Is Agnes Wylley a Magna Carta descendant?

+7 votes

EDITED now that I understand what the Magna Carta project can and cannot do...

According to the new Magna Carta relationship finder tool, William Denison is a gateway ancestor through his mother Agnes Wylly, BUT he is not included in Richardson's Magna Carta descendants book, and since that is what the Magna Carta project focuses on, they can't help with this inquiry. I hope someone can.

The relationship finder tool  still claims a descent from MC barons, but there must be a broken link somewhere along the line, or this might be a case that *is*  valid but was not researched by Richardson.

In any case, I am seeking those with familiarity with/access to England records who can help me work this line back and either confirm or break the link to the MC surety barons.


WikiTree profile: Agnes Wall
in Genealogy Help by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (764k points)
retagged by Darlene Athey-Hill

Hi! Within WikiTree, the Category:Gateway Ancestors is used by the Magna Carta Project to identify those gateway ancestors whom Douglas Richardson has documented in Magna Carta Ancestry.  William Denison is not one of them, so he would not be included in that category. However, he is documented & was born England/died Massachusetts, which would make him a candidate for Category:Questionable Gateway Ancestors - the category established by the Magna Carta Project for gateway ancestors not documented by Richardson. See details on

Thanks, Liz. I assumed the MC project had to add that questionable gateway category.

Is Agnes Wylley (var.spellings) documented by Richardson?
ps - my work with the project is focused on trails that the project has reviewed/approved, so I'm not a good person to ask about the Questionable Gateway Ancestors category.
Jillaine - broke out my hardcopy to check the index of documented gateways. Closest thing in the Ws was Amy Wyllys, born c1625, wife of Major John Pychon (married in Hartford, CT 1645).
Thanks, Liz. Who reviews the questionable profiles? I recall John Schmeeckle used to be active in this but I hardly see him anymore.
And I guess my other question is what about when the profile is not technically a *gateway* person?  Not an immigrant but one generation back?  Much of my PGM work is reviewing disputed origins and often detaching immigrants from  disproven parents. Often those disproven parents (who did not emigrate) are supposed MC descendants but I guess they are not technically gateways. How do those people get reviewed? Or maybe they don't?
In the case of William Denison, his origins are confirmed. But we need a MC person to work his mother's line up. If Denison isn't a gateway ancestor then something is wrong with her line.

I see that PM Eyestone is still listed as a MC project lead on the MC gateway category page but he hasn't been very active on Wikitree in a long time. His name should be removed. I'll reach out to John Schmeeckle. Anyone else I should try , Liz? Thanks.
from the project page, the current leaders are Chet Snow & Jayme Arrington - see

Thanks for pointing out that the Gateway category is out of date.

not sure I followed your question. aske about "one generation back"... maybe you're not following what the project does?

For a profile to have the Gateway Ancestor template (not just the category), the trail has to be back quite a few generations - all the way back to the Magna Carta Surety Baron. The project has, I think, tagged all the Richardson-listed Magna Carta Gateway Ancestors (MCGAs) with the category. Those MCGAs do not get the Gateway template until a trail between the MCGA & a Magna Carta Surety Baron (MCSB) has been developed, reviewed & approved. Then all the profiles on the lineal trail between the MCGA and the MCSB get "badged" (with the Magna Carta template).

The Magna Carta Project's goal is to complete/review/approve a trail from each Gateway Ancestor documented by Richardson in Magna Carta Ancestry (he lists 240 in the front matter of Volume I) to a Magna Carta Surety Baron. It takes forever to do one (well, it takes me forever - some folks are faster).

Check out the tables at Base Camp to see the trails that have been reviewed, the trails that are ready for review, and the ones for which the development of a trail is underway or needs someone to get the development underway.

Hope that answers your question. I'm off to bed now!

um... I went to edit ... did you mean a different page? PM's not on Category:Gateway_Ancestors.

I've been working on these branches because of Chris's new relationship finder tool that allows us to see what relationships we have to Magna Carta surety barons (MCSB). My mother-in-law goes back to William Denison. His documented mother, Agnes Wylley currently (on wikitree) goes back to a MCSB.  But Denison isn't listed in Richardson, so something is wrong somewhere along her line. I.e., she's currently got a trail back to MCSB, but it must be wrong somewhere if Denison isn't in Richardson, right?

