The Booth Family Tree
The family of John Wilkes Booth has been traced to Clerkenwell in London, England. Booth’s great-grandfather and great-grandmother were married on February 15, 1747, at St. George’s Chapel, Hyde Park Corner, London. Six of their children were baptized at St. John the Baptist Church in Clerkenwell. These included Booth’s grandfather, Richard Booth, who was baptized in 1759. Richard Booth married a Miss Game and fathered three children— two sons, Algernon Sydney and Junius Brutus, and a daughter, Jane.
Junius Brutus Booth was born in 1796 and married Adelaide Delannoy in May of 1815. Their son, Richard Booth, was born in London on June 21, 1819. Junius ran off to America with a common-law wife, Mary Ann Holmes, in 1821. They settled outside of Baltimore, Maryland, in a hamlet known as Bel Air and raised a large family— Junius Brutus Jr., b. 1821; Rosalie, b. 1823; four who died in childhood— Henry, Mary Ann, Frederick and Elizabeth; Edwin, b. 1833; Asia, b. 1835; John Wilkes, b. 1838; and Joseph Adrian, b. 1840.
Junius managed to keep his first wife and son in the dark about his Maryland family for 25 years— until his son by Adelaide, Richard, came to America in the late 1830’s and discovered the truth. A messy divorce followed, after which Junius was able to marry Mary Ann in 1851. A year later, Junius died.
Junius’ legitimate son, Richard, lived in Baltimore and was a language teacher. On December 31, 1849, he married English-born Sarah P. Ware. An oddity is that the 1850 census shows them with four young children, three born before this marriage. One persistent Booth family myth is that Richard went South during the Civil War and all trace of him was lost. This is not correct. The land records in Baltimore show that he sold off his property there in 1860.
Apparently he left for England soon after and took up residence at the old Booth family estate, 10 St. John’s Square, Clerkenwell, London. Richard’s wife, Sarah, died at this address on November 14, 1868, during a typhus outbreak. Richard bought a lot in Highgate Cemetery, London, and buried her there on the 16th. Richard died of typhus on December 16, 1868, and was buried in this same lot on the 18th. There are no stones to mark these Booth graves, though there are many ornate tombstones in Highgate Cemetery, London. One is for Karl Marx.
Junius Brutus Booth, Jr. became a successful theatre manager, took several wives, fathered children and died in 1883.
Rosalie Booth never married.
Edwin Booth went on to become one of history’s greatest actors, married twice and fathered one daughter, Edwina, who married into the Grossman family. Edwin died in 1893.
Asia Booth married actor John Sleeper Clarke, had several children, moved to England after Lincoln’s assassination and died in 1888.
John Wilkes Booth never married, but, given his reputation, may have fathered some children!
Joseph Booth became a doctor and died in 1902 leaving no children (a son, Edwin, died in infancy).
The information provided here was contributed by Mr. James O. Hall.
For additional information, we recommend:
Stanley Kimmel, The Mad Booths of Maryland (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1940).
Gene Smith, American Gothic: The Story of America's Legendary Theatrical Family - Junius, Edwin and John Wilkes Booth (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992).