Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More Questions about Pierre de Morlaix

In James Fulton Perkins' essay on the Perkins family, he writes about the origins of the Perkins name in England.  This essay is widely  copied and quoted. In a previous post I gave my reasons why I do not believe that Pierre de Morlaix  existed.  This is a continuation of that post.  When I first read the essay I was mystified by some of his statements, his lack of proof, documentation, or even logical conclusions. But what is more mind boggling is that other readers just accept it without question and add it to their family history. I know this is a fairly long post, but I hope you'll read through it and come to the same conclusions as me. 



Since his essay seems to be the basis of so much of what you read about the Perkins family genealogy I think that it warrants a closer look. So lets pick this apart and see what comes of it. 

Perkins is one of the most notable surnames from the European genealogical research of Anglo/Saxon surnames, and its historical trail has emerged from the mists of time as an influential surname of the middle ages. 
What does he mean by the European genealogical research of Anglo/Saxon surnames? Is he speaking in general terms or to a specific study of names.  What does he mean by "influential" surname?  Who were those influential Perkins?

This essay is intended to document the facts ...The writer's purpose was to clear up some of the errors, omissions, folklore and stories, which were uncovered during a search for family history.
Excellent what we need are facts.
It should be noted at the beginning that the original spelling of the name was not Perkins.  Confusing to most, the name was originally deMorlaix as the manuscripts of this time period were, most always, written in Latin or French.  The later translators Anglicized the name from deMorlaix to Morley.      
In this bit the author is saying that the name Perkins was originally deMorlaix. Is he saying that deMorlaix = Perkins, or de Morlaix = Morley.  The later translators, (who were they) changed the name to Morley.  The only time the name of this ancestor appears in writing is in the visitation of Berkshire in 1623 and it is written in latin. His name is written Petrus Morley alias Perkins. So why would his first name be in Latin but his surname is not.  More importantly, how do you know his name was de Morlaix? I thought "de Morlaix" meant he was from Morlaix, France, as in Peter of Morlaix.

Research of ancient manuscripts, which include the Doomsday Book by Duke William of Normandy in 1086 A.D., the Ragman Rolls of 1291-1296 authorized by King Edward 1st of England, the Curia Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls and The Hearth Rolls of England, found the first record of the name Perkins in Leicestershire, England
Okay, so here he says that the name Perkins was first found in Leicestershire.  Peter de Morley was from Shropshire and then Oxfordshire, he never lived in Leicestershire, that I know of.
 The name Perkins, in one form or another (i.e.: deMorlaix/Morley), first appears on the census rolls taken by the Kings of England beginning about 400 A.D.  
The very first census was taken in 1086 by King William.  What is he referring to when he states that the name was first found in 400 AD?  Again he seems to be saying that de Morlaix and Perkins are the same thing.  In the prior statement he said the first time the name is found is in records relating to Leicestershire, is this a different Perkins family.  Your right James, I am confused.  If any one knows which of these ancient documents contains the name Perkins please pass it on.

The family name Perkins is one of the most distinguished of the ancient world during a time of Kingdoms, Kings and Knights
Examples please, who were these distinguished men and what did they do? Sir Perkins, King Perkins, the Kingdom of Perkins...what is he talking about?

If we are to believe Bede, the Chronicler of the Saxons, this founding race of England was led by the Saxon General/Commanders Hengist and Horsa and settled in Kent during this time and was a Anglo/Saxon race.  
Gobbly gook.  This does not make any sense.

However, there is evidence to support the claim that the name is of Celtic/Welsh origin.  
Bring it on.

Based on British history we know that after the last Roman Legions left the continent in the early part of the 5th century the Saxons, Angles and other Low  German tribes settled in Southeastern England around Kent. 
One glaring error, the Romans left the Island of England in about 410 AD.  They did not leave the continent (of Europe).  Angles, Saxon and Jutes came in waves and settle most of southeastern England.

 However, the Ancient Britons (Celtics) were the true natives of the area and it is an amalgamation of the Angles, Saxons and Celtic Britons who became what we refer to today as the Anglo/Saxons.  The truth is that the Angles and Saxons may have "moved in", but the Britons were there in far greater numbers, thus accounting for the claim that the blood line is far more Celtic than any other. 
 Therefore it should be concluded that the origins of the Perkins "Clan" are Celtic/Welsh.

Okay, the Celtic Britons were there first.  They probably did outnumber the Anglo Saxons, but what does this have to do with the Perkins name.  How can you possibly say that the Perkins clan is Welsh.  I conclude that you (James) have no idea what your talking about.  And, I thought you said that Peter was from France. So what is all this about Celtic Briton?

 By the 13th century the family name Perkins emerged as a notable English family in the county of Leicester, where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated as Lords of the manor and estates in that shire. 
So far the author has told us that the Perkins name was originally de Morlaix, now he tells us that the name was found in Leicester in the century before Peter's birth, and by the 1200's were already a family of great antiquity. So were there Perkins in Leicester for hundreds of years before Peter?  Who were these Lords of the manor, names please and what do they have to do with our Peter who came from France.


They had branched to Ufton Court in Berkshire and Sutton Coldfield inWarwickshire, later branching to Nuneaton, Marston and Hillmorton, Warwickshire.  The main stem of the family continued at Orton Hall in Leicestershire, where it remains to this day.  

You're right, the Perkins name can/could be found in all those places but Orton Hall is now a Best Western Hotel, if the "main stem" of the family lives there it must be pretty crowded

Notable amongst the family at this time was Perkins of Leicester.  For the next two or three centuries bearers of the surname Perkins flourished and played a significant role in the political development of England.
Enough with these notable significant people, who in heck are they! What part did they play in the political development? 

