Mysterious mummy with syphilis revealed to be British leader's relative

26 January, 2018, 01:40 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Boris Johnson and his mummified ancestor

Anna Catharina Bischoff's body was uncovered in 1975 while renovations were being done on the Barfuesser church.

They then extracted DNA from the mummy's toe which gave a 99.8% match to two living descendants - living in Basel and Ohio, Dr Hotz said.

The woman's mummified body was found buried in front of the altar with no headstone. The highly-toxic substance was in fact more of a poison than a cure, though its presence allowed for the preservation of Bischoff's corpse.

Basel in the 16th and 17th Centuries was a wealthy trading city; its port on the river Rhine was a key hub for moving goods across Europe, and it remains so today. We didn't know where we were going and whether we would gain anything.

Anna Catharina Bischoff is believed to be the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of the British Foreign Secretary.

Once her identity had been established, genealogists were able - with the help of the efficient records of births, marriages, and deaths which tend to be kept by the wealthier classes - to trace more of Anna Catharina's descendants.

Scientists examine the mummy
SRFScientists examine the mummy at their laboratory in Basel

The pastor's daughter, aged 67 when she died, had seven children one of whom married a Baron Pfeffel of Kriegelstein, a member of Johnson's family tree, the Swiss news agency SDA reported.

Once Anna Catharina's husband passed away, she returned to her hometown and started an intense treatment to cure the disease, but to no avail.

She died in 1787 at the age of 68, from mercury poisoning, scientists believe.

Five generations of von Pfeffels later, Marie Luise von Pfeffel marryied Stanley Fred Williams.

"This discovery means that Boris Johnson is not only distantly related, albeit very far removed, to the present Royal Family but also to all the royal houses of Europe, including the Swedish and Dutch royal families, as well as the Romanoffs", the BBC said at the time.

He previously told the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? that he was a "product of many countries" and described his von Pfeffel ancestors as "posh toffs".

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