John Kerry

by ethnic on May 12, 2010

Birth Name: John Forbes Kerry

Place of Birth: Aurora, Colorado, U.S.

Date of Birth: December 11, 1943

*Ashkenazi Jewish (father; who was raised Catholic)
*English, Scottish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Dutch, Welsh, distant French (mother)

John Kerry is an American diplomat and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he has served as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, from March 6, 1983 to January 2, 1985, a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, from January 2, 1985 to February 1, 2013, and the United States Secretary of State, from February 1, 2013 to January 20, 2017.

He was the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States in 2004.

He is the only Democratic Party nominee for President to have lost the popular vote since 1988.

John is the son of Rosemary Isabel (Forbes) and Richard John Kerry, a diplomat, lawyer, and writer. John is married to businessperson and philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry. He has two children with his former wife, late writer Julia Thorne.

John’s paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Central Europe (Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary). They converted to Catholicism, and John’s father was raised Catholic (as was John). John was initially unaware of his Jewish heritage; he was thought by the public to have been of Irish ancestry, because of the surname Kerry, which his grandfather was said to have picked from a map.

John’s mother, who was Protestant, was born in Paris, France, to American parents. She descended from the Dudley-Winthrop political family. Most of her American-born antecedents were born in New England. Her ancestry was largely English, and also included Scottish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Dutch, Welsh, and distant French. One of John’s maternal great-great-grandfathers was Robert Charles Winthrop, Speaker of the House of Representatives, a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, and a Senator from Massachusetts. John’s maternal ancestors also include several Governors of Massachusetts.

John is one of three Roman Catholics nominated for President of the United States by a major American political party. Al Smith, in 1928, and John F. Kennedy, in 1960, are the others. All were/are Democrats.

John’s paternal grandfather was Frederick A. Kerry (born Fritz Kohn, the son of Benedikt/Benedict Kohn and Mathilde Fränkel). Frederick was born in Bennisch, Austria (then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire), to a father from Troubky, Přerov District, Olomouc Region, Moravia, and a mother from Oberglogau, Prussia. Mathilde was the daughter of Jacob Fränkel and Johanna Fischer.

John’s paternal grandmother was Ida Löwe (the daughter of Siegfried/Szigfrid Löwy/Löwe and Josefa/Jozefina Löw/Löwe). Ida was born in Zoltán utca 2, Lipótváros district, Budapest, Hungary (also then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire), to a father from Úsov/Olomouc, Moravia, and a mother from Boskovice/Boskowitz, South Moravia. Siegfried was the son of Leopold Löwy/Löwe and Katharina/Katti/Katty Stern. Josefa was the daughter of Benjamin Viktor Löw and Betty Spitzer.

John’s maternal grandfather was James Grant Forbes (the son of Francis Blackwell Forbes and Isabel Clark/Clarke). James was born in Shanghai, China, to parents from New York. Francis was the son of The Rev. John Murray Forbes and Anne Howell. Isabel was the daughter of William Mather Clark and Isabella Staples.

John’s maternal grandmother was Margaret Tyndal Winthrop (the daughter of Robert Charles Winthrop, Jr. and Elizabeth Mason). Margaret was born in Massachusetts, to a father from Boston, Massachusetts, and a mother who was also from Massachusetts. Robert was the son of Robert Charles Winthrop and Elizabeth Cabot Blanchard. John’s great-grandmother Elizabeth Mason was the daughter of Robert Means Mason and Sarah Ellen Francis.

John Kerry is one of two people of Jewish heritage to be nominated for President of the United States by a major American political party. Barry Goldwater, nominated by the Republican Party in 1964, was the other (Goldwater was born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and was raised an Episcopalian).

Joe Lieberman, who is Jewish, was nominated for Vice President of the United States by the Democratic Party in 2000.

John is one of four people of Jewish heritage to have won a major party’s Presidential caucus and/or primary. He won 51 contests in 2004, the year he was nominated. The other three people are:
*Barry Goldwater (1964, the year he was nominated; Republican; won 7 states; Goldwater also sought the 1960 Republican nomination)
*Wesley Clark (who sought the 2004 Democratic nomination; won 1 state, Oklahoma; Clark was born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and is a practicing Catholic)
*Bernie Sanders (who sought the 2016 Democratic nomination; won 23 contests)

Of the four, only Bernie Sanders is Jewish by religion, and he is the first person of Jewish religion to win a caucus and/or primary for a major American political party’s Presidential nomination (the 2016 New Hampshire primary).

