Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

Edward Norton is a descendant of real-life Pocahontas: records

By NICK GARCIA Published Jan 06, 2023 11:09 am Updated Jan 06, 2023 12:44 pm

American actor Edward Norton found out that Pocahontas—the Native American historical figure who's been mythologized in media particularly in Disney—is his 12th great-grandmother according to records.

Norton, 53, learned about the fact on Finding Your Roots, a history television show which traces the ancestry of celebrities, as reported by US outlets.

"You have a direct paper trail, no doubt about it, connection to your 12th great-grandmother and great-grandfather, John Rolfe and Pocahontas," historian and host Henry Louis Gates Jr. told Norton.

According to records, Pocahontas was the daughter of a Powhatan chief. She welcomed British settlers to present-day Virginia in the early 17th century.

Legends say Pocahontas saved the life of British soldier John Smith, who was about to be executed, by placing her head upon his.

She eventually married the British settler Rolfe in 1614, though she died three years later. They had a son named Thomas, born 1615.

Gates also said that based on census records, Norton's third great-grandfather, John Winstead, enslaved families that included a 55-year-old man, a 37-year-old woman, and young girls aged 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10.

Norton said it's "uncomfortable" learning that he descended from slave owners.

“It’s not a judgment on you in your own life," he said, "but it’s a judgment on the history of this country and it needs to be acknowledged first and foremost and then it needs to be contended with.”

Gates also said Norton shares a distant cousin with actress Julia Roberts.

“You and Ed share a long, identical stretch of DNA on your ninth chromosomes,” he told Roberts, whose ancestry was also analyzed in the episode. “This means that you inherited this shared DNA from a distant ancestor, somewhere in the thick of this family tree.”

“It just makes you realize what a small… piece of the whole human story you are,” Norton said after the revelations.