John Kerry

Birth Name: John Forbes Kerry

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

Date of Birth: December 11, 1943

*father – Ashkenazi Jewish [raised Catholic]
*mother – English, Scottish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Dutch, Welsh, distant French

John Kerry is an American diplomat and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he has served as U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, since January 20, 2021. He has also been 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, among other duties.

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 Forbes Kerry (born Rosemary Isabel Forbes), a nurse and social activist, and Richard Kerry (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, filmmaker Alexandra Kerry and physician and health care administrator Vanessa Kerry.

John’s paternal grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Central Europe, Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary, with roots also in Poland. John’s grandparents 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, a Whig Party politician, who served as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts, from November 9, 1840 to May 25, 1842, and again, from November 29, 1842 to July 30, 1850, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, from December 6, 1847 to March 4, 1849, and a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, from July 30, 1850 to February 1, 1851. John’s maternal ancestors also include several Governors of Massachusetts.

John’s brother, Cameron Kerry, is a politician, who served as (Acting) U.S. Secretary of Commerce, from June 1, 2013 to June 26, 2013, among other duties. Cameron formally converted to Judaism (his wife is Jewish).

John’s first cousin, Brice Lalonde, is a French politician, who was leader of the Green Party in France, and Minister of the Environment, from 12 May, 1988 to 2 April, 1992. John and Brice’s mothers were sisters.

John is one of four Roman Catholics to have been nominated for President of the United States by a major American political party. Al Smith, in 1928, John F. Kennedy, in 1960, and Joe Biden, in 2020, are the others, with Kennedy and Biden being elected. 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, 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 Clarke/Clark). James was born in Shanghai, China, to parents from New York. He was a poppy botanist and opium dealer. Francis was the son of The Rev. John Murray Forbes and Anna/Anne Howell. Isabel was the daughter of William Mather Clarke/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’s matrilineal line can be traced to Abigail Warner, who was born, c. 1614, in Boxtead, Essex, England.

John Kerry is one of two people of Jewish heritage to have been 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 five 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 four 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 Democratic nomination in 2016 and 2020; in 2016, he won 23 contests; in 2020, he won 9 contests)
*Michael Bloomberg (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; won 1 territory, American Samoa)

Of the five, Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are Jewish by religion, and Sanders is the first person of Jewish religion to have won 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)
*Marianne Williamson (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination)
*Michael Bennet (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination)
*Tom Steyer (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination)

Shapp, Agran, Specter, Lieberman, Karger, and Williamson were/are all Jewish by religion. Bennet and Steyer were raised in mixed-faith households, Bennet with a Jewish mother and Steyer with a Jewish father. 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.

Kirsten Gillibrand, a Catholic with a Jewish great-grandfather, also sought the 2020 Democratic nomination.

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.

Sources: Genealogies of John Kerry –

Genealogy of John’s mother –


Curious about ethnicity

37 Responses

  1. phaedra says:

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

  2. Greyface says:

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

  3. bearboy says:

    Personally I liked the other picture better.

  4. bearboy says:

    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.

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