Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Fictional Abraham Womack

Over the years, researchers have invented Womack ancestors out of thin air to fill percieved gaps in their family history. The most egregious of these is an Abraham Womack supposedly born about 1666, son of the "original" Abraham Womack (born circa 1644). This Abraham, born circa 1666, was also supposedly the one who died in 1733 in Henrico Co, VA, rather than the Abraham born c1644. The reasoning for this is weak, as I will show below.

Note that I take the later end of when Abraham Womack could have been born. He gave his age in several Henrico court depositions:

1643/4 - Abraham Womecke aged 35 years, deposition - June 2, 1679
1643/4 - Abraham Womocke aged aboute 35 years, Deposeth - June 2, 1679
1643/4 - Abrah Womecke aged 35 years or therabouts - 1679
1644/5 - Abraham Womeck aged abt. 42 - Augt. 1, 1687
1645/6 - Abraham Womeck , aged aboute 32 years - June 20, 1678
1644/5 - Abra. Womeck aged 33 years or thereabouts, Deposeth. - June, 1678
1641/2 - Abraham Womeck aged 49 years, makes a deposition. Augt. 1, 1691

The concensus seems to be he was born in 1644.

First, I would like to talk about a few other fictional Womacks, the supposed children of William Womack, brother of Abrham c1644.

Anyone interested in this era should read Ann McDonald's proposal.

Ann is absolutely correct. In 1674, when Abraham got two-thirds of his brother William's estate, and William's widow (who is not named, but was by then the wife of William Clarke) got one-third, it absolutely means that William had no children. There was no estate left for any children. Thus, the 1677 reference to a William Womack, deceased, with heir Mary and Thomas, was a different William Womack, the so-called "mythical William Womack the Immigrant", father of Abraham, William, Richard, John, and Thomas Womack. I do not think he was all that mythical. He just lived and died in an era for which there are very few surving records for Henrico, Co VA.

This is what the Virgina Archives says about Henrico:

Henrico: created in 1634 as an original shire, all county court records prior to 1655 and almost all prior to 1677 are missing; additionally, many isolated records were destroyed during the Revolutionary War, and almost all Circuit Court records were destroyed by fire in Richmond on 3 April 1865.

Thomas son of William left a will in which he did not name wife or kids, but lots of other relatives. Of the five sons of William "the Immigrant", only three had children. The sons of each of these were William, Thomas, and Abraham (sons of Abraham); Richard and William (sons of Richard); and William, Richard, John, and Abraham (sons of John). From these 9 Womack grandsons of William "the immigrant" there were approximately 2,500 Womacks of various spellings in the US in 1850.

When I show lineages, I do so like this:
Alexander > Richard > Richard > *William*

This is for my ancestor, Alexander Womack, who died 1784 in Campbell Co, VA. He was the son of Richard, son of Richard, son of William the immigrant, who I write like this: *William*

Thomas > William > *William* is FICTIONAL.

The 1677 record was referring to:
Thomas > *William*

Back to the fictional Abraham Womack. There are three arguments for him.

1) Given that Abraham was born circa 1644, there is no way he lived to 1733, given average life spans at the time.

2) A 1708 deed in Henrico in which an Abraham Womack, Jr gives land to son Thomas for "love and affection".

3) Abraham's son Thomas supposedly married Mary Farley, but Farley researchers have her born later (circa 1707) than most Womack researchers (circa 1690), so to make Mary Farley born later, she must have been married to Thomas, son of Abraham (c1666), son of Abraham (c1644).

I will address these three concerns one by one.

1) About Abraham's age - Some people did live to be that old. Infant mortality was high, but if you survived childhood, you had a good chance of living into your 60s or 70s. Living to 89 was unusual, but not unheard of.

2) The 1708 deed saying Abraham Jr gave land to Thomas - I have not seen the original to see if it was transcribed correctly. I do know that I often have difficulty telling Junior and Senior (or their abbreviations) apart. If it does really say Abraham Jr, chalk it up to a mistake by the clerk recording the deed, a rather easy mistake to make. Such mistakes happened all the time, you see them in census records where Womacks were recorded as Wormoths or vice-versa, or even in old newspapers - one old Georgia newpaper referred to Eli Womack and his wife Monica; it took me a while to figure they were talking about Eli Warnock and his wife Monica Gray. Another thing that does not make sense about this deed if it does say Abraham Jr, is that he gave land to son Thomas for "love and affection" when this fictional Abraham Jr was only about 42, assuming he was born circa 1666. I have seen plenty of "love and affection" deeds, and they almost always happened when the grantor was pretty old, not in his 40s. If Abraham Jr was in his 40s, and Thomas in his 20s, Thomas would have been working that land with his dad, not getting it handed to him on a silver plate.

3) About the Thomas Womack and Mary Farley timeline - see my blog entry on Mary Farley -

Womack genealogy, like most genealogy, is chock full of theories that are presented as hard facts. Documentation is awful. One of the points of this blog is to try to rectify that. Theories are not bad, they can actually be very good, but there should be notes with the GEDCOM file that explain that "this is a theory" and then lay the theory out.

The theory that Abraham Womack, Sr had a son Abraham born circa 1666, and it was this son who left a will in Henrico in 1733, NOT Abraham Sr, is JUST PLAIN WRONG!

Womack genealogy is complicated enough without inventing Womacks who never existed.

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