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How can I prove that Sir Laurence Fermour de Richards is one of my ancestors?
QI’m researching the line of my great grandmother, Priscilla Bray Warne, born in Plymouth in 1844. Via Ancestry, Findmypast and Cornwall Online Parish Clerks, I have been able to establish links back to a Richard James Rickard, born about 1500. On ancestry.co.uk, there are over 500 family trees showing that Sir Laurence Fermour de Richards is the father of Richard James, although none of them shows a source for this. I discovered that Thomas Fermor de Richards (d1485) and Alice were Laurence’s parents. How can I prove this and research the family further? Frank Velander
AThe chart you’ve sent shows your descent from Richard James Rickards of St Enoder, Cornwall, who died in 1557. The St Enoder parish registers go back to 1570, which is much earlier than many. To trace further back, prior to the survival of the parish registers, you could look for earlier wills, manorial records, musters or tax lists for St Enoder that could identify earlier generations of Rickards there.
The pedigree you sent claims that Richard Rickards was the son of Lawrence Fermor of Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire, and you have been very sensible to question and investigate this purported connection, found from quite an unreliable, secondary source. I have here Harleian Society volume 5 (the Visitations of Oxfordshire 1566, 1574 and 1634), also available on ancestry.co.uk, which is a generally very reliable secondary source.
On page 46 (pictured) is a note summarising the will of ‘Thomas Richards, alias Fermor Senior of Whitney’, proved in 1485, naming children including Laurence. So, as with all families with aliases, Laurence could be surnamed Fermor or Richards, Fermor alias Richards (or vice versa) – but never ‘Fermor de Richards’ as the Ancestry pedigree has it.
To prove Laurence was Richard’s father, you’d need to find positive proof, from a herald’s visitation pedigree, a mention in family wills not yet examined, a memorial inscription, or other original source.
Given the distance from Oxfordshire to Cornwall, and difference between Richards and Rickards, however, it’s far more likely that someone in the past erroneously made this connection without any evidence at all and this ‘fact’ has been repeated, like so many others on Ancestry, without ever being double-checked.
Nevertheless, you may yet prove this unlikely connection with further research. Anthony Adolph