Shirley Temple

Ancestry of
Shirley Temple

Movie Actress

Who was Shirley Temple?

Shirley Temple was an American movie actress who started her film career at the age of three. By the age of seven she was the top box-office draw and held that spot for the next four years. Her popularity waned as she entered her late teens and early twenties. She retired from motion pictures in 1950 at the age of 22. In 2005 she received a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

Shirley Temple followed her acting career with a diplomatic one. She served as U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, and Chief of Protocol of the United States.

Family Facts

Buried Pirate's Treasure

Shirley Temple's 8th great-grandfather was Major Stephen Sewall of Massachusetts. In 1704 Major Sewall led an expedition of 40 volunteers and successfully captured the infamous pirate Capt. John Quelch.

John Quelch had originally been a member of a privateering crew led by Capt. David Plowman that was to set sail and target French ships. However John Quelch led a mutiny after which the crew elected him captain. Capt. David Plowman, who had been locked in his cabin after the mutiny, was eventually dragged on deck and tossed overboard by order of Quelch. The pirates sailed south to Brazil where they would capture nine Portuguese vessels carrying gold and other treasure.

The pirates along with some of their gold would be captured by Maj. Sewall and brought to Boston for trial. On June 30, 1704, having been condemned to death, Capt. Quelch and five of his crew walked on foot through Boston from the prison to Scarlet's Wharf and the gallows. Before being hanged, Capt. Quelch is said to have climbed up on stage, turned to the audience, removed his hat and bowed “not concerned , nor behaving himself so much like a dying man.”

It is believed that not all of Capt. Quelch's gold and treasure was recovered when he was captured. Many believe to this day that the bulk of his treasure lies buried among the Isle of Shoals off the coast of New England, waiting to be found.

Famous Kin

Shirley Temple's ancestors had a Quaker background and were very vocal in their opposition to slavery. In 1861 Shirley Temple's great-grandfather Reuben Temple named one of his sons Abraham Lincoln Temple after the newly elected president. In 1865, only two days before Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox and one week before Lincoln's assassination, Reuben would name another son U.S. Grant Temple after the General who led the Union to victory. So it seems only fitting that Shirley Temple is a 5th cousin 5 times removed to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Shirley Temple's other famous kin include American patriot William Williams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War spy Nathan Hale, and Benedict Arnold, the infamous traitor of the American Revolution. Her political kin include a number of U.S. presidents including Grover Cleveland, Rutherford B. Hayes, and the above mentioned Ulysses S. Grant. Other political kin includes Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, who was the Democratic presidential nominee for both presidential elections against Eisenhower, both of which he lost in landslides.

Among her more infamous kin there are William Stoughton, chief judge and prosecutor at the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, and John Hinckley Jr. who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Please note: The ancestor reports on this website have been compiled from thousands of different sources, many over 100 years old. These sources are attached to each ancestor so that you can personally judge their reliability. As with any good genealogical research, if you discover a link to your own family tree, consider it a starting point for further research. It is always preferable to locate primary records where possible. cannot and does not guarantee the accuracy and reliability of these sources.