Sunday, January 10, 2016

English Ancestry of William Berry's Wife Jane (Locke Hermins), is it Junky Genealogy?

When I first started doing genealogy on two things happened. One, I fell in love with genealogy and two, I became a 'copy and paster'. After several months of building this giant unsourced tree I had my epiphany. How, I asked myself, do I know if any of this is true. That is the day I really began doing genealogy and stopped being a 'copy and paster'. The problem was and is, that all that junky genealogy was still out there for other 'copy and pasters' to put in their giant unsourced trees and perpetuate inaccurate information.

If there is a nice way to tell someone that you think their ancestry tree is incorrect, I apparently haven't found it yet. I have joined both wikitree and werelate, both great sites for universal trees. The problem I'm having is that when I find the same erroneous information on these sites, the profile managers are not always receptive to hints, sources or any information that would indicate that they might be on the wrong ancestor track. When that happens I usually slink back here to my blog and lay out my case for why I think the information available on their site and others is wrong. Hoping that people who are looking for real information might stop by and read my stuff.

So here is my case for why I think that the ancestry of Jane Locke Hermins, wife of William Berry of Sandy Beach (Rye) New Hampshire is a case of 'junky genealogy.'

William Berry was an early settler in Sandy Beach in the Province of New Hampshire. He was there by 1636. He married and had children, dying in 1654. His widow Jane was granted administrative rights to his estate. [1] According to Torrey's New England Marriages, she was only known as Jane.[2] In a 1686 court deposition she stated her age as 67, giving her a birth year of 1619.[3] By then, she was married to her second husband Nathaniel Drake. Other than some court appearances for naughty behavior, Jane is not mentioned in any record, deed, or other contemporary document, that I can find.

judith locke
On 8 July 1678, William Berry, son of William and Jane Berry, married Judith Locke. Judith was the daughter of Nathaniel Locke and his wife Judith Hermins Locke. [4] Remember this fact for future reference!

jane locke hermins
So, now to Jane Locke Hermins, wife of William Berry and Nathaniel Drake. What does ancestry and wikitree say about her and her ancestry.

wikitree profile [5]:
Father: Thaddeus John Hermins, b. 1584/b.1588, Devon, d. 1650 Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire. ( he has two profiles, with two birth years)
Mother: Lady Jane Locke, AKA Sackville, b. 2 Aug. 1588, All Hallows the Less, London, d. 1660 Hampton, New Hampshire. (will discuss the parents of 'Lady Jane' later)
Parents marriage: 7 October 1605, London, both would be 17 years old in born in 1588
Birth of Jane: 1619, York, Yorkshire, England
Sources cited in profile: ancestry trees, and first hand information provided by the profile manager

ancestry profile [6] 
Father: (Sir) Thaddeus John Hermins b. 1584, Devon, d. 1650 Hampton, New Hampshire
Mother: Jane Locke, baptized 2 August 1588, All Hallows the Less, London, d. 1660, Hampton, NH
Parents marriage: 1605 - 1615 London
Birth of Jane: 1619, Rye, New Hampshire or York, or London
Sources cited in profile: ancestry trees, London Baptisms, Marriages and Burials. [7]  

So, what do we have to work here for sources. A bunch of ancestry trees with either no sources or as a single source a baptism in London in 1605 for a Jane Locke. No name was recorded for her father. I looked at multiple trees on family websites and could not find a single one that had a source for Thaddeus John or his wife Jane Locke.

red flags
Red flags should be waving all over these two profiles. Here's some of what I see:
1. A middle name. This may not seem like a red flag to you, but middle names were not in use until the mid 1700s. Anytime you seem a middle name prior to 1750, it should raise a red flag.
2. A man born in Devon, marries a woman born in London, and they have a daughter born in either York or in the Province of New Hampshire. Most ordinary people were born, lived and died within a small radius. To see this spread, from one end of England to the other, with a stop in the middle should set off red flags.
3. A birth in 1619 in Rye, NH should set off alarm bells. If you don't see red with this one then you need to get out some history books and start reading.
4. New Hampshire was first settled by fisherman. There were very few Lords and Ladies that lasted in New England. If a Sir Hermins and his wife Lady Jane immigrated to New Hampshire in 1619 I'm sure it would be recorded.

