Tony Blair’s family tree has been traced back to the Bridson family in the Isle of Man – and his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather is said to have been a notorious smuggler as well as being involved in the slave trade.
The former UK Prime Minister’s chequered family past has been uncovered in a blog by historian Roy Stockdill.
Mr Stockdill was born in Bradford and spent 30 years working for News International as a travelling reporter, series editor and deputy features editor.
He says: ‘Blair’s family tree is every bit as colourful and intriguing as his decade in office.
‘His six-times great grandfather was a notorious customs official and smuggler: Paul Bridson.
‘Blair’s ancestry has been claimed to include kings, philanderers, wealthy industrialists and music hall artists.
‘A national newspaper some years ago published a tree indicating Blair was a descendant of Edward III, William III and James V of Scotland, but so far I have not been able to check these claims conclusively.
‘Instead, I have concentrated on one particular line about which I have no doubt, that of his paternal grandmother, Mary Augusta Ridgway Bridson.
‘Mary gave away Blair’s father, Leo, to a Glasgow shipyard worker, James Blair, and his wife, Mary.’
Leo Blair was born Charles Leo Augustus Parsons in 1923, to Charles Parsons and Mary Bridson, and from here Mr Stockdill has traced the Bridson name all the way back to Paul Bridson, born in 1693 in the Isle of Man and baptised in Malew – Blair’s six-times great grandfather.
During his research Mr Stockdill has discovered that Bridson was a customs officer in Douglas, but also a smuggler and importer of guinea goods for the slave trade.
Mr Stockdill says: ‘He is well documented in histories of the Isle of Man as one of the major merchants and players in supplying imported goods from the East Indies to slave ships operating out of Liverpool.
‘The Isle of Man was an important staging post for the slave ships and became a sort of warehouse where they could pick up barter goods before continuing on to Africa to collect slaves.’
Bridson himself did not operate slave ships but had close links to a number of Liverpool merchants who did.
Mr Stockdill says: ‘William Boats, a near-legendary figure in the slave trade and captain of slave ships, married Paul Bridson’s daughter and became his son-in-law.’
To read the full record of Mr Stockdill’s research on Tony Blair and other celebrities visit his blog at roystockdillgenealogy.com/tony-blair/