It is at this point where we pick up the story of the present day Perkins.  The last generation to use the original spelling of Morlaix in or around 1331 was the family of one Pierre de Morlaix of Shropshire, England.  
The last generation? The only person who used the name was Pierre.  Unless there were lots of de Morlaix's running around Morlaix in France.

He appears to have been born 1312 in Bretagne, Morliax, Normandy, France and died about 1384 in Shropshire, England.  
I think this should read, based on a wild guess he was born in 1312 and what his date of death is based on, since, remember now, the only time his name is ever written was in the Visitation manuscript, there is no way to know when he died.  The manuscript only says that he was alive in 1381. 


His name indicates that although originally from Morlaix, Normandy, France he was part of the Celtic/Welsh group previously mentioned who migrated to England.  
What part of this makes sense to anyone?  Why does the fact that he was from Morlaix in France and named for the town of Morlaix lead you to believe that he was Celtic/Welsh.  Am I the only one who doesn't get this?

During this time period surnames were not in common use.  Everybody was known by some personal characteristic such as what they did, who there father was or where they came from, hence Pierre de Morlaix was from Morlaix, France.  
Exactly, he was called de Morlaix because he was from Morlaix, France.  



Attaining a high position within English society, Pierre became the High Steward of the Hugo de Spencer Estate of Oxfordshire, England (later known as the House of Spencer, of whom Princes Diana was a daughter).
Now this is a bit of wishful thinking.  James says that Pierre was born in 1312. Hugh Despenser Sr. and Hugh Despenser the Younger were both executed for treason with a few weeks of each other in the year 1326.  Pierre would only be about 14 years old, so it is implausible that he would work for either of them.  Immediately after their deaths their lands and possessions were confiscated by the King. Hugh the Younger had a son, Hugh III, born in 1308. Hugh III was imprisoned after his fathers death.  He did not receive his freedom and his pardon until Feb. 1332, at which time he made a pilgrimage to Santiago in Spain. In 1332 Pierre would have been 20 years old.  The King eventually Knighted him and gave him land. Hugh continued to try to rehabilitate the name Despenser and eventually won favor with King Edward III, but he never came close to achieving all that his Father and Grandfather had.  Hugh died in Feb. 1349, possibly of the Black Death.  In 1349 Pierre would have been 37.  If he worked for Hugh Despenser it would have to have been between the ages of 20 and 37. He was most likely the Steward or Bailiff of the Manor at Shipton.  He was not a "high Steward" of all the Despenser lands.  
Hugh had no living children so his property was inherited by his nephew Edward, son of his brother Edward. Edward was killed in battle in, are you ready for this, Morlaix, France! Now where have I heard that name before.
Pierre changed his name to the English translated version "Peter Morley" when Charles V, the Black Prince of France renewed the Hundred Years War with England.  This war was disrupting English shipping, compromising trade with Spain and the Netherlands and persecuting English subjects on the mainland in many ways.  
So, I covered this part in my previous post, but it's too good to pass up.  Charles V, the King of France, did renew the Hundred Years War in 1369.  He fought against English forces led by Edward, The Black Prince, son of Edward III.   

Because of the French victory at the Battle of Hastings, Frenchmen became persona-non-grata in England so to conceal his French origins Pierre changed his name to the English translation, Peter Morley. (1312-1384)
What!!!! The Battle of Hastings was in 1066, 300 years in the past.  Why would he have to conceal his origins? This is nonsense. Did he speak with a funny voice to disguise his French accent?

Unwilling to end the heritage of the deMorlaix name, when Peter (Pierre de Morlaix) Morley married Agnes Taylor, daughter of John Taylor of Madresield, Worcestershire, England, they had a son.  
Okay, he didn't want the de Morlaix name to end, so he and Agnes had a son. Like they were able to plan that or something.  I don't want my heritage to end, so I'm having a son!

He was to be named Henry Pierrekin (meaning "first son of Pierre", born 1340 in Shropshire, England and died in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England). 
He was to be or he was. Actually, all we know is that his name was Henry Perkins, thats it, nothing else, nada. We don't know when he was born, where he was born or when  he died. (but it probably wasn't Hillmorton).
The "kin" suffix indicates the eldest son in a family and any subsequent sons are simply called with the suffix "son", as in "Pierreson".  Hence, the first son is Pierrekin and the second son of Peter (Pierre) Morley would be "Pierreson".   
As above, Henry was Henry Perkins! And "kin" is a diminutive. It it means "little Peter".

 Henry Pierrekin altered the name further, again to disguise the French origin, becoming the very English Henry Pierkyn. 
Nope, all we know is that he was Henry Perkins.  This is his entry in the genealogy:
 Henricus Perkins filius Petri = [blank] and had
When Henry married his eldest son was to be called John Perkyns (born 1360 in Madresfield, Worcestershire, England and died 05 Jan 1400 in the same place); again the suffix to indicate the eldest but changed from "kin" to "kyns".  John became quite well educated and began often signing his name as John Perkins.  Now as the prosperous John Perkins, Esquire he attained the position of Lord of the manor of Madrasfield as well as High Steward of the deSpencers at the passing of his father Henry.  Thus began the spelling carried by all subsequent generations.      
Not true the name continued to have various spellings, including the Parkyns of Upton in 1623. And John was not Perkins but Parkyns.  There is just a few more lines to the essay, but it's just more of the same stuff.


Sources on Hugh Despenser III
Susan Higginbotham, The Other Hugh Le Despenser

I welcome any comments you might have good or bad, I only ask that if you want to argue a point you provide a source.



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