US VP hopeful has East Anglian roots

SHE is the gun-toting, moose eating “hockey mom” who could one day be president of the United States.But while Sarah Palin, dubbed the “pit-bull in lipstick”, might seem like an all-American woman, her feisty, frontier nature could well be traced back to a link with ancestors from East Anglia.

SHE is the gun-toting, moose eating “hockey mom” who could one day be president of the United States.

But while Sarah Palin, dubbed the “pit-bull in lipstick”, might seem like an all-American woman, her feisty, frontier nature could well be traced back to a link with ancestors from East Anglia.

According to family tree website ancestry.co.uk, the vice-presidential candidate's great, great, great, great, great grandfather Robert Gower was baptised in Norwich in 1723 and is responsible for leading the family on the perilous journey across the Atlantic to begin a new life in America.

Research using births, marriage and death records show Gower, who is from Mrs Palin's mother's side of the family, left Norfolk for America in the 18th century and had a son James, her great, great, great, great grandfather, who was born in Maine.


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Mrs Palin, a mother of five who has been married for 20 years, caused quite a stir when she was announced as the surprise choice as running mate for John McCain and has scarcely been out of the news since.

The 44-year-old will become the first female US vice-president if the Republicans win their way into the White House in November.

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But why did her ancestors leave Norfolk?

Susan Maddock, principal archivist at the Norfolk Record Office, said: “Unlike the 17th century and, to some extent, the 19th century, there is no particular theme of why people moved to America. In the late 16th/17th century it was due to religious freedom, while in the 19th century a lot of paupers went to America, some people were transported there for their crimes while others wanted to better themselves.

“In the 18th century, in addition to people who had land out there and perhaps went with their families and servants, there would also have been people to administer or run the colonial government.

“But there was nothing pressing in the 18th century, no particular reason why they might have gone when compared to the 17th or 19th centuries.

“Norfolk was one of the most populous places in the country before the industrial revolution and also, with it being a coastal county, it was more likely that people would travel by sea and meet people from abroad and be inspired to travel.”

Another Palin is also in the news. East Anglians have voted former Monty Python star Michael Palin as the person they would most like to travel with.

The survey from Multimap, a specialist online mapping service, shows 33percent would choose the well-travelled Monty Python funny man as a companion with 17pc selecting car expert Jeremy Clarkson and 12pc opting for comedian and TV host Jonathan Ross.

Almost no-one wanted the Prime Minister Gordon Brown or Conservative leader David Cameron in their car.

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