Friday, August 22, 2008

Welsh Quaker HUGH HARRY's Royal Roots (well...maybe not)

I have to admit I was a little excited to find out that one of my immigrant ancestors HUGH HARRY (b abt 1660 Montgomeryshire, Wales; married Elizabeth Brinton; died 1708 Chester Co PA) was descended from England's King Edward I, and the Plantagenet line. 

I first found this information in a book entitled, "The Royal Descent of 500 Immigrants" by Gary Boyd Roberts, a distinguished genealogist from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. I also fond several other references to HUGH HARRY as a Royal descendant in such books as "Welsh Founders of Pennsylvania" & "Merion in the Welsh Tract" by Thomas Allen Glenn, and "The Lloyd Manuscripts" by Howard Williams Lloyd.

HUGH HARRY's lineage was researched mainly because he was an ancestor of US President Richard M. Nixon.  Apparently several past US presidents have English royal roots in their family trees.  And researching US presidential family trees seems to be a very popular pass time among genealogists.  I believe both Barrack  Obama's and John McCain's family trees are already posted online!

Anyway, I felt pretty confident that,  with Gary Boyd Roberts as a source,  this information was likely true, so I added the lengthly & complicated Welsh/English lineage to my Rootsweb online family tree huberfrazier2, and updated my "Famous Folks" page on my "Betty's Boneyard" webpage, see here

Shortly afterward, I found a reference to the 2006 updated edition of "Royal Descent of 600 Immigrants" in which Gary Boyd Roberts states that he has dropped HUGH HARRY and his brother DANIEL HARRY from his list of immigrants with royal blood because there is not enough evidence to prove the connection.

This issue is HUGH & DANIEL's father, HARRY ap THOMAS OWEN b 1630s, who was also a Quaker, lived in Montgomeryshire Wales, but did not emigrate to America.  HARRY's father had previously been lsited by Gary Boyd Roberts and others as THOMAS ap OWEN b 1598, wh was possibly sheriff of Montgomeryshire, and a very prominent man. But apparently there has never been any proof found that would establish the relationship, except for Welsh patronymics, which would indicate that HARRY's father was "THOMAS OWEN".

Several researchers still have not ruled out the possibility that THOMAS ap OWEN b 1598 was indeed the father of HARRY ap THOMAS OWEN. I'm sure some people are still working on this, although I have to admit personally that even spending a couple of hours with Welsh genealogy and it's complicated system of patromynics is a total head-splitter.

So--for the time being-- I am going to leave the entire HUGH HARRY royal lineage on my Rootsweb Worldconnect Online family tree called huberfrazier2.  It would be a huge task to remove it.

I guess I will just have to be satisfied with being the descendant of a Welsh King: RHIRID FLADD, 'The Wolf', Lord of Penlynn, born about 1150, who is an ancestor of KATHERINE WILLIAMS b abt 1678, Quaker immigrant to Chester Co PA who married WILLIAM BROWN. Their daughter MARY BROWN married WILLIAM REYNOLDS Sr in Chester Co PA. 



Unknown said...

not sure how far you have gotten on hugh harry, but believe I may be able to help..let me know

N P said...

This controversy is interesting to me as I also have Hugh Harry and an ancestor. It seems that those genealogists discrediting his descent based it on two primary observations, dare they say "facts". 1) Hugh Harry and his father Harry... were both poor as opposed to their Father/Grandfather who was prominent and wealthy and there is no mention of them in his will and 2) they both practiced trades (weavers, etc.) which would be inconsistent with a noble family.

The problem I have with those arguments is that they seem to ignore the fact that both men were Quakers. During the rise of the Society of Friends in the middle part of the 17th Century in Great Britain it was common for people of Nobility to disinherit their children that became Quakers. One prime example is that of William Penn who was almost treated that way by his famous father Admiral Penn. Once cut off from their noble families and persecuted for their faith many would resort to trades in order to survive.

All of that would explain why Hugh and his father were working menial jobs, poor and not mentioned in Thomas' will.