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Joseph Smith’s Genealogy Goes to Ireland

Written by Kristin CannonCreated: 18 March 2022

King Niall
King Niall of the Nine Hostages

There has been much interest in learning the heritage of Joseph Smith, Jr. since his founding of the Church of Jesus Christ.  Audentia Smith Anderson, Joseph Smith’s granddaughter, was the first genealogist in Joseph’s family to document his lineage and published a book of that lineage listing all ancestors back to their immigrant status to America.  For the direct Smith line her work has been virtually unchanged since 1926 when her book was published.  Joseph Smith, Jr.’s father was Joseph Smith, Sr. (1771 – 1840) and his father was Asael Smith (1744 – 1830) and his father was Captain Samuel T. Smith (1714 – 1785) and his father was Samuel Smith, Sr. (1666 – 1748) and his father was Robert Smith, Jr. (1625 – 1693) and his father was Robert Smith, Sr. (1595 – 1643).  Beyond that even with the advancing technology and the digitization of records not much progress has been made.  Where did Robert Smith come from has been a long unanswered question.

Beginning in 2004 when the Sorenson Genealogical Foundation partnered with the Joseph Smith and Emma Hale Smith Historical Society to trace Joseph Smith’s genetic genealogy did some new clues begin to arise.  There was an effort to determine the biological posterity of Joseph through any other person other than his first wife, Emma Hale.  Once that effort completed the gathered data was also reexamined ancestrally to trace Joseph Smith’s ancestral migration and we learned he may have been Irish.  You can read about that discovery here: and

We’ve known for decades Joseph Smith’s ancestral family settled in Massachusetts after migrating from Kirton, Lincolnshire, England with Robert Smith, Jr. being the immigrant family.  With much effort no trace of the Smith line could be proven beyond Kirton, but with the DNA clue research began when a family researcher took the genetic clues and started researching in the direction of Ireland.  A descendant from the Smith family, Kristin Cannon has been able to genealogically validate the genetics by producing records extending Robert Smith, sr to his great great grandfather, Vincent Smith from Ireland.

To learn Kristin’s story and to see the genealogy read about it in the Joseph Smith Jr & Emma Hale Smith Historical Society monthly newsletter and on our website, Robert Smith genealogy on website or  The genealogy can be found on our website or at

Kristin’s Story:

My life has been blessed in every aspect imaginable by a loving Father in Heaven and His son Jesus Christ.

I was born into the family of my loving parents Keith M. and Amy L. Engar and was taught by example and precept the gospel of Jesus Christ; my parents gave me a deep and definitive foundation for a joyful and successful life. Our home environment enabled my three siblings and me to be well-rounded. I had many opportunities to develop spiritually, athletically, artistically, academically, and socially.

I was educated in the Salt Lake City, Utah, public school system and then graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Radio, Television, and Film Production from the University of Utah. Professionally, I was an advertising executive at KWMS Radio in Salt Lake City and at WDCG-FM in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I married Douglas Bruce Cannon, son of George I. and Isabel H. Cannon, in 1981. We spent the first three years of our marriage in Durham, North Carolina, where he attended Duke University School of Law; we also started our family there. We’ve been blessed with three daughters and one son whom we’ve raised in the Salt Lake City area.

My interest in family history work began in 2012, when at the age of 55 I learned of my relationship to the Joseph Smith Jr. family. A deep feeling of connection to John Smith (brother to Joseph Smith Sr.), along with a compelling curiosity about Robert Smith Jr. and his immigration to Colonial America in 1638, was implanted in my heart and mind. In 2019 I was tutored in genealogical research and the use of FamilySearch, Ancestry, and FindMyPast by professional genealogist Paige Preece. I learned the value of sourcing family members and using maps to research them.

I was blessed to be able to access the Kirton in Holland Parish Register online and found Robert Smith Sr.’s (1595–1643) marriage to Grace Watson (1610–1625/6), the baptism of Robert Jr. (1626–1693) after her death, and Robert’s second marriage to Margaret Gibson (1602–1645) within the first seven images of that record. After reading all 166 images (332 pages) of the register (and subsequently reading and studying it twelve times to date), I found Robert Sr.’s birth and the birth of his father Edward (1570–1632). At that point, the information on the line seemed to dry up. As I pondered this, I remembered that Joseph Smith’s ancestry ran through Ireland.

My research into his Irish ancestry netted a news article from 2008 describing Ugo Perego’s DNA research that connects Joseph Smith Jr. to Irish warlord Niall of the Nine Hostages. I was elated to find the article and subsequently found a website entitled “England’s Immigrants 1330 – 1500.” Out of 64,000 names, Vincent Smith, who immigrated from Ireland in 1524, was the only possibility for the Smith Irish immigrant to England. Further research brought to light Vincent’s will, which was translated for me by Family History Department missionary Todd Noall. Seven of Vincent’s children were named in his will; the documentation of his oldest son, Thomas (1527–1587), and of his grandson Thomas Jr. (1551–1610)—who married Johane Cumoke (1553–1570) in Kirton in Holland—verify chronologically and geographically the parentage of Edward Smith (1570–1632), thus documenting the Smith line further back than it has ever been known before.

Since September of 2019, I have done over 3,500 hours of research on this well-sourced line. I testify that the influence of the Spirit of Elijah is most apparent when research is prayerfully approached.