Reinfeldt’s ancestor ‘dandy American ringleader’

Fredrik Reinfeldt pulled off quite a trick getting himself elected prime minister in times of flamboyant economic growth. Looking at his family tree, maybe there is more to come from the man whose great great grandfather was a circus director from New York. Tabloid Aftonbladet delved into the archives to come up with the goods on the 19th century ringleader.

John Hood was born around 1850 to a black mother and a governor from Borneo, if we are to believe the version put forward by a man who also claimed to be a cannibal and a connoisseur of dogs, cats and rats.

Reinfeldt’s ancestor cut quite a dash on the Stockholm scene in the late 1880s and was said to be a great hit with the ladies. One newspaper, writing about Hood in 1880, describes him as, “an elegant vagabond with fine manners, a real dandy with a golden bracelet and a distinguished, stately appearance”.

Emma Dorothea Reinfeldt was certainly smitten. In 1882 the 21-year-old girl gave birth to Hood’s son, John Reinfeldt, the new prime minister’s great grandfather. John Reinfeldt’s mother had come to Sweden from Latvia, ostensibly as a maid, though an expert Aftonbladet spoke to considers it more likely that she was part of a travelling carnival.

As was customary for children with absent fathers, John Reinfeldt was handed over to a foster home.

John Hood had come to Sweden via England and Norway, picking up tricks along the way. By the time he reached Stockholm his circus act included a flea circus, a mermaid, “wolf people” and “Zulu kaffirs”.

In 1880 Hood was stabbed in the head and arm by one of his “Zulu kaffirs”. The police, who had recently revealed Hood’s “mermaid” to be a fraud, took little pity on him.

In 1884 Hood eloped with another young Swedish woman. The pair were tracked down in Hull, northern England, where the Swedish consul lay in wait to send the girl back home.

Reinfeldt’s ancestor was photographed in London a year later all decked out in fine clothes and a top hat. According to Aftonbladet, that is where the trail ends.