THE FALSE AP ADAMS ANCESTRY
The story of Henry Adams, ( 1583-1646 ), being descended from Lord John ap Adam has no factual basis. The story regarding Henry Adams aristocratic connection first appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 7 (Jan. 1853), claiming descent from a landed Adams family at Stoke-Gabriel, co. Devon. Individuals who are descended from Henry Adams, or presume themselves descended from Henry Adams on the basis of a shared surname, present the story as accurate and truthful. The Rev. Hiram Francis Fairbanks, ( a Henry Adams descendant through his fourth son, Jonathon Adams ), based his book, ‘The Ancestry Of Henry Adams Of Braintree’, on a copy of an ancient parchment roll containing the pedigree of Lord John ap Adam showing Henry Adams as a descendant of the ‘ap Adam’ line.
It has been assumed that Henry Adams was of Welsh origin, the sixteenth generation from Ap Adam, the father of John, or Lord Ap Adam, who was called to parliament by Edward I., as "Baron of the Realm," from A.D. 1296 to 1307, and that he came out of the Marches or Borders of Wales into Devonshire.
This ancient pedigree was furnished by William Downing Bruce, Esq., F.S.A., who says, "It is copied from an ancient parchment roll, with arms, of the time of Charles I., which I discovered among the papers of the late Hamlin Adams, Esq., of Middleton Hall, M.P. from the country of Carmarthen."
It was first published in this country in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, January, 1853, Vol. VII., p.39-40, and is as follows:
Sir John Ap Adam, Kt., Lord Ap. Adam; m. Elizabeth, dau. of Sir
John Gourney of Beverstone and Tedenham, Gloucester. Residence several generations at Charlton, Gloucester.
Sir Thomas Ap Adam, and others;( ‘others’ are not indentified, ed. ).
Sir William Ap Adam.
Sir John Ap Adam.
Thomas Ap Adam.
Sir John Ap Adam, Kt., m. Milicent, dau. of Sir Matt Bisylls
Sir John Ap Adam, alias Adams; m. Clara, dau. of Mr Roger Powell.
Roger Adams, m. Jane, dau. of -------Ellyott.
Thomas Adams, m. Marie, dau. of Mr Upton.
John Adams, m. Jane, dau. of Mr. Rennelegh.
John Adams, m. Catherine, dau. of Mr. Stebbing.
Nicholas, m. and had no issue; John, m. Margerye, dau. of Mr
Squier. George, m. and had no issue.
Richard, (son of John) m. Margaret, dau. of Mr. Armager
Robert, m. Elizabeth Sharlon.
George; Henry; Ambrose; John.
None of the above highlighted individuals are referenced in any sources in connection with the family descending from Sir John ap Adam and Elizabeth de Gournai.
The truthfulness of the Ap Adams pedigree was challenged and considered proven false in print in 1927 when Josiah Gardner Bartlett published the known, documented English origins of Henry Adams, a yeoman farmer from Barton Saint David a prebend in the church of Wells, Somerset, who married on 19 Oct. 1609 Edith Squire, from neighboring Charlton Mackrell, Somerset. See Bartlett's book ‘Henry Adams of Somersetshire, England and Braintree, Mass.: His English Ancestry and Some of His Descendants’ ( New York, 1927 ), also ‘Ancestors and Descendants of Jeremiah Adams, 1794-1883, of Salisbury, Connecticut, Sullivan County, New York, Harbor Creek, Pennsylvania and Vermilion, Ohio’ by Enid Eleanor Adams (1974), p. 652, where Adams states;
"In 1853...an Adams pedigree purporting to show that Henry Adams, English emigrant to New England, was a descendant of one Sir John ap Adams and his wife Elizabeth de Gurnay, heiress to estates in Somersetshire, Dorsetshire and Gloucestershire, was published and has been reprinted and quoted from frequently ever since. J. Gardner Bartlett, in his 1927 history of Henry Adams, stated unequivocally that the alleged connection of Henry Adams with the Ap Adam
family of Beverstone and Tidenham rested on forged evidences. In proof [the Ap Adam chart from The Complete Peerage, vol. 1 (1910), pp. 179-81] was given in the Bartlett book. It shows conclusively that the Adams line issuing from Elizabeth de Gurnay ended by an heiress in 1424, 159 YEARS PRIOR TO Henry Adams's birth! [The last male Ap Adams died in 1424, with his nephew John Huntley appar. sole heir.] Moreover, although Sir John Ap Adams acquired vast estates in Gloucestershire and Somersetshire, he never had the manor of Cherleton-Adam."
