James Hetfield

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Hetfield in 2012, photo by prphotos

Birth Name: James Alan Hetfield

Place of Birth: Downey, Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: August 3, 1963

Ethnicity: English, some German and Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, other

James Hetfield is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He is a co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, main songwriter, and lyricist for heavy metal band Metallica. The band’s members have also included/include Cliff Burton, Kirk Hammett, Ron McGovney, Dave Mustaine, Jason Newsted, and Lars Ulrich.

James is the son of Cynthia Bassett and Virgil Greeley Hetfield, who was born in Nebraska. His parents were strict Christian Scientists, who disapproved of any medicine or medical treatments. His mother stayed true to her beliefs until her death from cancer.

James is married to Francesca Tomasi, with whom he has three children.

James’s paternal grandmother was Violet Clara Marie Hetfield (the daughter of John Gregory Hetfield and Nellie Elvira Wishman/Whishman). Violet was born in Nebraska. John was the son of David Griswold Hetfield and Sarah A. Havens. Nellie was the daughter of Augustus Wishman/Whishman, who was German, and of Frances/Francis Loraine/Lorena/Laurena McJunkins/McJunkin.

James’s maternal grandfather was Ralph Carroll Nourse (the son of Charles Wesley Nourse and Lucy Fidelia Sanford). Ralph was born in Massachusetts, and was of Colonial American (English) descent. Charles was the son of Rufus Carroll Nourse and Abby Ann Hall. Lucy was the daughter of Calvin Sanford and Julia Ann Williams.

James’s maternal grandmother was Alice Adelaide Gleed (the daughter of James Alexander Gleed and Alice Martha Hill). James’s grandmother Alice was born in Woolwich, Greenwich, London, England. James’s great-grandfather James Gleed was the son of William Gleed and Adelaide Maynard. James’s great-grandmother Alice Hill was the daughter of George Hill.

Sources: Genealogy of James Hetfield – https://www.wikitree.com

James’s father on the 1940 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
James’s father on the 1950 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Draft registration of James’s father – https://www.familysearch.org

Death records of James’s father – https://www.familysearch.org

James’s paternal grandmother, Violet Clara Marie Hetfield, on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
Violet Clara Marie Hetfield on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Marriage record of James’s paternal grandmother, Violet Clara Marie Hetfield – https://www.familysearch.org

Death record of James’s paternal grandmother, Violet Clara Marie Hetfield – https://www.familysearch.org

Marriage record of James’s paternal great-grandparents, John Gregory Hetfield and Nellie Elvira Wishman/Whishman – https://www.familysearch.org

11 Responses

  1. drzaius21 says:

    Well not shocked he is of mainly British Isles stock (maternal side is basically full Anglo and paternal side Violet is of 75% British Isles stock and grandfather is still kind of unknown). This would make him at least 68.75% British Isles stock, with the paternal grandfather still undetermined.

    I also found out Frances Laurena McJunkin (James paternal grandmothers, maternal grandmother) lineage, which was just British Isles stock which I suspected-


  2. martanoconghaile says:

    I don’t think his father’s (Virgil’s) information makes any sense. Check this out on Geni:


    Interesting to note that Virgil G Hetfield, while born in Nebraska 1925, resided in Arkansas, died 1996. His father, according to bio, Virgil Sr., was from Arkansas, giving a completely different genealogy than the one provided.

    Virgil Greeley Hetfield, Jr.
    Virgil Hatfield, Sr. WII
    John Oliver Hatfield WWI
    Tandy Hatfield Confederate
    Hardy Hatfield

  3. martanoconghaile says:

    Hmm, I don’t think any of his father’s (Virgil) information. Virgil was born July 30, 1925, Omaha, Nebraska, died

  4. andrew says:

    he may have remote Native American ancestry (1/512) on his direct patrilineal line, according to various family trees.


    • bablah says:

      Chief Shikellamy has one confirmed daughter, Ann Logan, wife of John Gibson. There’s also one possible daughter, that might have married a man named Brent. The tree on FS is sourced from a book ”That Dark and Bloody River”, but that book is labeled as Fiction on Amazon, so I wouldn’t trust it as a source for anything.

    • follers says:

      Many of these genealogies of Hetfield’s father are completely wrong. Hetfield was his paternal grandmother’s last name. His grandmother married a man named William Henry Garska two and a half months before Hetfield’s father was born, but I don’t know if he was the biological father.

      • andrew says:

        Thank you, Follers.

        Garska is a Slavic-sounding surname. James Hetfield does not look as a person of pred. British-Isles ancestry to me, hence there may be more than that.

        • transemacabre says:

          Assuming William Henry Garska was the biological grandfather, James’ father was mostly of German descent. Garska is surely Slavic, probably Polish as those paternal-line ancestors immigrated from the Posen region of Prussia (in what is now Poland).

  5. andrew says:

    James Hetfield
    Lars Ulrich
    Kirk Hammett
    Cliff Burton

    You could link the profiles of Metallica’s members

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