Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blake and Somerby

I discovered this rather interesting paper on the Blake families that I have been busily looking at published in The American Genealogist in 1999. Although the author is unaware of the Pedigree that I found in the Swindon and Wiltshire Record Office, he has summed up rather well the inconsistencies I am also finding in the published books on the Blake family. I hadn't actually found the book by Somerby on the Blake family but rather the many books that are apparently using him as their source. Initially I did use the listing but as I found one error after another I gradually dropped the early part of the lineage and I am now waiting to prove my connection from Thomas (baptized 1685 or 1661) back. Eventually I may be able to prove this line. The y-DNA study may yet prove to be handy in that regard. The footnotes for the article are missing and to really get into the article one would need to find the original copy. I supply for those who research Blake in order to increase the spread of information.

Paul C. Reed, "Two Somerby Frauds, Or Placing the Flesh on the Wrong Bones,'" The American Genealogist 74 [1999].
Or "Placing the Flesh on the Wrong Bones"
By Paul C. Reed

Horatio Gates SOMERBY (1805-1872) is noted more and more for the frauds he perpetrated on the genealogical public in the last century. He was far more subtle that Gustave ANJOU, but not necessarily better at fakery than Mrs. DE SALIS. The first part of this article will examine SOMERBY's account of the ancestry of William BLAKE of Dorchester, and the second part will look at the BILLINGS ancestry, another example of his fraudulent technique.

Perhaps the reason more of SOMERBY's frauds have not come to light is that he did not always concoct them to connect to some grand noble ancestor or royal line. For the BLAKEs, he traced the family back to the time of Edward III, but not to any notable person. SOMERBY worked during a period when records were less centralized or accessible, so he may have presumed that he was less likely to be caught. He was not wholly ignorant of genealogical technique, just of morals and ethics.
The genealogy in this book was definitely SOMERBY's creation, not something perpetrated on him or fictionalized by another individual: Whitmore stated on p. 4 that "[t]he work of the editor, in the main, has been merely to arrange Mr. SOMERBY's pedigrees in paragraph form . . . [S]o far as can be concluded [from SOMERBY's notebooks], Mr. SOMERBY's results are entitled to the fullest confidence." In a number of instances, including the BLAKEs, Whitmore, who was one of America's earliest critical genealogists, was taken in by SOMERBY.
SOMERBY's technique seems to be that he would happen across a family with the same name "or, at least, surname" as that of a well-known immigrant. He would then either invent a document, such as a will, that seemed to prove the connection across the sea, or, in other instances, just imply that such a document existed, without providing any specific details, such as he did in the ancestry purported for Abraham, John, and Richard BROWNE of Watertown. Once he had "established" the connection into England and traced the line back as far as he could in local records, SOMERBY would then fabricate a link to another family of the same surname, often in an entirely different county.

Sometimes SOMERBY took some of the information for earlier generations from printed pedigrees, such as visitations, but often he cited a will "usually from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury" to provide support and seemingly credible evidence to back up the pedigree. But we have found in examining his work that either SOMERBY could not read the handwriting accurately, or that he did not care to, as many of the wills he cited which actually exist do not contain the information he credited them with providing. In some instances, he also ignored information that contradicted his conclusions, even when citing that document or quoting part of it as evidence for his case.

In his account of the purported ancestry of the immigrant William BLAKE of Dorchester, Massachusetts, SOMERBY linked three apparently unrelated BLAKE families. After falsifying the origin of the immigrant, SOMERBY fabricated earlier fraudulent connections by making Humphrey BLAKE, ancestor of the BLAKE family of Over Stowey, Somerset, a brother of the Nicholas BLAKE of Andover who died in 1547. SOMERBY then fabricated a parentage for Humphrey and Nicholas, making their father out to be one William BLAKE, and their mother to be Mary, daughter of Humphrey COLES of co. Somerset. Then he asserted that this William was a son of an earlier William, whom SOMERBY (falsely) connects back into the ancient BLAAGE alias BLAKE family who lived at Calne, Wiltshire. He put forth the descent thus:
1. ROBERT BLAKE of Calne, Wilts., living 1347; m. ANNE COLE, daughter of William COLE.
2. HENRY BLAKE, m.?????? DURANT, daughter and coheir of Edward DURANT.
4. HENRY BLAKE of Calne, m. MARGARET BELLETT, daughter and coheir of?????? BELLETT of Quemberford {a tithing in the parish of Calne}.
5. ROBERT BLAKE of Calne, m. AVICE WALLOP, daughter and heir of John WALLOP, Esq., of Nether Wallop, Wilts.
6. WILLIAM BLAKE of White Parish, Hants., d. 1471.
7. WILLIAM BLAKE of Old Hall in Eastontown, Andover, Hants.; m. MARY COLES, daughter of Humphrey COLES of Somersetshire.
8. HUMPHREY BLAKE, bur. Over Stowey, co. Somerset, 28 Dec. 1558; m. AGNES??????, bur. 24 June 1585.
9. JOHN BLAKE, b. 1521, bur. Over Stowey, 10 Dec. 1576; m. JANE??????, bur. 11 June 1595.
10. ROBERT BLAKE, bp. 12 May 1566, bur. Over Stowey, 25 Jan. 1626/7; m. ELEANOR??????.
11. WILLIAM BLAKE, bp. Over Stowey, co. Somerset, 5 June 1594; identified by SOMERBY as the immigrant to Dorchester, Mass.