So I'm seeking help finding where in her trail its inaccurate, so we can break that link.

yes, it's been quite busy between them being on the quick links page & also being the Question of the Week this past week.

I've posted a comment elsewhere that explains a bit of your latest question: [see this g2g thread].

Richardson is not the "end-all-be-all" - there are many legitimate immigrant descendants of Magna Carta surety barons that he doesn't document. But Richardson is the basic foundation for the Magna Carta Project & my work with the project focuses on trails that ARE in Richardson.

I hope someone else sees your post and can provide the assistance you're seeking.

Okay, I've edited the original question in hopes of getting help outside of the MC project. Thanks for clarifying the boundaries of the MC project, Liz.

3 Answers

+4 votes

John Schmeeckle sent me the following:

"I'd start by questioning Agnes Wylley's alleged maternal grandmother Agnes Marshall, who is listed as born in Hertfordshire while her alleged father lived in Norfolk, two counties distant.  This is often an indicator of a wild-guess connection from with absolutely no factual back-up.  And I did google searches for these families and came up with nothing but internet garbage.  It appears that even worse is Agnes Marshall's alleged grandmother Matilda (Maud) Bruce.  I have been unable to find any evidence that this alleged daughter of the 5th Baron of Clackmannan existed, let alone married an obscure Englishman named John Marshall."

by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (764k points)
She was probably inspired by this other Maud Bruce, who turned out to be a disappointment as she wasn't Scottish.

Found the Marshalls of Pickering and the genuine Bruce connection in Foster's Yorkshire Visitations.  Might not be totally accurate.  Too elaborate to be just a Visitation pedigree.

* William Marshall #1
** William Marshall #2
*** William Marshall #3, m Maude Bruce
**** Robert [[Marshall-5734]], of Pickering, m 1st Agnes Browne, dau of John Browne of Hull
***** John Marshall
****** Edmund Marshall, 2nd son
******* Roger, 1st son (continued at

* Sir Adam Bruce, of Pickering
** Sir Adam Bruce
*** Sir William Bruce
**** Sir William Bruce, m Margaret Hawick, of Hedon
***** Maude, eldest co-heiress, m William Marshall
***** Isabel, dsp, m Appleby
***** Elizabeth, m Egglefield, or Englefield

PS actually not very good

Found the source of the internet version
Probably more authoritative and less imaginative version here

Says Maud Bruce married John Marshall.

Obviously the VCH researchers found very few actual records.
Apparently the Mowbrays of Easby are traceable, if Uncertainly.  But they sold up and fizzled out.

At the top end we have them descended from a cousin of the Magna Carta baron.  I doubt if that's actually sourced, though it's a fair guess.

Supposedly all the Bruces in Scotland descend from the Clackmannan line, though I don't know how they can make that out.

We show the 1st, Thomas, as a grandson of King Robert, which is flat wrong.  His parentage is completely unsourced.  "Ancient" tradition makes him a cousin of King Robert, presumably because that's as near as they could claim without being illegitimate.

If that's true then he may or may not have a Magna Carta line, depending on who his father's mother was.
Actually I'm tending to buy the ardrosshouse version.  I'd still like to know where VCH got the story that John Marshall married Maud Bruce.  But I don't think their research was very thorough.
And is any of this relevant to:  ?

(who I've detached from parents, but they're still named in her narrative).
I doubt it.  I suspect they were supposed to be somebody else's ancestors and two myths got a bit hybridized.  Most likely they're nobody's English Roots, so not important.
+3 votes
Hi all,
Some background on the "Questionable Gateway Ancestor" category:  it could more accurately be called the "Almost Certainly False Garbage Fantasy Magna Carta Lineage."  Back in the day I detached literally hundreds of false Magna Carta lineages to 17th-century immigrants, and I only found two or three that had a plausible case for being gateway ancestors.  

