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Browsing Wikipedia (I know) the other day, I came across the page for the British actress Carolyn Seymour. The page in question states that she was born Carolyn von Benckendorf (note that this is only with one f) to a Russian father and an Irish mother.

I know that there was a famous Baltic German family, in Russian service, of a very similar name, of whom Alexander von Benckendorff (note the double f) was probably the most illustrious member. Does Carolyn Seymour come from this family? (I've not been able to unearth anything, either for or against, myself.)

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Related, probably Yes. Descended from, probably Not.

Of course a quick look at the wiki page for Alexander von Benckendorff tells us the connection isn't one of descent :

Children 3 daughters

So we know we are looking for some other connection.


Starting with the IMDB biography for Carolyn Seymour we find:

Grandaughter of Moura Budberg and niece of Tania Alexander.

Moura Budberg also has an IMDB page listing her spouse as:

Johann von Benckendorff (? - 1918) ( his death) ( 2 children)

Searching for Johann, we find a genealogy page at Geni.com listing this same spouse and giving us his parents:

  • Husband of Maria (Moura) Zakrevskaya-Benckendorff-Budberg

  • Son of Alexander Gustav Konstantin (Alexander Ermolaevich) von Benckendorff and Margarethe Ottilie Karoline Emilie von Bremen

Not the Alexander(b. 1781) we are looking for from the question, this one was born in 1846.

You can follow the links back though several generations from here:

Now we get to a connection. Johann Michael is also the father of

who is father of the original query subject

So related, but not directly descended from.

Common ancestor in Johann Michael (Michael Ivanovich) von Benckendorff (b.1720)

(Note this is a possible connection, I can not speak to the accuracy of the information found on the linked web sites.)

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  • Thank you ever so much. A wonderfully detailed answer.
    – Tom Hosker
    Mar 28, 2020 at 11:21
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Carolyn von Benckendorff is from the same Russian branch of the larger Benckendorff/Benekendorff/Beneckendorff Baltic family. There are also other branches of the family from Brandenburg and Luneberg.

The Russian branch of the family started with Andreas Benckendorff, left the ancestral homeland in Salzwedel (Germany) for Riga (Latvia). For many generations the Benckendorff's were administrators and statesmen in Riga and later in Reval (Tallinn, Estonia). One of the descendants on this branch was Johann Michael Benckendorff (1720-1775) who married Sophie Elisabeth von Lowenstern (1724-1983). Their eldest son Christoph von Benckendorff was the father of the Alexander von Benckendorff (1781-1844) I think you are referring to (there are several well known Benckendorff's with the same name).

Their second son Hermann Johann von Benckendorff (1751-1800) married Christine Elisabeth von Brevern and is the ancestor of Carolyn von Benckendorff through her father Paul von Benckendorff (1914-1996). Her mother was Angel Archdale and she has a twin sister Philippa von Benckendorff. She is also a cousin of Helen Alexander.

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    If you could source this, it would improve your answer. Mar 2, 2022 at 7:01

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