Sociology wedding sleuth (because you can’t make this stuff up)

Yesterday’s plantation-owning politicians beget today’s banking oligarchy.

OK, that’s an exaggeration. The wedding of Margaret Gawthrop Klarberg and Bruce Lee Kennedy II doesn’t really cement the banking oligarchy. It just shores it up a little. She, a Penn graduate (via Phillips Academy), a senior vice president for marketing at Bank of America. He, a graduate of Dartmouth and Stanford, a vice president for investment managing at D. F. Dent, and a former banking analyst for Goldman, Sachs.

They, amazingly, both are descended from governors of Virginia, with counties named after their families, and family fortunes built on plantations that happened to own slaves. You can’t make this stuff up. According to the NY Times story — which voids a couple’s right to not have their family history used in sociology lessons:

The bride and bridegroom each trace their ancestry to Virginia’s Colonial era. She is a descendant of Thomas Barbour, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1769 until 1775. The bridegroom is a descendant of Patrick Henry (1736-1799), founding father and first governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

That’s more than enough to get the sociology wedding sleuth — powered by Google and Wikipedia — up and running.

So, she is a descendant of Thomas Barbour, a member of the House of Burgesses. They have a county (or maybe two) named after them. Thomas’s son James, born in 1775, was the really famous one, a governor of Virginia, a U.S. senator, and U.S. secretary of war. As a child of the Barbour plantation, he got his own start as a young plantation owner at the tender age of 23, when, according to (how-could-it-be-wrong?) Wikipedia, “With wedding gifts from his father, James was able to slowly acquire his own personal wealth. By 1798, he owned several slaves and was prepared to begin his own plantation.”

James  Barbour (right), and Margaret Gawthrop Klarberg, descended from Barbour’s father, Thomas.

Thomas Jefferson designed one of the family’s houses, the ruins of which remain a historic landmark and site of a winery:

According to one published history, the family traces its American origins to the 17th century. One guy in the Barbour family of Virginia (John S.), who was in the House of Representatives from Virginia in the 1820s, had a son (John S.), a railroad executive, later in the U.S. Senate. Another son (James), served in the state legislature and was a member of the secession convention, and then served on the staff of Confederate General Richard Ewell. James’s son Alfred M. was the commandant of the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry at the time of the John Brown raid. Etc, etc.

The groom’s family also has a county named after them! His ancestor, the Founding Father Patrick Henry, also got slaves for his wedding, according to Wikipedia: “As a wedding gift his father-in-law gave the couple six slaves and the 300-acre Pine Slash Farm.”

Patrick Henry (left), and his descendant, Bruce Kennedy II.

We also learn, from The Dartmouth, that Bruce’s sister, Heningham,

is the 14th generation to possess the name. The first Heningham was a lady in waiting for Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. The name has been passed on throughout the centuries, though not always directly from mother to daughter, and also to both men and women.

As of 2008, she was reported to own a charming 2,700-sq. foot home in Philadelphia, which she bought from her dad, around the corner from the Betsy Ross house in the city’s old historic district.

Ah, the mysteries of love.

5 thoughts on “Sociology wedding sleuth (because you can’t make this stuff up)

  1. A great example because many college students think that homogamy – especially by social class – is a thing of the past.


  2. She inherited the house on Elfreth’s Alley from her uncle, Robert S. Gawthrop III, a federal judge on the 3rd Circuit.


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