One of these exceptions is Liz Shifflett's ancestor John Awbrey-38 at  

His mother's descent from the Herbert family is currently only documented through secondary sources, and we know that's not good enough for Magna Carta Project certification.  (I suspect that primary source documentation is "out there" for this lineage, but it would take time, money and effort to track it down.  I suspect that Douglas Richardson hasn't focused on John Awbrey's lineage because of arguable doubt about his parents, but I think the evidence of John Awbrey's origin is convincing -- perhaps this is an example of differences among genealogists about what level of documentation is sufficient.  In a nutshell, William "the Extravagant" Awbrey's will named younger sons John and Harry (Henry), and John and Henry Awbrey (of the correct age) appeared in Virginia, of an appropriate social station to have been younger sons of a spendthrift gentleman.  As Awbrey is such an uncommon name, and as this is a perfect match and there are no other candidates for the parentage of the pair of Awbrey immigrants, I conclude that the parentage of the immigrants is clear.  Then there is a lack of sufficient documentation further back for this lineage, but there is no particular reason to doubt the generally-reliable secondary source -- only a lack of primary source documentation.)

Perhaps people like John Awbrey and John Jenney-2 (who also has a quite plausible Magna Carta ancestry with a couple of weak links, with the crucial problem being a will that omits the word "daughter") -- people who have plausible but unproven lineages -- should have a separate category of "Potential Gateway Ancestors" or "Plausible Gateway Ancestors."  I'm sure that there is a small handful of others who would fit this category.

Back in the day, Peter Eyestone started the "Questionable Gateway Ancestor" category, after using the relationship finder (and encouraging others to do so with their own family trees) to find and check undocumented Magna Carta lineages.  I incorporated his growing list into my own project of stumbling across dubious gateway ancestors and researching them.  Peter's "Questionable Gateway Ancestor" category was not by any means comprehensive, and I treated it as a backlog of immigrants with almost certainly false lineages that needed to be researched and detached.  Before resigning as co-leader of the Magna Carta project, I checked (and detached) most of the "questionable gateway ancestors" with surnames starting with letters A through H.  After that, currently, there are a lot more dubious gateway names for each letter, because the project of researching and detaching them has been dormant.  Peter is no longer with us, and I currently don't have much time to devote to WikiTree, so the list just sits there.  Perhaps it should be re-named "Dubious Gateway Ancestors."
by J S G2G6 Mach 9 (95.0k points)
Thanks John! (And thanks for the recap on John Awbrey.)

I really like the idea of a "Potential Gateway Ancestor" or "Plausible Gateway Ancestor" (my past is peeking - how about "Gateway Ancestor Prospects" <grin>). But. I think any such category would experience the same bloat as does Questionable Gateway Ancestors.

Stuart and I continue to work on the Awbreys. He has been wonderful (and the reason we have the will!). I long ago made myself content with being confident of the lineage without John being graduated from Questionable Gateway Ancestor category, but we still have hope.

Cheers, Liz
Just for clarification, John's comments about Aubrey are to share an example of a non Richardson profiled person that has strong evidence for being a gateway ancestor anyway. And Aubrey has no relevance himself to the question of Agnes Wylley 's descent from MCSB? Right?
That's right, Jillaine.  I wanted to bring to attention the fact that currently, the "questionable gateway ancestor" category is a grab-bag that includes:

(1) Fictitious/fanciful/fraudulent lineages like the Denison/Wylley line (and this is the overwhelming majority of "questionables")

(2) Plausible but unproven/unprovable lineages like that of John Jenney-2 of Plymouth Colony -- I'd be inclined to change his parents to "confident, and then the single weak link is here:

(3) Strong candidates for "gateway ancestor" status like the brothers John and Henry Awbrey/Aubrey.

My suggestion here is to create a new category that would include members of (2) and (3), giving people who find a "questionable gateway ancestor" in their tree the motivation to try to upgrade the lineage.  Such a suggestion would require someone (like me, for example, and/or current Magna Carta Project leaders) to review candidates for the "plausible and/or likely-but-unproven" category.
+3 votes
This tree is very typical of so many.  There are some recognizable families in there.  But the Marshalls look random.

You get bits that are basically right (though always a bit garbled in transmission) stitched together with pure LDS/internet junk.

Trying to salvage anything is more trouble than it's worth, because of Collaboration and Uncertain.

So they just sit there preventing the real families being done properly.
by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (565k points)
I'm not satisfied with your suggestion that it's more trouble than it's worth. If we held that view why bother spending anytime on wikitree at all?

