31 October 2016

Resemblance, but family resemblance?

You can find the images above floating around on various Internet websites in listicles purporting to show amazing family resemblances. The painting on the left is of John Brownlow, a eighteenth century English nobleman. There are lots of images of Brownlow on the Internet, so I’m pretty confident this is him.

The photograph on the right is, according to various lists, “descendant John Brownlow (born 1953).” One page says, “these relatives were born more than 200 years apart, and they're still rocking the family resemblance!”

Just one problem.

Wikipedia says the elder Brownlow had no children from his marriages.

The Wikipedia article says Brownlow had no children from his marriages, not that he had no children. But it would be strange for the younger to have the same family name if he traced his lineage back to an illegitimate child of the elder Brownlow.

There are many ways that they two Brownlows could be related, but the pages pretty specifically say he is the “descendant,” which usually implies a strict parent to offspring lineage. That would seem to rule out the young Brownlow being a great-great-nephew of the elder. The person who inherited Brownlow’s estate, his nephew John Cust, has the same general facial shape.

The remaining possibilities are that the Wikipedia entry is wrong, or that someone just found a contemporary photo of someone entirely unrelated and made up the rest.

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