Starting Point Ap_Adams-5
This is a One Name Study to collect together in one place everything about the Adams surname and likely Origins and the variants of that name. The hope is that other researchers like you will join our study to help make it a valuable reference point for people studying lines that cross or intersect. Please contact the project leader, add categories to your profiles, add your questions to the bulletin board, add details of your name research, etc.
Most people with a lot of New England ancestry descend from one or more ‘gateway’ ancestors – i.e., early colonists who descend, themselves, from English kings, primarily the Plantagenets. The latter, in turn, have their own gateway ancestors, through whom we derive our longest possible ‘ancestral lines’ – into the Dark Ages (roughly A.D. 450-750), and perhaps (though far more conjecturally) even the Classical (Greco-Roman) and Ancient (Egyptian, Babylonian, and Persian) worlds.
Genealogy was originally the prerogative of kings and princes. The oldest surviving royal genealogies in Europe go back to the sixth century A.D. for Gothic sovereigns, to the seventh century for their Irish, Lombardic, Visigothic, and Frankish counterparts, and to the eighth and ninth centuries for Anglo-Saxon and Carolingian kings.
ALL such descents are hypothetical – that is, all entail many filiative links that are not, in fact, attested in writing, but postulated by scholars on the basis of an assessment of the known chronology, ethno-political situation, and onomastic patterns of the relevant era, locale, and race. In short, ‘ancient’ pedigrees have many ‘dotted lines,’ which are plausible, even likely, but NOT susceptible to proof.(If you’re allergic to dotted lines, now would be a good time to leave!)
Unfortunately, popular American genealogical literature is rife with supposed ‘ancient’ pedigrees which are neither likely nor plausible, and in some cases provably bogus, passing, as they do, through long chains of supposed personages who never existed. How, short of acquiring a comprehensive knowledge of many phases of world and national history, half a dozen ancient and modern languages, the various branches of philology, and an immense (and highly specialized) research literature (surely a job for several lifetimes!), is the ‘lay’ reader to tell the plausible from the preposterous, the reasonable from the ridiculous?
For those who find themselves far up the proverbial creek, this talk and syllabus should serve as a paddle. The talk will identify the major geographic areas, ethnicities, and prePlantagenet ‘gateway’ ancestors through whom we MIGHT descend from Dark Age, Classical, or Ancient kings, warlords, consuls, emperors, and pharaohs, and will outline the major sources of data and forms of reasoning upon which such descents are predicated. It will also draw your attention to proposed ‘ancient’ descents which are known to be false, or have been seriously questioned, and identify the absolute historical limits beyond which it will never be possible to go. The syllabus provides an area-byarea list of the best or most interesting or exemplary books.
Frederick Lewis Weis, Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr., and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700. The Lineage of Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Malcolm of Scotland, Robert the Strong, and Some of Their Descendants. Seventh edition. 1992.
The Magna Charta Sureties, 1215. The Barons Named in the Magna Charta, 1215 and Some of Their Descendants Who Settled in America during the Early Colonial Years. Fourth edition. 1991.
The above two books don’t cover as comprehensive a range of royally descended colonists as Roberts, below, but give more dates, places, and bio for those they do cover.
David Faris, Douglas Richardson, and Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr., projected four-volume revision of above two sources, still in progress.
Gary Boyd Roberts. The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants to the American Colonies or the United States...1993. [The most comprehensive treatment of the subject in print. Lines only, with very few dates & places, but superb bibliography – and noone is more ‘in-the-know’ than Roberts about UNPUBLISHED materials, as well.]
The direct pedigree of the Bretton family (of Flockton Green and West Bretton) is considered fairly accurate back to about the middle 1400's, mainly through the work of Dom Hugh Bowler, the Roman Catholic historian who spent a great deal of time on tracing the life, and martyrdom, of Blessed John Bretton. Before that there are numerous mentions of "Brettons'" in , for instance, "The Burghs of Cambridgeshire and Yorkshire" by J. W. Walker C.B.E., F.S.A., in the Yorkshire Archaeological Society Journal XXX p.312 :
"The Chartulery of the Abbey of Byland" in the 12th Century : and Hunter's "Deanery of Doncaster" vol II Yorkshire (1831). The "History of Barnsley" by Jackson and "Angles, Danes and Norse in the District of Huddersfield" by W. G. Collingwood, and the "History of Monk Bretton Priory” have also provided information - as well as the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, ”Wakefield - its’ History and People” by J. W. Walker, and “West Yorkshire- An Archaeological Survey to 1500”. Further information was contained in “ A Literary and Biographical History or Biographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from the breach with Rome in 1534 to the present time” Vol. I. by Joseph Gillow published in 1895.
S. Ireland. Roman Britain: A Sourcebook. 1986. [Extracts from early documents.] K. R. Dark. Civitas to Kingdom: British Political Continuity 300-800. 1994. [General survey, with excellent bibliography.]
