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Saturday, July 11, 2015

John Pye and Henrietta Maria Pye

There is so much confusion surrounding this man. Not only does he have a very common first name but several of his relatives share other common names. Separating them into the proper families has been a hair puller. 

I haven’t been able to document where John was born but it would seem he was probably born in France or England. Rather than being banished as a legend in my family suggests, it appears John’s father Charles made a conscious decision to go into exile in support of the Stuart claim to the English throne. There are no records in Maryland to indicate that Charles was there to personally take care of his affairs, for over 20 years. Charles’ brother, Walter, acted as his attorney for all things legal. Charles and Walter were both still called ‘of the Mynde’ indicating they still had ownership of that Herefordshire property.

                  The Mynde, Much Dewchurch,                        Herefordshire, England

Walter had married Margaret Tant and had a family of 8 children. Charles had married Mary Booth, in France, and also had 8 children. Their son, John, married Walter and Margaret’s daughter, Henrietta Marie, first cousins. This was not so uncommon 300 years ago when large families were so inter-related with other large families. Needless to say, this close relationship of two families has been an additional headache in sorting out each person’s place in which family.

From 1752-1770, John Pye’s name is frequently recorded in the land records, where he established certain acres to be leased, who it was to be leased to, and what was expected in annual rent, either in money or harvest. In 1756, it was stated that he owned 5000 acres in Charles Co., 1500 of which were to be used in payment to Edward, the Duke of Norfolk, over a ten year span. This was Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk, a relative of Queen Elizabeth I.

Charles and Mary Booth Pye’s son, Charles, came to Maryland, stayed a few years and returned to England where he died unmarried. He left all his property at Cornwallis Neck to his brother, John.

Indian Head is the wide area at the top left. Cornwallis Neck is in the foreground. Potomac River is to the left.

In Henry Rozer’s deposition of 1801:

“Charles Pye the Son came to Maryland and resided some years therein upon his Estate in Charles County called Cornwallis Neck but returned to England where he died unmarried leaving his mother still alive and also his Brother John Pye to whom he devised his Estate or the principal part thereof that John Pye resided many Years and died upon the Estate Called Cornwallis neck in Maryland devised to him by his Brother Charles Pye as above Stated that John Pye above named married Henrietta Pye the Daughter of Walter Pye Esquire of Charles County aforesaid that the Said John Pye died in the year Seventeen hundred and Seventy two leaving Six Children to wit Charles Pye his Eldest Son and heir at Law whom resides on the Estate above mentioned Called Cornwallis neck in Charles County and State of Maryland Edward Joseph Pye Mary Pye Margaret Pye Ann Pye and Elizabeth Pye. That Charles Pye the Grandson was Sent by this Deponant about the year Seventeen hundred and Seventy two to England to the care of his Grand Uncle Counsellor James Booth who undertook to Superintend his education that Charles Pye the Grandson returned from England in the year Seventeen hundred and eighty three and has resided upon the estate Called Conrwallis neck in Charles County and State of Maryland ever since except that in the year Seventeen hundred and ninety seven he made a trip to england and further the deponant saith not.”
{Provided as written with no changes to spelling or punctuation.}

John Pye’s will, proved June 25, 1772, bequeathed property to his wife, Henrietta, and five children, Mary Clare, Anne, Margaret, Charles and Edward. In Henrietta Pye’s will of March 4 1775, she leaves property to her youngest daughter, Elizabeth Pye, thus proving there was a child born after the death of her husband John. Their children were:

Mary Clare (1756-?)
Margaret Theresa (1758-1802)
Charles (1760-1809) m. 1781 Sarah Edelen – 7 children
Anne (1765-?)
Edward Joseph (1767-1801) m. Mary Jenkins – 4 children
Elizabeth (1772-?)

In the 1790 census, there is a Walter, Joseph and Charles Pye all with land holdings. Since this was a nominal census, only the heads of household were given and then the number of persons living in the home. Walter, in this case, is most likely a cousin, descended from Edward Pye (Sr.), who would have been his grandfather. Since there is no Edward listed on this census, it seems likely that Joseph is that person, using his middle name.

