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Popular Errors in Colonial and Medieval Lineages

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This page lists, alphabetically by surname, links to the profiles of people (especially immigrants to colonial America) who have false or dubious medieval lineages. Details of the problematic pedigrees should be available on the individual's profile page, but can be added here as well. This is the beginning of a work in progress, so the use of this page (and the wording of this initial paragraph) will doubtless evolve.

With this page, the Magna Carta Project hopes to reduce the number of errors in our common wikitree, alert genealogists to known mistakes and falsehoods, and provide a resource to help us communicate with well-meaning newcomers who may be attached to illustrious false pedigrees. The Magna Carta Project is especially concerned with weeding out false lineages to Magna Carta surety barons, but this page can also serve as a resource for other projects.

For a discussion of the plague of false pedigrees that pollutes the genealogical community, see the following articles:

  • Fraudulent Lineages, which reproduces Robert Charles Anderson's discussion and list of the dozens and dozens of families who have false ancestries forged by the notorious Gustav Anjou.


  • Magna Carta Team Base Camp - this is where we track completed trails and trails under construction, from Gateway Ancestors to their Magna Carta surety baron ancestors.

Immigrants to America with False or Dubious Lineages

Henry Adams (1583-1641), immigrated from co. Somerset, England to Braintree, Massachusetts. His great-grandfather was a lowly tenant farmer (with no coat of arms), but in 1853 a forged document fooled the editors of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and the bogus lineage was published in 1893 in Charles Henry Browning's unreliable Americans of Royal Descent. To its credit, the NEHGR has diligently tried to warn its readers about this false lineage: see (for example) the Register's 1902 book notice of the Rev. Hiram Fairbanks' "The Ancestry of Henry Adams."

Samuel Bacon immigrated from Rutland, England to Barnstablem Massachusetts, before 1659, and from there to New Jersey. Martha Worchester was not the wife of William Bacon and was not Samuel's mother.

See G2G for the whole conversation. While updating the sources on my Bacon line - the one that used to go back to the Norman knight 'Grimbaldus', I discovered that the lineage going back from Samuel Bacon of New Jersey, which I'd used from Bacon's Adventure (also published in Colonial Families of Philadelphia), was copied from work by Gustav Anjou, infamous for his fake genealogies.
Using original (primary) sources, Jane Fletcher Fiske proved in 1981 in the American Genealogist, vol 57, page 103- 108, that Samuel's mother was not Martha Worchester, but Ane (Unknown), and that no other credible sources show the family going farther back. I spent the afternoon documenting the WikiTree profiles, and having a going-away party for Grimbaldus.

John Buckner of Virginia (d.1695, Virginia) was the subject of not one, but three different fraudulent genealogies. The first is the best known, W.A. Crozier, W.D. Buckner, and H.R. Bayne, The Buckners of Virginia and the Allied Families of Strother and Ashby, Genealogical Association, 1907. Most of the book is an honest (if flawed) genealogy, but for researching John Buckner's origins in England, the authors seem to have engaged an unnamed researcher who provided them with a mix of real records along with a set of forged christening records and two will quotations that made up the supposed key evidence of his heritage in England. The second is a Gustave Anjou manuscript (FHC microfilm, #980,083) which is fortunately not widely available. The third was published recently in 2008 by Jim White and titled either Buckner Book I&II or Buckner Descendant Generations and available in various electronic formats. White's books are a combination of largely unsourced, though occasionally correct facts, and some complete inventions. False and fake data from these books have become widely reproduced on the internet in the last decade. White has also published Virginia Ball : Immigrant Family 1650, Washington, and Cathey Family: With 32 Immigrant Allied and Collateral Families which reproduce a lot of the same fake material and should be viewed with extreme suspicion. Please see Ben Buckner's analysis of Mr. White's forgery techniques.

John Crandall was not the son of John Crandall and Elizabeth Drake (with a lineage going back through the Prideaux family to Magna Carta baron William Malet). This has been proven false. Please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Crandall and https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/RI_Ancestors/conversations/topics/4013

Robert Royce (1605-1676) of Stamford, Lincolnshire (NOT Martock, co. Somerset) and New London, Connecticut. There is a groundless internet fantasy claiming that he was the son of Thomas Royce and Mary Appleton.

Mary Wentworth (b. 1569), claimed to be the wife of Mayflower pilgrim William Brewster. This isn't impossible; there just isn't any evidence to support such a supposition.

Robert White (1558-1617) of Shalford, co. Essex. His children immigrated to America, settling in Massachusetts and Connecticut. His false medieval ancestry is widespread on the internet: He has been confused with another Robert White from the other side of England, father of John White of Wenham and Lancaster, Massachusetts, whose supposed medieval ancestry is also the result of mistaken identity.

John White of Wenham and Lancaster, Massachusetts. His great-grandfather Richard White, son of Thomas White and Agnes Richards of Meriot and Martok, Somerset, has often been confused with his more prominent contemporary (and cousin?) Richard White, son of Thomas White and Agnes WHITE of South Warnborough, Hampshire.


On 1 Jul 2019 at 17:56 GMT Susan (Knight) Gore wrote:

This link on the page is not working:

Watch Out for Fake Family Trees by James Pylant https://www.genealogymagazine.com/fake-trees.html

I believe the correct link is: https://www.genealogymagazine.com/fake-family-trees/

On 29 Oct 2017 at 00:07 GMT Paula J wrote:

This is a valuable page!! Thanks so much!!