my search
Since I cannot find any sources from wikitree or ancestry tree I decided to look for Thaddeus John Hermins myself. Here is a list of places I looked:
1. - nothing
2. ancestry BMD for England - nothing
3. Freereg - British site for BMD - nothing
4. New Hampshire State and Provincial Records - nothing
5. Rockingham County Land deeds - nothing
6. Hampton's Lane Memorial Library Genealogy database - nothing
7. Local history books for Rye and Porthsmouth - nothing
8. Noyes, Libby, Davis, Genalogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire - nothing
9. Savage, Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England - nothing

I cannot find not a single piece of direct or indirect evidence that Thaddeus John Hermins even existed, never mind married, had a child and immigrated to New Hampshire. What I do have is a lot of negative evidence that he is not only not the father of Jane, wife of William Berry but that he may not in fact be an actual person.

another thaddeus and it keeps gettin worse
About 1640 a child was born in Ireland, his name; Thaddeus Berry. What could go wrong here, we have the name Berry and the name Thaddeus, we're on to something. Check him out on and guess who his parents were. That's right William Berry and Jane Locke Hermins. Isn't that nice, they named him after her father. Even better, he really was a real person, and there is lots of information about him. But the bad news is, he's not related to our family. Like I said he was born in Ireland. He has nothing to do with our Berry family in New Hampshire. [8] See the Register article by Michael Hager for his full story.

Conflation is a great word to describe what is going on here. This is a conflation of multiple identities. The names Locke and Hermins belong to Judith, wife of William, not to Jane his grandmother. But this misidentification of Jane sends us on a wild goose chase in England looking for a man named Hermins and woman named Locke. A Jane Locke is born in London in 1605, aha it must be her. But what do we know about this child Jane Locke, not even her father is identified. How can you build your case with nothing. A man named Thaddeus Berry immigrates to Massachusetts, not quite New Hampshire, but close enough it seems for some. Suddenly, he becomes on of the family and he's named for his grandfather Thaddeus John. But, Thaddeus Berry is an Irishman whose real name was Teague O'Barry.

Thaddeus John Hermins and his wife Jane Locke are pure fiction. The name of William Berry's wife was Jane, and that's all we know.

Lady Anne Sackville
lady jane locke sackville hermins 
WTF is all I could think when I first saw this mess of names. Okay so let's tackle the Sackville name first. Ann Sackville is said to be the mother of Jane. There are three women named Ann Sackville found in Burke's Peerage. Ann Sackville, daughter of Richard, married Gregory Fienes, Lord Darce, she died in 1595. Second is Ann Sackville daughter of Sir Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl Dorset. She married Sir Thomas Glemham and was still alive in 1626. Lastly there was Ann Sackville b. c. 1586 who died 25 September 1664. She married Edward Seymour and then Edward Lewis, she was the daughter of Robert Sackville, 2nd Earl Dorset. One website I saw said that Ann Sackville Locke was the half sister of Ann d/o Thomas Sackville. If that were the case then Thomas Sackville would have to have been married twice, but he wasn't, he married Cecily Baker and no other. Ergo, no half sister Ann. [9]

Another candidate thrown into the mix is Jane Spencer, daughter of Sir John Spencer of Althorpe. She married three times, her last husband was Robert Sackville, son of Thomas. They married in 1592, he died in 1609. Anne Spencer Stanley Compton Sackville died in 1618. One online tree has her married to Thomas Sackville, but that was not the case.

No Anne Sackville, Locke or otherwise, was buried in Westminster Abbey.

christoper matthew locke
Lady Jane's father is said to be Christopher "Matthew" Locke. Why do those quotation marks around Matthew make me feel that something is fishy here? Christoper is said to have been born in 1568 in Pensford, Buckinghamshire, England. (FYI Pensford is in Somerset) The wikitree bio says he d. in 1635 in Westminster Abbey. I'll start by telling you that there is no Christoper Locke buried in Westminster Abbey, perhaps he died while attending a service but he ain't buried there. So who was this Christoper Matthew Locke?

A genealogy of this Locke family was written in the 1700's in a gentleman's magazine which was later used as the basis of a book by John Goodwin Locke entitled "Book of the Lockes," published in 1853. [10] This book is about the descendants of William Locke of Woburn, Massachusetts who immigrated to New England when he was six years old. The book tries to make a case that the immigrant William is related to the family of the philosopher John Locke, but he cannot prove it. In fact he got that part really wrong. That being said he does lay out a pedigree of the Locke family.

photo by Lewis Clarke
The part of the pedigree that concerns us here is that of Michael Locke, son of Sir William. According to the pedigree Michael had a son Matthew who in turn had a son Christopher Locke of East Brent, Somerset. This Christopher had children with an unknown wife. The baptism of four children are found in the parish records of East Brent, Somerset. There is no daughter named Jane mentioned in the pedigree and there is no wife named. The author also tried to tie Matthew to the Locke family of merchants in London, but he does not make a case for this either. Now the internet genealogies would have us believe that the Christopher Locke married the daughter of an Earl, and that their daughter married a untraceable man from Devon and landed in New Hampshire. Sorry, but it's a bunch of hooey balooey.