After the American Revolution, people began to move to the west. By the mid-1800’s there were very few Pyes left in Maryland who were descendants of Col. Edward Pye, at least the ones who had the surname.  Some records seem to point to the families moving to Virginia, Tennessee or to the south in Georgia.  If anyone reading this knows of a family connection to this group of Pyes, I would be delighted to hear from you.

The Maryland Calendar of Wills 1720-1726

Maryland land records vol 1

Maryland land records vol 2

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Walter Pye of Maryland 1685-1749

Son of Col. Edward and Ann Sewall Pye
Brother of Charles Pye

1716 – Surveyor General for the Western Shore/Charles County

Cornwallis Neck is now home to a Naval Support Facility at Indian Head. It had once been the land of the Mattawoman tribe, a branch of the Piscataway Indian Nation. They belong to the Algonquian language group and were mostly associated with Southern Maryland. This land was owned by a man named Thomas Cornwallis (Cornwalys) whose widow sold it to Edward Pye in 1688. I haven’t been able to determine if Walter lived at Cornwallis Neck while Charles was in England or if the land was rented out.

This Walter Pye became the Power of Attorney for his brother Charles while he was in England and France. It isn’t known if Walter remained in Maryland the entire time as in some records he is referred to as “of the Meende, Herefordshire.” However he did marry and by 1716 was a Surveyor General for Charles County.

*Walter married c. 1703, Margaret Tant, b. c. 1685 in St. Mary’s Co. They had 8 children:
i. Edward (1704-1752) m. 1736 Sarah Edelen (1706-1773) widow of           Samuel Queen
          ii. Susannah (1709-1738) m. 1725 Edward Stonestreet
          iii. Margaret (? -1777) entered Carmelites in Antwerp, Belgium. Became                        Sister Mary Magdalene of St. Joseph. Mentioned in her brother                           Edward’s will.
          iv. Walter (? – 1786)
          v. Henrietta Maria (?-1776) m. 1756 John Pye, her first cousin
          vi. Mary (? – 1783)
          vii. Robert (1731 – aft 1749) Was 18 when his father died in 1749
          viii. Jane ( ? – aft. 1752) m. Henry Brent 1 son, also named Henry Brent

Robert was the only child mentioned by name in Walter’s will. All others were said to ‘be of age.’

*There has been ongoing controversy concerning the wife of Walter Pye. Many claim she was Henrietta Maria Neale. However, a deposition of Henry Rozer at age 76 in 1801, shows that Walter married Henrietta Maria Pye.

          …that the said Charles Pye the Grand Father left two Sons Charles Pye    the Eldest Son and heir at Law and John Pye his Second and eldest Son that Charles Pye the Son came to Maryland and resided some years therein upon his Estate in Charles County called Cornwallis Neck but returned to England where he died unmarried leaving his mother still alive and also his Brother John Pye to whom he devised his Estate or the principal part thereof that John Pye resided many Years and died upon the Estate Called Cornwallis neck in Maryland devised to him by his Brother Charles Pye as above Stated that John Pye above named married Henrietta Pye the Daughter of Walter Pye Esquire of Charles County aforesaid that the Said John Pye died in the year Seventeen hundred and Seventy two leaving Six Children…

          Contributed by Shirley Middleton Moller
          Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin; Summer 1984 Vol 25 No 3; Charles County, Maryland Probate Records, Inventories PART III: 1791-1808; Compiled by Ruth King & Carol Mitchell; The following was extracted from LDS microfilm #13742.; The first number is the page number the document begins on upon the microfilm. Charles County Maryland Probate Records, Inventories, Book 1798-1802
          401 Edward Joseph Pye-18 Aug 1801-Charles Pye kin-Mary Pye Exex

The following statement shows that Walter continued to care for his brother Charles’ interests in Maryland.

          Walter Pye, attorney for Charles Pye, leased to Richard Lewis of Charles
          County MD, the 104 acres tract "Maple Thicket" for the natural lives of
          Richard Lewis, his wife Jane, and his son John, on 11 June 1740 [Prince
's County MD land records].

Scott Swanson
          Department of History
          Butler University
          4600 Sunset Avenue
          Indianapolis, Indiana 46208-3485

From 1739 – 1743, Walter, acting as attorney for Charles Pye, leased several different properties in Charles County at Mattawoman Neck. Some of these leases were to Benjamin Gardiner, John Manning, Charles Tizeck, Richard Lewis, John Thomas, Richard Farrell and John Maggatee. During this period, each document states that Walter Pye is of Prince Georges County.

