Good breeding, wrong result?

The success of any breeding program must, in the first instance, be measured by the numbers of descendants and whether the line continues or not. Any line of descent which ends with an individual, no matter how successful or useful a particular individual is (or was), is then a failed line of descent. In terms of survival of the breed, each of the 7 billion people alive today is equally successful. It is all those who leave no descendants who have – from a breeding perspective – failed.

Each living person has much the same number of preceding generations and preceding ancestors as the  next. From the beginning of modern humans (say 120,000 years ago) each person alive today is the product of around 6,000 generations. And so I am a little amused when some claim a “superiority of breeding” – or “good” breeding – just because they know the names of 10 or 50 or 83 individuals along one of their lines of descent. Even 83 out of 6,000 is fairly insignificant. From a breeding point of view the only point of significance is if a line continues.

There is even a claim in China that a direct descendant of Confucius was

K’ung Te-ch’eng (23 February 1920 – 28 October 2008) was a 77th generation descendant of Confucius in the main line of descent. He was the final person to be appointed Duke Yansheng and the first Sacrificial Official to Confucius –Wikipedia

But considering that Confucius’ genes would have been diluted by the order of at least 1/ 230  (one in a billion) in the following 77th generation, it is of little consequence genetically. But “Confucius’ family, the Kongs, have the longest recorded extant pedigree in the world today”. The father-to-son family tree, is now in its 83rd generation (2,600 years) and it does at least signify a successful and continuing line of descent. There are thought to be about 2 million descendants of Confucius alive today.

In comparison some of the British aristocracy can identify father-to-son family trees perhaps back to the 13th century but more usually from about the 15th or 16th centuries.

But knowing the names of some of ones ancestors – and even 83 out of 6,000 generations seems quite trivial – says very little about “good breeding”. Even the poorest, most miserable, most unintelligent person alive today has as long a pedigree as any British aristocrat or any of the descendants of Confucius. The key point, of course, is that a person knowing none of his ancestors – but alive today – has been just as successful in the breeding stakes as anybody else alive today. And that person’s breeding has been more successful than all the blue-blooded aristocrats whose lines of descent are now extinct.

And that is why I found this story in The Telegraph both trivial, interesting and amusing:

Rift at Longleat over ‘racism’ towards Britain’s first black marchioness

It is known as one of Britain’s most eccentric aristocratic estates, where elaborate murals of the Karma Sutra adorn the walls and the head of the family, the Marquess of Bath, cavorts with his mistresses, or “wifelets”.

Now family relations have become even more fraught at Longleat, the vast Elizabethan seat in Wiltshire, after the heir to the estate accused his mother of racism towards his half-Nigerian wife.

The rift between the marquess’s son and heir Ceawlin Thynn, Viscount Weymouth, and his mother, the marchioness, is so bad that she was not invited to his wedding, ……. 

The marchioness, who has spent more time at Longleat since the death of her long-term lover in France, is said to ignore her son’s wife when they cross paths in the grounds of the estate.

Emma McQuiston, who married Viscount Weymouth in 2013, is the daughter of a Nigerian father, oil tycoon Ladi Jadesimi, and British mother, Suzanna McQuiston. She will become Britain’s first black marchioness when her husband inherits the title from his father.

McQuiston has known the Bath family since she was a child, but when the couple announced their engagement, Viscount Weymouth, 41, claims his mother asked: “Are you sure about what you’re doing to 400 years of bloodline?”

The viscount told the Sunday Times that his 71-year-old mother has no contact with their baby son, John, because, “I don’t want him contaminated by that sort of atmosphere and those sort of views”. …….

I note that the Marchioness is Hungarian and that the current Marquess of Bath has had up to 70 “wifelets” living on the estate.

Good breeding, wrong result?


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