The evidence SOMERBY adduced for the identity of the immigrant would be conclusive if it were factual.

First he states that James BLAKE's Annals of Dorchester includes under 1663: "This Year Died Mr. William BLAKE, who had been Clerk of the Writs for the County of Suffolk, & Recorder for the Town near 8 years. He was also Clerk of the Training-band. He Died the 25th of the 8th mo. 1663, in the 69th Year of his age." This does indeed appear in the Annals of James BLAKE (1688-1750), who was a great-grandson of William BLAKE; it would place his year of birth about 1594, and SOMERBY has a baptism for William BLAKE at Over Stowey on 5 June 1594.
Secondly, SOMERBY states that Eleanor BLAKE (younger sister of that William), baptized on 26 February 1602/3, married James CLARK, "whom she survived, and in her will, dated at Over Stowey, June 19, 1647, she mentions her late husband, and bequeaths to her daughter Eleanor a house and lands, formerly in possession of her brother, now in New England." But there is no such will. Over Stowey fell within the probate district of the Archdeaconry of Taunton; this was a period when most local courts were suppressed and wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury [PCC]. Though the original Somerset probate records were destroyed by German bombing in 1942, indexes do survive. There was no such will proved in either the Archdeaconry of Taunton or in the PCC before 1700.

Though no researcher "until now" stated plainly that SOMERBY's work on the BLAKEs was fraudulent, the immediate connection to the immigrant was disproved as long ago as 1891, when Francis E. BLAKE published his account of "The BLAKE Family in England." He states that further research in English records proves that the William BLAKE baptized at Over Stowey in 1594 was buried there on April 1617 ("William BLAKE the sonne of Robert BLAKE"). Though he acknowledges SOMERBY's claim "that a sister of this William, in her will of date 1647, mentioned a 'brother in New England,'" Francis BLAKE goes on to claim that no name for this brother was given (though no other meaning can be inferred from SOMERBY's text), leaving the reader to conclude that such a will did exist and that it pertained to another BLAKE immigrant, brother of Eleanor (BLAKE) CLARK.

Francis BLAKE found that there was another William BLAKE, cousin of SOMERBY's candidate, who was baptized at Pitminster, co. Somerset, on 10 July 1594. he was son of William BLAKE and grandson of John BLAKE (1521-1576) of Over Stowey. This younger William BLAKE married "Agnis BAND" [i.e., Agnes BOND], widow, at Pitminster on 27 September 1617, and they had at least four children baptized there: John and Ann BLAKE (baptized 20 August 1618), William BLAKE (baptized 6 September 1620), and James BLAKE (baptized 27 April 1624). It is known that the New England immigrant had a wife named Agnes and children named William, James, Edward, John, and Anne, and that the immigrant was born about 1594, so the identification seemed to fit.
Recently, Robin BUSH, former Assistant Archivist of the Somerset Record Office, has determined that the younger William BLAKE of Pitminster was cousin of several other New England immigrants, making this identification of the immigrant more likely; he has also verified the ancestry back to Humphrey BLAKE (died 1558) of Over Stowey, the great-grandfather of the immigrant [generation 8 in SOMERBY's pedigree outlined above]. But BUSH concluded that "tracing the ancestors of Humphrey BLAKE . . . has proved fruitless" and that the suspected connection to the ancient BLAKE family of Wiltshire has still not been made.

