A Genealogist, a Priest, and a King Walk Into a Bar and the Genealogist Says . . .

WASP – white Anglo-Saxon protestant. That would be me. Well, more accurately, a WWEP – white western European protestant. My heritage isn’t purely British. But the protestant part goes back to the days of Martin Luther and John Calvin.

On my father’s side, there’s a family line that came out of Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. Hearty German stock. While the Pennsylvania folk on my mother’s (and on Mr. Gaelic’s) side were Quakers, these particular Pennsylvanians were of the German Reformed Church. Come to find out, they weren’t really German. They were Swiss.

There’s a Swiss line on my mother’s side but her Swiss line were Huguenots who were run out of France during the Wars of Religion. My father’s Swiss line was actually Swiss, and actually started out as Catholics. And not only Catholic, one of my direct ancestors was a Catholic priest! He paid off the bishop in order to live with a woman as husband and wife, having at least five children, if not more. Shocking!

His fifth son, my direct ancestor, Heinrich Bullinger II, was groomed for the priesthood from an early age. While studying at the University of Cologne two years after Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, he determined that he needed to decide matters for himself and began reading many theological works finally resolving that Martin was correct.

Today he is noted as having, at about 12,000 extant letters, the most extended correspondence of the Reformation era. To bring this full-circle back to the British Isles, he corresponded with, among others, Henry VIII, James IV, Lady Jane Grey, and Elizabeth I. None of whom are my direct ancestors. But who were all WASPs.


  1. Always worrisome to see that one of your ancestors was groomed to be a priest. Thank god for his ultimate lack of faith!

  2. @Laoch, so true. I wouldn't be here. But it was his lack of faith in the Catholic church as opposed to his lack of faith in God. And he married a former nun to boot.