Other people of significant Jewish heritage who have mounted plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States are:
*Milton Shapp (who sought the 1976 Democratic nomination)
*Larry Agran (who sought the 1992 Democratic nomination)
*Arlen Specter (who sought the 1996 Republican nomination)
*Joe Lieberman (who sought the 2004 Democratic nomination)
*John H. Cox (who sought the 2008 Republican nomination)
*Fred Karger (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination)

Shapp, Agran, Specter, Lieberman, and Karger were/are all Jewish by religion. Shapp was the first person of Jewish religion to mount a prominent campaign for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States.

John is a fifth cousin, once removed, of writer and filmmaker Maya Forbes and singer and songwriter China Forbes, who are sisters. John’s maternal four times great-grandparents, The Rev. John Forbes and Dorothy Murray, were also Maya and China’s paternal five times great-grandparents.


Genealogies of John Kerry –

Genealogies of John Kerry (focusing on his mother’s side) –

Genealogy of John’s mother –

Photo : “John Kerry official Secretary of State portrait” by United States Department of StateDepartment of State. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

andrew October 30, 2017 at 5:52 pm
follers July 25, 2017 at 7:31 am

John Kerry, the only Democratic nominee for President since 1989 to have lost the popular vote.

bearboy July 25, 2017 at 9:12 am

I know you were devastated about his lost to george w. Bush but on a brighter note he will be president #46 defeating trump in 2020

follers July 25, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Well, I don’t doubt that the 2020 Democratic nominee for President will win the ”popular” vote.

bearboy July 25, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Follers, I love your positive outlook for the future! Not only will Kerry (the 2020 Democratic nominee) win the “popular” vote but also the electoral college. Instead of attack ads against Trump all he has to do is put put this video on television continuously.

follers July 25, 2017 at 5:56 pm

My prediction wasn’t an optimistic prediction, sadly.

bearboy July 25, 2017 at 6:44 am

The Boston Globe wrote John Kerry’s father hailed from an upper class Boston family of Irish descent. They should be sued for propaganda and give Kerry a big payment. Bearboy too because I am still recovering from the sadness and anger

bearboy November 17, 2016 at 9:06 pm

I think in John Kerry’s profile it should be added that there was claims from the Boston Globe that Kerry’s father, Richard Kerry, “hailed from an upper-class Boston family of Irish ancestry” and how that doesn’t appear accurate.

andrew May 29, 2016 at 2:10 pm
phaedra May 29, 2016 at 5:53 am

His face looks like it’s smacked by a flatiron.

Greyface March 24, 2016 at 5:18 am

why the mention of his father’s religion? first time I have seen this.

bearboy June 4, 2015 at 8:49 pm

Personally I liked the other picture better.

bearboy April 12, 2015 at 3:49 pm

I believe his french roots may be remote but not extremely remote being his last French ancestor (not including his mother) was Pierre Claude Bourden who was born in 1640.

bearboy March 18, 2015 at 11:37 am

If is correct John Kerry has Irish heritage on his mother’s side of the family. Ann Denison was born in Cork, Ireland in 1616.

follers March 18, 2015 at 12:11 pm

I’m not sure if Ann (Boradell) Denison had any Irish ancestry, despite her place of birth.

bearboy March 18, 2015 at 12:17 pm

I understand what you’re saying but the maternal lineage ends with her mother who was born in Cork according to your link as well.

bearboy March 18, 2015 at 12:18 pm

oh wait sorry Munster, Ireland never mind

follers March 18, 2015 at 12:28 pm

It’s very difficult to tell if Ann Broughton had any Irish ancestry. Her father’s name was apparently Humphrey Aldwin.

bearboy September 13, 2014 at 8:14 pm

I wonder with his paternal lineage being Kohn’s if he could possibly be a Kohen.

bearboy September 13, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I meant Kohanim.

sarahle February 14, 2015 at 3:04 am

kohn = cohen = cohanim
its the germanized version.
but there are also non-jewish person with this name.

