Oct 13, 2006  letter from Michael Wood - noted genealogist - to an open forum on RootsWeb..


Several hundred databases on worldconnect.rootsweb.com say that Henry Sherman of Dedham, Essex, clothier, who died in 1590, was son of Thomas Sherman of Yaxley, Suffolk, d. 1551. I am sending this message in batches, as time permits, to the creators of the 181 databases (as at 1 Oct 2006) on which Henry has been allocated the year of birth 1524, for no reason I can see.

This date does not fit the fourth son of Thomas of Yaxley, who in his will dated 20 Jan 1550/1 said his son Henry was then still an apprentice, that is, under 21. More particularly, that Henry probably lived at Diss, Norfolk, where his only known son Thomas, named in the will of that Henry's brother Richard of Diss dated 1587, was living in the early 1600s. [B L Stratton, Transatlantic Shermans (1969), esp. pages 37, 47, 49.]

Nor does it fit the Dedham clothier, several of whose great-grandchildren settled in New England, either as young adults or with their parents. More than 50 years ago B L Stratton in New Light on Henry Sherman (1954), pages 1-10, pointed out that the clothier deposed on 11 October 1574 that he was then aged 62 and had lived in Dedham for 40 years, so was born 1511/12 and settled there in 1534. His daughters Alice Fince and Judith Petfield were both married before 1561 (when Henry son of Thomas of Yaxley was no more than 30), and his son Thomas was buried at Dedham 16 March 1563/4, probably aged 8, which is why he is not named in Henry's will dated 25 July 1590.

So as not to mislead viewers of your database(s) [some addressees have more than one], please amend the year of birth of Henry Sherman to 1511 or 1512 and disconnect him from his pretended "Yaxley" ancestry; and while doing so, please delete also the conjectural surname of his wife Agnes. I have examined all surviving pertinent records, and can affirm she was NOT daughter of Henry's friend Thomas Butter of Dedham, whose surname was once misprinted "Butler", which has led to ludicrous, and wholly fictitious, speculations as to her ancestry on some databases.

If you want to retain on your database the disconnected pedigree of the Shermans of Yaxley, I commend to you B L Stratton's Transatlantic Shermans  (1969), pages 31-54 and the pull-out pedigree at the end, which identifies all the sons of Thomas & Jane (Waller) Sherman and their families. "Sherman" being an occupational surname, it is quite possible the Yaxley and Dedham families were not even distantly related agnately.

Yours sincerely,    Michael J Wood

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