Royal Families: Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry. Volume Four: Pelham – Avery – West

Descendants for Nine Generations of Thomas West, 2nd Baron De La Warr: The Possible American Progeny of King Henry VIII


Author: Watson, Marston
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: xvi 902 pp.


The fourth and concluding volume in Marston Watson’s Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry series is by far the most ambitious. Almost double the size of the second longest book in the series, the Pelham-Avery-West volume traces a full nine generations of descendants of Thomas West, 2nd Baron De La Warr. Unlike the earlier books, the progeny identified in Volume Four are associated not only with New England but with four distinct colonial regions: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Long Island (and later greater New York), and Virginia (with expansion to the Deep South). Finally, and unexpectedly, Thomas West descendants’ may be able to claim a kinship to England’s most notorious king, Henry VIII (1491-1547).

This work concentrates on the American progeny of three nearly related kinsmen: (1) Herbert Pelham (ca 1626-1674), the third of that name, sometimes of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and first Treasurer of Harvard College; (2) Pelham’s first cousin twice removed, Susannah (Palmes) Avery (ca 1665-1747), wife of Samuel Avery of New London and Groton, Connecticut; and (3) Hon. John West (1590-1659), Governor of Virginia and also a Burgess, fifth son and twelfth child of Thomas West, 2nd Baron De La Warr, and Anne Knollys. Hon. John West was an uncle of Herbert Pelham of Massachusetts and a brother of the matrilineal great-grandmother of Susannah (Palmes) Avery. In his helpful Introduction to Volume Four, distinguished genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts outlines a number of the prominent descendants of the three immigrant ancestors whose lines are detailed by Mr. Watson.

Mr. Watson has used a wide variety of printed sources–and even more Internet sources–emphasizing published vital records and noting qualifying ancestors for many hereditary societies. He has also used colonial newspapers and combed many wills, censuses, and other records. The Tudor connection concerns Thomas West’s marriage to Anne Knollys, a granddaughter of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne. In March 1997 noted genealogist Anthony G. Hoskins published a widely acclaimed article in the Genealogist’s Magazine, entitled “Mary Boleyn’s Cary Children–Offspring of King Henry VIII?”. As Hoskins argues (and Mr. Watson concurs), since Mary’s two children while married to William Carey were born during the nearly five years she spent in an intimate relation with Henry VIII, all of the progeny in Volume Four may well be entitled to claim Tudor ancestry.

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