New Question for Spofford and Lady Agnes Connection

+3 votes
Thank You to those who have helped me research Spofford and Clare up to this point.  You help has been invaluable, and has been a great explanation into the problems facing modern genealogists.  They show that we must be careful to analyze every link, regardless how many times it has been published.

This question applies to the profiles

Following what I thought was a well documented line to a Magna Carta Baron, I find that there are some inconsistencies in the accounts of the relationship of Spofford and Lady Agnes De Clare.

 This relationship and the branch was first discussed at:

This is quite a unique case.  Not only is Spofford and Clare published by Burke, it is also validated by well known Spofford lineage from London.  For these reasons, I think there "may" be some truth behind the written accounts.  What I propose here is a reason for the msitakes.

Both Clare-11 and Spofford-19 have the incorrect birth dates.  This should be opened for discussion if these profiles are erroneous and should be merged into the authentic ones.  But, there must be a reason why these profiles are wrong.

 Spofford-19 shows a birthdate of 1540

Clare-11 shows a birthdate of 1545

These are both VERY incorrect and do nothing but help fuel the inconsistency of the proposed deClare lineage.  Let's see if we can get any clues from this.....

I would like to assert that this very well could be the result of a documentation error.

I want to contend that both Clare and Spofford lived in the 14th century.  For this reason their birthyears should be around 1340 and 1345.  I want to propose the possibility that document 3s and 5s could be VERY similar.  While this is a possibility, I seriously doubt that historians would have an error of 200 years for Lady Agnes DeClare......

But, what if we take this assumption for the child of Lady Agnes.....

Is there the possibility that there was an error made for the birthdate of John Spofford?  It lists Spofford and Clare's son as John and gives year 1588.  This is 200 years after, so 1588 is hardly realistic.  Can we contend that 1388 is a possibility?

I think it is quite possible that child "John's" birthdate was an erroneous entry, or just simply misread.  If the child of Agnes De Clare was born around 1388 this could simply be faded ink or a lifted stroke

At this link they propose that there is a missing generation or two in the Spofford line.... perhaps this is where the inconsistency comes from?

From Burke's we assume that they were referencing the 1588 John Spofford that ends up being the Rev Silkstone.  At no time does it ever say that the reverend is the child of Lady Agnes.  We do know that john's son was also named John.  

Is it plausible that John has a father (or two fathers) named John? I don't think that this line of thinking is supported in any way (defniitely not in listed Spofford lineage).

Gilbert Clare (Agnes' father) died circa 1300.  We know that it is said that Lady Agnes married Robert Spofford.  It is seriously doubtful that it is the 16th century Robert Spofford.  

Is it possible that the Robert Spofford from 1360, or (a spofford from that period) be the possible bride of Lady Agnes?
WikiTree profile: Agnes Spofford
in Genealogy Help by W B G2G4 (4.9k points)
edited by Darlene Athey-Hill

William -

Are you familiar with a proof summary or argument? ( Or proof standards? (

I'd like to suggest you focus on organizing your proofs in a format like these so that collaborators have an easier time understanding your reasoning and conclusions.

As I read this today:

To discuss the possibility of a transcription error on a birth date, for example, we would need to see the source.

To claim "both Clare-11 and Spofford-19 have the incorrect birth dates" - just show the proofs.

If their births are off by two centuries, what do you propose for the missing 6-8 generations or would they no longer be connected to the colonial immigrant?

While you may have done a fairly exhaustive search, I don't see a discussion or analysis of the sources. On one hand it appears the best evidence you show is the uncited work of Burke's and Capt. Ralph Spofforth, and on the other hand you suggest they both have John Spofford's 1588 birth date off by two centuries. We understand Burke's and Spofforth haven't cited sources, but why would you contradict them without showing a source?  

You "assert" and "contend" there may be conflicting evidence, but I don't see any resolution of that conflict.

You present several 'possible' or 'plausible' ideas, but how can collaborators draw a reasonable conclusion on those based on what is here?

I hope this helps.

Oh yes, this was just a thought that I had last night....

I think the important things are as follows

1.  There is no way that John 1588 can be the child of Lady Agnes de Clare.  I can provide supporting evidence for this, but it hinges on Gilbert and Agne's death dates.  


