If you’re an American born and raised, it’s safe to say that when you trace back your ancestry and find a connection to a Founding Father, that’s something special. But when your relative is linked to the nation’s first President, well, now you’ve hit the jackpot.
That’s clearly the reaction on the face of “Scandal” star Scott Foley, who appeared in the April 10 second episode of the “Who Do You Think You Are?” Spring 2016 season. And we cannot tell a lie: It’s pretty cool that his family tree once guarded George Washington.
Officially called a “Life Guard,” Foley’s great-grandfather (times 5) was named Simon Wardwell. “[The job] was partly a security detail for Washington to protect his person. Also, his papers, which were incredibly valuable,” Foley is told while visiting the grounds of Washington’s former Cambridge, Massachusetts home. “This house was General Washington’s headquarters from July 1775 until April 1776.”
In true “WDYTYA” fashion, the revelation of his ancestry moves Foley deeply. “You’re probably standing yards from where he may have stood guard,” he is told.
“Amazing,” gushes the 43-year-old actor, seemingly in touch with his relative. “There is something surprisingly emotional about that for me. I don’t know why.”
In the episode, Foley also learns of another ancestor whose life was not so charmed. His paternal great-grandfather (8 times) Samuel Wardwell lived in Salem, Massachusetts and was tried for witchcraft.
Foley, not believing Wardwell’s 16-year-old accuser, is left in disbelief by the 1692 accusation. On his grave, Wardwell left behind the words “God knows I am innocent,” and Foley swears that he will keep that message alive.
“I take his story from this day forward, everywhere I go,” Foley says in the emotional episode.