Falsely Pretending to be Related to Someone Famous

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Zella

2nd Lieutenant
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May 23, 2018
Looks like a blacksmith! ...just what did a blacksmith look like on his way home, I’d imagine that many Irishmen in the 1920s wore flat caps and were covered in dirt after a hard days work!
Fortunately we know we also need to look for the one who looks like a sulky bulldog. :bounce:

The bit about him always walking around with his cap over his head cracked me up too. My great-grandfather was a . . . colorful individual, and he was prone to doing that too. Especially when police were around. :laugh:
 
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Fairfield

Corporal
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Dec 5, 2019
About 15-years-ago I had a very elderly man from Cape Cod stop by my house and ask, "I'm looking for the Deacon Cornelius Waters House. I've come from Cape Cod, etc searching for it." I live in it. It's a very humble, working Colonial home from 1774 - not grand but very well built. We got talking and it turns out he's a distant cousin of my mother's side of the family. He was explaining about one of the line down there on the Cape being a murderer and "no good" and some of the piratical and thuggery side and I was thinking, "so that explains that side that my mother was so ashamed of.":cautious:

Or as my husband always says about reincarnation, "everyone claims to be Cleopatra but no one ever says they were the slave that emptied the chamber pots! :giggle:
I once worked with a lady who was doing research for membership in the Mayflower Society. As she rattled off the names of her illustrious forebears, she named one that I recognized. He was a Civil War soldier from a nearby town and she wanted to know all about him--checking further, I discovered that he had deserted. She said "I can't understand that: grandmother told me that her father was often away on "police business" in Massachusetts. Looking into it, he was doing hard labor. The lady lost all interest in THAT branch of her family.
 
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Fritz1255

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Apr 20, 2005
We have almost the same story from two different and unrelated branches of my family. The story goes that "We are related to royalty through one of the (Royal) family daughters who was disowned after eloping with the family coachman." It was a little more believable before Downton Abbey had the nearly identical story line. My guess is that people did this so they could put on airs and feel important. The "disowned" part was the explanation for why they had no title or money from their "Royal" family. Not like any of their friends and neighbors could do an internet search to disprove the story.
 

Waterloo50

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We have almost the same story from two different and unrelated branches of my family. The story goes that "We are related to royalty through one of the (Royal) family daughters who was disowned after eloping with the family coachman." It was a little more believable before Downton Abbey had the nearly identical story line. My guess is that people did this so they could put on airs and feel important. The "disowned" part was the explanation for why they had no title or money from their "Royal" family. Not like any of their friends and neighbors could do an internet search to disprove the story.
A similar story line was also told in the TV drama series ‘Victoria’, the Duchess of Monmouth was alleged to have eloped with one of the Royal Footmen/coachman, the Duchess of Monmouth was actually based upon a real Victorian lady called ‘Caroline Norton.’ Caroline was quite the socialite, she associated with people like Mary Shelley’, Benjamin Disraeli and Fanny Kemble. The story goes that Caroline Norton had been accused by her Husband of having an affair with the then Prime Minister Lord Melbourne which of course Caroline denied.

During the Victorian Period, It wasn’t unheard of for husbands to make outlandish accusations of infidelity simply because it strengthened the husbands case for divorce. During the Victorian period it really was a huge deal when upper class women were accused of having affairs with the likes of the lowly footman or servant, of course British courts nearly always took the side of the husband in divorce proceedings and even more so if the women in question was alleged to have been having an affair with a man of lower social standing, so, it comes as no surprise to me that you have a story of a female family member who, it is alleged, had an affair with a Coachman. The Royal part of the story I’m not so sure about but its perfectly feasible that a woman who jilted her husband was accused of eloping with someone not befitting her social class.
 
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James N.

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I'm assuming that since he's not claiming a more famous ancestor (and isn't apparently trying to pounce on the family fortune), he really does think he is related and doesn't see his claim as fraudulent.

Though I suppose a truly savvy faker would choose a lesser-known historical figure to claim to be related to. :laugh:
Ugh, this guy disgusts me. He’s 100% a scammer (note how his dad apparently dosen't know what he’s up to), and just trying to live the high life solely off another family’s reputation. Everything from the supposed infidelity of his Lemp link to trying to impart celebrity to Pyrex screams “conman!”. Unfortunately the foundation of any good lie is a kernel of truth. He did indeed own many Lemp artifacts... they just weren’t ancestral.

It’s sort of disappointing that so many institutions were taken in by him, and it shows that we all need to be suspicious of extraordinary claims and do our research before we accept anything at face value.

A great bit of investigative journalism, thanks for sharing.
For some reason your posts remind me of another shyster here in East Texas that claimed to be a grandson/descendant of lesser-known Confederate Brig. Gen. Frank Armstrong, claiming even to own "his" genuine Confederate-made sword. I saw the sword, and IT at least appeared to be genuine, even if its owner wasn't.

For those unfamiliar with Armstrong, he's probably best known by followers of the weekly Trivia game: What general fought on BOTH sides in the Civil War? Answer: Frank was a newly-minted second lieutenant fresh out of West Point at the time of Bull Run, fighting in that battle in a Regular U. S. Cavalry regiment like his classmate George Custer; however, unlike Custer, Armstrong no doubt figured the South would eventually win, so resigned his new commission, accepting one in the Confederate army instead. He went west where he rose to brigadier commanding the Mississippi cavalry brigade that served variously under Forrest and Joe Wheeler.

