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  • #15 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: NEHGS Manuscripts, #4: British and European Collections

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Published Date : January 30, 1987

    After a week's break to note the recent discovery of an American and Bostonian great-grandmother for Viscountess Linley, I return today to my coverage of the greatest manuscript collections at NEHGS, and particularly to those with largely British or European content. There are five of these--the collections of John Isley Coddington, John Hutchinson Cook, Joseph Jackson Howard, George Andrews Moriarty, Jr., and Gary Boyd Roberts.

    In March 1987, the Society was given its largest manuscript gift to date--125 or so cartons of genealogical notes collected over 60 years by John Insley Coddington of Bordentown, N.J., often called the "dean of American genealogists in his generation." Coddington's lifelong interests in this field were royal and noble families, colonial New England (especially Conn. and Fairfield Co.), New Jersey, and Ireland, the last three of which were derived from his own ancestry. An appreciation of his contribution of his contribution to American genealogy overall and a bibliography of over 200 articles and book chapters appear in A Tribute to John Insley Coddington, on the Fortieth Anniversary of the American Society of Genealogists (1980), edited by Neil D. Thompson and Robert Charles Anderson (see also Coddington's obituary in the Register 145 [1991]: 195-201). Mr. Coddington's large gift also includes the manuscript notes of Mahlon K.A. Schnacke, former librarian of the American Academy of Rome. These latter notes consist in part of a study of the entire known progeny of Maria Brankovic (1466-1495), a Serbian princess who married a marquess of Montferret, an ancestress of many royal and noble families, and the "gateway" forebear through whom many scholars formerly thought ancestry from the ancient world was most likely to derive. Coddington's notes also cover all families in his own ancestry and all families on which he wrote.

    John Hutchinson Cook was Coddington's neighbor in Bordentown and Cook's enormous collection of books, given to the Society in 1987, were the major source for many European articles of both Coddington and Milton Rubincam. John's books, 10,000 or more (probably the largest private genealogical collection ever assembled in this country, on British and European topics at least) have a Latin emphasis-there is greater coverage of France, Spain, Italy, and Belgium than of Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Poland, or Russia. Cook's 23 boxes of manuscripts include 14 of newspaper clippings and photographs-again the largest such collection I know of-covering the marriages and deaths of most kings and British and European noblemen of this century. Cook was also interested in every intermarriage since about the Civil War of noted Europeans and Americans. His seven boxes of notes, all in pencil but very readable, cover many of these connections and all of the European families that interested him. Cook usually gives sources and obviously used his own books continually. The last two boxes are labeled graphics, and one contains photographs of houses in Burlington Co., N.J. Cook notes also cover all of his own ancestry and were my source for comments on it in his obituary (NEXUS 11 [1994]: 148). Cook's major American interests were families in New Jersey and South Carolina.

    A collection whose history is largely unknown is Joseph Jackson Howard's "Pedigrees of Families of Great Britain," 50 vols., 1 missing, fully but complexly indexed. Howard was a major British scholar, the editor of many "modern visitation" volumes, and this collection may well have been his lifelong hobby. It carefully, but very partially, and without documentation, traces the royal descents from Alfred the Great and later kings of many British noble and gentry families. This collection is largely unknown in England, but the late Sir Anthony R. Wagner expressed much interest when I told him about it.

    George Andrews Moriarty, Jr., was the most prolific article writer (over 400) of this century; for almost 50 years he was head of our Committee on English and Foreign Research. For an overall evaluation of his contribution to Anglo-American genealogy see my introduction to the first series of English Origins of New England Families (1984), vol. 1, viii-xi. His manuscript holdings here consist of "The Plantagenet Ancestry of Edward III and Queen Philippa," (upon which much of Royalty for Commoners and some of the forthcoming Henderson project are based), and 19 ledger vols. and 4 cartons of materials concerning Moriarty's entire known American and medieval ancestry. The bulk of the ledger vols. cover English forbears of Moriarty's five royally descended immigrant ancestors-Edward and Ellen (Newton) Carleton of Rowley, Dr. Richard Palgrave of Charlestown, Rev. William Sargent of Malden, and John Throckmorton of Providence, R.I, This latter ancestry is so extensive that Moriarty treats most of the major families of medieval England.

    My own collection, "The Mowbray Connection: An Analysis of the Genealogical Evolution of British, American, and Continental Nobilities, Gentries and upper Classes Since the End of the Middle Ages," 23 vols. (3 of text, 6 of British charts, 10 of American charts, 2 of continental charts, a bibliography for much of the American section, and an every-name index by Michael J. Wood of the American charts). The charts in this collection outline the royal descents and extent of kinship to Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, d.1399, of over 3500 American, over 1000 British, and over 500 continental historical figures; see The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants (1993), pp. xvii-xxi. Also at NEHGS are positive microfilm copies of the 130 notebooks on which "The Mowbray Connection" is based, and photocopies of (1) 20 pamphlets covering major notable descendants of various of my New England forebears, and (2) 11 comparable pamphlets for the major notable progeny of New England ancestors of the late Princess of Wales and her sons, and (3) various charts beyond what I have published on the genealogical connections of American presidents. I add to these latter volumes frequently.

    Most readers will care primarily about our manuscript collections covering New England towns or families, or consisting of the notes of major New England genealogists. I hope, however, that those of you who do find royal, medieval, or gentry ancestry will upon occasion peruse some of the materials in these five collections. I am personally familiar, as well, with the families in Coddington's, Cook's, Moriarty's, and my own ancestry, and will frequently refer readers to the printed or manuscript data compiled by these scholars. New discoveries in these fields-royal descents, American/European connections, or even presidential forebears-are always welcome and I appreciate knowing about them.

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