Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 1999-07 > 0931028864

From: John Steele Gordon <>
Subject: Lawrence Smith (was Re: 'The Last Plantagenet')
Date: Sat, 03 Jul 1999 15:07:44 -0400

"C.V. Compton Shaw" wrote:

> > > I have lineal descent from Henry Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster to Major
> > > Lawrence Smith who died in approxiately 1700 and who married Mary
> > > Warren.
> > > Mr. C.V. Compton Shaw from Dallas, Texas

John Steele Gordon replied:

> > I assume you mean Major Lawrence Smith of Virginia, from whom I also
> > descend. I have a descent for him from William the Lion, King of Scots,
> > but not from any Plantagenet. I would much appreciate hearing details of
> > this descent and citations for it.
> >
> > As for his wife, Rudolf Loeser identifies her as almost certainly Mary
> > Debnam. See his two articles in The Virginia Genealogist: "Katherine
> > (---) (Debnam) Grymes and Some Relatives" Vol. 41, No. 3 (July-Sept.
> > 1997) pp. 163-171, and "Margaret (Debnam) Perrott and Some Relatives"
> > vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 3-17.
> >
> > The main article identifying Lawrence Smith's ancestry is "The Townleys
> > and Warners of Virginia and Their English Connections" by Mary Burton
> > Derrickson McCurdy in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.
> > I'm afraid I can't lay my hands on the exact citation right now, but it
> > was in the late 60's or early 70's.

C.V. Compton Shaw replied:

[JSG's comments interspersed]

> I obtained one genealogy reference which indicates that the wife of
> Major Lawrence Smith had a first name of "Mary" but that the last name
> of his wife was unknown but intimated that her last name might be Warner
> ( Genealogies of Virginia Families; Vol. V.; Genealogical Publishing
> Co., Inc., 1981, 576-577).

Everything I have seen says that his wife's last name being Warner is
suppostitious. Major Smith was close to the Warner family (he even named
a son Augustine, a very uncommon first name, presumably after Augustine
Warner) but, as far as I know, there is no documentary evidence for it.

I obtained one genealogy lineage which
> indicates that Major Lawrence Smith, as you suggested, is descended from
> William I the Lion, King of Scotland (d. 1214) and that he had an
> ancestor, Robert de Ros, who was a Magna Charta Surety (The Royal
> Descents of 500 Immigrants to the American Colonies or the United States
> by Gary Boyd Roberts, Genealogical Publish Co., Inc. pp,330-331).
> This same source indicates that it is not certain what the last name of Major
> Smith's wife was.

That is my source for this descent. But RD500 was published in 1993.
Thus Boyd did not have Loeser's article, published 1997, available to

> It, also, appears to me that this source, the one you
> rely on, is clearly incorrect in that it lists Elizabeth Townley and
> Christopher Smith as the parents of Major Lawrence Smith. You can see by
> this same source that Elizabeth Towneley was already in America before
> Major Lawrence Smith (her supposed son) immigrated to it. This being the
> case, this genealogical history, as you purpose, on it's face, through
> logic, is in error and mine is correct.

Whoa! Even if one possible descent is proven wrong, that does not, ipso
facto, make another possible one correct, unless it is the only possible
alternative. That is clearly not the case here.

Nor, as far as I can see--it is before me right now--does Boyd state
that Elizabeth Townley came to America at all, before or after her son's
immigration. (Lawrence Smith, in fact, returned to England several times
after his initial voyage to Virginia.)

Further, McCurdy states that 1) Elizabeth Townley married Richard
Halstead May 1, 1616. 2) That Elizabeth Halstead--almost certainly the
same as Elizabeth Townley in 1)--married Christopher Smith, a near
neighbor of her late husband, on May 3, 1624. 3) That Elizabeth Smith,
widow of Christopher, made a will Jan. 28 1675/6 that was probated Jan.
5, 1679/80 (in England). The will names five sons, including one named
Lawrence, and describes him as "late of Stonirakes" the Smith family
estate. This might indicate that he was dead but the will left him a
bequest, saying that he shall have it if he shall come "& lawfully
demaund the same." This would clearly indicate that Lawrence Smith was
alive at the time of the writing of the will and overseas.

This, it seems to me, is one of those
everything-fits-like-a-glove-but-there's-no- documentary proof
situations. A Lawrence Smith, closely associated with the Warner
family--he was a first cousin of Augustine Warner--disappears from
English records with a reference which clearly indicates that he is
abroad. A Lawrence Smith, closely associated with Augustine Warner in
America, appears on this side of the Atlantic. There is no absolutely
clinching evidence that they are one and the same man, but there is not
a shred of evidence to indicate that they are not. Pending such
evidence, it is logical to assume that they are the same, with a caveat
to indicate a degree of uncertainty.

> Please note that I did not do the original genealogical research on this line;

Neither have I.

> and, as a result, do not have all of the sources necessary for the proof of the same. > This same line is proved through the Knights of the Garter orginization
> which, I understand, requires rigerous proof.

I would be interested to know the date of this source. Does it predate
the McCurdy article? The Boyd, McCurdy, and Loeser articles all give
numerous references to the genealogical literature, but do not include
this one. I think they must be consulted before definite conclusions can
be drawn. Lawrence Smith has a vast descendency so there has been much
research and, of course, speculation, regarding his origins and those of
his wife.

But because a source gives a descendency one would like to have does
not, alas, make that descendency correct. Anyone who has done genealogy
for any length of time has lots of "former ancestors." Certainly I do,
and there are some I would dearly like to have back. But, then, I
wouldn't mind being young again either.

John Steele Gordon

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