BUSH found proof of the birthplace of William BLAKE, the father of the immigrant, through a deposition in which William BLAKE of Pitminster, yeoman, aged about 70, deposed in 1632, that he had been born in Over Stowey. This record also indicates that William BLAKE had a son John BLAKE, also a resident of Pitminster in 1632. The churchwarden accounts of Pitminster survive from 1589, though the detailed rates which list the parishioners who paid the rates for the poor law only begin in 1601. William BLAKE [BLACKE, BLAK] was an overseer of the poor in 1601, 1614, and 1618. He was listed as a resident of the tithing of Blagdon in Pitminster from 1601 through 1642, paying between 4s. and 12s. each year.

John BLAKE [baptized 15 June 1597, son of William], William BLAKE [born ca. 1562], and Richard BLAKE [baptized 17 April 1603, son of William] were listed next to each other in the 1641 list of males aged 18 and over who swore oath to uphold the English church and government. A notation next to William BLAKE's name reads "aged & not able" [to appear and swear the oath; he would have been nearly 80 years old]. That the younger William BLAKE [baptized 1596; married 1617] was not included in the 1641 list or buried at Pitminster indicates that he had left the parish with his family, presumably for New England.

Having briefly discussed the tactics SOMERBY used in connecting the immigrant to the Somerset BLAKEs (in this case, he was lucky to have chanced across a cousin of the real immigrant), we turn to an examination of the techniques he used in his account of the BLAKE families of Hampshire and Wiltshire. This is easiest tackled in descending order of generations, starting with the earliest occurrence of fraud in this ancestry, adding SOMERBY's generational numbers in the summary above. SOMERBY presents the following:

ROBERT BLAKE [gen. 5], of Calne, and of Quemberford in right of his mother. He married Avice, daughter and heir of John WALLOP, Esquire, of Nether Wallop, in the County of Southampton. By this marriage he acquired estates in that county, one of which, in Andover, was subsequently transferred to their younger son William [gen. 6]. An Inquisition was held after the death of his wife, which occurred on the 29th of October, 1474, to determine the tenure of her estates in Hampshire and her successor, when it appeared that John BLAKE was her eldest son, aged at the time of her death forty years and more.

When we examine the actual records, the invented nature of this account becomes apparent. No pedigree calls Avice an heir, and the BLAKE family did not quarter the WALLOP arms, as they would if she were indeed an heiress. There was an inquisition, but it concerned no lands in Hampshire. The inquest was taken on 29 October 1474, but Avice had died one year earlier, on 29 October [sic] 1473. The inquisition concerned only lands in Erchfont [Urchfont] and Wedehampton, Wiltshire, which Avice held as widow of Roger MALEWYN, by whom she had been enfeoffed for the term of her life. They had issue a daughter, Joan, to whom the reversion of the messuages descended after Roger's death. Avice then married Robert BLAKE. John BLAKE, her son, was found to be Avice's heir, aged 40 and more.

The following summarizes SOMERBY's account of their children:
1. Gilbert and Alexander BLAKE, who both died unmarried.
2. John BLAKE, born ca. 1434, died 2 March 1503/4, leaving a will dated 24 Feb. 1503/4 and proved 24 April 1504, mentioning his late wife, his present wife, his son-in-law, and his brother Robert BLAKE. He desired to be buried in the sepulcher at Nether Wallop where his first wife was buried, but he also mentioned Calne. He left two surviving daughters, Joan (born 1484) and Alice.
3. Robert BLAKE, who succeeded his brother in the estate at Calne, died 11 Dec. 1515. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas ENGLEFIELD, of Englefield, co. Berks. They had a daughter, Anne BLAKE, married to Robert BAYNARD of Lackham, and a son, Roger BLAKE.William BLAKE [gen. 6], youngest son.
4. Elizabeth, Alice, and Joan BLAKE.

