Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beyonce is my Cousin!

I didn't start doing genealogy because I wanted to find "famous" relatives, but that's what I found last night, several years into this project.

I'd been filling in some very early lines on my father's side -- places where I'd still not traced ancestors all the way back to France.  [As background, the homogeneity of the people in Quebec combined with the meticulous record keeping by the Catholic priests there make tracing Quebec roots deep into the 17th century very doable].  One ancestor -- an 11th Great Grandfather -- Zacherie Cloutier, is a common ancestor to a lot of people, many of them famous.

This is a picture of "Grandpa Zach" that I pulled from the web:

Going back that far, you will frequently find historical references to the person. After all, these were folks who took a pioneering voyage across the Atlantic to settle the "New World" and tame it of its "savage" influences.  Life wasn't exactly easy in Quebec in the 1660s.

There are several genealogical / historical organizations in Quebec that have worked with the meticulously-recorded baptisms, marriages, and burials of the various citizens. The original, handwritten, records have been transcribed and indexed in numerous fashions by many historians. In more recent times, these sources have made their way online and the online versions often contain searchable databases.

While more historically-minded organizations like the Drouin Institute and the PRDH at the University of Montreal and the Drouin Institute are focused purely on genealogy and history, more "mainstream" sources like ancestry.com have at least as much of a financial motive, which leads them to issue press releases with sensational headlines like:

Madonna, Camilla and Celine Dion are Cousins!

While sensational, its also true. And, what they don't mention there, is that those folks are my cousins too! (we are talking 9th and 10th cousins, often a generation or two "removed" but cousins nonetheless).

Which brings me to the wrap up - Beyonce's pedigree, which you can see here, among many other places, indicates that she is the 9th Great Granddaughter of Zacharie Cloutier, making us 10th Cousins 2x removed.

The family resemblance is uncanny, no?

The full Beyonce - Me cousin connection:

Beyonce Giselle Knowles (1982 - )
is your 10th cousin 2x removed
Mother of Beyonce Giselle
Father of Celeste Anne
Father of Lumis Albert
Mother of Alexandre
Mother of Solange
Mother of Solange
Father of Solange
Father of Aubin
Mother of Pierre
Father of Elisabeth Ursule
Zacherie Cloutier (1589 - 1677)
Father of Charles
Son of Sainte
Daughter of Zacharie Pierre
Son of Genevieve
Son of Joseph
Daughter of Joseph
Son of Marie Madeleine
Daughter of Nicolas
Son of Magdelene
Daughter of Toussaint
Son of Mary
Son of Henri Andrew
Son of Lloyd Vincent

(FN) - An aside for the math challenged -- this isn't really all that remarkable.  For every "great" you count in terms of grandparents, you can figure out how many of them there by taking that number, adding 2, and figuring out 2 to that power.  In math terms:

Number of Xth Great Grandparents = 2^(X+2).

Zacherie Cloutier is my 11th Great Grandfather.

2^(11+2) = 2^13 = 8192.

So, each of us have 8192 11th great grandparents.  Cloutier lived about four hundred years ago.  Since then, he personally, probably has descendants numbering in at least 7 and possibly 8 figures.  Doing VERY rough math and making some implausible assumptions -- like NO intermarriage, similarly prolific descendants for all 4000 couples, etc. -- yields at 5 million or more descendants of just MY 11th Great Grandparents.  With any sort of similar geographic similarities, it may be more probable than not that there is some blood relationship.


  1. That makes me related, too (most directly through the Gamache lineage). I didn't realize that Beyonce had French Canadian ancestry. I can see where her sister got the name Solange. Turn up some Destiny's Child !

  2. I hadn't known that either -- apparently their families did the big leap from Quebec to Louisiana, whereas our peeps stayed right where they trickled over the border several hundred years ago.

  3. You have to go to CloutierVille in Louisiana! The Cemetary is an adventure!
    You have to look at the names on the tombstones! Well, the Cloutier name has "evolved" to unrecognizable names! Many tombstones still have "Cloutier" though.
    syl Cloutier
    Cutle Bay, FL / Sagguenay, Qc

  4. Also, my Grampa Cloutier! I did the Beyoncé profile/tree on Geni.com. If I remember correctly, I'm 11th cousins with her.

  5. PS. Thanks for the mathematics! I am truly mathematically challenged, and I am going to copy this math problem to share on Facebook. LOL

  6. You show...

    Joseph Guyon (1713 - 1765)
    Son of Joseph

    Marie Madeleine Guyon (1718 - 1755)
    Daughter of Joseph

    Have you determined which of these birthdates is the incorrect one? I'm sure Joseph didn't father a child at age 5.

  7. So I guess you and I are cousins then, somehow... I just can't figure out after my great grand-father how exactly we trace back to Zacharie Cloutier. My parents did go to Montagne aux Perches in France last summer to see his birth place.

  8. Bon jour, mes cousins! I, too, am descended from Zacharie and Xaintes through several family lines. I was so excited to find this out today. My 89 year old dad was a little overwhelmed by all this info. Incidentally, while doing genealogy research, I discovered a Morissette and began joking with one of my sisters about "Cousin Alanis". I almost died laughing to discover that she is, in fact a cousin.