Jon Snow Family History


Jonathan George Snow, better known as the English newscaster Jon Snow, was born on September 28th, 1947 to George D’Oyly and Joan Snow in Ardingly, Sussex.

Jon won a choral scholarship by Winchester Cathedral and spent five years at the Pilgrim’s School.  When he was eighteen, he spent a year as a VSO volunteer teaching in Uganda.  But he did not complete his undergraduate studies, being expelled for his part in a 1970 anti-apartheid student protest.

His career in television started with ITN in 1978 and he became the main presenter of Channel 4 news in 1989, a position he was to hold until 2021.  During that time he has been known for his cycling around London and for the colorful nature of his ties.

Clockmakers and Bankers

The earliest record of these Snows is Nicholas Snowe, born in 1608, who was a clockmaker and watchmaker in Salisbury, Wiltshire.  His brother Jeremiah – or more probably a cousin – become a wealthy goldsmith and money-lender in London in the 1670’s and was knighted.

The Wiltshire Museum, which displays one of Nicholas’s clocks made in 1636, says of him:  “Brass lantern clock by Nicholas Snowe, 1636.  Nicholas Snowe was originally from London but worked in Salisbury which had a flourishing clock-making industry.  He was granted the freedom of the city in 1629 and allowed to practise his trade of watchmaker, dial maker and clockmaker.  He lived in the parish of St. Thomas.”

His son William worked as a watchmaker in nearby Marlborough and was married three times.  Thomas, a son by his second wife, moved in the early 1700’s to London where his uncle Jeremiah was already well-established.  He took over much of his uncle’s business and died in 1748 a wealthy man.  His son Robert continued the family banker business in London.

Their West Country roots, however, were not forgotten.  Both Robert and his son George married into the Paul family (although both of their wives died early); as did Robert’s daughter Frances (marrying the Rev. John Paul).  The Paul family owned land in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire and were wealthy wool-cloth merchants.  George Snow ended up splitting his time between Hendon Place, his London home, and Langton Lodge, his home near Blandford Forum in Dorset.

Church and Army

Thomas Snow, being the youngest son of his banker father, chose the Church as his vocation and became the Anglican vicar at Micheldever in Hampshire in 1814.  His eldest son George followed in his father’s footsteps and was also a vicar in Hampshire.

But the army also loomed large as a career.  George’s brother Thomas was in the British army in India for close on fifty years (another brother Charles emigrated to New Zealand).

And George’s son Thomas served with the British army in Africa, India, and in the First World War.  As General Snow, he was one of the British commanders later held in part responsible for the disastrous 1916 Battle of the Somme campaign.

General Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow had two sons, George and John:

  • George was a schoolmaster and then, after having been ordained into the Anglican church, was appointed the Bishop of Whitby in 1961.
  • while John followed his father into the army, serving in North Africa and the Mediterranean in the 1950’s.  His son Peter Snow was a TV newscaster as well as Jon, his grandson Dan Snow a TV historian.

George Snow had three sons, including the TV newscaster Jon Snow.  Jon would later refer to him as a “remote” bishop.  “My father always thought I was the least bright of his three sons,” he said.

Thomas D’Oyly Snow in the First World War

Thomas, a soldier since 1879, was a veteran of the Zulu War in South Africa and the doomed attempt to relieve Charles Gordon in Khartoum during the war against the Mahdi.

When conflict broke out in 1914 he was a divisional commander and saw action at the Marne and Ypres, suffering a serious injury after falling from his horse. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, he led an attack on Gommecourt which ended in complete failure and a bloody slaughter of British troops.

His grandson Jon has been non-committal on Thomas’s role and responsibility.  But Jon’s nephew Dan, a historian who has studied the Somme campaign in detail, has a more scathing view:

“In one of his least edifying acts, Thomas Snow apparently sought to pass blame for his part in the debacle to one of his subordinates.  He wrote that ‘Maj Gen the Hon E J Stuart-Wortley is not of an age, neither has he the constitution, to allow him to be as much among his men in the front lines as is necessary to imbue all ranks with confidence and spirit.’  Stuart-Wortley was consequently sacked and spent the next eight years striving to clear his name.”

General Snow’s career did not suffer from the July 1916 Somme failures. He ended the First World War as one of the top British commanders in Europe.  However, the injuries he incurred in a riding accident in 1917 never really left him and he spent his later years confined to a bath chair.

Jon Snow’s Family Tree

  • Luke Snowe (1580-1630) from Wiltshire m. Alice Bredmore in 1606
  • – Nicholas Snowe (1608-1639)
  • Nicholas Snowe from Wiltshire m. Jane Shabdon (1610-1640) in 1633
  • – William Snow (1638-1722)
  • William Snow from Wiltshire m. Elizabeth Friker (died in 1679) in 1666; rem. Mary Goldsmith in 1680
  • – Thomas Snow (1682-1748)
  • – Edward Snow (b. 1682)
  • Thomas Snow from Wiltshire m. Anne Jarman (1695-1741) in London in 1713
  • – William Snow (b. 1714)
  • – John Snow (b. 1717)
  • – George Snow (b. 1718)
  • – Thomas Snow (b. 1719)
  • – Robert Snow (1720-1772)
  • Robert Snow from London m. Valentina Paul (1723-1756) in 1742
  • – George Snow (1745-1822)
  • – Valentina Snow (b. 1747)
  • – Robert Snow (b. 1754)
  • – Frances Snow (b. 1755) m. John Paul
  • George Snow from London m. Elizabeth Paul (1745-1772) in 1766; rem. Elizabeth Woodcock (1757-1841) in 1779
  • – Robert Snow (1768-1849) m. Charlotte Ellis
  • – Jane Snow (b. 1770)
  • – George Snow (b. 1782)
  • – Edward Snow (b. 1783)
  • – Thomas Snow (1785-1867)
  • Rev. Thomas Snow from Dorset m. Eliza D’Oyly (1785-1866) in 1815
  • – George D’Oyly Snow (1818-1885)
  • – Thomas Snow (1820-1904) m. Mary Price
  • – Charles Snow (1824-1900) m. Mary Piers
  • Rev. George D’Oyly Snow from Dorset m. Maria Jane Barlow (1828-1890) in 1850
  • – Harriet Snow (1855-1934)
  • – Thomas D’Oyly Snow (1858-1940)
  • – Catherine Snow (1863-1938)
  • – Maurice Snow (1866-1923)
  • Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow from Hampshire m. Charlotte Coke (1870-1943) in 1897
  • – Diana Snow (1898-1965)
  • – George D’Oyly Snow (1903-1977)
  • – John Fitzgerald Snow (1905-1973) m. Margaret Pringle
  • George D’Oyly Snow m. Joan Way (1911-1999) in 1942
  • – Thomas Snow (b. 1945)
  • – Jon Snow (b. 1947)
  • – Nicholas Snow (b. 1949)
  • Jon Snow, partner with Madeleine Colvin (b. 1957); m. Precious Lunga from Zimbabwe (b. 1975) in Mustique in 2010
  • – two daughters, Leila (b. 1984) and Freya (b. 1987), with Madeleine Colvin
  • – son (b. 2021 by surrogacy) with Precious Lunga



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Written by Colin Shelley

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