Saturday, 27 February 2010

Elvis Presley's Scotch-Irish ancestry

Last night I was at the home of the American consul in Belfast for some photographs in relation to a new booklet entitled Ulster and Tennessee.  The booklet has been produced by the Ulster-Scots Community Network and provides short pen-portraits of some famous Tennesseeans with Ulster-Scots ancestry.  One of those included in the booklet is the singer Elvis Presley.

Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on 8 January 1935 and he was the son of  Vernon Presley and his wife Gladys Love Smith.

His father Vernon Elvis Presley was born in Fulton, Mississippi, on 10 April 1916 and his paternal grandparents were Jessie D McClowell Presley (1896-1973) and his wife Minnie Hae Hood (1893-1980).  One researcher has traced the Presley family back to Scotland and the middle name McClowell also suggests Scottish or Scotch-Irish ancestry.

There was Scotch-Irish ancestry is his mother's family.  His maternal grandparents were Robert Lee Smith and his wife Octavia Luvenia Mansell and according to Elaine Dundy, who wrote the book Elvis and Gladys (1985):
Elvis's great-great-great-grandmother, Morning White Dove (1800-1835), was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. She married William Mansell, a settler in western Tennessee, in 1818. William's father, Richard Mansell, had been a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Mansell is a French name - its literal translation is the man from Le Mans. The Mansells migrated from Norman France to Scotland, and then later to Ireland. In the 18th century the family came to the American Colonies.

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