Given the verified fact that there are only a handful of British actors/creative types and perhaps only two handfuls of actual British people, it figures that, even throughout the vast echoes of all of time and space, they all know each other somehow. So we greet you today with some ultimately astoundingly obvious news: Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock’s Sherlock Holmes, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes’s creator, are distant relatives. According to ancestry.com, which is just so good at drawing those winding family trees, Cumberbatch and Doyle are 16th cousins, twice removed. Cumberbatch and Doyle’s common ancestor is John of Gaunt, who had some literary juice of his own thanks to a memorable speech in Shakespeare’s Richard II. John of Gaunt, the duke of Lancaster and the fourth son of King Edward III of England, was Doyle’s 15th great-grandfather and Cumberbatch’s 17th great-grandfather. Of course, none of this is news to Sherlock, who, thanks to a stray mole and the interconnectedness of all things, came to this conclusion ages ago, and, given its obviousness, did not note it as worthy of mentioning aloud. Well, speaking of Shakespeare, he did have that whole spiel about art as the child of its progenitor, so we’d say art’s interpreter as the progenitor’s 16th cousin (twice removed) sounds about right.
Benedict Cumberbatch. Photo: BBC