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.


  1. Beverly, this is truly amazing! I'm almost reluctant to add it to my tree but if you say it's true I shall. Carole

    1. Carole,

      You might want to hold off on that. Recently I've been trying to verify information from the book published about the Tilghman/Tillman family and I'm finding that there are many errors in that book and I've also seen comments from other researchers that they have found the same things.

      I've been through all the probate and tax records of Somerset County, Maryland sorting out the children of Gideon Tilghman, son of Christopher. Then I moved on to North Carolina and I have yet to find something that documents that Catherine Tillman, wife of George Loy, was the daughter of John Tilghman/Tillman and Eva Dryden. Actually I can't find any documentation that John Tillman married an Eva Dryden but various researchers say there is some proof but I would like to know what it is and where to find it.

      The good news is that I have found that Margaret, a documented daughter of Catherine Tillman Loy, gave a statement before her death in 1855 that Catherine's name was Tillman and that her grandmother was Mary Elizabeth Tillman. She didn't give the maiden name or Catherine's father's name.

      I have no doubt that Catherine was from this family because my two first cousins and I have numerous autosomal DNA matches to Tilghmans which include individuals descending from Gideon Tilghman as well as his brother Roger Tilghman who settled in southern Virginia and changed the spelling of his name to Tillman.

      I really have no doubt that this was the family of our Catherine, I would just like to find incontrovertible documentation as to her father's identity!

      I know better than to trust these published family histories, but I just went along with the flow of Tilghman descendants taking whatever was in that book as gospel. I'll definitely post something here when I've finished my indepth research for Catherine.


  2. Hello, I too am a descendant from this line. I have done a DNA test and have matches dna matches to Johns son Tobias Tillman which is as far back as Ancestry DNA and Wiki-tree will let me. I would like to compare my dna to anyone who has matches to any Tilghman/Tillman/Tilman from this line as I have a couple "loose ends" Thanks for your time Edward Tillman

  3. Edward,
    Thanks for writing and sharing your Tillman connection. My Tillman ancestor is my 4th great grandmother Catherine Tillman believed to be Tobias' sister probably because they are the only Tillmans documented as having been in Orange County NC prior to the Revolution. That makes Catherine 6 generations back so I doubt that it's close enough for you and I to have a match but I'll go to Ancestry and check a little later.

    You would probably benefit from having a Y-DNA test at Family Tree DNA. Y-DNA is passed from father to son for unending generations. My family had daughtered out so a few years ago I paid for a 2nd cousin Reeves male to do the Y-DNA test and have never been sorry. Y-DNA has solved countless mysteries in our Reeves' Project. See FtDNA's information and pricing at -

    Feel free to write me to discuss DNA or what Tillman history I've collected if you want at