Aussie PM Gains Cachet From Thieving Ancestors

Preteen convict adorns Rudd's family tree
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2008 5:15 PM CDT
Kevin Rudd's ancestors earned their tickets to Australia through the penal system.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Australia’s history as a penal colony is no laughing matter, but some Aussies have come to appreciate, and even relish, their hardscrabble beginnings. Case in point: PM Kevin Rudd, whose family tree includes ancestors convicted of stealing sugar (in 1801) and underwear (in 1788). The release of some details today helped boost the head of state's street cred, the Telegraph reports.

One of the Mormons who presented Rudd with his family history described it as “our gift to the nation," and he may not have realized how valuable it is. “For Australians, finding a convict ancestor is the Holy Grail," says a genealogist. “I joke in Australia it's the equivalent of royalty to some extent.” (Read more Australia stories.)