2.  We know there are many references of Agnes marrying Robert Spofford.  There is very little chance that it was the Robert from the 16th century... reference above point.


3. We have zero source informtion to suggest that Agnes married a 14th century Robert Spofford.  This is only a possibilty, and perhaps something to try to reference with future research. 


I will put together proofs for merging of the profiles linked in the original G2G, and removal of Agnes-Spofford lineage.  


Eyestone, thank you so much for your reply... I agree that in the format that I added, it is a bit difficult.  However, this is a preliminary way for me to "put together" my thoughts on the differences, possible reasons behind the error and to get people started talking about how to source the solution.  

I was of the understanding that G2G was for communicatio nand discussion of the topics, and that not everything needed sourcing immediately.  I'm not editing the profiles, or adding anything to them.  I agree that it would be nice to look at the source information of that.  But, asking me to post that when I am merely stating some possibilities is a bit controlling.  


To claim "both Clare-11 and Spofford-19 have the incorrect birth dates" - just show the proofs.

Okay, this is understandable... but I felt like I did not need to source the information that would already be cited on the original Spofford and Clare profiles.  I thought that linking those profiles to this G2G would be not needed.  I also thought that proposing the merge would not be needed.  Reading your response, I realize that I could have put just a little bit of extra effort into the G2G and provided a much more concise telling of my position.  I believe this was your point.  (and I thank you for your patience in showing the best collaborative process).


If their births are off by two centuries, what do you propose for the missing 6-8 generations or would they no longer be connected to the colonial immigrant?

You are right... I did not discuss this in my original post.  There was supporting evidence that John was indeed lineage, as was verified by Markham Spofforth Esquire of London.  

To me, this satisfies the question of Spofford to Spofford lineage.  I thought the mention of lost generation was interesting from  But it can not adequately explain the gap between 14th and 16th centuries.




and on the other hand you suggest they both have John Spofford's 1588 birth date off by two centuries

While not explained well, this was merely thought process into HOW Burke's could be so incorrect.  There are three possibilities here.  1) The relationship never happened  2) They made an error in listing BOTH Gilbert and Agne's ages (very doubtful) 3) They made an error listing John's birthdate.  

It is this third possibility that I suggest the possibility that Burke misinterpreted something on his records..... Regardless if that is the case, or it is just false.. the same conclusion is made.  Burke's relationship is erroneous. Proposing that I know the solution to the true relationship would be a stretch other than the vague possibilites that I have discussed.

I think it is important to discuss the possibilities, in order to give researchers an idea of what path to follow, or where to look.  




Lastly, I would like to add something that is quite intriguing and adds weight to the argument for support of Burke's relationship (with wrong dates).  


Very Simply, Spofford is descendant of who is the grandfather of

I can contend that this does nothing to prove the relation of Spofford to Clare.  However, it does give creedence to the lineage of Spofford. This does not prove anything credible, because the link is to my 4th Great GF of circa 1781.

Starting a discussion about possiblities on g2g is completely fine. I'm just suggesting giving your theories some structure with proofs. Without proof, I would suggest asking for help in finding proof rather than opening a debate on possibilities. Without proofs, what isn't possible?

On your last point, "very simply, Spofford is a descendant of Bourchier-37." Which Spofford? Are you suggesting Spofford-17 is a descendant of Bourchier-37?
I think it is a very thin line when proposing theories and attempting to support them with proof.  I'm hesitant to link proof to any of my theories for fear that they will be misconstrued as fact.  I wouldn't post citations or sources until I was assured.


I disagree with your interpretation of the situation.  From the beginning I assert that it is a theory.  Obviously, I am looking for a possibility of WHY Burke's is incorrect and where the error came from.  Asking me to give proofs for this is kind of ridiculous.

This is like saying that exclusion from Roberts means that it didn't exist.  I could ask for proof of that assertion.  I believe that I am taking things a step further than just saying "NO".  No is the easiest thing to say... saying "you need proof is the second easiest".  You must understand the situation in which there is published proof FOR the situation, and ZERO published proof against it.  Would this not have been a widely distributed correction?  


This is how people declaring that "proof" is needed is sort of a double standard.  Saying that I need proof for theories is pretty unnecesary.  

