Did Mary Herbert Congdon actually exist?

+4 votes
444 views
Conversation elsewhere in G2G suggests that the wife of John Congdon is not named in the records of Virginia (see husband's profile). However there is a persistent legend that she was daughter of either the 4th or 5th Earl of Pembroke. (Wikitree has both, see [[Herbert-226|Mary Herbert]]). No Mary seems to be noted for either Earl. Is there any good reason to suppose that a Mary Herbert was the wife of John Congdon or that she had illustrious parents? Alerting PM that I have raised this question.
WikiTree profile: Mary Congdon
in Genealogy Help by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (276k points)
The earliest mention I've found of the attachment to the Herbert family is in 1884 (The Newport Historical Magazine, in an article written by John Austin of the Genealogical Dictionary fame). It's presented only as an oral tradition. The Congdon Chronicle presents the connection to St. David's also as oral tradition - the earliest reference to that I've found. Oral traditions can be wildly unreliable, of course, especially when connecting American commoners to European nobility. I find nothing credible to suggest Philip Herbert (the 4th Earl) had a daughter Mary, despite Cracroft's, which I haven't seen btw. I've read critiques that aren't good. He's the only earl who could have been involved. He had one daughter, Anne, who married the Earl of Carnarvon. No legitimate daughter of this man would go unnoticed, first of all, or marry a commoner of low enough social standing that he was brought to VA as a settler. Unless the daughter was illegitimate, but in any case, there isn't any evidence to support the connection other than heresay. Bertha Clark's article is very unscholarly - not a critical review of the evidence. She basically says all this stuff is fact, and that she was the first one to put it all together! More or less.  Much of her blurb is about the Congdons in VA. It's a purely speculative narrative trying to connect all the heresay.

5 Answers

0 votes
Didn’t find anything on findmypast for Hebert or Herbert
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+4 votes

This could be where the story first appeared in print (1921)

https://archive.org/details/congdonchronicle1921cong/page/n5

Middle of page 3.

No mention of Virginia in this version.  John and his unnamed posh wife don't emigrate - their son Benjamin is the immigrant and goes straight to Rhode Island.

PS no the Congdon Chronicle wasn't the first, it got it from here (1893)

https://books.google.com/books?id=-s6jO4ZSSaIC&pg=PA73

by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (569k points)
edited by Anonymous Horace

There's also said to be a Congdon manuscript, in typescript at RIHS, by a Bertha W Clark, who seems to have been active in the 1950s.  Possibly this item

https://www.amazon.co.uk/compilers-Congdon-line-detail-generations/dp/B0007HXV4S

and possibly transcribed as a book

https://www.worldcat.org/title/congdon-family/oclc/51785026

But I doubt if it would shed any light.

There was a Condon family at Willerby, near Hull, mentioned in the Austin book.  The Chronicle adjusts the spelling to Congdon.

They never did a Visitation.  But a Thomas Condon was granted a crest in 1627 (a common disguise for a new grant of arms)

https://archive.org/stream/granteesofarmsna661915#page/59

Says he was heir to the lord Morville.  But there wasn't any Lord Morville.

+2 votes
So far it seems that there was a Benjamin Congdon in Rhode Island whose parentage is not known, might have been born in Pembrokeshire. There was a John Congdon in Virginia, parentage and wife unknown, no relation of Benjamin. Nothing found about Mary Herbert Congdon.
by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (276k points)
Chicken and egg.  Did they decide Benjamin was born in Pembrokeshire because they'd already decided his mother was the earl of Pembroke's daughter, or did they decide his mother was the earl of Pembroke's daughter because they'd already decided he was born in Pembrokeshire?

The ancestral pile of the earls was Wilton House in Wiltshire.  It's very American to assume they lived in Pembrokeshire.

But anyway, the earl's daughter story is the tradition, or fake tradition, of Rhode Island, and is only linked to Virginia indirectly.
Just reminded me it's a very long time since we were at Wilton House. Feel a trip coming on. Wonderful setting and some interesting pictures.
0 votes
Written it all up as a research note. If she existed she cannot have been daughter of the 5th Earl, no way the dates fit since the dates for the 5th Earl must be considered pretty good. Suggest detaching her and merging with Mary daughter of the 4th Earl thus getting rid of Hebert LNAB
by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (276k points)
0 votes

Answer rewritten.
Family Search has her as the daughter of the 4th Earl with vastly different dates to both profiles. However Cracroft's Peerage has a Mary as the daughter of both the 4th and 5th Earl. The daughter of the 4th did not marry. The daughter of the 5th Earl is listed as having married the 2nd Baronet of Brimpton given a biography of the 3rd Baronet. The wikipedia article of the second baronet (who took Mary as his second wife) has her date of death as 1686.

by Richard Shelley G2G6 Pilot (220k points)
edited by Richard Shelley

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