Eltweed’s baptism: a fake?

Alma LaFrance recently wrote to me from the US:

<You write in the Annual Report re the early Beaminster tree…”While this tree is highly documented its origins are surrounded by questions. Famously, a researcher a century ago claimed to have found Eltweed’s baptismal entry in the Beaminster parish registers, but this was later dismissed as a fake. Now, I had not been aware that it was ‘Famously’ dismissed as a ‘fake’. Please let me know by whom  and when it was determined to be a fake.”>

Alma, I have to beg humble pie here, and I’m wishing now that I’d (re-)checked at least this part of the 15,000 words in the Annual Report.

I recall seeing, but cannot bring to hand, a paper from someone suggesting the baptismal entry of Eltweed had been inserted after the fact. I remember there was a picture of it too. I do have to hand Col. A’s 18-page pamphlet rebutting any insinuations of forgery. I recall that the suggestion was that the researcher Col A had hired had created the evidence they sought, not Col A himself. Alma, your screen grab from the A A Pomeroy book shows the transcript done by C A Hoppin in 1913. This certainly attests that the entry is there, in the copy of the registers made for Salisbury, the original parish records not surviving. I suspect that I have grabbed the wrong end of the stick here, so my apologies.

More widely, what is not accepted, as far as I’m aware, is the pedigree Col A uses to link Richard back to the noble Pomeroy family. That’s generations 14-17 in vol 3, pp 40-42. You’ll see that there is an absence of dates in this period, only assertions that people “moved” to different places. That whole section seems to hinge on a will in 1531. And although Col A acknowledges a revision since the previous edition, he doesn’t say why or how this change is made, just that Hoppen says so. This strikes me as a bit lax for someone who’d been attacked so publicly.

On page 272 the arbiter Col A finds to comment on the “cause celebre” states that though no particular (ie. specific, documented) line can be shown to link Eltweed to the noble family, it’s basically unthinkable that he’s not. Also see the pages 281-2 on the leap from Totnes to Beaminster. And note that there he’s appluading the original assertion, that Richard’s father was Henry, not John as the 1923 edition now claims, which he then gets around to in pp 300-303, where the evidence is circumstantial.

It may well be that all the details cited turn out to be accurate, and the connection suggested still the most logical, but I will hold off on that one.

More widely, I am hoping next year to go through all the archives we hold, per tree, and write up some details on each. That will allow me to check that all the data we hold is being used, and to note what is asserted by researchers but not documented ourselves. I’ll then need to schedule some time to get to the bottom of this!

Thanks for pointing that out to me!



Filed under Dorset

3 responses to “Eltweed’s baptism: a fake?

  1. I found this years ago and put it on my website

    an interesting posting from Maggie Wilcox 9 May 2003
    on genforum from genealogy.com

    The Eltweed fraud

    Thanks to author of the Great Migration Begins Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, V. 3, P-W page 1489-90, Mr. Robert Charles Anderson, I looked up his reference to the Ancestry of Colonel John Harrington Stevens and his wife Frances Helen Miller by Mary Lovering Holman, pub. 1948 when I was researching at the LDS Family History Center in Salt Lake City. On page 392 The Pomeroy Line, Ms. Miller states that
    “Richard Pomeroy, probably born in Dorsetshire, about 1650, died, probably in Beaminster, Dorset, before 1635. He married Mary —–, who died after 1635.
    “Little has been learned of this Richard Pomeroy but his family seems to have been the only one in Beaminster at this time. The late J. Gardner Bartlett, discovered the marriage, in the registers of Crewkerne, Somerset, of Eltweed Pomeroy of Beaminster and published it in the NEHGS’s Register, 59:215, stating that he believed it to be that of the immigrant to New England.
    In 1913, finding that a claim had been made that Richard, father of Eltweed, belonged to the ancient armorial family of Pomeroy, of Berry Pomeroy, Devon, he had the Beaminster transcript searched; the Registers of this parish do not begin until 1684; but the transcripts commence in 1585 (with numerous gaps between 1585 and 1638). This was done by Mrs. Bartlett, formerly Elizabeth French. The Pomeroy items were published by Mr. Bartlett (ibid. 67:261) and show that Eltweed and others were children of Richard Pomeroy, who apparently died before 1635.
    At the time the Pomeroy Genealogy was printed, some unscrupulous person, examining the records of the family of Pomeroy, of Berry Pomeroy, found in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum (Harleian Ms., 1091) a pedigree of the family, in which is entered the name of a Richard Pomeroy and assumed that this man was Eltweed’s father. This manuscript was photographed and the name of ‘Eltweed’ added as a child of this Richard and then re-photographed and used as a frontispiece for the genealogy!
    The fraud however was obvious to anyone conversant with old writing, the name of Eltweed not only being an evident attempt to copy the writing of the period, but also, it does not appear in the least the same as the rest on the pedigree. Mr. Bartlett seeing the fraud, had further work done and found the will of the Richard, of Berry Pomeroy, the supposed father of Eltweed, which will, with others of the family, shows that Richard died childless, and was of Cornworthy, Devon.
    These discoveries were published (ibid., 68:47), together with a plate of the Berry Pomeroy pedigree, as it appears in Harleian Ms., 1091, and if this true photograph is compared with that in the Pomeroy Genealogy, even a novice can see the falsity of the addition.”
    (Note: The compiler of the Pomeroy Gen., was unwilling to accept Mr. Bartlett’s work and a controversy followed.)

  2. Hi Annie: Thanks for your comment: My focus was on the note by Chris, in his comprehensive, well crafted 2008 Annual Report, that the 1585 bpt record of Eltweed Pomeroy. was questionable…well….maybe even bogus.
    A misunderstanding. Thanks for correcting that, Chris.

    The A. A. Pomeroy/Bartlett issue would be “water under the bridge,” but for the circulation and re-circulation on the World Wide Web of various Eltweed Pomeroy ancestries. The kind of “circumstantial evidence” and “lateral thinking” that was engaged in 100 years ago in developing the Eltweed Pomeroy ancestry just won’t do.

    Now Annie, your provided a clip from a post by Maggie Wilcox on Genforum: Anderson is just muddying already muddy waters; no original research; simply repeating earlier controversies. Here is a link to my response to her post. http://genforum.genealogy.com/pomeroy/messages/1052.html

  3. Chris will confirm this I believe

    The “Eltweed DNA signature” cannot possibly be linked to that of the only tested descendant of the Viscounts Harberton, understood as the direct male line from the ancient family.


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