David Dumville. “Sub-Roman Britain: History and Legend.” History 62 (1977): 173-91. [Scoffing view of sources for the period, with some justice.]
G. N. Garmonsway, trans. and ed. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1972. [Oldest history of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms; incorporates still older mss. preserving oral tradition back to 3 rd or 4 th century .]
Kenneth Sisam. “Anglo-Saxon Royal Genealogies.” Proceedings of the British Academy 1953: 387-348. [Critical look at genealogies from above.]
David Dumville. “The West Saxon Genealogical Regnal List and the Chronology of Wessex.” Peritia 4: 21-66. [Ditto, but focuses on revising early Anglo-Saxon chronology.]
Michael E. Jones and John Casey. “The Gallic Chronicle Restored: A Chronology for the Anglo-Saxon Invasions and the End of Roman Britain.” Britannia 21 (1990): 367- 98.
Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. Trans. by Lewis Thorpe. 1966. [A fabulist’s 12th -century version of the ancient history of Britain. Largely imaginary, but probably has a few grains of valid data preserved nowhere else. Trouble is, which is which? First extensive version of ‘Arthur.’]
A. W. Wade-Evans. Nennius’s “History of the Britons” together with “The Annals of the Britons” and “Court Pedigrees of Hywel the Good,” also “The Story of the Loss of Britain.” 1938. [Oldest Celtic histories & genealogies, already severely twisted and fabulized.]
Leslie Alcock. Arthur’s Britain. History and Archaeology AD 367-634. 1971. [Focus on Arthur, but also a good general survey of the history of the period.] John Morris. The Age of Arthur. 1973. [Ditto. Morris, however, had the deductive genius’s fatal tendency to draw a pound of inferences from a pinch of fact. Much incidental material of value on Celtic genealogy.]
Geoffrey Ashe. The Discovery of King Arthur. 1985. [Entertaining re-examination, with good bibliography. Includes semi-serious hypothesis that Cerdic of Wessex was son of Arthur (!) This probably founders on chronological difficulties, however, if no other.]
A. W. Wade-Evans. “The Chronology of Arthur.” Y Cymmrodor 1910: 125-49.5
John Morris. “Dark Age Dates.” In Michael G. Jarrett, ed., Britain and Rome, 145-85. 1965.
P. K. Johnstone. “A Consular Chronology of Dark Age Britain.” Antiquity 36 (1962): 102-9.
Nikolai Tolstoy. “Early British History and Chronology.” Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmodorion 1964: 237-312. [Four articles by four good scholars, coming to four wildly different conclusions as to the chronology of the period – proving that the source materials are simply inadequate.] Nora K. Chadwick. Celtic Britain. 1989. [Good general survey, with excellent maps.]
Peter C. Bartrum. Welsh Genealogies 300-1400. 8 vols. 1974-80. [Basic set of charts summarizing all the earliest royal British/Welsh; authoritative & generally reliable.]
John T. Koch. “A Welsh Window on the Iron Age. Manawydan, Mandubracios.” Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 14 (1987): 17-52. [Fascinating article showing that Welsh oral tradition preserved at least ONE fragment of GENUINE British genealogy from around the time of Christ, possibly ancestral to the later Welsh houses, though the connection is lost.]
John H. Ward. “Vortigern and the End of Roman Britain.” Britannia 3 (1972): 277-89. [Good study of the last Roman Vicar of Britain, possibly ancestral to some Welsh dynasties.]
E. Williams B. Nicholson. “The Dynasty of Cunedag and the Harleian Genealogies.” Y Cymmrodor 1909: 63-104.
David H. Kelley. “A Study in Early Celtic Genealogies: Dyfed.” Journal of Ancient and Medieval Studies 1:49-58.
Marjorie O. Anderson. Kings and Kingship in Early Scotland. 1980. [Contains detailed analysis of the Scottish & Pictish king lists; presented verbatim from original mss.]
H. Pirie-Gordon. “The Succession in the Kingdom of Strathclyde.” The Armorial 1: 35- 40, 79-87, 143-8, 192-6, 2: 9-14, 92-102. [Reconstruction of families ancestral to Kenneth MacAlpin, King of Scotland, including lines from Dalriada, Strathclyde, and Pictavia.]
John O’Hart. Irish Pedigrees: or, The Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation. 2 vols. 1892. [However unsatisfactory, this is still the basic source, compiled from the ‘Annals of the Four Masters,’ etc., for royal Irish lines; incorporates much sheer mythology, and must be taken with a shaker of salt.]
David H. Kelley. “Early Irish Genealogy.” The American Genealogist 41 (1965): 65-76.
“Descent from the High Kings of Ireland.” The American Genealogist 54 (1978): 1-5.
“The Ancestry of Eve of Leinster.” The Genealogist 1 (1980): 4-26. [Excellent introductory & critical articles on various royal Irish lines.]