Bill Gates Family History


William Henry Gates III, better known as Bill Gates, was born on October 28th, 1955 to William Henry Gates Jr. and his wife Mary in Seattle, Washington.

Bill took an early interest in computer programming.  Although he enrolled at Harvard University in 1973, he dropped out two years later because he wanted to start his own company.

Microsoft was born in 1976.  The big breakthrough came in 1981 when IBM adopted the Microsoft operating system for its new personal computer.  Four years later Microsoft released its Windows operating system, which became the industry standard, and the rest is history.

In 2008 Bill Gates relinquished his management position at Microsoft to focus on his philanthropic endeavors through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  In 2010 Bill Gates and Warren Buffett founded The Giving Pledge, whereby they and other billionaires would pledge to give away at least half of their wealth to philanthropy.

On the East Coast

Stephen Gates was the immigrant ancestor of the Microsoft founder Bill Gates.  He had arrived in New England with his wife Anna and three of their children on the Diligent in 1638.  They came from Hingham in Norfolk, England and settled in Hingham, Massachusetts.

The line from the youngest son of the youngest son of Stephen led to Ensign Simon Gates who was born in New London, Connecticut and moved to Rhode Island.  His grandson Joseph left Rhode Island for Pennsylvania in the 1850’s.  He worked as a day laborer and house painter there, but not very successfully and he ended up in an almshouse where he died.

Gates on the East Coast therefore started off well and ended badly.  The trajectory was the reverse on the West Coast where Joseph’s son William came shortly after Joseph’s death.


William Henry Gates made the move West in 1888.  Soon after his arrival in Seattle he married Rebecca Eppinhauser from a German immigrant family.   He spent some time in Alaska during the Dawson gold rush, but should not be confused with the Bill Gates there – known at Swiftwater – who was a completely different character.  Back in the Seattle area, he ran a furniture store at Bremerton in the 1920’s and became a city council member there.

His son William Henry Gates Jr. was a US Army veteran of World War Two and co-founded a legal firm in Seattle in 1964.  He practiced there until 1998 when he retired.  By that time his son Bill Gates’ Microsoft company had succeeded beyond all expectations.  He then set about establishing a charitable organization for his son.  This became known as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and he ran it for several years.

When Bill Met Steve

In 1983 Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were both up-and-coming tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Bill with Microsoft and Steve with Apple.  Steve was further ahead in his computer operating system than Bill was because Steve had been the first to take advantage of the pioneering work in graphical user interface that had been undertaken by Xerox PARC.

Bill was at this time developing the Windows operating system which would later become the standard for the industry.  Steve was furious and accused him of theft.

Bill was reported to have replied: “Well, there is more than one way of looking at it.  I think we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox.  I broke into the house to steal the TV set only to find out that you had already stolen it.”

Bill Gates’ Family Tree

  • Stephen Gates (1597-1662) from Norfolk m. Anne Neave (1603-1683) in 1628 in England
  • – Elizabeth Gates (1629-1674) m. John Lazell
  • – Mary Gates (1636-1678) m. John Maynard
  • – Stephen Gates (1638-1707) m. Sarah Woodward
  • – Thomas Gates (1646-1726)
  • Thomas Gates from Massachusetts m. Elizabeth Freeman (1648-1723)
  • – Elizabeth Gates (1671-1726) m. John Holmes
  • – Sarah Gates (1673-1754)
  • – Mary Gates (1675-1737) m. Thomas Rose
  • – John Gates (1678-1747) m. Mary Bowker
  • – Josiah Gates (1681-1763) m. Grace Rathbone
  • – Caleb Gates (1693-1774)
  • Caleb Gates from Massachusetts m. Mary Forbes (1694-1774)
  • – Eunice Gates (b. 1716) m. George Hall
  • – Mary Gates (b. 1718) m. Jonathan Pierce
  • – Thomas Gates (1720-1797) m. Elizabeth Mitchell
  • – Sarah Gates (1722-1786) m. Isaac Hall
  • – Simon Gates (1724-1774)
  • – Joshua Gates (1728-1798) m. Anna Branch
  • Ensign Simon Gates from Connecticut m. Priscilla Billings (b. 1731)
  • – Mary Gates (1754-1832) m. Job Wilcox
  • – Asa Gates (1755-1841) m. Sarah
  • – Caleb Gates (1760-1851) m. Mercy Phillips
  • – Israel Gates (1764-1812)
  • Israel Gates from Rhode Island m. Ruth Chapman (b. 1768)
  • – Asa Gates (1800-1876) m. Rebekah Wilcox
  • – Thomas Gates (b. 1804)
  • – Joseph Gates (1806-1883)
  • Joseph Gates from Rhode Island m. Martha Sutterlee (1820-1905) in Pennsylvania in 1853
  • – Julia Gates (b. 1853)
  • – Jefferson Gates (b. 1855)
  • – William Henry Gates (1860-1926)
  • – Frank Gates (b. 1861) m. Idelia Burlingame
  • William Henry Gates from Pennsylvania m. Rebecca Eppinhauser from Germany (1869-1920) in Seattle in 1888
  • – Florence Gates (1889-1987) m. Harry Schumaker
  • – William Henry Gates (1891-1969)
  • – Pearl Gates (b. 1895) m. John Carlyle
  • William Henry Gates Sr. from Seattle m. Lillian Rice (1891-1966) in 1913
  • – Merridy Belle Gates (1919-1995) m. Heustin Williams
  • – William Henry Gates Jr (1925-2000)
  • William Henry Gates Jr. from Seattle m. Mary Maxwell (1929-1994) in 1950
  • – Kristianne (Khristi) Gates (b. 1953) m. John Blake
  • – William (Bill) Gates (b. 1955)
  • – Elizabeth (Libby) Gates (b. 1970) m. Douglas Armintrout
  • William Gates m. Melinda French (b. 1964) in Hawaii in 1994, divorced in 2022
  • – Jennifer (Jenn) Gates (b. 1996)
  • – Rory Gates (b. 1999)
  • – Phuebe Gates (b. 2003)



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Written by Colin Shelley

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