02 September 2006

Days of Wine and Ruses

William Ingraham Koch, yachtsman and art collector, bought some wine a few years ago that was purported to have been owned by Thomas Jefferson. Turns out it probably wasn't.

Koch spent more on finding out that the story was bogus than he did on the wine itself but there's more millions where that came from and, not to worry, Koch can still go on with his collecting. Some of Koch's collection was on exhibit last year at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which said:

At the core of the collection is Koch’s ancestor, Captain James Lawrence, a naval hero of the War of 1812. Captain Lawrence’s bravado expressed in his dying words “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” later became the motto of the United States Navy. The Koch collection of marines includes several paintings devoted to Lawrence.

Maybe the person who sold Koch the wine is the same person who sold him the story about James Lawrence being his ancestor. James Lawrence was survived by one daughter, Mary, who was born about 1811. She married Lt. William Griffin in 1838.

Tracing Koch's ancestry back to the early 1800s lookng for Griffins or Lawrences turned up Koch's great-great-grandmother Marie, who was born in 1812 to Isaac Lawrence, and who married William Ingraham Kip.

Turns out Isaac Lawrence and Captain James Lawrence both had ancestors who came to Long Island from Hertfordshire, England in the 1630s. I would not be surprised if the two Lawrence guys from Hertforshire are related. But even if they were brothers, that would make William Koch something like 10th cousin, 4 times removed to Captain Lawrence. Hardly an ancestor.

I am more closely related to Madonna than Koch is related to Captain Lawrence and there is not a single portrait of her in my collection.

Nor any bogus wine.

1 comment:

Rocky said...


You are quite correct. Mr. Koch is not a descendent of Capt. James Lawrence.

I am a descendent (g-g-g-g-grandson), and I am quite certain of Capt. Lawrence's lineage:

Capt. James Lawrence
daughter: Mary Lawrence Griffin
granddaughter: Mary Griffin Redmond
g-grandson: William P. Redmond
4th gen: 1 male, 2 females
5th: 1 male, 4 females
6th: (my gen.): 5 males, 6 females
7th: 14+
8th: At least 1