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Charles Augustus Fernald Genealogy Fabrication

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Surnames/tags: fernald disproven_existence
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Charles Augustus Fernald published Universal International Genealogy and of the Ancient Fernald Families in 1909. This is a wandering compendium of fabulous and impossible beliefs, which traces the Fernald ancestry to Adam and Eve, and claims many notables (e.g. Shakespeare, George Washington, God) as Fernalds. It has attracted ridicule and incredulity since its publication:

"He pictures and translates inscriptions on pyramids, obelisks, papyrus, rocks, ivories, shells, corns, medals, implements, rings, seals, grave-stones, coats of arms, manuscripts. His favorite sources seem to be Egyptian records, Roman coins, Hebrew scriptures, the Moabite Stone, the Tablet of Abydus, an "ancient Chart Log," the American Indian mounds, the Newport Tower, Dighton Rock, and the Peter Faneuil Tomb in Boston — all of them translated by his own peculiar method." (Source: Delabarre, E. B., & Colonial Society of Massachusetts. (1919). Recent history of Dighton rock. Cambridge [Mass.: J. Wilson, p.362 Online at archive.org)

Noted New England genealogist Walter Goodwin Davis ridiculed CA Fernald's genealogy hilariously and at length, and is often quoted:

"It has been the fate of many English and American families to have their pedigrees drawn up and their genealogies written by the ignorant, the credulous, or the fraudulent. While it is commonly and humorously stated that all genealogists are slightly mad, the Fernald family had the unique and dubious distinction of having a historian who was undeniably insane. In 1909 Charles Augustus Fernald, M.D., at what must have been considerable expense, published a book entitled Universal International Genealogy and of the Ancient Fernald Families. It is impossible to give in a short space an adequate idea of this extraordinary production. It must be seen, its wildly incoherent English read and its fantastic and often hilariously funny claims sampled before its very existence can be believed." (Sources: Family Search discussion of CA Fernald and Sally & Allen Fernald, "Fernald Rootsweb Subject: Re: [FERNALD] Charles Augustus Fernald's book," Fernald Rootsweb List, 01 Apr 2005)

The International Genealogy includes real, made up, and supernatural persons, and both real Fernalds and historic individuals who C.A. Fernald admired. Unfortunately, some of its less-fantastic portions have been repeated on many public genealogy sites.

Profiles listed in the attached category have been affected by this fabrication; some are real people, some are not. Listing in this category does NOT mean that the profile itself is fraudulent; hopefully it is listed because the fabrication has been identified and corrected. If you find a new affected profile, add it to this category using the string [[Category: Charles Augustus Fernald Fabrications]], and add a brief comment about the fraud at the top of the profile.

If you can't find other sources besides CA Fernald's International Genealogy for a profile (ask for G2G help), also add the template {{Uncertain Existence}}, detach it from any profiles of real people, and add a strong warning at the top of both real and unreal profiles to not reattach them.

This helps prevent the creation of new versions of these fake profiles, since they will match to the existing documented and commented profiles.

See also:

  • Walter Goodwin Davis, The Ancestry of Joseph Waterhouse (Portland, Maine, 1949), pp. 35-37, reprinted in Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis, ed. Gary Boyd Roberts, 3 vols. (Baltimore, 1996), 1:535-37, where attention is drawn to the passage in the editor’s introduction, at p. xviii.
  • John Blythe Dobson, “The fraudulent Coligny-Rapalje descent,” Annals of Genealogical Research Vol. 2, No. 1 (2006) at http://www.genlit.org/agr/viewarticle.php?id=10




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