It took me a few minutes to figure this out:

By the time you have found your x5 great grandparents (around 150 years ago) you will potentially have a list of 148 ancestors – and of course it doubles up with every further generation! [Link]OK, barring incestuous liasons between cousins, each of us has 128 "x5 great grandparents." Adding in all the intervening generations gives us 254 ancestors. Subtract the 106 ancestors whose prison records and gambling debts make us ashamed and we arrive at ... 148!

Actually, Chris, we have 256 ancestors by the time we get back to our 5th ggparents (128 x 2.) ;)

Well, unless you're not counting your own parents. :)

Here's how I added 'em up:

128 g-g-g-g-g-grandparents

64 g-g-g-g-grandparents

32 g-g-g-grandparents

16 g-g-grandparents

8 g-grandparents

4 grandparents

2 parents

= 254

Oops, I stand corrected. :P

Yes, but how many of those 256 g-g-g-g-g grandparents have the same surname as you or one of your parents? George begat Philip, Philip begat Elias, Elias begat Michael, Michael begat Ira, Ira begat Cleon and Cleon begat my mom and her brother John. No idea who begat George. My mom's brother John never got around to begatting, but I suspect I've got a third cousin, James, probably a descendant of one of Michael's brothers, who looks and plays piano just like John did.

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