I wrote a posting on John Drake, my ancestor, last December, which was a follow-up to a previous posting in June 2009. He is also an entry in my bogus royal lines page. A commenter left this message, which I am copying in full:
Robert Charles Andderson for some reason was bent on proving that John of Windsor was not part of the Devonshire Drakes. As for your dambing peace of evidnce being John was refered to as good man and not Mr. there are somethings to concider. #1. First of all Sir John of Ashe was his great grandfather. My great grandfather was in the civil war. What does that have to do with me? It doesn't make me speacial to anyone of give me any pirks. #2 Those people in Hartford were religious Christians who shunned British Royalty. As a Mormon whose ancestors gave up everything they had to go west to Utah Mr. Anderson should have understood what the Puritans were doing. #3. Mr. Anderson mentioned in his artical that Johns son was on record as having traveled to Piscadaway. This may prove the point more that he was from Devonshire as the Drakes in that Thomas Drake in Piscadaway was part of the Devenshire genealogy. He was going to visit his cousins who were also from that area. My father told me things about my genealogy that you will not find on the internet. I and several others have copies of a 10 page family letter about our line which comes from John of Windsor.
This is the kind of message I received all the time back in the Roots-L days and made me give up Internet genealogy the first time. However, I'd like to use this as an example. The main problem with this type of message is that the commenter is wrong, and there is no way to kindly or graciously say that. Certainly the tone of the paragraph above is confrontational, which doesn't help [especially since I read it first thing on Saturday morning.] So, one has two options: (1) let it go and allow this thinking to go on; or (2) wade into the tempest and set the record straight. In my younger days I always did #2, much to my own regret.
But let's examine the arguments above.
1. "Robert Charles Anderson was bent . . . " This is a straw man. It assumes that a genealogist has an agenda of some sort. I can't imagine what the agenda would be. You certainly can't get rich by saying this ancestor was this or that. However, it does assign blame, which is important to many people. However, that merely distracts from the arguments about John Drake's origins. For the record, Robert Charles Anderson is one of the foremost genealogists of our time. He is scholarly, thoughtful and precise. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from Harvard. I actually know him.
2. The goodman v. gentleman argument. If you know history and genealogy of that time period well, then you know this is a key piece of evidence. I examined such things in this post. Comparing 16th and 17th English customs and 19th and 20th century American customs doesn't work. The commenter is using false logic. One might as well say that the fact women couldn't own property in their own right prior to 1865 is the same reason why women face a glass ceiling in today's corporate America. These are two separate things that must be interpreted by the time period and culture in which you find them.
3. "Those people in Hartford were religious Christians who shunned British Royalty." This is 8th-grade history. And poorly-taught 8th grade history at that. The puritans who left England had no problem with royalty. They had a problem of freedom of religion which a certain king wouldn't allow. And remember that the Hartford people left Massachusetts because they disagreed with Winthrop's vision of a theocracy [i.e. the people of Connecticut were more tolerant that those in Massachusetts.] And by the way, if I read that sentence correctly, it infers that Robert Charles Anderson is a Mormon, which he most certainly is not.
4. The Drakes of Piscataway were also not part of the Devonshire Drakes. Another old-time error. Again, those Drakes were from Halstead, Essex. See my postings above.
5. "My father told me things about my genealogy that you will not find on the internet. I and several others have copies of a 10 page family letter about our line which comes from John of Windsor." This is, of course, the crux of the matter. It isn't about genealogy or history or good v. bad research. It's about honoring his father. His father's veracity (for some inexplicable reason) is on the line, so naturally this commenter will defend to the hilt this claim. I wrote about this regarding the Bearse family and another it-will-never-die-bad-genealogy claim. We have to divorce ourselves from the love and respect we bear our parents and grandparents when doing genealogy and look at the records with clear and unbiased eyes. Everyone makes mistakes. Those people did their research with the best of intentions, but sadly were mistaken. They didn't understand the context of the 17th century and couldn't wrap their minds around the coincidence that two contemporary John Drakes were in New England. This does not reflect badly on them. However, that is no reason to defend a false claim either.
In the end, none of this matters. People will have to choose which of these conclusions to accept. I'm certainly sure that no heritage society (say from Charlemagne or the Magna Carta Barons) will accept John Drake as a gateway ancestor--so save your money. That's the only thing I can think might be of consequence to the outcome of this debate.