I am still waiting on published proof that The Spafford Clare relationship did not exist.  In the face of published proof FOR, is it fair to not provide published proof against?  I myself have concluded that the relationship is not as published... YET the lack of correction disturbs me.  I say this because I have seen the multitude of revisions published in genealogical volumes.  


Since it seems that Burkes has not published a correction on this issue, I have been trying to look for corrections in other publications where the Spafford/Clare link was stated as fact.  I have found none yet, but I would welcome any help finding it.

This line for Spafford-155 to Bourchier-37?

This is a good illustration for this discussion.

A few things jump out about this line:

  • William Spafford-155, born about 1781 in Ontario to mother Dinah Sheldon-144, who died in 1761. Impossible.
  • has William's mother as Sally Sheldon (d. 1838), WikiTree has him as the son of Dinah Sheldon-144 (d. 1761). One is wrong.
  • Vincent-82 is tagged Questionable Gateway Ancestory. Over 90%+ of Questionables are bogus.
  • Carpenter-1126 born about 1609 to mother Trivilian-1, who died about 1607. Impossible. 
  • More than half the profiles in the line have zero sources, and others have unreliable sources like "U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900, Author: Yates Publishing," which isn't actually a source as it is just ancestry's database from group sheets, family trees, etc. Unreliable.
  • Jeremiah Spofford's book shows no sources. Good place to start.

So... knowing that 90%+ of the Questionables are bogus... knowing that there are at least two generations that appear impossible... knowing that we have no idea about what sources were used, if any... I would not regard this line as reliable. As it stands today, it would be hard to argue it is reliable.

Quoting you earlier, "very simply, Spafford-155 is a descendant of Bourchier-37." It sounds like you see it as reliable.

Why would we be so far apart? 

Flip it around now... and suppose you started the conversation with I think Spafford-155 is a descendant of Bourchier-37 and here is how I would source the connections, here is why I think Vincent-82 should actaully be considered a Gateway Ancestor, and here is why folks have made mistakes regarding x and y mothers' deaths before their childrens' births... I think we'd be having a more interesting discussion.

That is why I suggest you start these types of conversations by explaining why you think the way you do based on proof.


Regarding multiple descents, they're great to prove. For several Gateways, for example, you can prove a handful of descents from a single surety baron or to William the Conqueror, etc. It just speaks to how long the family had been connected to the nobility through marriage.


I can see how those two statements can lead to different perceptions, and one would be received much better.


I couldve sworn that I posted a few hours ago about Dinah.... I do this thing where I type and then I leave the page, or close the tab... etc etc.


So Dinah, you are definitely right in saying that it is questionable.  I have determined that someone erroneously listed Dinah as the wife to Solomon Spofford,

I found this "trouble" by trying to find the ancestor.  This is when I ran upon the Vincent-82 that you reference.  It was the muddy birthplace record that had me look at it a second time.  


I really don't know how that Spafford was added as the husband.  This was a fairly new profile.  I figure that I must have merged it and hadn't seen Dinah listed as wife.  I don't remember this, but it is entirely possible that I verified sheldon and hit "merge".  

As for the husband link, I hope that is sourced and fixed soon.  Sally's parents are still a mystery (solomon's wife).

You said, "You must understand the situation in which there is published proof FOR the situation, and ZERO published proof against it."

What you need to understand is that, from what we can see, there is no published proof.  All that is shown is someone's idea of a lineage, with NO proof given for it.  What we need to see is proof -- which is obtained from primary source documents.

Asking people to come up with proof against a lineage doesn't make sense.  Anyone can publish a lineage, but without proof (aka sources) it's nothing but someone's 'idea' of a possibility.  At Wikitree, we are striving for accuracy.  We know there is a lot of incorrect information in the old books and in people's online and/or privately published genealogies.  That is why we rely on 'experts' such as Douglas Richardson, who backs up his information with sources.

2 Answers

+3 votes

The source given on the profile of John Spofford II - is page 337 of NEHGR Vol. 8, [pub. Oct 1854] by Jeremiah Spofford, referring to John Spofford the vicar and other Yorkshire Spoffords.