Conclusion: The English ancestry of Jane Unknown Berry is, in a word,  unknown

FYI: The father of the philosopher John Locke was John son of Nicholas Locke, he was not the son of Christopher Locke.


Hey readers, if you think something here is wrong please comment with you sources, thanks!

[1]Noyes, Sybil, Charles Thornton Libby and Walter Goodwin Davis, Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, (Baltimore: Gen. Publishing Co., 1990).

[2] Torrey, Charles, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, (Boston: New England Historic and Genealogical Society).

[3] court records

[4]Locke, Arthur Horton, A History and Genealogy of Captain John Locke (1637-1696) of Portsmouth and Rye, N.H., and His Descendants; Also of Nathaniel Lock of Portsmouth, and a Short Account of the History of the Lockes in England, (Concord, NH: The Rumford Press, 1916?), 5, 565, digital images, Archive ( acccessed 24 December 2015).

[5] Wikitree profile for Thaddeus John Hermins (Hermins-5), accessed 7 January 2016; Wikitree profile for Jane Locke (Locke-271), accessed 7 January 2016

[6] "One World Tree," Database. : 7 January 2016.

[7] "London England, Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1538-1812," entry for Jane Locke, baptism 2 August 1588, All Hallows the Less, London, digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 7 January 2016), citing London Metropolitan Archives, All Hallows the Less, Composite register: baptisms 1558 - 1654, marriages 1558 - 1653, burials 1558 - 1654, P69/ALH8/A/001/MS05160, Item 001.

[8] Michael E. Hagar, "Thaddeus Berry, alias Teague O'Barry of Rumney Marsh (1640-1718) an Irish Immigrant," The New England Genealogical and Historical Register, 148, 331, digital images, Amerian Ancestors ( : accessed 7 January 2016).

[9] Jorge Castelli, "Thomas Sackville," Tudor Place ( : accessed 7 January 2016).

[10] John Goodwin Locke, "Book of the Lockes," (Boston: J. Monroe and Company, 1853), digital images, Archive ( : accessed 10 January 2016).

7 comments: said...

Thanks for the info!!!!
I am a Berry too by birth.
Please can you give any info about William Berry's parents other than their first names of William and Jane?
Carol said...

I am a Berry by birth. Can you please give any info about William Berry's parents other than their first names of William and Jane?

Anonymous said...

Yes! Loved this post! As a Lock who comes from Somerset, I am glad someone called out all this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I am searching for an Olive Berry 1630 Virginia supposedly married Nicholas Ivery. suggested her parents were James Berry (1607) and Naomi Preston (1615). A lot of the information isn't adding up in my mind. I would appreciate any info you might have. I am a trained scientist so I like everything in black and white with facts, facts, facts. I am finding that sometime facts are difficult to pin down. Thanks in advance for any help you might provide.

Unknown said...

I appreciate the good work that you do and your passion for getting the story straight.

BDavid said...

New to Ancestry, and I was having trouble believing the Jane Locke-Thomas Sackville connection and deciphering the Hermins stuff. Sounds like my skepticism was well-founded. Sigh. So apparently I am NOT related to John Locke (which I first thought), nor am I descendent of Baron Thomas "The Poet" etc. But hey, I AM a Berry descendant, and that sounds like a good thing to be.

Emma Bosque said...

Many thanks for breaking this down, so appreciate it!

Have you by any chance found evidence of a Rebecca Elizabeth Berry 1615-1640 supposed to have been born and died in Inishowen, Donegal, Ireland and married a David Porter also 1615-1640 (did they really live the same lifespan?)of Carrowen, Inishowen, Donnegal, Ireland? Rebecca is said to have been the daughter of Johan Berry, and here is where things get conflated... A Geni tree has Johan Berry from Newcastle, Lancashire, UK. That's not possible. Newcastle is on the east coast in Northumberland and Lancashire is on the west coast, see Lancaster.

And I'd love some historical evidence for these folks. Any ideas where to look for records on northern Ireland?

Kind Regards,

E. Bosque

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