Back to the shyster, who owned a small junk/relic shop/"museum" in Jefferson, Texas, where he regaled patrons with the story of his famous "ancestor" during the annual Pilgrimage held there. Unfortunately for him, he was finally outed when someone realized that Armstrong's known descendants didn't match the supposed pedigree, and he soon disappeared from the local scene and his shop traded hands. @Rusk County Avengers may have additional information about this character and his possible motives!
 
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James N.

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One of my more interesting ancestors was my gg grandfather that was captured and spent time in Libby. The was charged with murder and spent two years at Libby after the war. Finally released when it was noted that he had shot deserters and I guess that was not considered murder. I can't find an explanation in the records of exactly why he was released. However, I did discover that the one shot was one of his neighbors.
What I presume and certainly hope was the black sheep of my family abandoned my maternal grandmother, then murdered another man on the streets of downtown Dallas, Texas who he suspected was "romancing" her. (I only found out about THAT much later from a cousin who was doing genealogy, and I never met him; apparently he died before I was born.) However, although there were newspaper clippings about the stabbing - with an ice pick he'd conveniently 'found' nearby! - there's no record of a trial; apparently his good standing as a member of the local KKK allowed him to be spirited out of town beforehand.
 
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James N.

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Falsely claiming to be related to somebody famous... Well, there's a whole family of Indians downriver who believe without a doubt U S Grant is their great-great-grandpa. The names Sam and Hiram were passed down. A few years ago they found their ancestor was really just a regular soldier who stole Grant's identity! But, they still believe it despite absolute proof to the contrary.
It seems Grant has "descendants" in the Savannah, Tennessee, region too, supposedly from a liaison he had with an Irish serving-girl at his Cherry Mansion headquarters during the Shiloh campaign!

… It's kind of the other way around with Indians. Native people tend to have a lot of imposters - and it's an odd thing. Red Thunder Cloud, who was the last fluent speaker of Catawba and helped restore the language...was everything but Indian! (And apparently a genius - he knew a number of Native languages without having been taught.)
Of course the bogus Italian "Indian" who called himself Iron Eyes Cody is now pretty well-known as an imposter.
 
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John Winn

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For some time I was actually disappointed that there didn't seem to be any horse thieves, murderers, two-timers or the like in my tree (that I could find out about, anyway). That changed last year when I finally got the scoop on several gg grandparents on mom's side I'd not been able to find before. Turns out two of them were crooked Cincinnati city council members, one had multiple mistresses and a messy public divorce, and one lied about his CW service to try and get a pension. Theirs are some good stories and I really do feel a lot better somehow.
 

Lubliner

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I could probably write a whole book on split personality disorders, but the argument between the sides would escalate to No Contest.
It is not the same point as duplicity, or two-faced. In our society there seems to be a strong need for the individual to attach to a prominent group or name or organization. Possibly the historical antecedents of 'Pretender to the Crown' is the origin of it all.
I am an Orphan without inheritance.
My own legacy of logic began with John Jakes' "The Bastard". Before that publishment I really never questioned the knowledge of being orphaned and adopted out. It was just the way things were. People claim Indian lineage when Indian culture is popular, or when arguments of brutality are rampant. Claiming fame or fortune by someone else's doings, even if they are ancestral, is smoke and mirror hoopla, to me. You are who you are, even if you had wealthy family backing. It does not disqualify you from being yourself. I do not want to be taken in and claimed by any family, whether my own or some other. It is a simple wisdom that makes us right and wrong. Like @Ethan S. asked "Why?", when all it does is complicate life.
Lubliner.
 

Fairfield

Corporal
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I could probably write a whole book on split personality disorders, but the argument between the sides would escalate to No Contest.
It is not the same point as duplicity, or two-faced. In our society there seems to be a strong need for the individual to attach to a prominent group or name or organization. Possibly the historical antecedents of 'Pretender to the Crown' is the origin of it all.
I am an Orphan without inheritance.
My own legacy of logic began with John Jakes' "The Bastard". Before that publishment I really never questioned the knowledge of being orphaned and adopted out. It was just the way things were. People claim Indian lineage when Indian culture is popular, or when arguments of brutality are rampant. Claiming fame or fortune by someone else's doings, even if they are ancestral, is smoke and mirror hoopla, to me. You are who you are, even if you had wealthy family backing. It does not disqualify you from being yourself. I do not want to be taken in and claimed by any family, whether my own or some other. It is a simple wisdom that makes us right and wrong. Like @Ethan S. asked "Why?", when all it does is complicate life.
Lubliner.
Genealogists put a lot of credibility in primary sources (ie. statements (etc.) by those with immediate knowledge) with one exception: claims that involve money become suspect. That includes pension claims and heritage claims. Sometimes our ancestors were as greedy as some of our contemporaries!
 
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Virginia Dave

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One of my fellow guides had an interesting ancestral claim a few years back. One of his guests claimed to be a direct descendant of Sgt. Buster Kilrain of the 20th Maine. Of course, all of you know that Kilrain is a fictional character in "The Killer Angels".
Sad that he recently passed away.
 
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Zella

2nd Lieutenant
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May 23, 2018
Sometimes our ancestors were as greedy as some of our contemporaries!
For sure!

In my family tree, my g-g-g-g grandmother was written out of her father's will when she married her third husband because her dad considered him a scoundrel. Her father's estate instead went to her children from her first marriage (first husband was also apparently . . . an interesting fellow who was accused of murdering a prior wife). A big chunk of her father's estate went to her daughter Martha who was a favorite of granddad's. Guess who marries Martha as soon as he is of age and conveniently swipes up her inheritance? The scoundrel's son! I can only imagine the machinations that went on in that family to shore up that money.
 
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