The Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky is comprised of the eight westernmost counties - Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall and McCracken. It is bordered on the west by the Mississippi River, on the north by the Ohio River, on the east by the Tennessee River and the state of Tennessee to the south. By Kentuckians it is generally referred to simply as "the Purchase".

Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby purchased the land lying west of the Tennessee River from the Chickasaw tribe and opened the area for settlement around 1820. Within the next few years, my grandfather's ancestors came there from Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee - the Beadles, Clapps, Pryors and Wingos settled in Graves County with the Reeves and Halls in neighboring Ballard County.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

JP Ancestors in the Court of Henry VIII

As unbelievable as this sounds, I have recently discovered that the documented ancestors of Sarah Loy who married John Isaac Clapp and Sarah M. Rozzell, wife of Lewis Yancey Beadles, Jr., the daughter of Thomas Rozzell and Nancy Abernathy, were in fact descended from Sir Thomas Boleyn through his daughter Mary Boleyn. Several years ago a movie The Other Boleyn Sister was made about Mary, but her sister Anne, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I, is the most famous of the two sisters.

Mary Boleyn
Both of these Graves County families descend from Christopher Tilghman and Ruth Blount who are documented as coming to the American colonies in 1638. Sarah Loy, the daughter of George Loy and Mary Catherine Tillman (Tilghman) descends from Christopher's son Gideon while Sarah M. Rozzell descends from his son Roger Tilghman.

The great granddaughter of Mary Boleyn and William Carey of Aldenham, and mother of Ruth Blount was Penelope Devereux. The history of this family is filled with the intrigues of the courts of both Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Elizabeth I. Mary Boleyn is recorded as having had an affair with the king before her sister Anne became his second wife and the mother of Elizabeth.

Lady Penelope Devereux, although married to Robert Rich (3rd Baron Rich), had an affair with Charles Blount, Baron Mountjoy. Lady Penelope and Charles Blount are documented as having had four children, one of whom was Ruth. Penelope's brother Robert Devereax, the Earl of Essex, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth was eventually tried and sent to the Tower of London where he was executed. After Devereux fell from favor with the Queen, Lord Rich divorced Penelope in 1605. Prior to the divorce, Lord Rich threw Penelope and her Blount children out of the house. She then began living in his house and having a very public affair with Mountjoy. After Queen Elizabeth's death when James I became King of England, he created Mountjoy the 1st Earl of Devonshire.

Once divorced, Penelope and Mountjoy requested to be married in order to legitimize the children but King James I refused. They did marry in a private ceremony performed by Mountjoy's chaplain but afterward were banished from court by King James.

The above photos of paintings depicting Penelope's parents, Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex and her mother Lettice Knollys make the disparity of their lives and that of their descendants, our Jackson Purchase ancestors, extremely apparent.

It was not uncommon for young men from well to do families like Christopher Tilghman to leave England and settle in the new colonies. The English practice of primogeniture which is the right of the firstborn child to inherit the family estate was the law or custom at the time of the settlement of the American colonies. Many younger sons who were left to make their own way chose to seek their fortunes in the New World. Here they could own vast tracts of land and become affluent as they never could have in England.

I love genealogy but it has never been my aim to find titled or famous ancestors, this information came to me recently from another researcher who called to my attention the identity of the parents of Ruth Blount (sometimes called Devonshire). It is still amazing to me that these are my ancestors and not just the subjects of history books and PBS series.

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