Bogus Family Lines


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Whilst researching a branch of my family I came across an interesting connection relating to my 11x great grandparents Thomas Burlingham (1563 – 1650) and Elizabeth Howard (1579 – 1620) both of Norfolk, England. Many researchers have incorrect dates for this couple which would make them about aged four when they started a family lol. (putting those silly mistakes to the side) the biggest issue with this couple is research that was made in the 1700’s, of which a line of descent made Elizabeth Howard the granddaughter of a Robert Howard of Syon House, London (1537 – 1598). It is claimed that this Robert Howard who married a Phillipa Buxton was the illegitimate son of Lord Thomas Howard (1511 – 1537) and Lady Margaret Douglas, Princess and Countess Lennox, who married in secret in 1536 against the wishes of King Henry VIII. This part of the story is correct, the marriage did indeed happen and as a result the couple were arrested, Lord Thomas was executed as a result of this in 1537. What isn’t proven and probably not even true is the child, that is claimed they had – Robert Howard of Syon House who would eventually move to Norfolk, England and settle in Brockdish Hall Manor.

This line of descent has been added to at least 50+ ancestry trees, and could easily make people think they have a descent from King Henry VII.

It is claimed on many trees that a baptism is recorded in church records even though they didn’t begin until 1538, and no tree has added the primary source. The topic regarding this birth  has been widely written about online with arguments for and against. A Find a Grave page has even been created for him which records his details as the following;

Birth: Jan. 1, 1537
Greater London, England
Death: 1598
Norfolk, England

Robert Howard was born on 1 Jan 1537 in Syon House, London, England and died in 1598 in Allsaints Parish, Norfolk, England. He was the son of Lord Thomas Howard (1511-1537) and Lady Margaret Douglas Princess & Countess Lennox (1515-1578).Robert married Phillipa Buxton (1539-1603) in Norfolk, England in 1574. She was the daughter of Thomas Buxton (1513-1551) and unknown mother.

The problem I have is no proof, out of all the trees on Ancestry recording this connection there is only about 5 trees which give an alternative line of descent, there are many that have left this area blank.

Below is a pedigree taken from Burke’s Family Records, which it would seem gets ignored for this family, it records the line of descent for the Howard’s of Brockdish Hall Manor, who acquired the property in 1457, long before a bogus Robert Howard of Syon House decided to move there.

Howards of Brockdish Hall Manor. Source: Burkes Family Records

Howards of Brockdish Hall Manor.
Source: Burkes Family Records

The above pedigree, in my opinion is bare bones genealogy and shows a reliable source for the true ancestors of Robert Howard, who wasn’t of Syon House at all and was born, bred and died in Brockdish Manor.

The eldest member of this family so far known is Sir John Howard, Knt (1410 – after 1457) who was the first Howard to own this manor, I have not been able to add this cadet branch to the main Howard family (although I am working on it) any researchers stumbling on this post and may have information or a source for him please post a comment.

Below is a Coat of Arms for the Howard Family, which I digitally put together. If you use this image please credit the work to my blog. Thank you 🙂

Howard Coat of Arms (Gules) a Bend between six Cross-crosslets fitchy (Argent) Copyright: If you use this particular Coat of Arms, on your family tree or website, please credit the work to; Stephen Dawe-Kuta or Dawe-Kuta family history or/and the Lives of my Ancestors (Blog)

Howard Coat of Arms
(Gules) a Bend between six Cross-crosslets fitchy (Argent) Copyright: If you use this particular Coat of Arms, on your family tree or website, please credit the work to; Stephen Dawe-Kuta or Dawe-Kuta family history or/and the Lives of my Ancestors (Blog)

22 thoughts on “Bogus Family Lines

    • Yes, I have often thought that too, but you can open each branch individually and keep extending the tree. But it is a shame you can’t view more generations at once.

    • It is a huge error, people have blogged about the link etc (showcasing their connection) although a well known historian has commented on one forum stating its a clear fabrication. Problem is, all the trees with this incorrect info out number the trees with the correct info, so the problem will just keep getting bigger as ancestry only show probable hints or the most likely ones.

      • That’s the problem with all these public trees. Lazy people copy what they see without doing research, and when it’s copied enough times, it becomes “the truth.” Sad.

  1. Bless You for sharing this correct info… I’ve removed the incorrect line & will use your tree to fill-in this branch of my Ancestry tree correctly. Thank You. P.K.

  2. MOre research needs to be done…before one says that the two did not have a son ( or daughter) together. Reports are that Sir Thomas Howard DID die in the tower when Margaret was released…but he was not executed…. Robert….Phillip and Sam…Down to Matthew ( Who came to the New World?)

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I had a line that lead me to Thomas Howard and Margaret Douglas through Robert and his wife Phillipa Buxton as well. It’s so irritating when people insist their obvious errors are correct and yet provide no proof. I guess this means we’re distant cousins.

  4. Reblogged this on tudorqueen6 and commented:
    The never ending problem of genealogists trying to link their kin back to a royal…this story has been debunked several times. As I have Anne ____ Dorsey as an ancestress who married an Edward Dorsey, I have been studying the lines and claims to Anne’s supposed descent from Lady Margaret Douglas, the daughter of a Queen of Scotland, and niece to King Henry VIII of England. As my site deals with Queen Katherine Parr–sixth and last wife of Henry, Lady Margaret features largely in Parr’s life as Queen. Katherine’s own father, Lord Thomas, was part of her escorts early on. Katherine and Margaret would have known each other from early on, in the 1520s. And when Katherine married King Henry in 1543, Margaret was present. Afterward, Margaret became a chief lady-in-waiting to the Queen.

    Lady Margaret was born to the elder sister of Henry, Princess Margaret. Margaret became the Queen of Scots, but would remarry after the death of King James. That’s where Margaret comes from; Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. However, through her mother, Queen Margaret, she had a claim to the throne–Henry refused to acknowledge the Scottish line in favor of his younger sister, Princess Mary’s lineage. Even so, Margaret would have been kept under constant scrutiny as a possible heiress one day to the throne. Those who are close to the throne–their recorded history tends to be thorough, especially when it comes to children.

    A child with Thomas Howard would have been illegitimate and may have caused Lady Margaret her life for committing treason against the King. Like I said, possible heiresses were closely watched. In fact, due to this secret “engagement” to an uncle of the disgraced Queen Anne (Boleyn) in 1536, a new rule was established–no Royal family member could marry without the permission of the sovereign. This rule would be broken several times after the death of King Henry, especially with Queen Elizabeth’s ladies.

    Thomas and Margaret were thrown in the Tower. Henry eventually relented with his niece, but Thomas never saw Margaret again. There is no mention of a pregnancy or a possible child from this match–and seeing how brutal Tudor life was–if there had been a child, it either would have been given away or aborted (after birth). So, even the pregnancy of Margaret could be debated. There are no written statements in the historical account of Margaret which state, perhaps she moved away from court to have the child, and there are no statements from courtiers and the Queens she served that talk of a pregnancy (which was extremely hard to hide). So, the argument for a Robert Howard is BOGUS when you review the historic record of Margaret’s life.

  5. I came across this : mauricebody.org.uk/Howard.html
    My ancestor Matthew m. Ann Hall dsc from Th. A. and Ann Phillipson –not–
    John Howard and Eliz. Locke.

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