Of Walter and Margaret Tant’s children:

          Edward and Sarah had three children, Elizabeth, Margaret and Walter.
                    Margaret m. Jesse Matthews and had a son named Luke.

          Susannah and Edward Stonestreet had 4 children, Mary, Christian,                                         Susannah, and Richard. Susannah Stonestreet m. James                                   Goodwin.

          Margaret became a Carmelite Nun.

          *Henrietta Maria m. John Pye and had 6 children.
          *Subject of the next blog
          Mary – did not marry; her will shows bequests to her nieces.

          Jane – m. Henry Brent, 1 son also Henry Brent

Maryland land records vol 1

Maryland land records vol 2

Monday, June 8, 2015

Charles Pye of Maryland, The Mynde and Kilpec

Once again, an unforeseen event has kept me from getting another blog out. This time the computer gods played with my computer and it had to go in for repairs. But it’s back now and I’m ready to roll once again.

When Edward Pye died in 1697, all his children were minors. They came under the guardianship of Walter Pye, Edward’s brother. Charles Pye was the eldest and inherited the lands in Maryland and England.

Charles Pye’s name appeared in Maryland records up to about 1708. After that his brother Walter had Power of Attorney and acted on his brother’s behalf in all legal matters pertaining to Charles and his properties in Maryland. During this time Charles was in England, supporting the Stewarts. He had inherited the Mynde in Herefordshire and, quite possibly, from there began his activities in the support of the Stewarts. There were other families in Herefordshire who were also Stewart supporters, such as the family of Charles Booth of Breinton. Being ardent Catholics, the Booths supported the Stewart cause and were exiled to France with King James I, where Charles Booth served in the Royal house of Stewart. Charles Booth married Barbara Symes in St. Gervais, France in 1701 and their daughter, Mary Elizabeth Booth married Charles Pye about 1720 also in St. Gervais.

In 1725, Charles Pye appeared in a legal matter (source A2A, National Archives, Kew, England)

Short title: Pye v Garnons.
Document type: Bill only.
Plaintiffs: Charles Pye, esq of Hereford, Herefordshire (eldest son and heir of Edward Pye, esq, the eldest son and heir of John Pye esq, the brother of Sir Walter Pye junior kt of Mynd, Herefordshire, the eldest son and heir of Sir Walter Pye senior kt of Mynd, complainant's great grandfather).
Defendants: Walter Garnons.
Date of bill (or first document): 1725
Note: The naming of a party does not imply that he or she will appear in all the documents in this cause (after the bill) Date: 1725

In 1801, deponent Henry Rozer stated that he had known and been related to the Pye family for over 60 years. Henry Rozer had been sent to Cornwallis Neck in Maryland at the age of 10 to visit with his Uncle Charles Pye before being sent to England to be educated. He states that he had knowledge that his Uncle Charles Pye was married to a Miss Mary Booth while Charles was in England. When his Uncle Charles died he left two sons still living, Charles, the eldest, and John. Charles, the son, had been born in England. He came to Maryland and resided on his estate at Cornwallis Neck, but later returned to England where he died, unmarried. Brother John inherited his brother’s estate and lived on Cornwallis Neck for many years. He married Henrietta Maria Pye, d/o Walter and Margaret Tant Pye. Cornwallis Neck was also called Mattawoman in the old records and was bordered by Mattawoman Creek and the Potomac River. Henry Rozer was the son of Notley Rozer, a half brother to Charles Pye. Their mother was Ann Sewall, Notley her only child of her first marriage and Charles, the eldest son of her second marriage.

Charles and Mary Booth Pye lived in France and England for many years. Therefore the information about their children is sketchy and inconclusive. A list of names for their children does exist, but it is uncertain how accurate it is. Charles and Mary were very common given names and many mistakes may have been made.

          Charles b. 1728, d. c 1748, unmarried
          John b. June 26 1730, d. 1772, m. Henrietta Maria Pye 1756
          Anne  died as an infant
          Edward H.