Quoting from NEHGR Vol 99, page 174 [pub. Apr. 1945] by F. H. Sunderland, in reference to the genealogy by Dr. Jeremiah Spofford [which included the work of Ashworth Burke]:

"We have no means of proving beyond a doubt, our descent from these personages; but nothing is more probable than that the John who came over with a company of Dissenters, and settled at Rowley in 1638, was son to him of the same name and faith, who was made Vicar of Silkiston four years after."
"The John Spofford who sailed with Rogers was born circa 1611 or 1612, and his age in 1662 is vouched for in an affidavit on file at Salem, being then fifty years of age.
The pedigree first given by Mr. Ashworth P. Burke is furthermore amazingly inaccurate in many particulars, and so much so as to throw doubt on the greater part of it. It gives as the father of the Rev. John Spofforth, sometime vicar of Silkstone, a Robert Spofforth whose wife was Agnes, dau. of Gilbert Clare, of Pontefract. This is incorrect, as the Rev. John Spofforth's father was Thomas Spofforth of Wistow."
Sunderland goes on to quote church registers from Rowley re: Spofford.
There are other articles at NEHGS on the Spofford family, including a very interesting one by Barbara A. Holden in The Essex Genealogist, vol 17, page 140.
The NEHGS has a annual fee of about $80, but perhaps access may be found through a library?
Keep in mind what John Schmeeckle said in the other thread, about finding other ancestors who have proven lineage to a Magna Carta baron. I'm going to add this more recent documentation of John Spofford to his profile so that you and Kathy and others who are descendants might use it.
Good hunting!
April Dauenhauer
by April Dauenhauer G2G6 Pilot (108k points)
edited by April Dauenhauer

April, thanks for your thoughts on this topic.  

I defintiely thiink that referencing NEHGS will be beneficial, and perhaps I can gain access somehow.  Perhaps other members with access would be able to find the information.  

Regardless, full research into the fathers Spofford and their line is in order.


About other ancestors to Magna Carta, I have lineage to Almy which seems to be a path that is proveable.  The Spofford Clare link though has me perplexed.  It are these mysteries that intrigue me and drive me to research.  I'm definitely not trying to prove anything with the lineage other than satisying my curiosity of the pervasiveness of this error.  

So stands my question..... Is it a very common error because of the widespread copying of Burkes?  OR, is there provedance behind it?  I have found zero support of Spofford to Clare, and only support of Spofford to Gamelbar (spofford ancestor).  


That quote... "we have no means of proving beyond a reasonable doubt.."  Does that make this statement invalid?

They both contend the contrary. I would love to see the "proof" that Markham cited ..... I did a search for Markham Spofforth Esq and came up with this

It is from 

The New England Historical & Genealogical Register and Antiquarian ..., Volume 8


+2 votes

This post seems to be a continuation of your other post with regard to the Spofford lineage.  As mentioned by various people in response to that, you need to locate primary source documents.

As April has pointed out, the pedigrees shown are inaccurate.  At this point, you need to come up with documentation to prove the lineage.  This doesn't mean finding more people that claim the lineage.  There needs to be sources for the claims.  It won't be an easy task.  If it was, someone would already have accomplished it!

All the best with your research,

Darlene - Co-Leader, European Aristocrats Project
by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (285k points)
This G2G isn't about finding the proof.

I was obviously asking for help with a few questions that I have.

And no, this isn't a continuation of the other G2G.  The other G2G I was pointing out the published proof.  It was then disputed with zero proof.  The only proof is that there was exclusion from Roberts.  There also was NOT obvious exclusion, meaning he did not make a note about the exclusion.  

Also, there has been not a single bit of proof shown to disprove the pubished information on Spofford and Clare from multiple sources.  I understand the contention that it needs proved.


But this conversation is about Why is Burke's wrong.  How is it wrong.  And if we can find any proof to the questions raised.

There has been ZERO proof disproving Spofford Claire.  Definitely none published as revisions or corrections.  I have asked many times.. why was there no corrections and no one has answered... you simply say that I need proof.


I'm not looking to prove anything with this post, so it's ridiculous that you suggest that I need to prove something.
I expected that people would jump on and suggest other places to look, other things to research.  But that has not happened.  This is less collaborating and more trying to assert your position.  


if I had made any claims, you could ask for proof... I have not.


There are some serious questoins raised, and not many answers.

The biggest is... where are the revisions and corrections?  Why was it not included in Roberts?  Why was there such a missnig time period in Burkes?  How did the Spofford Esq of London verify lineage to the American Immigrant Spofford?  These things we don't have proof of.  We just have questions.

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