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Fringe benefits of the name Bangs

Could John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers and candidate for the leadership, be related to George W Bush, leader of the free and the not-so-free world?

Intriguingly, the President's family tree traces his parentage back to Essex-born shipwright and publican Edward Bangs who arrived in America aboard a ship called the "Anne" in 1623, three years after the original pilgrim fathers. Edward was the son of John Bangs, who died in Hempstead in Essex in 1632. The first we hear about the Bangs family is one Thomas Bangs, who lived in Norwich in the early 16th century. Even today there are only 328 adults bearing the name "Bangs" in Britain, a very small number compared to most surnames, which may indicate it is from a single original descendant.

When the diary broke the news to Mr Bangs, he was eager to refute the American connection. He said: "I have done some work on this myself and I think my Bangs come from Hemel Hempstead, in Hertfordshire, not Norwich," he insisted. He thought he might be descended from a Viking raiding party who became snagged on a river bank (a "bang") in Hertfordshire and settled, producing the Hemel Bangs line.

But, John, think of your campaign funds! Just a short transatlantic call to Daddy Bush and there'd be George W in Washington, Jeb in Florida I and John in London.

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