Collections Toward the History and Antiquities of the County of Hereford vol. III
East Barnet, Frederick Charles Cass, Balliol College, Oxford, 1885
Parochial Registers of St. Germain
A2A, National Archives, Kew, England

Thursday, March 26, 2015

More Maryland Pyes

Col. Edward Pye 1620-1697 of Maryland  (con’t.)

As mentioned in the earlier blog on Col. Edward, his father, John, was one of the younger sons of Sir Walter Pye, Lord of Kilpec and The Mynde in Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire. Walter and his wife, Joan Rudhall, had 15 children, seven boys and eight girls. The boys were: Roger, Walter, Edward, William, John, Robert, and John. Roger died as an infant, Walter lived and became the successor to his father, Edward lived but died without issue, William died as a small boy, John died as an infant, Robert died in his twenties and before his father’s death. That left Walter, Edward and John (the second child to have this name) to carry on the Pye name in this branch of the family.

Sir Walter Pye1   - three sons able to inherit:
          Walter2 – Walter³
                     -   Robert³ - Elizabeth4
          Edward- no issue
          John2 – Edward³

When Sir Walter Pye1 died in 1637, his son Sir Walter2 (1610-1659) was his heir. The younger Sir Walter² held the Kilpeck/Mynde lands in 1649. This Sir Walter² was a MP (Member of Parliament) and a Royalist. He was relieved of his offices in 1648, when Oliver Cromwell governed during the interregnum.  He married Elizabeth Sanders and had three children, Walter3 (1628-1690), Catherine3 and Robert3 (1638-1690). Walter3 was the successor when the father died. He was an ardent Catholic who followed James II into exile in France. This Walter3 spent his remaining days on the Continent. Walter’s3 brother, Robert3 (1638-1680), married Meliora Drax (1650-1699) and had at least one daughter. No other children have been found for this marriage. By now, Robert’s3 brother had forfeited his lands by going to France and they passed to Robert3. His wife, Meliora’s two brothers, Sir James and Henry Drax either died without issue or left no surviving issue, leaving Robert3 and Meliora to inherit their large land holdings in Barbados. Their daughter, Elizabeth4, married Henry Gorges (Georges) a relative of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, early Gov. of Maine. {N.B. Ferdinando never set foot in the ‘new world.’}

From the National Archives at Kew, Surrey:

Meliora Pye, widow and administratrix of Robt. Pye. v. Edwd. Pye, Peter Smyth, and Eliz. Pye (an infant), by her guardian).: Goods and chattels and debts of Robert Pye, deceased (plaintiff's late husband), an annuity payable out of the estate of Robt. to Edwd. Pye (one of the defendants), and the jointure lands of the plaintiff, lying in Mynde, Kilpeck, Much Dewchurch, and Saint Devereux; and touching a meadow called "The Long Meadow," parcel of the manor of Kilpeck, and an annuity of 100l. {sic.- probably 100 £} payable to plaintiff (before her marriage with Robt.) out of "some estate in the Island of Barbadoes" settled upon her by her father, Sir James Drax, &c., &c.: Hereford
Date: 2 Jas 2 Held by: The National Archives, Kew  (1687)
{The Edward referred to here is Col. Edward Pye of Maryland.}

This implies that Edward was to receive an annuity and parcels of land in the Mynde, Kilpeck, Much Dewchurch and St. Devereux. It does not seem to say that Edward inherited all of the Pye lands in Herefordshire or in Barbados.

To make things more confusing, during this same time period, there are two
more men name Sir Robert Pye. The first one is the brother of Sir Walter Pye¹
(1571-1637) Knight Attorney General Court of Ward and Liveries. This Robert¹
(1584-1662), married Mary Crocker, had 7 children and established the
Faringdon, Berkshire branch of this family. From this line came the Poet Laureate Henry James Pye (1745-1813). He was not considered to be a very good poet and several nursery rhymes were written about him, such as Sing a Song of Sixpence.  But I digress. The elder Sir Robert¹ was a Royalist and his son, also Robert² was a Parliamentarian. The elder Robert¹ actually barricaded himself in his home in Faringdon while his son besieged the home in the name of Oliver Cromwell.  The home fell to the younger Robert² and eventually all lands were inherited by Henry James Pye, the Poet Laureate.