The pedigrees do indeed record that Robert BLAKE of Quemberford married Avice WALLOP, that they had three daughters, Elizabeth, Alice and Joane, and that the two eldest sons, Gilbert and Alexander, died without issue. A much later visitation makes Robert BLAKE to be the third son and John the fourth, but the information in the inquisition would indicate John was the elder if both were children by Avice. Robert BLAKE's son John did die in 1504, leaving a will and inquisition, but Robert had no son named William. This connection is fraudulent. SOMERBY makes this William BLAKE [gen. 6] to have resided at "White Parish," Wiltshire. "After his death in 1471, his widow, with her two sons, removed into Hampshire, and settled at Andover, upon an estate called Eastontown, formerly a part of the possessions of her husband's mother." This is complete fiction. No authority was cited in reference. There is no evidence that Eastontowne was ever in the hands of any WALLOP, and it is distinctly different and separate from Nether Wallop, which is in the same county. SOMERBY gives this William [gen. 6] and his unnamed wife two sons: William [gen. 7] and Robert BLAKE. Robert is stated to have resided in "West" Enham "in Andover," to have married a daughter of [C] SNELL of Wherwell, Hampshire, "by whom he had sons William, of Benham, who died in 1552, leaving descendants: John, Richard, and Robert, who settled at Cutcomb in Somersetshire."

SOMERBY's methodology was again to find a will in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and tie in the individual using completely unconnected and false information. There was a William BLAKE, yeoman, who died at Benham, Berkshire, leaving a will dated 10 June and proved 28 July 1552, but he did not have sons named John and Richard. They were named as his brothers. His only known child was named Anthony (he did not prove his majority until 18 May 1571). This William BLAKE was actually son of Robert BLAKE, Nicholas BLAKE's brother (see below). The BLAKEs of Cutcombe were a separate family. A John BLAKE of Cutcombe left a will dated 22 June 1532, mentioning his wife, Jone, and witnessed by a Robert BLAKE.
Now to William BLAKE [gen. 7]. SOMERBY said he "resided at Old Hall in Eastontown, in the parish of Andover." He also had lands and tenements in Knights Enham, which were in the occupation of his brother Robert in 1504. By his wife Mary, daughter of Humphrey COLES, of Somersetshire, he had two sons, Humphrey BLAKE [gen. 8], of Over Stowey, Somerset, and Nicholas BLAKE, of "Old Hall, who made his will on the 31st of May, 1547, which was proved on the 20th of the following June. He names his wife Margaret, and sons, William and Edmund, and daughters, Elizabeth and Alice." This is the next fraudulent connection.

There were BLAKEs at Calne, Wiltshire, but there is no evidence of a connection with the BLAKEs of Andover, Hampshire. And there is no evidence of a connection to Somersetshire. An undocumented anonymous typescript at the Society of Genealogists, London, states that William BLAKE, of Whiteparish, Wiltshire, died before 1471 and was son of Henry BLAKE by his wife Margaret BELLETT. William was here purported to be brother of the Robert BLAKE [gen. 5] who married Avis WALLOP, not a youngest son who was not named in the pedigrees. This typescript goes on to state that William BLAKE of Whiteparish was father of a William BLAKE of Andover.I have found no evidence of a William BLAKE of Andover. No William was listed in the early subsidies.

It is difficult to know where this anonymous undated typescript "Story of the BLAKEs" got its information. It may actually have been taken from SOMERBY, adjusting the generations to account for obviously impossible chronology, following a manuscript pedigree by A.E.J. DE CRIET, also at the Society of Genealogists, which shows a dashed line under Henry and Margaret (BELLETT) BLAKE to "______ BLAKE of Whiteparish[,] Co. Wilts.[,] d. before 1471" "a quo BLAKEs of Hampshire." But this manuscript goes on to say, "Their exact connection with those of Wilts is not yet fully established. The line . . . here seems the most probable" [emphasis added]. It is apparent that the author of the anonymous typescript amalgamated information from several sources, including SOMERBY.

