nsucurrent.com May 21, 2018

18th century Swiss mummy proves an ancestor of Boris Johnson

26 January 2018, 02:21 | Colleen Roy

The mummified woman discovered in Basel Switzerland

Boris Johnson is related to an ancient mummified woman and the likeness is uncanny

The identity of the woman, buried in 1787 under the Barfüsser church in Basel, has always been a mystery, the Basler Zeitung reported.

Genealogists identified it as Anna Catharina Bischoff, the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of the Foreign Secretary. It was the mercury that was likely responsible for her death in 1787 at the age of 68 - and responsible, as well, for her body's uncommon preservation in the 230 years since.

Since 1975, when her mummified body was unearthed in a church in the Swiss city of Basel, she had been a scientific mystery - a well-preserved corpse buried with proofs of her wealth, who for lack of identification took on a distinguished title: the Lady from Barfüsser church.

The 230-year-old unknown mummy was discovered four decades ago during excavations of Barfusser church in Basel.

A further clue was that the body was full of mercury, which during the 15th to 19th Century, was a treatment for syphilis.

Genetic material extracted from the big toe of the mummy was compared to DNA donated by modern members of the Bischoff family.

Historians then concluded, through thousands of hours in the Basel State Archives, that the mummy was a member of a well-established local family, the Bischoffs.

That revealed, with 99.8% certainty, that the descendants and the mummy were all from the same maternal line.

The research confirmed the woman was Anna Catharina.

She lived in Strasbourg with her church minister husband for much of her adult like.

She had contracted syphilis, probably from treating sufferers of the disease. Bischoff had seven children, two of whom reached adulthood, and one of her daughters married a baron by the name of Pfeffel von Kriegelstein.

But the mercury also preserved her body - allowing today's researchers to find out exactly who she was, and who her descendants are.

Mr Johnson has yet to comment on the discovery of his long lost relative, but he is aware of the von Pfeffel connection, having once told the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? that they were "posh toffs".

Wilfred Johnson did not know his father Ali Kemal, though the latter was a Turkish politician and opposition journalist murdered in the 1920s.

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