Advert

Mummified Syphilitic Corpse Revealed To Be Boris Johnson's Ancestor

Published 
| Last updated 

Mummified Syphilitic Corpse Revealed To Be Boris Johnson's Ancestor

It's a political scandal, but not exactly as we know it - it's been revealed that one of Boris Johnson's ancestors died of syphilis. In 1787.

The woman's mummified corpse was exhumed from Barfusser Church in Basel, Switzerland in 1975 and was unidentified for years.

However, extensive testing of DNA extracted from the mummy's big toe points to the corpse being Anna Catharina Bischoff, the great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother of the UK Foreign Secretary.

Advert

While there was no gravestone to identify her, and her coffin was unmarked, she was buried in front of the altar, which is a symbol of great importance, and was wearing good quality clothes. She also appears to have been well-fed.

Credit: SRF
Credit: SRF

According to the BBC, initial testing of the wooden coffin suggested it was dated from the 16th century, but after comparing the mummy's DNA with that of living descendants of the Bischoff family, her identity became clear - there was a 99.8 percent probability that the descendants and the mummy were from the same maternal line.

As for the syphilis, her body was riddled with mercury, which was believed to be a standard treatment for syphilis between the late 15th Century to the 19th.

Advert

Of course, as we now know, mercury is highly toxic and she is suspected to have died from mercury poisoning.

Boris Johnson. Credit: PA
Boris Johnson. Credit: PA

Born in Basel in 1719, Anna Catharina Bischoff married a church minister, and lived most of her adult life in Strasbourg. It's there, while caring for patients with syphilis, that it's believed she contracted the sexually transmitted disease.

After the death of her husband, she returned to her home town of Basel, and apparently underwent rigorous mercury treatment in the hope of a cure.

Advert

While that clearly did more harm than good, the high levels of mercury in her system are what caused her body to be preserved.

Credit: SRF
Credit: SRF

It's believed that Anna Catharina had seven children, but only two of them survived childhood. One of them - a daughter also named Anna - married Christian Hubert Baron Pfeffel von Kriegelstein.

Five generations of von Pfeffels later, a Marie Luise von Pfeffel married Stanley Fred Williams and had a daughter named Yvonne. She married Osman Wilfred Johnson Kemal, and their son, Stanley Johnson, is Boris Johnson's dad.

Advert

The Foreign Secretary has yet to comment on the discovery.

Featured Image Credit: PA/SRF

Topics: uk news, History, Boris Johnson

Mischa Pearlmen
Advert
Advert
Advert

Chosen for YouChosen for You

News

Cops Swarm Woman's Garden After Reports Of 'Dead Body'

3 hours ago

Most Read StoriesMost Read

News

Toby Carvery Stops Diners Filling Own Plates As Part Of New Rules From Monday

3 hours ago