Mr.whiskers June 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

I always thought of him as being more than 50% Jewish. Are you sure there is no Jewish roots at all from his mother’s side?

follers June 4, 2014 at 12:14 pm

His mother definitely wasn’t Jewish at all. Her ancestry is very well documented for generations.

neiltennant January 21, 2014 at 7:46 am

He definitely has Jewish ancestry.

MichaelDubs February 13, 2015 at 5:56 pm
brotothefifth November 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm

“CORRECTION’ even without John Kerry’s French born mother, there is still roots going further back on that side.
16137 — For some of the ancestry of Cecily Felton, including her descent from Henry I, King of France (d. 1060), see RD600 528-529.

follers November 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm

I don’t know… d. 1060? That’s extremely remote. Every person of English descent has French ancestry going back that far.

brotothefifth November 25, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Yea your right. Other question is John Kerry of half Jewish ancestry? Just curious to confirm that because I get different sources saying different amounts?

follers November 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Yes, his paternal great-grandparents, Benedikt Kohn, Mathilde Fränkel, Siegfried [Szigfrid] Löwe, and Josefa [Jozefina] Löw, were all Jewish.

On the WARGS page, it even states: “As far as is currently known, Sen. Kerry’s paternal ancestry (before the 20th century) consists of Jews living in central Europe, mostly in what is now the Severomoravsky and Jihomoravsky provinces in the Czech Republic, with some ancestors living in what is now Opole province in Poland.”

andrew November 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm
berenstainboy82 September 14, 2013 at 3:37 pm

A couple of questions, his father’s side of the family switched their name from “Kohn” to “Kerry?” Is Kohn a Jewish name because on that side he was said to be Jewish but Mitt Romney had a Kohn on his side of the family that wasn’t Jewish???

follers September 14, 2013 at 5:25 pm

“Kohn” is one of those surnames that can be both Jewish and (non-Jewish) German. In Mitt Romney’s case, the last “Kohn” ancestors I can find are Andreas Köhn and Elisabeth Margarethe Altschwager, who were born in Germany c. the late 1600s/early 1700s. I would doubt that they were of Jewish heritage (almost all German Jews around that time had very distinctly Jewish names).

berenstainboy82 September 14, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Interesting, and yea I agree. Btw searched the two names on and Andreas Kohn (if we was born in 1703) was the son of Hans Kohn and Margarethe Lafrenz. Also I don’t think Andreas was Jewish but is it possible if you go back on the paternal line someone could of been? Asking out of curiosity.

follers September 14, 2013 at 8:30 pm

It’s possible that he could have had some Jewish ancestry, but I don’t see any particular reason to think so. German Jews marrying non-Jews/converting to Christianity was extremely rare in the 1600s.

bearboy March 2, 2016 at 5:51 pm

Mitt Romney probably does have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry in the past 500 years.

Hanka October 1, 2011 at 10:19 am

I quote from Wikipedia: It was discovered in 2003 by genealogist Felix Gundacker,[3] working with The Boston Globe, that Kerry’s paternal grandparents, who had been born “Fritz Kohn” and “Ida Löwe” in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, changed their names to “Frederick and Ida Kerry” in 1900 and converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism in 1901[4][5] or 1902.[6] Fritz’ elder brother Otto had earlier, in 1887[5] or 1896,[3] also embraced Catholicism. The “Kerry” name, widely misinterpreted as indicative of Irish heritage, was reputedly selected arbitrarily: “According to family legend, Fritz and another family member opened an atlas at random and dropped a pencil on a map. It fell on County Kerry in Ireland, and thus a name was chosen.”[4][6] Leaving their hometown Mödling, a suburb of Vienna where they had lived since 1896, Fred and Ida, together with their son Eric, emigrated to the United States in 1905, living at first in Chicago and eventually moving to Brookline, Massachusetts, by 1915

Hanka October 1, 2011 at 10:04 am

John has also Czech descents. Family name was Kohn.

Robert March 12, 2011 at 5:30 pm

The jewish part was from Hungary. The bloodline he shares with George W Bush is English.

Ever hear of the Boston Brahmins? They were of English descent, as were most other old 17th century stock families in New England and Virginia.

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