Benedict Cumberbatch has been wooing audiences for years with his many leading roles including that of the title character on the hit show Sherlock. Cumberbatch may play a sleuthing genius on the show, but internet detectives have uncovered a secret that Mr. Holmes never did. It turns out that actor Benedict Cumberbatch is actually distantly related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who created the character of Sherlock Holmes.
The revelation has the internet abuzz. While the connection isn’t close, with the two men being 16th cousins twice removed, it is still an uncanny coincidence worthy of a Holmes mystery.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a Scottish writer and physician, passed away in 1930. His stories about detective Sherlock Holmes are noted for being milestones in the crime fiction genre.
Cumberbatch has been playing the role of Sherlock Holmes since 2010, never realizing his link to the character he was portraying.
Fox News reported on the fascinating link between Sherlock’s creator and one of the most famous men to portray him. Lisa Elzey, a family historian at the genealogy website Ancestry.com, commented on the finding.
“Making family history connections is similar to piecing together a mysterious puzzle, one that the great Sherlock Holmes himself would be intrigued to solve,” she said.
Researchers had to go very far back to discover the connection between Benedict Cumberbatch and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Their common ancestor was traced back to a 14th century duke, John of Gaunt.
John of Gaunt was the Duke of Lancaster and the fourth son of King Edward III of England, making Benedict and Sir Arthur not only distant cousins, but also descendants of royalty. John of Gaunt was Benedict Cumberbatch’s 17th great-grandfather and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 15th great-grandfather.
The news of the relationship broke on Sunday, coinciding with the premiere of the fourth season of Sherlock. After a two-year hiatus, fans who had been anticipating the season premiere now have a little added treat.
Even more fascinating is that this is not the first time that researchers have found a connection between Benedict Cumberbatch and a character he was portraying. In 2014, the same team of researchers who made the link between Cumberbatch and Doyle discovered that Cumberbatch was related to World War II code breaker Alan Turing.
Cumberbatch played Alan Turing in the 2014 film The Imitation Game which gave a fictionalized account of Turing’s life. According to Telegraph, Turing and Cumberbatch are related through John Beaufort, the first Earl of Somerset.
Ancestry’s U.K. content manager, Miriam Silverman, remarked on Cumberbatch’s family tree.
“It would seem that there is a flair for espionage and bravery that has descended down multiple generations of Benedict Cumberbatch’s family tree.”
Cumberbatch’s family tree has been shown to have a number of notable people. His third cousin twice removed, Noel Carlisle Rees, worked for British Military Intelligence during World War II and smuggled thousands of Allied soldiers out of Greece.
A sixth cousin, Chris Hadfield, was a Canadian astronaut. Cumberbatch’s grandfather, Henry Carlton Cumberbatch, was a lieutenant in the military, known for being an excellent marksman.
Cumberbatch’s family is filled with the sort of intriguing characters that could be straight from a Sherlock Holmes story.
Aside from starring in the latest season of Sherlock, fans can see Benedict Cumberbatch in the latest Marvel superhero film, Doctor Strange.
While a genealogical connection has not yet been found between the character of Doctor Strange and Benedict Cumberbatch, Cumberbatch’s popularity ensures that researchers will continue to look into his family tree in hopes of making yet another startling discovery. At this rate, it is only a matter of time.
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