Woolsey's Myths - Cardinal Thomas Wolsey

Thomas Wolsey, Lord Cardinal

by Wilford Whitaker

The Myth

Descendants of John Wolsey. [Page 1 of 47] (from Chuck Taylor, who also furnished the ged.com file for Ronald L. Gilliland)

  1. 1 John Wolsey 1353 - 1425
  2. ...+Alice
  3. ..2 John Wolsey 1374 -
  4. ..2 Female Wolsey 1377 -
  5. ..2 Thomas Wolsey 1380 -
  6. ..2 Robert Wolsey 1383 - 1436
  7. ....+Alice
  8. ..2 William Wolsey 1386 - 1428
  9. ....+Alice
  10. ...3 John Wolsey 1411 - 1481
  11. .....+Agnes
  12. ....4 John Wolsey 1432 - 1478
  13. ....4 Agnes Wolsey 1435 - Aft. 1500
  14. ....4 Robert Wolsey 1438 - 1496
  15. ......+Joan Daundy
  16. .....5 Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal 1470-1530 [interlined here by www to show relationship to the Cardinal.
  17. .......+Joan Larke 1490 -
  18. .....5 Robert Wolsey 1461 -
  19. .......+Jane
  20. ......6 Thomas Wolsey 1486 -
  21. ........+Mary
  22. .......7 William Wolsey 1516 -
  23. .......7 John Wolsey 1521 -
  24. .........+Mary
  25. ........8 John Wolsey 1549 -
  26. ..........+Jane
  27. [From this point the line is correct (at least these two generations) but the dates are not correct.]
  28. .........9 George Wolsey 1576 - 1629
  29. ...........+Frances Roberts 1585 -[There are no "original" records extant that show George b 1576 or Ffrances b 1585]
  30. ..........10 John Woolsey 1605 - [This date s/b 1611]
  31. ..........10 Robert Woolsey 1607 - [This date s/b 1613]
  32. ..........10 George 'Joris' Wolsey 1610 - 1698 [This birth date s/b 1616]
  33. .............+Rebecca Cornell - 1712/13 [Her birth date s/b 1629/30]

Source of the Myth

01. Daughters of the American Revolution Graves Index. FHL film# 860330. 3:106. Bedford, Westchester Co., NY. Union Cemetery abt 2 miles W of village a little S of the main road to Bedford Station - opened abt 1850 - older stones moved here with bodies - 1730-1901.


Family from Robert Woolsey of Ipswich, England, the father of Cardinal Woolsey through George Woolsey, b 1647 at Flushing, Long Island, New York and from him come:

  1. Col. Melancthon Taylor Woolsey b 1720 Dosoris, L. I., NY, died in Canadian French War in 1758.
  2. Major General Melancthon Taylor (s/b Lloyd) Woolsey b Dosoris, L. I. in 1758, died in Trenton, NJ. 1819.
  3. Col. Melancthon Taylor Woolsey b Dosoris, L. I. 1780 d Utica, NY 1838. Record of all family are in same plot.

02. Brewer, Hester (Woolsey). Family of George Wood Woolsey and wife Sarah Nelson Woolsey. Tuttle Publishing Co, Inc. Rutland, VT. 1940. [George Wood Woolsey] was a descendant of Rev. Benjamin, son of Thomas Woolsey of Ipswich, County Suffolk, England, a near relative of Cardinal Woolsey, the last of the great clerical ministers of the middle ages and for fourteen years Prime Minister of Henry VIII.