Bartlett maintains that Henry Adams ancestry has its roots in Somerset, England and that those ancestors were simple ‘yeoman’ farmers. Joseph McMillan of the American Heraldry Organization appears to support Bartlett’s argument. McMillan reiterates Bartlett’s findings, ‘ the English ancestors of the Adamses of Braintree were simple yeoman farmers in Somersetshire and, as far as anyone knows, were not armigerous. At any rate, none of the family seems to have used any kind of armorial bearings for their first 140 or so years in America’, ( www.americanheraldry.org ).
McMillan does not say if he used Bartlett’s book or if he researched Henry Adams’s
ancestry himself. At any rate, McMillan does agree with Bartlett. For a full account of John Adams and the use of the Ap Adams arms see, ‘John Adams and John Quincy Adams, 2 nd and 6 th Presidents Of The United States’, by Joseph McMillan. Part of McMillan’s article deals with the purported arms of Henry Adams of Braintree which is given below. The author states unequivocally that there is no connection whatever between Henry Adams of Braintree and the ‘Ap Adam’ family. I have included McMillan’s piece that refers to Henry Adams and his ‘purported’ coat of arms.
The Purported Arms of Henry Adams of Braintree.
A number of standard American heraldic sources, including Crozier's General Armory and Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book, ascribe to one Henry Adams of Braintree, Mass., the arms Argent on a cross Gules five mullets Or, with the crest, Out of a ducal coronet a demi-lion rampant affronty Gules. As this Henry Adams, who emigrated to Massachusetts from Somerset in about 1639, was the great-great-grandfather of John Adams, it may be supposed that this, rather than the Boylston arms, should have been the coat used by the two Presidents. But, as already stated, there is no evidence that Henry or any other of the Massachusetts Adamses ever used these arms before the late 19th century. The arms originally belonged to Sir John ap Adam, apparently a Welsh knight in the service of King Edward I of England, and are shown under his name in the roll of arms of Edward’s knights at the battle of Falkirk in 1298. Six centuries later they appear in Burke’s General Armory of England, Scotland and Wales (1884) as pertaining to several families of Adamses in Pembroke, Carmarthen, and London. Their purported connection to the Adamses of Massachusetts would seem to arise from a pedigree of Henry the emigrant published in the New England Historic Genealogical Register in 1853. This article traced Henry’s lineage back to the brother of a Nicholas Adams of Devonshire, who in turn was traced back in the heralds’ 1564 visitation of Devonshire to the knight who had born the arms at Falkirk. Unfortunately, a later Adams genealogist found that the connection between Henry and the Devonshire family was apocryphal, and moreover that the direct male line of Sir John ap Adam died out in the 15th century. These arms therefore have no historical connection with the two Adams Presidents or their family.
There is no doubt regarding the claims that the Adams’s of Braintree were descended from the family line of Lord John Ap Adam is false. It is a work of the imagination.
