Boris Johnson Family History


Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, better known as Boris Johnson, was born on June 19th, 1964 to Stanley and Charlotte Johnson in New York City.

His early life was spent moving from Washington to London and to Brussels because of his father’s work, while there were visits while in England to the family farm on Exmoor.

In 1977 Boris entered Eton on a scholarship.  It was said at that time that he began using his middle name of Boris rather than his first name of Alexander and that he developed “the eccentric English persona” for which he would become famous.  After Eton came Oxford where he studied Classics like his father.  And after Oxford he gravitated into journalism with The Times and the Daily Telegraph.

In 1978 Boris’s parents divorced and his father Stanley remarried in 1981.  A year later his mother Charlotte. when forty, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  She lived onto 2021.

Boris entered Parliament as the MP for Henley in 2001.  He was Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, presiding over the Olympic Games in London in 2012.  He then returned to Parliament and led the successful Leave campaign in the UK European membership referendum in 2016.

In July 2019 he won the Conservative party leadership election, became Britain’s Prime Minister, and helped the Tories win an eighty seat majority in the December 2019 General Election.

But in July 2022 he had to resign the office after the Partygate scandal as he had lost the support of both his Cabinet and his colleagues.  In June 2023, after Parliament had released a condemnatory report on Partygate, he resigned his MP seat in Parliament.  So apparently ended the political career of one of the most colorful characters of recent British history.

Boris Johnson in Public

Nick Duffell in his 2014 book British Leaders and the Entitlement Illusion wrote that Boris Johnson was so supremely confident that he needed “neither surname nor an adult haircut” and that he used his buffoonery to distract the public from what the former media tycoon Conrad Black called “the sly fox disguised as the teddy bear.”

When Boris was Foreign Secretary, he had come to Myanmar on a diplomatic mission and found himself inside the Shwedagon Pagoda, a sacred Buddhist shrine.

There he recited aloud to his alarmed audience the opening verse to Rudyard Kipling’s colonial poem The Road to Mandalay.  This poem captured the nostalgia of a retired British serviceman on his colonial service and a Burmese girl he had kissed.

This impromptu recital was so embarrassing to his hosts that the UK Ambassador to Myanmar had to cut him short.

Turkish Drama

Boris Johnson’s great grandfather was from Turkey and named Ali Kemal.  He was born in 1869, the son of Ahmed Kemal, a wealthy beeswax merchant in central Anatolia.  It was said that the blond hair in the family came from Ahmed’s wife Hanife who was Circassian.  Ali had a traditional education at a Koranic school but went on to travel to France and Switzerland, to study in Europe, and to become a successful journalist.

Ali Kemal met his first wife Winifred, an Englishwoman, in Lucerne around the year 1902.  When he had to return home to Turkey, the story goes that he said to her:  “I have to go now.  You will not hear from me nor must you try to communicate with me, but at this exact time, exactly a year from today, I will be at this bridge in Lucerne.  If I find you here, then we will be married.”

Exactly a year later, as the clock struck noon, Ali Kemal from the far end of the bridge walked towards Winifred.  They married in London in 1903 and lived together initially in Cairo.

However, Winifred would die in England in 1909 at the age of twenty-six from puerperal fever, soon after the birth of their second child.  Ali Kemal remained in England for a while, but then returned to Turkey and his journalism and political activities there.  He remarried in 1914.

After World War One ended, Ali Kemal served as one of the last Interior Ministers of the Ottoman Government.  But he was lynched by a nationalist mob in 1922 during the Turkish War of Independence.  His second wife took their son Zeki Kunerlp into exile in Switzerland.  Zeki would later become a Turkish ambassador and survive his own assassination attempt in 1978.

From Turkish Kemals to English Johnsons

After Ali Kemal had returned to Turkey, his children Celma and Osman Wilfred Kemal were brought up in England by their English grandmother Margaret Brun, the mother of Winifred.  She had taken back her maiden name of Johnson.  After contact had been lost with Ali Kemal during the War, Osman Kemal became Wilfred Johnson in 1916.

Wilfred Johnson married Irene Williams in 1936.  Irene was English on her father’s side, but had Pfeffel parentage on her mother’s (this apparently was a noble family extending back to Karl Freiherr von Pfeffel of Saxony in 1811).  Wilfred served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War Two.  In 1951 he began hill farming in a remote area of Exmoor on the Devon-Somerset border.

Their son Stanley, born in 1940, was educated at Shelborne School in Dorset and won a Stapeldon scholarship to Oxford where he studied Classics.  He married in London in 1963 and worked In Washington DC for the World Bank and in Brussels for the European Commission.  By that time he had four children in tow.  His work at the European Commission, interrupted by a spell as an MEP, continued until 1994.

Stanley Johnson has written two memoirs Stanley I Presume and Stanley I Resume, published in 2009 and 2014.  He has been a life-long animal rights and environmental activist, writing books on these subjects.  He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, three times in his 70’s.  And he has often been politically indiscreet.

Boris Johnson’s Family Tree

  • Francis Brun from Switzerland (1856-1935) m. Margaret Johnson from Yorkshire (1857-1942) in London in 1880
  • – Genevive (Viva) Brun (b. 1881), born in England (Warwick)
  • – Winifred Brun (1883-1909), born in England (Warwick)
  • Ali Kemal Bey (1869-1922) from Turkey m. Winifred Brun in London in 1903; rem. Sabiha Hamm in Turkey in 1914
  • – Celma Kemal (1905-1992), born in Egypt, m. Rev. Reginald Battersby
  • – Osman Kemal (1909-1992), born in England (Bournemouth)
  • – Zeki Kuneralp (1914-1998), born in Turkey
  • Osman Kemal aka Wilfred (Johnny) Johnson m. Irene Williams (1907-1987) in Kent in 1936
  • – Peter Johnson (b. 1937)
  • – Hilary (Hillie) Johnson (b. 1939)
  • – Stanley Johnson (b. 1940)
  • – Gillian Johnson (b. 1941)
  • Stanley Johnson m. Charlotte Fawcett (1942-2021) in London in 1963 (divorced in 1978); rem. Jennifer Kidd (b. 1949) in 1981
  • – Boris Johnson (b. 1964)
  • – Rachel Johnson (b. 1965) m. Ivo Dawnay
  • – Leo Johnson (b. 1967) m. Taies Nezam
  • – Joseph (Jo) Johnson (b. 1971) m. Amelia Gentleman
  • – Julia Johnson (b. 1982) m. Calum Gray, with Jennifer
  • – Maximilian (Max) Johnson (b. 1985), with Jennifer
  • Boris Johnson m. Allegra Mostyn-Owen (b. 1964) in 1987 (divorced in 1993); rem. Marina Wheeler (b. 1964) in 1993 (divorced in 2020): rem. Carrie Symonds (b. 1988) in 2021
  • – Lara Johnson (b. 1993) with Marina
  • – Milo Johnson (b. 1995) with Marina
  • – Cassia Johnson (b. 1997) with Marina
  • – Theodore Johnson (b. 1999) with Marina
  • – Wilfred Johnson (b. 2020) with Carrie
  • – Romy Johnson (b. 2021) with Carrie
  • – Frank Johnson (b. 2023) with Carrie


Click here for return to front page

Written by Colin Shelley

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *