The American Ancestry of President Ulysses S. Grant

Mar 1, 2011Updated 8 months ago

General Ulysses Simpson Grant
“My family is American, and has been for generations, in all its branches, direct and collateral.” Thus begins the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, Commander-in-Chief of Union forces during the Civil War, and later, the 18th President of the United States.

Matthew Grant, Founding Father of Dorchester, Massachusetts

Ulysses Grant traces his “American” ancestry from Matthew Grant (1601-1681), a founding father of Dorchester, Massachusetts, who arrived there in 1630. He and his first wife, Priscilla Grey (1600/01-1644), sailed on the Mary and John, which left from Plymouth, England, in 1630. They had five known children: Priscilla, Samuel, Tahan, John, and Matthew.

Five years after arriving, Matthew Grant, along with many other Dorchester settlers, moved to Windsor, Connecticut, where he lived for the remainder of his life. Matthew’s wife Priscilla died in 1644; he then married Susannah Capen Rockwell, widow of William Rockwell. The Rockwells had also come to America on the Mary and John.

The Grant, Porter, Minor, Lothrop, and Huntington Families

Ulysses was a descendant of Mathew’s son Samuel Grant (1631-1718), who married Mary Porter (c1638), daughter of John and Anna White Porter, in 1658. Their children were Samuel, John, Matthew, Josiah, Nathaniel, Mary, and Sarah. The oldest son of Samuel and Mary Porter Grant, another Samuel (1659-1734/35), married Grace Minor (1670-1753), daughter of John and Elizabeth Booth Minor.

Samuel and Grace Minor Grant were the parents of eight children: Hannah, Samuel, Noah, Abigail, Ephraim, Grace, David, and Ebenezer. Their son Noah (1693-1727) married Martha Huntington (1696-1779), daughter of John and Abigail Lothrop Huntington. Noah and Martha Huntington were the parents of another Noah (1719-1756), who married Susannah Delano (1724-1806), a descendant of Richard Warren, signer of the Mayflower Compact, and Phillipe de la Noye (Delano), who arrived on the Fortune in 1621.

Noah Grant II fought in the French and Indian War, eventually being promoted to Captain. He was killed while on duty at Fort William Henry in New York, in 1856. This second Noah and his wife Susannah were the parents of a third Noah (1748-1819).

Captain Noah Grant (III)

The third Noah Grant in this line also entered military service, but he did not fight for the British. The year was 1775, and Noah III enlisted in the revolutionary forces as a lieutenant. He, too, was eventually promoted to Captain. Towards the end of the war he married Anna Richardson (1752-1786), sometimes mistakenly referred to as a widow whose maiden name was Buell. In actuality, she was the daughter of Captain Amos and Ruth Richardson.

Their children were Peter (1781-1829) and Solomon ((1779-c1798). Three years after Anna Richardson Grant died, Noah married Rachel (Miller) Kelly (c1760-1805) and had two more children, Susan A. (1792-1871) and Jesse Root Grant (1794-1873). In 1821 Jesse Root, who was named for the Hon. Jesse Root, Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Connecticut, married Hannah Simpson (1798-1883), daughter of Rebecca Weir and John Simpson.

Jesse Root Grant and Hannah Simpson: Parents of Ulysses

Jesse Grant went into the tannery business, later becoming postmaster of Covington, Kentucky. He and Hannah were the parents of Hiram Ulysses, Samuel Simpson, Clara, Virginia Paine, Orville Lynch, and Mary Frances.

As a youth, Hiram Ulysses Grant (1822-1885) was called by his middle name, Ulysses. Early on, he decided on a military career, and a local congressman Thomas Hamer proposed him for West Point. In the letter, Grant’s name was incorrectly given as Ulysses S. Grant. Apparently, Hamer assumed that Ulysses was his given name, and that his middle name was likely Simpson, for his mother, Hannah Simpson. The error went uncorrected, and eventually Grant accepted the name himself.

Ulysses Grant Shared Ancestry with another President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Grant was not only a descendant from a number of early settlers of America; he shared some of those ancestors with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Both were descendants of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren, and both presidents were also descended from Jonathan Delano of the Fortune.

To learn about the ancestry of Grant's wife, see The Southern Ancestry of Julia Dent Grant.


  • Grant, Arthur Hastings. The Grant Family, A. V. Haight, 1898.
  • Grant, Ulysses S. Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. The Library of America, 1990.
  • Hopper, Kristin. Genealogy and Ancestry of Barack Obama and the other U.S. Presidents
  • Marshall, Edward Chauncey. The Ancestry of General Grant and Their Contemporaries. Sheldon & Company, 1869.