What this shows is that the lands at Mynde and Kilpeck came to Col. Edward Pye without much conflict from other family members. Edward had many aunts and uncles from both parents.

On his paternal side, his father’s sisters married:

Margaret m. Fulk Walwyn
Bridget m. Richard Chamberlayne (Chamberlayne descendants became prominent in the VA colony)
Joyce m. Henry Calverly
Ann m. Henry Williams
Alice m. Henry Lingen
Mary m. Thomas Thompkins
Frances m Henry Vaughn

On his maternal side his mother’s siblings married:

Henry Lingen m. Alice Pye
Roger Lingen   m. Anne Walwyn
Ann Lingen m. Nicholas Griffin
Magdalen Lingen m. Bodenham Gunter
Thomas Lingen m. Catherine Meysey

I offer these names since many of them, or their children and grandchildren went to the colonies, from VA to New England. It is known that an Edward Pye Chamberlayne was in the VA colonies at a fairly early date.
Edward and Anne Sewall Pye had four children. Due to the circumstances presented here, it appears that Col. Edward inherited some of the lands of Kilpeck, The Mynde and Much Dewchurch. There is speculation that he inherited lands in Barbados as well, although no legal document stating ownership has been found. When Edward died in 1697, his oldest son, Charles was his heir. These children were minors at that time and guardianship was awarded to Edward’s brother, Walter. Charles came into possession of Pyes Hardshift, 323 acres, and Pyes Chance, 141 acres, in Charles County, Maryland. Charles was an ardent supporter of the Stuarts, even though James I had died in 1701, and returned to England to support the cause.  While there he married Mary Elizabeth Booth, daughter of Charles and Barbara Syme Booth of Herefordshire. In 1714-15 another rebellion in support of the Stuarts arose. Charles became an active part of this, writing letters to France using an alias for himself and for the recipient. It was very cloak and dagger.
                                     St. Ignatius, Chapel Point

While in England, Charles is given credit for building Newhouse. This was either an addition to or a replacement of The Mynde. Given it’s size, it was most likely an addition. There are claims that Charles and Mary had 8 children. Since much of his time was spent in England and France, there isn’t a great deal of information concerning him in Maryland. His land holdings were being handled by Walter Pye, either his brother or a cousin. It is known he did eventually return to Maryland.
                             Calvert Marine Museum    along the Potomac in Southern MD

More of the Maryland Pyes yet to come.

Burke’s, A Genealogical and Heraldic Hhistory of the Commoners of Great Britain
Browne Willis, Notitia Parliamentaria, 1750 p. 229-239
Great Britain House of Commons, Journals of the House of Commons, Volume (1648-1651)
Wales Medieval Databse
Maryland GenForum

Maryland Archives

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Brief Note

Happy Spring!

I decided it was time to let everyone know that I haven't taken an extended vacation. I am slowly recuperating from a nasty fall which broke my right arm and cracked my hip. Both injuries required surgery. I'm right handed so that has seriously impeded my research abilities. It has also made typing with one hand a new exercise in frustration. I can't sit in any one spot for very long either. I am now on the down side of the recovery process so I hope to be able to start posting blogs again within the next couple of weeks. I have really missed preparing, researching and writing these blogs. 

So with much appreciation for your patience, I will be back shortly with another blog.

The Pye Plate
Bette Pye Wing

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Col. Edward Pye 1640 – 1697

Edward Pye was b. c 1647. He was the son of John and Blanche Lingen Pye.  John was the 7th son of Sir Walter and Joane Rudhall Pye of the Mynde, Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire, England. Sir Walter was the Knight Attorney General Court of Wards and Liveries and was considered to be the richest man in Herefordshire, at one time. He invested  with the West Country Adventurers and helped to finance Lord Baltimore’s (George Calvert) settlement of Ferryland in Newfoundland.  John graduated from Exeter in 1637, possibly as an attorney. He married Blanche Lingen soon after and they had a very large family of 23 children, Edward being one of the older ones.

Edward’s mother, Blanche Lingen, came from a fairly well known family. Her brother, Sir Henry, served in the English Civil War against Parliament. He was greatly distinguished for his attachment to King Charles I, in whose service he maintained a regiment of horse. He was a MP (Member of Parliament) in his later years. Interestingly, he married Alice Pye, sister of John Pye. So in this instance, a Lingen brother and sister, married a Pye brother and sister.

