October 19, 2020
Whole Number 153
AN UNFORTUNATE EXAMPLE OF HOW
GENEALOGICAL ERRORS ARE PERPETUATED
A portion of the December 1958 issue of The Sparks Quarterly, Whole No. 24, was devoted to an article entitled 'Thomas Sparks, Political Exile.' We indicated that the subject of the article, Thomas Sparks, had been banished from England for taking part in an uprising against King George I in the year 1715. We stated that he was one of 738 men who were exiled to the colony of Maryland; that he had been imprisoned at Liverpool, England; placed aboard the Friendship on May 24, 1716; and transported to Prince Georges County, Maryland.
The source of information for this article was a 3-volume History of Maryland, written by John Thomas Scharf and published in 1879. On page 386 of the first volume, under the heading 'Jacobite Prisoners,' Mr. Scharf presented a 'List of Rebbels Transported in the Shipp the Friendship of Belfast, Michael Mankin, commander, the 20th of August 1716.' Among the 80 'rebbels' named was Thomas Spark. He had been sold to Philip Dowell in Maryland as an indentured servant. Such an indenture was usually for seven years.
In 1903, Hester Dorsey Richardson wrote a 2-volume book entitled Sidelights on Maryland History. On page 214 of the first volume, in a chapter headed 'The Scotch Exiles,' she wrote the following:
In the years 1716 and 1717, many of the leaders in the Scotch uprisings were, after being taken prisoners of war, banished to Maryland and so fearful was the King of their power that he prohibited, as we have seen, any of them from returning within seven years.... Most of these sturdy clansmen, however, remained and settled in Prince Georges County and called their home 'New Scotland.'
The names of those who fought against the King at Preston and were banished to Maryland included the name of Thomas Spark in this listing. Mrs. Richardson acknowledged her indebtedness to Mr. Scharf for the names of the exiles, thus perpetuating any errors in transcription that he may have made.
The matter was laid to rest until 1984 when David Dobson compiled a book entitled Directory of Scots Banished to the American Plantations, 1650-1775. This book was published by the Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Dobson not only provided a list of these political prisoners, but also provided a brief description of each one. On page 176 of his book, he wrote the following:
PARK, THOMAS. Jacobite captured at Preston, Transported from Liverpool to Maryland on the Friendship, master, Michael Mankin, 24 May 1716. Sold to Philip Dowell in Maryland 20 August 1716. (SP/C (C.T.B.) (HM).
The references used by Mr. Dobson were as follows: SPIC - State Papers, Colonial; CTB - Calendar of Treasury Books; HM - History of Maryland.
Since there now seemed to be no doubt that Thomas SPARK (referred to by Scharf and by Richardson) and Thomas PARK (referred to by Dobson), were the same person, we engaged a genealogical researchist, Edward J. Lowe of London, England, to examine the original records, which are filed among the State Papers of King George I of England. Mr. Lowe gave us his report on November 9, 1990. Here are the pertinent portions of his report.
I enclose with pleasure a photo-copy of A List of Rebels... Held at Liverpool, dated April 8, 1716, which includes a man whose name is clearly THOMAS PARKE.
This List was continued in the Letters and Papers. The evidence remains circumstantial, but in view of the date, the place and the clear fact that all are listed as rebels, I believe that the conclusion is overwhelming 1) this is the same man who was transported on the Friendship on 24 May 1716 and 2) that his name is PARK, not SPARKS.
Fortunately, we have found no descendants of Thomas PARKE (or Thomas Sparks as some have presumed); thus few records, if any, will need to be changed.