Skip to Content

What is the Furthest Anyone Has Traced Their Ancestry?

Do you ever wonder how far back the furthest family tree goes? In this post, learn the furthest verified case that anyone has been able to trace their ancestry.

What is the Furthest Anyone Has Traced Their Ancestry

Lots of people claim to have built their tree going back several hundred, if not thousands of years. The truth is that it is very hard for most people to do accurate genealogy research going back more than a couple hundred years.

I’ve been working on my own family tree for about a decade, and my progress is spotty. On one line of my tree, I can’t figure out who my Polish great-great grandparents are, while on others, I’ve researched back to the late 1500s.

Up until earlier this year, I thought that my earliest known ancestor was Walter Cromwell, born 1450, who would have been something like a 15th great-grandfather to me. However, I since discovered a mistake in the research about an ancestor in the 1600s upon which myself and many others have based our family trees.

One assumption led to another, and my ancestor was assigned what is probably an incorrect surname, meaning that she is not a descendant of Walter Cromwell. Thus, my link to the 1400s Cromwell family is most likely nonexistent.

As it turns out, in order to be really sure about your pedigree going back many hundreds of years, you have to be descended from someone very notable. The further back the tree, the more notable the person needs to be.

Notable people had documents and records created about them. Their lives have been studied by scholars for decades, if not centuries.

So, it should be no surprise to us to learn that the oldest family tree in the world can be traced back to one of the most widely known historical figures in all of modern history.

The oldest family tree in the world

The oldest verified pedigree in the world is that of Kung Tsui-chang and his son, who are the 79th and 80th generation descendants of the Chinese philosopher and ethicist, Kǒng Fūzǐ, who is more widely known in English-speaking countries as Confucius.

Kung Tsui-chang‘s son knows who is ancestor is, on at least one line of his tree, going back more than 80 generations. Eighty generations would take most families back at least 2000 years, but in the case of Confucius’ family, this pedigree takes us back 2574 years to the year 551 BCE.

Furthermore, Confucius’ ancestry is known. We know that his father was Kong He, and his grandfather was Ba Xia, which means that Kung Tsui-chang’s son can technically trace this line at least 83 generations in a direct father-son line.

Confucius’ ideas gained prominence during his life and have continued to grow in influence for thousands of years. His descendants have been honored with nobility or government titles almost continually since at least 1055, or almost 1500 years.

Due to the large amount of continual research that has been done on this family line for at least 1500 years, the Confucius family tree is likely to hold the record of the oldest verified family tree for a very long time.

Why most people don’t have a tree this old

Most of us cannot expect to be able to build our family tree back as far as 2500 years. The primary reason is that genealogy records, such as birth or marriage certificates, never existed for our ancestors going back this far in time.

Important events in our ancestors’ lives were not necessarily documented. They were only experienced, and the knowledge of those events existed in the memories of those who witnessed them or learned of them through storytelling.

Furthermore, many documents that could have connected us to people living a long time ago don’t exist anymore due to damage from fire, water, political conflict, and other reasons. Take, for example, the 1890 census records that were destroyed in a fire.

It is also very difficult to build an accurate family tree going as little as a few hundred years, even when we do have access to documents to help with our research. As I mentioned earlier in this article, it’s very easy to make a mistake, confuse identities, or jump to conclusions.

A “newer” family tree can still be interesting

Even though most of us will not be able to trace our family tree to Confucius, we will still be able to learn a great deal of very interesting information about our ancestry. Each one of our ancestors was a person with unique hopes and dreams, and we can have a lot of fun trying to learn as much about them as possible.

It is easy to fall into the trap of working to build a line of our tree as far back as possible, while ignoring the depth of information that we can learn about our more recent ancestors.

For example, I am able to learn so much more about a 3rd great-grandfather than I would be about to discover about a 15th great-grandfather. I may only be able to discover name and date of birth about the older ancestor, but could piece together an entire life story about the more recent 3rd great-grandfather using all of the modern records that have been digitized.


I hope that you enjoyed learning about the world’s oldest family tree and that you are inspired to work on your own family history today.

If you have any questions or comments about something that you read in this post, please join in the discussion below. I’d love to hear how old your family tree is!

Thanks for reading today!

Share the knowledge!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Sunday 5th of May 2024

Alice Freeman Thompson Parke's ancestry has been traced back to the early kings of England and Scotland. See Below. After her first husband, John Thompson's death, she came to America about 1660 with her two daughters, later marrying Robert Parke. Her royal ancestry has been very well researched and published. I am a descendant of both of her daughters. Royal Descent: Alice Freeman has a documented royal descent from Ethelred II, “the Unready,” King of England (who reigned until 1016). Her lineage connects her to notable historical figures, including England’s King Alfred the Great, Scotland’s King Kenneth I MacAlpin, and France’s greatest king, Charlemagne234. Notable Kin: Alice’s ancestry includes these remarkable figures: King Alfred the Great: Considered one of the greatest men in history. King Kenneth I MacAlpin: Regarded by historians as the greatest king in Scottish history. Charlemagne: The legendary ruler of the Carolingian Empire. Hugh Capet: The first of the Capetian Kings of France4.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.