Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn's ancestors lived next door to each other in small Yorkshire town
They are the two leading political figures of recent years and are expected to go head to head in an election before the end of the year.
But Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn’s past is more intertwined than originally thought, The Yorkshire Post can reveal, as their shared history was traced back to a small Yorkshire town where their ancestors lived as nextdoor neighbours.
The family trees of the two party leaders met around 180 years ago in Masham, North Yorkshire.
Mr Corbyn’s connection comes through his mother, Naomi Josling, whose grandfather was Rev Edward Stott.
His father, Thomas Stott, a saddler and harness maker in the town’s Market Place lived for 20 years next door to confectioner and widow Mary Raper (nee Jackson) - an ancestor by marriage of Boris Johnson’s.
The link was first uncovered by keen amateur genealogist Denny Gibson, from Crakenhall, Bedale, around nine years ago.
Mrs Gibson, who has spent hours trawling through the record books to make the link, said: “First of all I knew about Boris Johnson’s link with the North, and I read somewhere that Corbyn’s ancestors were saddlers in North Yorkshire.
“I researched his ancestry and was surprised to find that it traced back to Masham and that his ancestors were there, in the very same era as Boris Johnson’s ancestors, both families running businesses in very close proximity to each other.
“I didn’t particularly mention it to anybody but I thought about it now as I felt the public may be relieved to read about their genes rather than their politics.”
Mrs Gibson, who started to take an interest in family histories more than 40 years ago, said: “Could the Raper family ever have imagined that they would be the ancestors of someone, who 180 years later, would stand on the world stage with the name Johnson in the national and international press daily? We can’t know but it is possible that the Stott family may even have been guests at an 1837 Raper family wedding.
“It seems incredible that two political giants should have ancestors, living close to each other in the same era. These two families would definitely be well known to each other in such a small community.”
After Mrs Gibson contacted The Yorkshire Post this newspaper was able to confirm the link, and the family tree connections, with professional genealogist Michael Rochford.
He confirmed her work showing members of their families may have known each other all those years ago.
Mr Rochford, author and genealogist at Wakefield-based Heir Line Ltd, said: “This intriguing Yorkshire connection between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition is a great example of the kind of fascinating surprises waiting to be discovered in otherwise long-lost family histories.
“We undertake research for clients based all over the UK and overseas; and as a Yorkshire-based company we’re always thrilled to work on local projects like this that often take unexpected turns.
“We’ve discovered Yorkshire ancestors who were married by Rev. Bronte, father of the famous authors; unearthed the true history of Carlecotes Hall in South Yorkshire, which turned out to be almost two centuries older than previously thought; and even traced the direct ancestry of an unsuspecting Leeds businessman all the way back to Aboriginal Australia.”
Mr Johnson’s link to Masham is not as clear cut as Mr Corbyn’s, Mrs Gibson explained.
Mary Raper (nee Jackson), who lived next door to Thomas Stott, had a sister-in-law also called Mary Raper. This second Mary Raper was married to Thomas John Johnson, Boris Johnson’s great-great-great grandfather in Masham on September 2, 1837.
The Johnson family name then continues through to their daughter, Margaret Hannah Johnson, the Prime Minister’s great-great grandmother. Although she married Francis Brun, by 1911 she was on the census as Margaret Brun Johnson, retaining her family name.
Her daughter Winnifred Brun married Ali Kemal, the couple’s story was uncovered during an episode of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? In 2008.
The couple had two children Celma Kemal and Osman Wilfred Kemel. But after Winnifred died giving birth to Osman at just 26 in 1909, the children went to live with their grandmother Margaret in Wimbledon.
Ali was a journalist and politician in the early 1900s, and was killed in Turkey in November 1922, having been accused of treason.
Margaret had decided in 1916 to change her grandchildren’s names back to her maiden name of Johnson, perhaps due to tensions over the First World War and the then Ottoman Empire.
Osman Kemel, now known as Wilfred Johnson, married Yvonne Williams, and had a son Stanley Johnson, Boris Johnson’s well known father.
Mrs Gibson added: “Therefore we have two families, the Rapers and the Stotts, with very deep roots in the Masham area, living and trading in the tiny town and certainly knowing each other for decades in the 1800s, who were to be the ancestors of two of the most prominent politicians, Johnson and Corbyn, of our present time.”
Mrs Gibson said she was not aware if either politician knew of their roots so far back, or of the connection between them.