Plus, this is my husband's line we're talking about so I want to get it in good shape. :-)
Hi Jillaine, my procedure for this type of question (Wylley/Marshall/Bruce??? ancestry), would be as follows:

1.  Research the question through internet searches, with the keywords being the names of both husband and wife, trying variant spellings, perhaps adding a keyword for alleged places of origin or residence.  This type of search will almost always come up with (1) any mention of the relevant family by Douglas Richardson; (2) any discussion of the relevant family on the gen-medieval forum; (3) any other legitimate research on the family that has been independently on the internet; (4) any mention of the family in old English county histories and books like Burke's; and of course (5) the usual array of useless unsourced websites that copy from each other.  Assuming (as in the case of Agnes Wylley and her alleged ancestor Matilda Bruce) that only internet garbage comes up, my procedure would be:

2.  Add a "disputed parents" paragraph, with embedded links to the alleged parents, to the profiles of both Agnes Marshall and Matilda (Bruce) Marshall.  For Matilda (Bruce) Marshall, I would also add an "uncertain existence" profile, because it is quite possible that this person is pure fiction.

3.  Post a message on the profiles of Agnes Wylley and Matilda (Bruce) Marshall, politely alerting the managers and trusted list that I intend to detach the parents if there isn't any forthcoming evidence.  At this point, a profile manager may reply and say, "please go ahead and detach -- I don't know how those imaginary parents got there."

4.  Start a G2G thread announcing my intention to detach if no evidence is forthcoming, and ask if anyone has information on this family and the connections in question.

5.  Wait a week or so.  If no useful information comes up, then:

6.  Detach the parents, and remove the relevant immigrant (in this case, Denison) from the "questionable gateway ancestor" category.
So when the immigrant is disconnected and it's not Jillaine's husband's line, what happens then?

It's not like there's only one weak link and the rest is all fine.  But nobody in America will be interested in these Bruces and Mowbrays any more.  But they don't get orphaned.  Usually the PMs aren't descendants, they're just people who gedcommed in their internet junk collections.
I feel your pain.

I was disappointed to learn that wikitree's Magna Carta project only focuses on those people who are listed in Richardson's book about emigrants to America.

We need a project that works on claims of royalty/MC Baron descendancy where the claims are for people in the UK, whether or not they had descendants that emigrated to America, whether or not Richardson documents them.
Jillaine, because there is so much mistaken or downright FALSE medieval "information" out there, going by Richardson's densely-packed multi-volume set was deemed necessary for quality control.  However, the Magna Carta Project from the beginning has been open to giving formal recognition to claims of Magna Carta ancestry outside Richardson's books, if proper documentation is added to the relevant profiles, which generally means a LOT of work.  Currently we have exactly one recognized (badged) gateway ancestor who doesn't appear in Richardson: Rev. Robert Rose of Scotland and Virginia, at

I worked with Rose's descendant to get the profiles up to speed with sufficient documentation; it took a lot of effort (he was working with original sources written in Latin) that most wikitreers won't be inclined or able to do.

Regarding lineages for people who didn't immigrate to the USA, I wholeheartedly support the idea, and discussed it back at the beginning of the project, with a procedure for submitting proposed new "gateway ancestors" with a detailed example: my ancestor Francis Prideaux of Cubert, Cornwall, at .  His is the generation that fell out of the gentry; his descendants became miners. Francis has a proven lineage going back to Magna Carta baron William Malet, and his son James had a couple dozen Prideaux descendants who emigrated to Wisconsin in the mid-19th century.  However, Francis's parentage of James and brother Edward (my ancestor) Prideaux of Camborne, Cornwall depends on circumstantial evidence, which requires familiarity with the body of evidence and with the Prideaux family in Cornwall, which means that many people will be inclined to set this aside with a skeptical "maybe."  (One piece of evidence: Francis's wife was named Prudence, and Edward named his eldest son Francis and his eldest daughter Prudence.)  So I didn't try to ram this through as an example of an English "gateway ancestor."  I'd be very pleased if someone from Great Britain came up with a sixteenth-century ancestor as the starting point for badging a lineage back to a Magna Carta baron.  That hasn't happened yet, but if it ever does, I'd be pleased once again to help work the profiles into shape, guiding my fellow wikitreer as they strive to come up with proper documentation for every generation until the lineage links up with Richardson's books.
Thanks, John.  Glad to hear that there are members of the MC project that are working on branches that don't necessarily result in a Richardson-documented emigrating ancestor. But Liz S recently posted that the current focus of the project is just working on those profiles that are in Richardson's book.

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