SOMERBY seems to have felt obligated to add several Somerset connections to explain why Humphrey BLAKE [gen. 8] of Over Stowey would have come from Hampshire. He picked on Humphrey COLES of Somerset, who was not actually old enough to fit SOMERBY's scenario.38 Humphrey BLAKE, of Over Stowey, Somerset, gentleman, mentioned "My friend, Humphrey COLES, esq.," in his will dated 19 November 1 Eliz. [1558] and proved 11 May 1559. It should be pointed out that if Humphrey BLAKE's mother had been Mary, daughter of Humphrey COLES, it is unlikely he would have called the younger Humphrey COLES, esquire, "[m]y friend," instead of "my brother." SOMERBY abstracts the will in his text but completely leaves out the reference to this "friend, Humphrey COLES, esq.," who was given,5 and requested "to see my will performed. SOMERBY picked on Nicholas BLAKE (died 1547) as brother of Humphrey [gen. 8] because Nicholas's will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and thus easily obtained, but he did not realize he had stumbled into a very complex family of BLAKEs who had lands at Andover, Kings Enham (or Enham Regis), Knights Enham (a distinctly different place), Penton Mewsey, and Clatford, Hants.
The Robert BLAKE of Enham (there is no West Enham) who was Nicholas BLAKE's uncle is ancestor of Mary BLAKE, grandmother of the immigrant Shadrack HAPGOOD. The will of this Robert BLAYKE [sic] was dated 16 December 1522 [sic], and though no date of probate was attached, it is listed in the year 1522 in the manuscript calendar. He mentioned his son Thomas BLAYKE, his son Richard BLAYKE (executor), Andrew BLAYKE, William BLAYKE [no specific relationship stated], and Robert BLAYKE [no relationship stated]. the son Richard died the same year as his father. Richard's will, recorded in Latin, was dated 12 April and proved 23 May 1522 [sic]. He mentioned his wife, "my brother Thomas BLAYKE," "Robert BLAYKE my father," and "my mother."

As Richard BLAKE died a married adult with children in 1522, he was undoubtedly born before about 1500, probably several years earlier. As he was his father's residuary legatee and executor, he would have been the eldest son. Chronology indicates that the younger son, Thomas BLAKE, was also born before 1500. Thomas died, leaving a will dated 9 October 1541 and proved 15 June 1542. As his unmarried daughter took administration of his estate when his will was proved, she must have been born by 1524, probably earlier.

SOMERBY claimed that Robert BLAKE of Enham had a son named William, ancestor of the BLAKEs of Cutcomb, Somerset. The above information shows this to be completely false. SOMERBY said that Robert was in possession of tenements in Knights Enham in 1504, but Robert's holdings were in Kings Enham, not Knights Enham. SOMERBY also gave only two sons to this Robert's brother: Nicholas and Humphrey [gen. 8]. This is again incorrect. The name of Nicholas BLAKE's father is not certainly known. His mother, Johane, left a will dated 28 March 1527:

In dei noie Amen The yere of our lorde gode ml vC xxvii the xxviii day of marche I Johane Blake, wydow wt a hole mynde & a gudde memory make my last wyll & testament in this manner First I commend my soule to allmyghty gode, or lady seynt mary & to all the seynts in hevyn and my body to be buryed in the Churche or in the churche litten of seynt Mighell of Enah[a]m Itm I gyve & bequeth unto the mother churche of seynt Swyth[in] xiid Itm I gyve & bequeth to S[ir] John BATTE xxd Itm I gyve & bequethe to the maynteynyng of Jh[es]us masse in the churche of Andov[er] xxd Itm I gyve & bequeth to ye por of the Freers Augustines in Wync[hester] xxd Itm I gyve & bequeth to s[ir] John WHIGHT freer xxd Itm I gyve & bequeth to ev[er]y freer of theseid augustines that ys a prestii i id & to ev[er]y noves iid of theseid place Itm I gyve & bequeth to the churche off foskett [Foxcot] to the maytenyng of the light byfore seynt Johnys & seynt Sonday xxd Itm I gyve & bequeth to my doughter Elsabethe MYLNE xxti shepe beside those she hath Allredy & one cow yt I bought of her & xiiis iiiid of money & my gretyst panne & four platters Itm I give & bequeth unto my son[ne] Nycholas BLAKE the tabull in the hall & one clothe called the hallyng & ii Iron rakks Itm I gyve & bequeth unto my son[ne] Rob[er]t BLAKE one Iron broche & xviii shepe the whiche shepe he hath in his kepyng Itm I gyve & bequeth to Thom[a]s IESRA of Foskett & theseid goods to be devyded amongs them equally ev[er]y of them lyke moche Itm I make my sones Nycholas BLAKE & Robt BLAKE my trewe executors and Thomas IESRA of Foskett my sup[er]visor that he se [sic] my last wyll & testament Implete [sic] & fulfilled & theseid execut[ors] to dispose for the helthe of my soule as the[y] shall se[e] most expedyent These witnesse S[ir] Ryc[hard] MERSSER S[ir] John BATTE Nycholas BLAKE Robt BLAKE wt other mor
It is clear that she had no interests in Somerset, and the name Humphrey is completely unknown among the BLAKE families of this region. Nicholas BLAKE's mother was certainly not Mary COLES, daughter of Humphrey COLES of Somerset; she was this Johane who died about 1527, leaving two sons, Robert (completely overlooked by SOMERBY) and Nicholas, and a daughter, Elizabeth BLAKE.

