Pierre de Morlaix
In 1890 Augustus Thorndike Perkins published a volume entitled "A private proof printed in order to preserve certain matters connected with the Boston branch of the Perkins family". In this book, this Mr. Perkins confirms the suggestion that Peter Morley is none other than Pierre de Morlaix. Where the two Perkins authors got their information on Pierre is unkown.
Miss Sharp's book was reviewed in a 1893 in a magazine entitled "The Antiquary: A Magazine Devoted to the Study of the Past" vol. 27 edited by Mr. John Charles Cox. While mostly showing appreciation for her book about Ufton Manor, the author chides Miss Sharp on her interpretation of the Latin words used by the Heralds in their visitation. He says:
We are amused to read that Ms. Sharp's interpretation of servus "bailiff or manager" of the estates belonging to Lord Despenser at Shipton. This is an euphemistic reading of the term which is not correct. When will pedigree-makers presumably Christians, learn that there is nothing derogatory in having an ancestor who was a slave or servant".
(the story so far: Peter/Pierre Morley/Morlaix Perkins from France/Shropshire on the welsh border is employed by Hugh Despenser in Shipton and is married to Alice from Madresfield. FYI the distance between Shipton and Madresfield is 47.5 miles, the distance from Madresfield to the Welsh border is 42 miles, Shropshire is just to the Northwest of Madresfield, probably about 40 miles to the county border)In January of 1916 another book is published on the Perkins family, the author this time is Mansfield Parkyns, the book is entitled "The Perkins family in ye olden times". This book is really a series of letter that Mr. Parkyns exchanged with other Perkins researchers including Adolphous Thorndyke Perkins and Miss Mary Sharp. Although he too includes the ancestry based on the visitation of 1623 he cautions in his introduction that "the last two or three generations (within the knowledge of the persons who attested to the pedigree) may generally be trusted, beyond that they are useful.
Some few pages later Mr. Parkyns goes on to say,
"In the time of Henry VIII the heralds were getting so poor from general disregard of such matters that they started these "visitations" and traveled about like modern "bagmen" trying to get people to believe in the ennobling virtue of coats of arms etc. for the sake of their fees and did more mischief to history, genealogies etc. with their blundering pedigrees and coats of arms that can be imagined."On page 35 of his book he says that he has found evidence of the name Perkins in Madresfield in the year 1318, a Juliana Perkins is named in the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire He says that he frequently found the names Perkins and Mor or More, which is a Shropshire name, but never the name Morley. He also has his own interpretation of the word Servius. He believed that this meant Sergeant, as in Sergeant at Arms, a step below Knight. He did not believe that Peter was a steward, and certainly not a "high steward". He also make a very important statement, that the only knowledge that we have of either Peter Morley Perkins or his son Henry is from the Visitation. Those names cannot be found on any other document, period.
Now to his opinion of Pierre de Morlaix. In Chapter 15 called Mistakes Corrected Mr. Parkyns prints a letter from A. T. Perkins who admitted that his book was full of errors concerning Pierre de Morlaix. Mr. Parkyns goes on to say there are no records which contain the name Pierre de Morlaix and that if he existed at all he was not Peter Morley Perkins of Shropshire.
So this brings us to the more modern writing of the Perkins history by Mr. James Fulton Perkins. His essay on the Perkins family is one of the silliest pieces of writings I have ever seen. The biggest problem with his essay though, is that people are coping it and quoting it and perpetuating his errors. A big chunk of his essay ended up on Wikipedia, which made me rethink using that site as a source. I don't mean to sound harsh, but if you put yourself out there on the internet then you open yourself up to criticism.
The first thing I noticed when I read the essay was the incorrect history. Here are some of the lines that jump out at me:
By 1066 King Harold had come to throne of England and was enjoying peace and prosperity. However, the invasion from France and their victory found many Englishmen moving. Okay, did I mention I have a problem with his grammar as well. I think he means that England was enjoying peace, not the King, but anyway, Harold was crowned on Jan 8th, he was dead by Oct. 14th, fighting in the battle of Hastings. Doesn't sound like a peaceful year to me. I have no idea what he means about Englishmen moving and where did these Englishmen move to?
Pierre changed his name to the English translated version of "Peter Morley" when Charles V, the black prince of France renewed the Hundred Years War with England.
Charles V was the King of France, he reignited the Hundred Years War in May of 1369. The Black Prince was Edward, son of King Edward III and heir to the English Throne.
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. Hum, not sure what is going on here, the Battle of Hastings was back in 1066.
Unwilling to end the heritage of the deMorlaix name when Peter (Pierre de Morlaix) Morley married Agnes Taylor, daughter of John Taylor of Madresield (sic) Worcestershire England, they had a son. He was to be named Henry Pierrekin , meaning "first son of Pierre" born 1340 in Shropshire and died in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England. So I have multiple issues with these two sentences, the first of which does not even make sense. If Pierre didn't want the de Morlaix name to end, why wasn't his son name de Morlaix? Also, remember that the names of Peter and his Henry are only found in the Heralds genealogy and their surname was spelled Perkins. Henry was never called Pierrekins, which means "little Pierre" not "first son". No one knows when Henry was born, where he was born or where he died. The Perkins did not live in Hillmorton until more recent times.
I could go on and on about the lack of facts or even logic in this essay, but I will stop here.
Here is what I believe based on my research: there was no Pierre de Morlaix. There may have been a Peter Morlay Perkins and a son Henry, but there is no proof other than what was written by the Heralds. The Perkins name was found in Worcestershire by 1318 so it did not originate with Peter Morlay. If Peter did work for Hugh Despenser, it was in a minor role on the Manor of Shipton in Oxfordshire, Hugh III was dead by 1346, his estates were inherited by his nephew. There definitely was a John Perkyns, and his name is recorded and can be found in contemporary records. More about him later.
see part 2 of my Pierre blog
Harold Rylands, The Four Visitations of Berkshire, 1907
George Agustus Perkins, The Family of John Perkins of Ipswich, MA, 1884
Agustus Thorndike Perkins, A Private Proof to Preserve Certain Matters Connected with the Boston Branch of the Perkins Family, 1890
Mary Sharp, The History of Ufton Court, 1892
John Charles Cox, The Antiquarian, Vol. 27, 1893
Mansfield Parkyns, The Perkins Family in Ye Olden Times, 1916
James Fulton Perkins, Essay on the Perkins Family
Jules Frusher, MA Lady Despensers Scribery (blog) knowledgeable about all things Hugh de Spenser the younger
Wikipedia (not that I recommend it)
Excerpta e Scrinio Manerial de Madresfield (Manorial Rolls of Madresfield)