18th century Swiss mummy proves an ancestor of Boris Johnson

Corpse from Basel church identified as that of Anna Catharina Bischoff, who died in 1787

The mummy’s relationship to British foreign secretary Boris  Johnson (above)  is confirmed by records of births, deaths and marriages. File photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

The mummy’s relationship to British foreign secretary Boris Johnson (above) is confirmed by records of births, deaths and marriages. File photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

 

Scientists in the Swiss city of Basel have finally identified a mysterious mummified body after more than 40 years and established that the woman was an ancestor of UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

The corpse has been identified as Anna Catharina Bischoff, who died in 1787. Her body was first uncovered in 1975, while Basel’s Barfüsser church was being renovated.

It was well preserved due to a high level of mercury in the remains, often a sign that someone had been treated for syphilis. The site of her burial, in front of the altar in the church, indicated that she was probably a person of high status.

Johnson relationship confirmed

A new study of the body extracted DNA from the mummy’s big toe, and this was compared to descendants of the Bischoff line. A 99.8 per cent match was found, and the relationship to the Johnson family is confirmed by records of births, deaths and marriages.

Bischoff’s daughter married Christian Hubert Baron Pfeffel von Kriegelstein, and several generations of Von Pfeffels later the family line reaches Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley.

Swiss public television channel SRF 1 is airing an edition of science programme Einstein about the hunt for the mummy’s identity.

Boris Johnson had yet to comment on his rediscovered great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. – Guardian service