Presidential hopeful's Suffolk link

AS THE race for the American presidency hots up, it has emerged that both contenders have East Anglian links.While the family of current Republican US President George Bush has well-documented links with Messing in Essex, it has emerged Democrat challenger John Kerry has equally strong ties with Suffolk.

AS THE race for the American presidency hots up, it has emerged that both contenders have East Anglian links.

While the family of current Republican US President George Bush has well-documented links with Messing in Essex, it has emerged Democrat challenger John Kerry has equally strong ties with Suffolk.

Mr Kerry's cousin, Kevin Armstrong, lives in the small village of Shelley, just outside Hadleigh.

He is a geography teacher at East Bergholt High School and is related to Mr Kerry through his mother.

In addition to having a cousin living in the county, Mr Kerry's links to Suffolk stretch back nearly 400 years and begin in the tiny village of Groton, near Sudbury.

James Grant Forbes, of the wealthy and powerful Boston Forbes family, is the Democrat candidate's grandfather. He married Margaret Tyndal Winthrop, who is a descendent of the original governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, who was born and lived at Groton until he left for America in 1631.

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The links between Groton and Mr Kerry's family are still strong today. Another of his cousins, also John Winthrop, a descendent of the original, lives in Carolina, but has never forgotten his Suffolk routes. He regularly visits Groton and in 1999 made a special trip for a tree planting ceremony to mark his family's links with the village.

Local historian and parish clerk Martin Wood said: "The link is tenuous, but very real. I spoke to John Winthrop the other day and he said he was very close to John Kerry when they were children and that they grew up together in Massachusetts. Both also went to Harvard and served in the Navy.

"John Winthrop is still proud of his roots in Groton and visits regularly, in fact he was here in April."

But in typical fashion Mr Bush will not be overshadowed by his challenger and can boast equally strong links with East Anglia.

It has long been known he has ancestral links with the Colchester area and he can trace back his family over many centuries to the village of Messing, where his descendents originate.

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