Chris Cornell

Cornell in 2007, MIMMO FERRARO /

Birth Name: Christopher John Boyle

Date of Birth: July 20, 1964

Place of Birth: Seattle, Washington, U.S.

Date of Death: May 18, 2017

Place of Death: Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Ethnicity: Norwegian, Irish, English, Scottish, Northern Irish, Welsh, German, French, remote Manx and Swiss-German

Chris Cornell was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He was the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for rock bands Soundgarden (1984–1997) and Audioslave (2001–2007). Other members of Soundgarden include or have included Matt Cameron, Jason Everman, Ben Shepherd, Scott Sundquist, Kim Thayil, and Hiro Yamamoto. The other members of Audioslave were Tim Commerford, Tom Morello, and Brad Wilk.

Chris’s father, Edward F. “Ed” Boyle, is a pharmacist, from Everett, Washington. Chris’s mother, Karen Ruth Cornell, is an accountant, from Seattle, Washington. His ancestry was Norwegian, Irish, English, Scottish, Northern Irish, Welsh, German, French, and remote Manx and Swiss-German. His parents were married by a Catholic priest in 1957.

Chris was married to publicist Vicky Karayiannis, until his death. He had a daughter with his former wife, manager Susan Silver; and two children, including musician, singer, and songwriter Toni Cornell, with Vicky.

Chris converted to the Greek Orthodox religion of his wife Vicky.

In an interview on Howard Stern’s show, c. 2007, Chris appeared to state that his mother is Jewish. This is not accurate.

Chris’s patrilineal ancestry can be traced back to his third great-grandfather, Denis Boyle.

Chris’s paternal grandfather was Edward John Boyle (the son of Dennis Peter Boyle and Anna Louisa “Louise” Zahler). Edward was born in Washington. Dennis was born in Renfrew, Renfrewshire, Scotland, to Irish emigrants, Terrence/Terrance Boyle, of County Sligo, and Mary McVey. Louisa was the daughter of German emigrants, Michael Zahler, of Trier, Rhine (now Rhineland-Palatinate), and Ann Katarina/Catherine Stenger, of Dillishausen, Lamerdingen, Bavaria.

Chris’s paternal grandmother was Anona Ruth Olson/Olsen (the daughter of Eivin/Ivan Olaus Olsen, later Olsen, and of Carrie Lorena Jones/McGuire). Anona was born in California. Eivin was a Norwegian emigrant, from Stavanger, Rogaland, and was the son of Ole Olsen Blaasenberg, later Vaaland, and of Andrine Tønnesdatter Bjuland.

Chris’s maternal grandfather was Ralph Trivett Cornell (the son of Julian Trivett Cornell and Emily Keillor Emmerson). Ralph was born in Rothesay, Nova Scotia, Canada. Julian was the son of Robert/Ralph Filmore Trivett Cornell, whose parents were Irish, and of Anne/Annie Eudora Maxon/Maxim. Emily was the daughter of Henry Robert Emmerson and Emily Charlotte Record. Chris’s great-great-grandfather Henry was a lawyer, businessperson, politician, and philanthropist, who as a member of the Liberal Party, was Premier of New Brunswick, from October 29, 1897 to August 31, 1900, among other duties.

Chris’s maternal grandmother was Marion/Marian M. MacNutt (the daughter of James Frederick MacNutt and Clarabell/Claribel Josephine Hubbell). Marion was born in Washington. James was a Canadian emigrant, from Darmley, Prince Edward Island, and was the son of George Beairsto MacNutt and Annie McGougan Rodd. Clarabell was born in Wisconsin, the daughter of Fred Keaton Hubbell and Annetta Alta Remer.

Chris’s matrilineal ancestry can be traced to his fourth great-grandmother, Elisabeth Hoffmann, who was born, c. 1821, in Hesse, Germany.

Cornell with wife Vicki Karayiannis in 2007, photo by s_bukley/

Sources: Genealogies of Chris Cornell –

Marriage record of Chris’s parents –

Chris’s father on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of Chris’s paternal grandfather, Edward John Boyle –

Chris’s paternal grandfather, Edward John Boyle, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Birth record of Chris’s paternal great-grandfather, Dennis Peter Boyle –

Birth record of Chris’s paternal great-grandmother, Anna Louise Zahler –

Chris’s paternal grandmother, Anona Ruth Olson/Olsen, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Baptismal record of Chris’s paternal great-grandfather, Eivin Olaus Olsen –

Marriage record of Chris’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Ole Olsen Vaaland and Andrine Tønnesdatter –

Baptismal record of Chris’s paternal great-great-grandfather, Ole Olsen Vaaland –

Chris’s mother on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Marriage record of Chris’s maternal great-grandparents, Julian Trivett Cornell and Emily Keillor Emmerson –

Genealogies of Chris’s maternal great-grandmother, Emily Keillor Emmerson –

Chris’s maternal grandmother, Marion/Marian M. MacNutt, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Birth record of Chris’s maternal great-grandmother, Clarabell/Claribel Josephine Hubbell –


Curious about ethnicity

36 Responses

  1. Thenabster says:

    His daughter said that her grandmother, Chris’ mother has some Jewish ancestry…

    • bablah says:

      Nova Scotia may look a bit bleak, but it certainly isn’t Russia.

    • follers says:

      (it’s odd this is only available on facebook).

      While she says her own maternal grandfather was of Russian Jewish descent (Cornell’s father-in-law), she states of Chris’s mother, “there is Jewish heritage on my dad’s side, as my grandma – his mum – does talk about it…. there is definitely some Jewish heritage there, but none of us really know for sure.”

      The part “none of us really know for sure” is definitely a little different from Cornell’s statement that his mother is outright “Jewish.” As before, if anyone can trace it, I’ll include it…

      • passingtime85 says:

        I wonder if his mother’s family were just Judaizers like the Subbotniks or something akin. I’ve known a few families that practice traditions of Judaism and they don’t have a drop of Jewish blood, well at least not for the last 5 centuries.

  2. Thenabster says:

    Are you sure he didn’t have some Jewish ancestry?

  3. romanticcelt says:

    Another Irish person who very much had Iberian features. It’s hard to believe that he had a lot of northern European ancestry on top of that. He doesn’t look even remotely German or Norwegian of all things.

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