Was Ron Burgundy’s Historical Look-Alike a British Drunkard?


Matthew McConaughey, Nicolas Cage, Orlando Bloom, Conan O’Brien, Ellen DeGeneres: they’ve all be linked to old photos of historical look a-likes.

A researcher at Ancestry came across the next entry in the historical doppelgänger sweepstakes—only this one looks like the long-lost ancestor of fictional anchorman Ron Burgundy.

Birmingham Burgundy

Unlike most twins lost over time, we know something about this look alike. His name was John Brushe—or Bush, Ross, Ruse, or Brooch (he had several aliases).

He was 31 years old and lived at 37 Little Edward Street in Birmingham, England. Or at least he did when this picture was taken. 

He stood 5 feet 10 inches tall (about 5 inches shorter than the 6’3″ Will Ferrell/Ron Burgundy), with hazel eyes and brown hair. 

And we know something else. On 27 July 1903, he was convicted of being drunk and disorderly, which is how he ended up on the Birmingham Black List.

Long before the days of picture IDs and facial recognition software, the City of Birmingham needed a way to enforce the town’s 1902 Sale of Liquor to Habitual Drunkards Licensing Act.

So the Watch Committee of the City of Birmingham provided licensed liquor sellers with photos and descriptions of more than 80 citizens who were declared Habitual Drunkards and were not to be sold liquor—scotchy scotch scotch or otherwise.

Along with a photo, each entry in the Birmingham Black List included a name, residence, physical description, and other distinguishing details.(Read more about other citizens who made the list.)

The string of aliases makes it tough to trace Mr. Brushe’s fate, but we hope he, like Ron, got a second chance to become kind of a big deal himself.

Do you have any look alikes in your past? Ancestry is home to more than 500 million photos you can search to discover your own ancestors keeping it classy – or not.


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