Updated: Nov 30, 2022
Perhaps you've also fallen down the rabbit hole of Hilaria Baldwin's heritage. Not going to rehash the whole story here; plenty of articles that cover the story. But in short, Hilaria has leaned into Spanish heritage for years, claiming English as a second language. Her IMDb profile has her born in Mallorca, Spain, and born to a Spanish mother.
So I decided to research her maternal heritage to learn the truth. Her mother is Dr. Kathryn Hayward, a former internist at Mass General Hospital. She founded an integrative health program called Odyssey Journey, and now lives with her her husband and Hilaria's father, David Lloyd Thomas Jr., in Spain.
Very thankful for Vermont records because they release fairly current vital records to the public. Here is the marriage record for Hilaria's parents.
Dr. Hayward was born in New York. Her parents and Hilaria's maternal grandparents, Charles B. Hayward (1931-) and Irene Webler (1932-2016), both born in Massachusetts.
We would be here quite awhile if I went through all of Hilaria's maternal ancestry, but I'll focus on some highlights.
Hilaria's maternal ancestry appears to hail from England, Ireland, Germany, Quebec (French), and modern day Slovakia.
The first Haywards to arrive (although this appears to actually be the family name through an adoption) were John and Caroline (Baker) Hayward from England, probably sometime in the 1870s, but no later than around 1874, since their oldest was born in Connecticut where they settled. The biological family also appears to be from the United Kingdom and arrived around the same time.
Other ancestors also made their home in New England, where Hilaria has deep roots. At the very least, her likely 11th great-grandfather, John Brockett, was a founder of New Haven, Connecticut. Definitely check out The descendants of John Brockett: one of the original founders of New Haven colony if you're interested in learning more about Hilaria's Brockett line. Another likely 11th great-grandfather, William Bradley, was touted to have served in Cromwell's Army, with legend even stating he was a friend of Oliver Cromwell himself.
Hilaria could also join the Daughters of the American Revolution with Gideon and Amos Hotchkiss, her 8th and 7th great-grandfathers, respectively. Gideon was even a Lieutenant and Captain in the French & Indian Wars.
As I said, some very deep New England Roots.
Hilaria has a few Irish lines, including through her 3rd great-grandfather, William Byrne, who was born in County Wexford on the Southeast coast of Ireland, according to his grave. I actually seemed to find his baptism record in the Catholic Parish register in Wexford, which corresponds with the names of his parents and date of birth (though off by a year).
Hilaria has a couple of German lines through her maternal grandmother's line. Her 3rd great-grandparents, Frank and Emma (Engel) Stahnke, came from Germany around the 1870s before settling in Connecticut. Below is a page from the will of Frank Stahnke who died in 1906. His wife died a few years later in 1912 and left to their daughter and Hilaria's 2nd great-grandmother, Minnie, her gold watch and chain and her wedding ring.
The French (Canada) Connection
Another line connects Hilaria to Quebec through her 3rd great-grandparents, John Henry (who I believe I found as Henri in 1871 Census of Canada) and Octavie (Menard) Frenier who married in Vermont in 1873.
Frenier has a remarkable story, and several articles in various Vermont newspapers discuss his mechanical genius. Rather than recounting his successes myself, below is an entry I found from The Vermont Standard that does a much better job than I could.
Although I wasn't able to go back on every Quebecois line (yet, and I recognize some familiar names from my own family's tree, so that should be fun), I went back several generations on some lines into 17th century Quebec and sailed to France on each one. That was as close to Spain as I got.
The only other ancestral roots I found on Hilaria's maternal line were from modern-day Slovakia. Her 2nd great-grandparents, Victor and Anna (Aleksik) Rura were married in Manhattan on 6 October 1906 and settled in Western Massachusetts. Several Slovakian metrical books are available on FamilySearch, so I was very excited to see Hilaria's Slovak roots. Victor was baptized 10 September 1882 in Gňazdá, Stará Ľubovňa, Slovakia, as seen below.
But what about her father's side?
My focus was completely on Hilaria's maternal side because A) Her bio says Spain is through he mother and B) Her paternal grandfather's recent obituary notes the family's pre-American Revolution roots. Hilaria's paternal grandmother's side also seems to have deep history in the United States, and a Spanish ancestor is also unlikely.
But is it still possible she has Spanish ancestry?
Sure, anything is possible. Maybe she has an MPE (misattributed parentage event), adoption, or donor conception in her tree that connects her ancestry to Spain. Maybe she really just loves Spain and feels a strong connection to it. All I can say is based on the evidence I have connected to the paper trail of her maternal pedigree, there was no Spanish in her ancestry.
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