But, we need to approach the explanation as to the place of origin of Henry Adams, as given in the afore referenced sources, with caution. There is evidence that suggests Bartlett’s version of Henry Adams place of origin is not correct. There is an alternative source as to the place of origin of Henry Adams that is at variance with the Bartlett (1927 ) and E.E.Adams ( 1974 ) account. The alternative account I refer to can be found on www.henryadamsofbraintree.com , a website dedicated to the history of Henry Adams of Braintree. On that website, the author says;
‘That Henry Adams came from Devonshire on the south coast of England, has become a current and fixed belief, from the fact that his great, great grandson, President John Adams, erected a monument to his memory in the old church yard
at Quincy with the inscription – ‘In memory of Henry Adams who took his fight from the Dragon persecution in Devonshire, England, and alighted with his eight sons near Mt. Wallaston. One of the sons returned to England; and after taking time to explore the country, four removed to Medfield, and two to Chelmsford. One only Joseph, who lies here at his left and remained here,….an original proprietor in the township of Braintree’. I suggest that herein lies the root of the problem regarding the origin of the Adams family. I suggest that John Adams presumed the Adams’s originated in the county of Devonshire because Devonshire was the place of departure for the Adams family. John Adams has believed that place of departure is also place of origin. Interested researchers of the Adams family anxious to glorify the Adams’s
of Braintree accepted John Adams ‘Devonshire’ connection and relied on the pedigree of Henry the emigrant published in the New England Historic Genealogical Register in 1853, that traced Henry’s lineage to the brother of a Nicholas Adams of Devonshire
who in turn was traced back in the heralds 1564 visitation of Devonshire to the knight who has born the arms at Falkirk in 1298. Their glaring mistake in concocting the pedigree was ignoring the fact that the ‘Ap Adam’ male line ended in 1424 with the death of John Badam ( ap Adam ). He died without issue.
John Quincy Adams, ( 1767 – 1848 ), appears to have had serious concerns regarding the place of origin of his ancestry as given by his father and states that he ( John Quincy Adams ) undertook in depth research into his ancestry in attempts to clarify claims and substantiate truth. McMillan explains that John Adams, ( 1735 – 1826 ), was an avid user of coats of arms and commissioned engravers to make ‘seals’ and used the ‘Boylston’ coat of arms on his passport, ( Op Cit ). John Quincy Adams dissented from the belief of his father that Henry Adams came from Devonshire, ‘After giving the matter particular and thorough investigation, both in this country and in England, he published it as his conviction that Henry Adams was from Braintree in the county of Essex on the east coast of England……my father supposed that he formed part of the company that came with Gov. Winthrop in 1630, most of whom were from Devonshire. But at the time my father formed this opinion, Gov. Winthrop’s journal had not been published’,
(www.henryadansofbraintree.com ). Dr James Savage, author of the ‘Genealogical Dictionary Of Early First-Comers Of New England’, concurs in the opinion of President John Quincy Adams, ( Op Cit ).
The glaring mistakes of the fraudulent Ap Adam pedigree is obvious because of the appearance of William Ap Adam and all the other fictitious characters listed as being descended through the ‘Ap Adam’ line. Darrell Wolcott states, ‘There is no evidence that anyone descended from Sir John ap Adam, even through the female lines, ever adopted Adams as their surname’, ( email 12/8/2010 in my possession ).
Note: Further clarification as to the family of Sir John ap Adams and his wife Elizabeth de Gournay can be found in the publication entitled Victoria County History: A History Of The County Of Gloucester, Vol, 10, pp, 62-68, ‘Tidenham including LANCAUT MANORS and other estates.
Bradney’s ‘History of Monmouthshire’ shows the ‘ap Adam’ line ending in the male line in 1424, ‘John Badam ( ap Adam ) died without issue in 1424’. But, a sister named Elizabeth married John Huntley of St Briavels. Interestingly, this John Huntley ( the spouse of Elizabeth ), was the uncle of John Huntley of Treowen.
The latter married Margery, daughter of Sir John ap Thomas ap John ap Sir Thomas the eldest son of Adam ap Cynhaethwy ap Adam Gwent. It was this Margery who was heiress of LLANLLOWEL. She and her husband, John Huntley had only daughters, so LLANLLOWEL went to the eldest daughter, also called Margery, who married Thomas Parker. The Parker family continued to own LLANLLOWEL well into the 18 th century.
See the following publications for information regarding the ‘Ap Adam family descendants;
Sir Joseph Bradney’s ‘History of Monmouthshire’ Vol I The Hundred Of Skenfrith: Part I, pub, Academy Books 1991.
G E Cockayne, The Complete Peerage, published by Sutton Publishing Ltd, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 1998, pp, 179 – 181.
W A Covington ( 2010 ).