The elder brother, Robert BLAKE, of Enham, in Andover, left a will dated 28 April 1543 and proved 22 March "aforesaid" [1543/4]. He named his "eldest" son Robert, "second" son John, his wife Agnes, Wyllyam, and Rycharde, his youngest sons, and son Thomas BLAKE. Nicholas BLAKE was a witness and, with several others, asked to divide the testator's goods equally among the children.

Nicholas BLAKE of Enham left a will dated the last day of May and proved 20 June 1547. He named his wife, Margaret, sons (1) William and (2) Edmund, and daughters Elizabeth BLAKE and Alice GODWYN. He stated that he held a lease of the farm of Andover from Lord SANDYS "which Robert BOSWELL occupyeth," a tenement in Kings Enham held of Lord SANDYS which his son William "occupieth," another tenement called "olde Hall" held of Lord SANDYS in Knights Enham, freehold land in Knights Enham, the lease of SEMERs farm and Walworth, held of Lord SANDYS, a lease of a tenement in Kings Enham held by John CALL, and freehold land in Andover held by Thomas WESCOMBE.

It was Nicholas's son, William, "yeoman," who is first called "of Eastontowne." Bishop [Robert] HORNE, of Winchester, entrusted the,200 bequeathed by John HANSON in 1569 for the foundation and maintenance of a free school at Andover (the schoolmaster to be a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge) to William BLAKE Sr. and his son William BLAKE Jr., who gave bond with John BLAKE for the proper fulfillment of the trust. The bond was not found at the Bishop's death, and sometime thereafter, William BLAKE of "East Anton," "being moved in conscience for that the said sum of,200 was given to so good a use and purpose," entered "into another [bond of] obligation . in the sum of,400 to make good the loss." Richard BLAKE gave the land for the site of the schoolhouse.

The will of William BLAKE of Eastontowne, Andover, yeoman, was dated 27 July and proved 4 November 1582. He was father of nine children who survived to adulthood, all named in his will: five sons, (1) John, (2) William, (3) Peter, (4) Thomas, and (5) Richard (the order is specifically stated in the entails and remainders of his lands), and four daughters, Agnes KYNTON, Amye ROMBOLD, Margaret JARVIS, and Elizabeth BEALE. His long, seven-page will mentioned many tenements, including the farm of Andover, a tenement called Brayes, and the house called Smythes "whiche I nowe dwell in." He also mentioned his brother Edmund BLAKE and sisters Elizabeth MONDAY and Alice GODWYN. He made his son William executor, and requested Richard SOTWELL, "Doctor of the Civill Lawe," and Andrew READE to serve as executors. William SOTWELL and John SOTWELL also witnessed the will. William BLAKE may be ancestor of the Maryland immigrant Charles BLAKE (died 1733), whose son-in-law, Dr. Charles CARROLL, wrote that the BLAKEs belonged to "an ancient family in Hampshire." I am currently preparing an article showing that Johane BLAKE, wife of Major General Robert SEDGWICK of Charlestown, Massachusetts, is a descendant of this BLAKE family of Eastontown.

This analysis helps us to understand Horatio G. SOMERBY's tactics. Everything he presents at first seems very believable. Enough details are provided to make the ancestry sound credible. The account is interspersed with real documents, the citations for which also seems to add credence. But on closer examination, it quickly becomes clear that SOMERBY changed a number of the facts to support his fabrications. In the end, SOMERBY became sloppy, adding connections to families in Somersetshire who were completely unconnected with the Hampshire family. Luckily, enough probate records survived in local courts to unravel his fabrication of the Hampshire BLAKE family completely.

The remaining difficulty lies in the individuals he fabricated who never existed. Having no record to check against these phantoms, it is difficult decisively to lop off the William BLAKE [gen. 6] "of White Parish" or his purported son William [gen. 7], who was supposed to have removed to Andover. They remain in limbo without any evidence to prove or disprove their existence. This paradox is the bane of anyone following up on fraudulent lines such as this one. In this case, there is enough surviving evidence in other areas to prove the fraud. This examination is beneficial not only because it exposes SOMERBY's fraud, but also because the evidence presented here concerning the real people adds to our knowledge of individuals now known to be genuine ancestors of other colonial American immigrants.

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