Mummified Syphilitic Corpse Revealed To Be Boris Johnson's Ancestor

Mummified Syphilitic Corpse Revealed To Be Boris Johnson's Ancestor”

The high concentration of mercury in her body is what preserved it enough for it to be exhumed and studied.

With Bischoff's identify established, genealogists began tracing her descendants, which led to Boris Johnson. There was no gravestone, and her identity has been a mystery ever since. The highly-toxic substance was in fact more of a poison than a cure, though its presence allowed for the preservation of Bischoff's corpse.

However, the identity of the woman within seemed lost to history until recently discovered archives revealed that the mummy had actually been unearthed before, in 1843.

And yet, DNA testing has revealed that a mummified body found beneath a Swiss church is the Foreign Secretary's seven-times-great-grandmother.

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.

Scientists were able to extract DNA from the mummy's big toe and compare it with DNA taken from living descendants of the Bischoff family, indicating a 99.8 percent probability that the descendants and the mummy were from the same maternal line.

Researchers then set out to discover the genealogical tree of the woman.

Anna Catharina was born in Basel in 1719 and spent most of her adult life in the French city of Strasbourg. It's there, while caring for patients with syphilis, that it's believed she contracted the sexually transmitted disease.

Bischoff's relationship to the Johnson family was confirmed by records of births, deaths and marriages.

On 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.

Five generations of von Pfeffels later, Marie Luise von Pfeffel married one Stanley Fred Williams.

The foreign secretary has not commented on the tale from the crypt, but he must be aware of the von Pfeffel ties - having once told the BBC show "Who Do You Think You Are?" that they were "posh toffs".

Their daughter Yvonne married Osman Wilfred Johnson Kemal, and their son, Stanley Johnson, is Johnson's father.

The foreign secretary has not yet commented on the discovery, but is known for his global ancestry.

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