Blanche’s mother was a Bodenham and her maternal grandmother was a Baskerville. All these families had long, deep roots in Herefordshire.

Henry Lingen and Alice Pye

There is a report in the Maryland Bulldog that Edward Pye was from Dymock, in Gloucestershire. However, going through various Visitation and genealogical accounts for several counties, there seems to be no other reference to Dymock or that any member of the Pye family resided there or leased it out to anyone.                                                   
It is possible it was a land holding of Sir Walter Pye, but there’s nothing that indicates Edward Pye was born there. As one document cautions, tracing the owners and titles to land in England especially in the early years, is usually difficult. This is probably because they owned properties in many counties but resided most frequently in just one or two places.

There is also a report that states Edward Pye was in Barbados representing his cousin’s properties. Sir Robert Pye, the son of Sir Robert Pye, had sugar plantations there along with his in-laws the Drax (Drakes) family. Apparently he never lived in Barbados but had trusted family and friends to oversee the plantation’s operations. However, it has been discovered that the Edward mentioned in Barbados records was a full grown man in the 1640’s, while our Col. Edward Pye wasn’t born until 1647. This Edward, a man who never married, would probably be Sir Robert’s brother (the older one), and would also be a brother of John Pye, Col. Edward’s father.

Although Col. Edward came from such a large family, to date I’ve only been able to discover the names of six of them. Nothing is known about Col. Edward’s childhood, whether it was spent in England, Barbados, Jamaica (where some Pye’s also had sugar plantations), Newfoundland, or the Colonies, before he settled in Maryland.

Edward was well established in Maryland by c. 1682 when he married Anne Sewell (Sewall) Rozer, a widow with one son, Notley Rozer. Ann’s ancestor’s included Lowe’s, Cavendish, Harpur and Dugdale. Her mother, Jane Lowe Sewell, became a widow in 1665 and then remarried Charles Calvert, making Anne and Edward in-laws to the Calvert family. Jane Lowe is also a proven descendant of King Edward III, through John of Gaunt. Edward served on the Board of Deputy Governors of Maryland from 1684-1686. As such, he was one of 16 men who were appointed to this political body and served simultaneously. He was also a member of the Upper House, the Governor’s Council, was Secretary to Charles Calvert and served in the army as a Colonel.

Various records show that Edward Pye had a tobacco plantation in the area that was known as Port Tobacco and was a slave owner.  Edward and Anne had children:

Charles (c.1682-1758) m. c. 1720 Mary Elizabeth Booth (1701-?)
Henry (c 1683-1716)
Walter (c. 1685 -1749) m. 1703 Margaret Tant (1690-1752)
Anne (c.1689-1720) m. 1704 Robert Needham (?-1720)

Visitation of Herefordshire
Mynde Estate Records
The National Archives Records, Kew, surrey
Maryland State Archives

Maryland Calendar of Wills

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Bliss Family of Rehoboth, MA

John Blysse (1550-1636) of Belstone, England m. Alice Smith (1565-1625).  They settled in Preston Parva, Northamptonshire, England. This was but a hamlet, about 5 miles south of Daventry, which was considered a market town. John was a blacksmith, along with his two sons, Thomas and George.

Thomas married Dorothy Wheatley, Nov. 22 1614 at Holy Cross Church in Daventry, Northamptonshire, England.  Thomas and Dorothy Bliss had seven children, all born in England.  Somewhere c. 1630-1632, a Dorothy Bliss died and another record shows Thomas Bliss married to an Abigail Southam in 1633, in Daventry, England. Here the confusion multiplies. Thomas and his children emigrated to the colonies c. 1638.  There is never any sign of a wife named Abigail in the colonies. Also, the Dorothy Bliss who died c. 1630 is not identified as the wife of Thomas, or anyone else. Furthermore, a Dorothy Bliss did die in Rehoboth MA around 1645. There was another Thomas Bliss living in the colonies at the same time.  He is the Thomas Bliss who moved on to CT and, over time, the records for the two men became entwined.

The Bliss home in England. 

