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Bounced msg regarding Robert Abernathy of VA
Posted by: Elizabeth Ferguson (ID *****6954) Date: June 27, 2003 at 06:52:32
  of 413

In cleaning out some of my email folders, I rediscovered an old copy of the following bounced message, initially dated 21 Jan 2003. As it contains information regarding Robert Abernethy of Virginia, alleged son of George Abernethy of Barrie, I thought to post it here.

The msg was as follows:

Hello, Bob!

About a year and a half ago, you posted a query in the Abernethy GenForum message base concerning a document found by you in the Lincoln County Library in Lincolnton, NC, relating to the origin of the Abernethy family in America, signed by Frances Jones Kirmayer.

A copy of that document (among other relevant items, eventually including footnote citations from Thomas Perkins Abernathy's booklet) were given to a PRO researcher in England, with the request to verify the information alleged by Kirmayer's statement, funded by a collection of Abernathy descendants in the US and Canada. That researcher was initially most scathing about Mz Kirmayer's lack of any citable sources and quite confident that researching this would be no problem. Months and mucho money later, that researcher could not come up with anything whatsoever relevant to our Robert being who and what Mz Kirmayer claimed, but wanted more money to continue further in-depth study. Which we were, by then, unwilling to expend in light of several factors, not the least of which is that we felt he wasted our money on stuff already known to us from sources available in this country, and not UK sources which we were unable to personally research.

I, myself, did some extensive on-line research on the UK government's Public Records Office searchable on-line website (, and if there actually does exist a list of Scottish prisoners from the Battle of Worcester (which I, for one, now VERY seriously doubt) it certainly is NOT so identified and indexed in the over 9.5 million documents catalogued in the Public Records Office. Those that do relate to the time frame in question are not held in Chancery Lane, but in Kew. Moreover, not just anyone is allowed walk-in-off-the-street access to those records: presently, access has to be arranged in advance, to known and qualified researchers, which it appears she was not since she failed so miserably to cite any sources properly.

Methinks the lady took a theory presented to her, one cobbled together and refined by a number of researchers from several seperate branches of the family over the years to account for what few facts we do know, and went after her 15 minutes of fame by coming up with precisely the answer postulated to her, one that so conviently explained everything we all hoped for. If she was an American researcher, I begin to doubt that she even went to London. She certainly could not have completed research in one single month in the many, many volumns, bundles, and parchments listed in the on the website as dealing with State Records for the time frame in question. There are, to be exact, some 1,303 such covering Cromwell's government's state papers.

In addition to looking at each of the 10 sub-divisions of "State Papers Domestic, Civil War and Interregnum" to determine how much there was and where, I did a global search of what's in the UK PRO Catalogue on "Scottish prisoners", "Battle of Worcester", and the surname "Abernethy".

There were 12 hits that matched the search criteria of "Scottish prisoners", but not one was dated prior to 21 Mar 1746, almost 95 years later.

There were 8 hits on "Battle of Worcester", but none were relevant to prisoners, and none dated prior to 1660.

All hits on the Abernethy name were also a few hundred years AFTER the time frame when our Robert came to this continent, and mostly mentioned individuals who were merely born in Abernethy, but not actually named thusly.

George Abernethy, of Barrie, in Scotland did exist and there is documentary proof to support that fact. If you wish, I can and will provide authorative citations. He had a son and heir, James. But the cadet line stemming from the 3rd son of the 6th Baron Saltoun is very definitively stated as becomming extinct in the male lineage in 1785. The lands of Barrie were sold in 1722 to a member of the Duff family, and the lands of Mayen, upon the death in 1785 of the last remaining male heir of that cadet line also went to the Duff family, this time, along with the Lairdship, since the husband of the elder daughter bought out the interests of the younger ones. Note that in 1722 the Scottish laws of primogenitor were still in effect (they didn't get replaced until about 1868, so I was told) and IF Robert had been a younger brother of James, his son here in Virginia would have been heir and automatically assume ownership of the Barrie property. This clearly did not happen, therefore Robert wasn't a younger brother of James.

There is no mention anywhere that I have found in years of research of the Scottish Abernethys of Rothiemay in Moray and Banff of that particular George Abernethy having more than one son. There is, to the best of my knowledge, no uncontestable documentary proof to support that theory. The 17th Baron Saltoun, who naturally had access to all the family papers and charters, made very definite statements in the late 1800's concerning the extinction of that particular cadet line.

Was Kirmayer a London-based researcher? I do not know. If so, she certainly was a poor one. Not much better, in fact, than the one we hired. But in the opinion of several of us who contributed money for this little endeavor, the verdict on the assertations contained within her document in the Abernathy folder in Lincolnton is simply not substantiated. Possibly most of us who funded this now doubt it to have a shred of validity, although we all agree that it is highly possible that Robert was, indeed, captured at the Battle of Worcester. Beyond that, nothing of what Kirmayer claims is proven.

My opinion is that the Kirmayer document is a deliberate fraud.

Your mileage may vary...

Cordial Regards,
Elizabeth Ferguson

For those who may wish to personally examine the references on the Abernethy of Rothiemay lineage, please read my message #222 in this forum, dated Nov 20, 2002.

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