  1. 03. World Family Tree (WFT), Vol. 2 CD, by Broderbund Software; Tree #6206. (1993)
  2. 04. Fleming, Kerry L., 237 Braeshire, Manchester, MO 63201. Gedcom file. (1995)
  3. 05. Taylor, Charles, 6001 Turnstone Ct, Austin, TX 78744. (On-Line)THE DESCENDANTS OF JOHN WOLSEY (1996)
  4. 06. Gilliland, Ronald L., (On-Line) THE DESCENDANTS OF JOHN WOLSEY (1997?) (A download of above)
  5. 07. Personal Ancestral Files on early Woolseys (much confusion, many discrepancies and mistakes)
  6. 08. Family tradition from various branches of the American Woolseys, all say they are "related" or "descend" from the Cardinal, but again, not one scrap of evidence or "primary source". People have done a great deal of work here, but it is of little value to the serious researcher.
  7. 09. Reierson, Art. WOOLSEY GENEALOGY - Descendants of Cardinal Robert Wulcy 1440 - Ispwich, England. Columbia, South Carolina, 1998. Privately printed. "Cardinal Robert Wulcy b 1445 in Ispwich [sic], Suffolk England and d Oct 1496 in England. He md Joan Daundy 1462 in England. [What a jump for a butcher to make in olde England.] Thomas Wolsey, s/o Cardinal Robert Wulcy and Joan Daundy, b 7 Mar 1471 in St. Nicholas, Ipswich, England, d 29 Nov 1530 in Leicester Abbey, England. He md Joan Larke 10 Jan 1509, d/o Peter Larke. Thomas Wolsey was a Cardinal of the Church. Thomas Wolsey & Joan Larke had 3 children, including Thomas Wynter Woolsey. [I am so confused I have to stop here. Anyway, Rev. Benjamin Wolsey (George 4, Wm3, Thomas 2, Cardinal Robert Wulcy) was b 1584 in Oxford Suffolk, England, and died 1624 in New York. He md Jane Ovel Hook and they had our Immigrant Ancestor George Woolsey, etc. [Art has an interesting book here but not a line of notes for the first 8 generations! He does best on his own immediate lines which seem to be quite complete.]

Straightening the Record

  1. Fact: The first mention of a connection to the Cardinal seems to be on this monument to Col. Melancthon Taylor Woolsey in the old Woolsey Cemetery near Dosoris (Glen Cove/Oyster Bay) on Long Island. It was erected after 1838.
  2. Fact: The first writer about the Woolsey family [Moore:1872] does not mention a connection to the Cardinal.
  3. Fact: The second writer about the Woolseys [Dwight:1873] does not mention a connection to the Cardinal.
  4. Fact: The above dates may be correct for the individuals named, but there is given no information that ties any of them together. It is so much to put together one or two generations and here are 10 generations blithely strung together!
  5. Fact: The problem with the above sources is that they run in circles, each gedcom referencing another gedcom, but few or none of them give any primary sources for their information. The Grolier Encyclopedia International is referenced once, but in regards to the Cardinal. People have gone to a great deal of work but the information is of very little help to the serious researcher, who asks, "Where are the records from the parish registers, and wills, and deeds, etc.?"
  6. Fact: Extensive research by Wilford W. Whitaker in the Norfolk, England, records, both parish registers and WILLs, etc.has proven conclusively that the parents of George Woolsey who married Ffrances Robberts are NOT John and Jane Wolsey.
  7. Fact: There are 80 wills in Norfolk County, from 1360 to 1600 that hold the key to this pedigree. They need to be read.

What the Facts Tell Us About the Myth

  1. Fact: Again, extensive research by Wilford W. Whitaker in Suffolk County, England (where the Cardinal’s family lived and in Norfolk County, where George Woolsey’s people lived), shows that there is little connection between the two Woolsey families in these two areas. We will have to go back much further in time, possibly to the 1000's, when the name was Wulci, etc., and of Saxon origin.
  2. Fact: Did the Cardinal marry? Contemporary detractors and critics claimed he was immoral and had "bastard" children but these were opponents who wanted to discredit him in every way imaginable.
  3. Fact: The Catholic Church discouraged (forbade) marriages of its clergy.
  4. Fact: Some later biographers gave the Cardinal the benefit of the doubt and thought he may have been married and left descendants.
  5. Fact: "The edict that priests . . . remain celibate had not been wholeheartedly accepted in England. Hence the rule of celibacy was not uncommonly honored in the breach and the offense forgiven by regular fines, which, . . . constituted a source of episcopal revenues. . . . There is no indication that Wolsey was married but once. . . the woman he married appears to have been the daughter of one Peter Larke. . . . the connections were good, and the union, in its way respectable. Wolsey seems to have remained faithful to his wife and later to have given her in marriage as a father might - even fixing upon her a dowry - when she was wed publicly and formally to George Legh of Adlington, a wealthy land-owner in the county of Cheshire. . . . Two children were born from Wolsey’s marriage with Joan Larke. A daughter named Dorothy, was consigned to a nunnery in the fashion of the day. The son was known as Thomas Wynter; and he was spoken of sometimes by his father and by others as Wolsey’s son, sometimes as his nephew." [Ferguson, Charles W. Naked To Mine Enemies - The Life of Cardinal Wolsey. Little, Brown & Co. Boston & Toronto. 1958. p. 86-87.]

If you have myths to suggest, or evidence to add supporting or further refuting a myth, please send your message to Wilford Whitaker.


Myths Index

Carolyn Woolsey Wilkerson