For the purposes of this blog, Thomas Bliss of Rehoboth MA and his wife Dorothy Wheatley, will receive the focus. It is based on the premise that Thomas and Dorothy were in Rehoboth and that this Thomas did not marry a woman named Abigail. Dorothy’s parents were Frank Wheatley and Mary Fiennes of Tingsboro, Somerset, England.

Mary Fiennes has long been a thorn in the investigative side of family researchers and genealogists. It is claimed she is the illegitimate daughter of Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre. He was a 2nd cousin of Anne Boleyn and a 5x gt. grandson of King Edward III (Plantagenet), through John of Gaunt. He was also, twice, a 6x gt. grandson of King Edward III, also through John of Gaunt, but different lines. He married Anne Sackville, a formidable woman with an imperious and dominating disposition. Anne was also a 1st cousin to Anne Boleyn and served as a maid-of-honor to Queen Elizabeth I. She and Gregory had but one child, a daughter, who died as a young child. When Gregory died in 1594, his Will made no mention of an illegitimate daughter. His titles and estates went to his sister Margaret, indicating that he had no issue to inherit. I have read dozens of reports on this by reliable researchers and some not so reliable. The bottom line for some is that Mary Fiennes couldn’t possibly be his daughter, legitimate or otherwise, because she wasn’t mentioned in his will or acknowledged in any other way. Because of this, many insist she is from another family line.  Because there is no written record is definitely important, but that doesn’t mean Gregory was not Mary’s father.

Let me offer a possible scenario. In a day and age when really large families were the norm, there was only one child in this marriage. If his wife, Anne, was that formidable, it’s easy to speculate that he had a dalliance elsewhere. If Mary was the result of that event, then it would put Gregory in a difficult position. He wouldn’t want his wife to discover this. But let’s say she did and there was hell to pay. Perhaps he settled some money on Mary’s mother and then to keep his wife under control (remember she had Queen Elizabeth’s ear) he promised to never acknowledge the child. The mother could have given the child her maiden name and none would be the wiser, but Mary used the Fiennes name. Anne Sackville Fiennes died a little more than a year after Gregory. Perhaps after that, Mary’s mother felt there was nothing to fear in allowing the child to use her father’s name. After all, she hadn’t inherited anything and wasn’t claiming anything.

The point of all this is – we’ll never know unless someone unearths information about the woman who was Mary’s mother. We don’t even know where she came from. She could have been a servant at home or at court. She could have been just about anybody, so where to look is a giant hay stack.

While I am on this particular topic, I am compelled to relate how absolutely astounded I am at the complete and utter rudeness of some people when they are answering questions on forums and elsewhere. These are not your dual and triple degreed history divas, but people who seem to think they have all the answers. When family researchers, seeking information to help them with their confusion on an issue ask questions, they don’t deserve the high handed, snotty/snooty replies they get. The problem being that the replies are often from people who want to sound like experts but end up looking like dopes. For instance, on one forum, a woman wrote about Mary Fiennes wondering if there was any new information about her connection to Gregory Fiennes. One reply was she should be doing her own research and not expect someone else to do it for her and another was – “it was 400 years ago, who cares?” Really?? There’s no excuse for this kind of behavior. Generally speaking, over the years I have found the most wonderful and helpful people while doing research. Everyone has been generous with their help and their knowledge. These other types are simply dorks. My rant for the day!!

                                               A Bliss home in Rehoboth, MA

Descent from Mary Fiennes and Frank Wheatley:

Mary Fiennes m. Frank Wheatley
Thomas Bliss m. Dorothy Wheatley
Jonathan Bliss m. Miriam Harmon
Martha Bliss m. Nathaniel Toogood
Anne Toogood m. John Finney
Nathaniel Finney m. Hannah Wood
Anne Finney m. Benjamin Tower
Phoebe Elizabeth Tower m. Edward Buck
George Buck m. Phebe Palmer
Catherine Buck m. Edward Cole
Rebecca Cole m. Alexander Chambers
Alvina Chambers m. Patrick John Broderick          My grandparents

The Antiquary, Vol. 17, p. 48-49
Rootsweb Gen-Medieval
Recollections of Emanuel School, Henry P. Maskell, London. 1904
Genealogy of the Wheatley  or Wheatleigh Family; A History of the Family in England and America, Hannibal Wheatley, 1902