Kurt Cobain

1993 MTV Video Music Awards

Cobain in 1993, photo by Prphotos

Birth Name: Kurt Donald Cobain

Date of Birth: February 20, 1967

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

Date of Death: April 5, 1994

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

Ethnicity: English, Irish, Scottish, Northern Irish/Scots-Irish, German, Dutch, French/French-Canadian

Kurt Cobain was an American singer, songwriter, and musician. He was the lead singer, guitarist, primary songwriter, and co-founder of grunge band Nirvana. Known as a symbol, and reluctant spokesperson, of Generation X, his songwriting highlighted angst and an anti-establishment attitude. He co-wrote Nirvana songs “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Aneurysm,” and wrote Nirvana songs “Come as You Are,” “Lithium,” “In Bloom,” “Something in the Way,” “Heart-Shaped Box,” “All Apologies,” “About a Girl,” and “You Know You’re Right.” Other members of Nirvana were Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well as Aaron Burckhard, Dale Crover, and Jason Everman. He was also a member of punk rock band Fecal Matter, along with Crover.

Kurt was the son of Wendy Elizabeth (Fradenburg), a waitress, and Donald Leland Cobain, an automotive mechanic. His uncle, Chuck Fradenburg, played in the band the Beachcombers, and his aunt, Mari Earle, played guitar and performed. His great-uncle, Delbert Cobain, was an Irish tenor.

With his wife, musician Courtney Love, Kurt was the father of visual artist Frances Bean Cobain.

Kurt’s father was of Irish, English, Dutch, French/French-Canadian, Northern Irish/Scots-Irish, Scottish, and distant German, descent. The name Cobain originates in Ireland, and was spelled Cobane, tracing to Inishatieve, a townland in Carrickmore, County Tyrone. Kurt’s mother is of Dutch, Irish, Scottish, English, and German ancestry.

Kurt’s paternal grandfather was Leland Elmer Cobain (the son of John James Arthur Cobain and Grace Almeda Gibson). Leland was born in Montesano, Grays Harbor, Washington. John was the son of John James Cobain, who was born, c. 1863, in Tyrone, Ireland, and of Anna Minerva van Alstyne/van Alstine, whose own parents were from Stormont, Ontario, Canada. Grace was the daughter of Jasper Gibson and Mary A. Ford, whose own mother, Mary Elizabeth Moore, was born in Iowa.

Kurt’s paternal grandmother was Iris Maxine LeBrot (the daughter of Neil Clairmont LeBrot and Florence J. Tuck). Iris was born in Aberdeen, Grays Harbor, Washington. Neil was the son of Thomas LeBrot, whose paternal grandfather was French, and whose mother was born in Québec, Canada; and of Delia Clairmont, whose father was from Québec, and whose mother was from County Wexford, Ireland. Florence was the daughter of Benjamin Franklin Tuck, whose father was from Ontario, Canada; and of Theodosia Evalene Spangler.

Kurt’s maternal grandfather was Charles Thomas Fradenburg (the son of Charles Lester Fradenburg and Elizabeth/Lizzie M. Ultican). Kurt’s grandfather Charles was born in Aberdeen, Grays Harbor, Washington. Kurt’s great-grandfather Charles was born in Nebraska, the son of William H. Fradenburg and Irene Diamond. Kurt’s great-grandmother Elizabeth was born in Wisconsin, the daughter of James Ultican, who was from New Brunswick, Canada, and whose own father, and maternal grandparents, were Irish, with roots in Cavan and Wexford; and of Bridget Elizabeth/Lizzie Sullivan, whose own parents, John D. Sullivan and Catherine Harrington, were also Irish, from County Cork.

Kurt’s maternal grandmother was Margaret/Peggy Dawson Irving (the daughter of James William Irving and Ada Elizabeth Dawson). Margaret was born in Washington. James was born in Hawick, Scotland, the son of William Irving and Mary Ann Robertson. Ada was born in Upchurch, Kent, England, the daughter of George Albert Henry Dawson and Elizabeth Lovelock.

Sources: Genealogies of Kurt Cobain – https://www.geni.com

Genealogy of Kurt Cobain (through his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain) – http://www.wargs.com

Genealogy of Kurt Cobain (focusing on his father’s side) – http://www.wikitree.com

Genealogies of Kurt’s paternal grandparents, Leland Elmer Cobain and Iris Maxine LeBrot – http://www.findagrave.com

Kurt’s paternal great-great-grandfather, Thomas LeBrot, on the 1880 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org


Curious about ethnicity

52 Responses

  1. andrew says:

    He is 1/64 French:

    Census record of Thomas Labroat – https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN4B-WDD

  2. andrew says:

    The “Fredenburgh” line in not German but Dutch. The surname was originally spelled “Vredenburgh”:

  3. andrew says:

    Full genealogy: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=PED&db=dowfam3&id=I432525
    * Anna Minerva van Alstyne had Dutch, Irish (her paternal grandmother was born in Ireland) and distant German ancestry

    *Neil Clarmont LaBrot had French Canadian and some Irish ancestry (his maternal grandmother was born in Ireland)

    * Benjamin L. Tuck was born in Canada

    Another genealogy of his paternal great-grandmother (focusing on her own mother’s side):

    Thank you for the corrections

  4. andrew says:


    Genealogy of his maternal grandfather: http://www.ancestry.com/genealogy/records/charles-thomas-fradenburg_46102262

    * James Ultican was born in New Bunswick, Canada, to Irish parents, Thomas Ultican and Catherine Parle.
    * Bridget Elizabeth Sullivan’s parents, John D. Sullivan and Catherine Harrington, were also Irish, from County Cork.

    Genealogy of his paternal great-grandmother:

    * Mary Ann Ford was the daughter of Sidney S. Ford and Mary Elizabeth Moore, born in Iowa to Irish parents, Robert Moore and Mary Armstrong.

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