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That’s going to cause a bit of confusion, mind if we call you John to keep it clear?

7 Feb 2015

After my two royal (and wrong!) lines, the oldest line I have goes back through Samuel HOLMES, to his father Elisha, to his father Also Elisha, to his mother Mercy FAUNCE. Mercy’s mother was Patience MORTON, and Patience’s mother was Juliann CARPENTER.

After that, it’s CARPENTERs all the way down. If you believe Amos B. Carpenter’s concisely titled A genealogical history of the Rehoboth branch of the Carpenter family in America, brought down from their English ancestor, John Carpenter, 1303, with many biographical notes of descendants and allied familiespublished in 1898 (and of course you shouldn’t), Juliann’s father Alexander’s paternal line goes back as follows: William, John, James, William (ca 1440–1520), John, John, Richard (ca 1335–?), John (ca 1303–?).

What caused me some confusion at first was that Amos B. Carpenter leads off the book with a long section about John Carpenter the Younger. He was a Town Clerk of London, the author of the first book of English common law, a member of Parliament, and the founder of the City of London School. He’s also not one of Alexander’s ancestors! Alexander was (supposedly) not a descendant of that John but of his brother… John.

John Carpenter the Younger. Not my ancestor. Photo courtesy B. Darling, MISM, City of London school.

John Carpenter the Younger. Not my ancestor. Photo courtesy B. Darling, MISM, City of London school.

Right. John’s brother’s name was John. “It was not then uncommon for two brothers to be named alike”, says Amos, which seems to me is being Unclear on the Concept of names, but maybe it’s true. I’ve seen a number of instances in 17th–19th century American families of parents bestowing the same name on two children, but only in cases where the first one died in childhood and the second was born after that. Anyway, John the Town Clerk was called John the Younger or John Jr. for a reason, and the reason was his brother, John the Elder or John Sr. Both were sons of Richard, and John the Elder was the one in Alexander’s line.

Amos writes, “But we think we have information enough to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the break of a hundred years or so between John Carpenter, Sr. … and William [son of Alexander — RSH]… can be satisfactorily filled.” He then doesn’t exactly go out of his way to trot out this evidence in any detail, but does say he “has shown conclusively from certified copies of English records the line of descent from John Carpenter of 1303…” so maybe he got it right.

The earliest step in that gap is the son, John, of John the Elder, and right there it looks like a problem. John Sr.’s son John was Bishop of Worcester, and there’s nothing on that Wikipedia page about any wife or children, unsurprisingly.

Don’t you hate it when your ancestors are childless?

But wait; also on that Wikipedia page it says: “John Carpenter the bishop was also known as John Carpenter the elder. He had three siblings, Margery, John the younger, and William.”

Yep. John, the son of John, the elder brother of John, had a younger brother named John.

Or so Wikipedia says, citing evidently a Carpenter genealogy DVD. I suppose there must be a better source somewhere, but I haven’t seen it. (Amos doesn’t mention John the Bishop. Also, a bit worryingly, John the Younger (the elder John the Younger) (the Town Clerk, okay?) mentions John the (younger) Elder (the bishop) and Margery in his will, but not William or John the (younger) Younger.) Presumably John the Younger the brother of John the Elder the son of John the Elder the brother of John the Younger is John the Ancestor of Alexander according to Amos. Unless I’m confused, and why would I be?

I thought all those Thomases among the Colchester HOLMESes were bad enough…

Anyway, I have yet to find anything debunking this particular line, so maybe it’s true. If so it’s a line going back over 800 years, definitely my longest non-mythological one.


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