All Saint's Church in Swanton Morley are providing a whole host of events that run until July 2009. These events include a tour of Lincoln's land in Swanton Morley, an American Music concert and an Independence Day dinner.

For more information on the Abraham Lincoln celebrations, send an e-mail: davidews@googlemail.com


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