Please note: At the centre of the following is Henry Adams, G-G-Grandfather of John Adams 2nd US President and G-G-G-Grandfather of John Quincy Adams 6th US President. Henry was born about 1583 in Barton St David, Somerset, the fourth child of John Adams and wife Agnes, John being one of a succession of tenant farmers in the area. Claimed descendants of Henry who have carried out in-depth research into the family (see below) conclude that their Adams family possibly inherited their name from nearby Charlton Adam. This follows from a family named Adam (sometimes referred to as FitzAdam) who owned Charlton Adam manor for a few generations in the early 13th century, after whom it seems the village may then have adopted their name.

Two erroneous/falsified family trees - an original appearing in the Herald's Visitation for Devon for 1564 ('Adams of Tunstall'), tracing an Adams link back to Somerset, and a plagiarised version published in a normally reliable American Genealogical journal in 1853 - wrongly show an ancestral line back to the ancient Welsh/Norman ap Adam family, a family well researched by our Group and much featured on this website.

It is interesting to note that the earliest of these pedigrees did not appear in the original 1564 compilation, only to show up in a later compilation that added the 1620 visitation. However, it is unique, but not for a good reason, in having had no apparent editing and remained almost completely unexpurgated. This is despite the fact that information was widely available at the date of publication (1887) that should have challenged the accuracy; and this possibly explains its earlier exclusion (it has to be said by a more established academic). This pedigree also probably contributed to the wrong assumption that Henry came from Devon, a line followed by President John Adams but later refuted by his son John Quincy. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register claim to have drawn attention to all this, but elected to do this in a very indirect way, i.e. via a book review.

The bottom-line is that there is no evidence to link Adams and ap Adams families. As confirmed by numerous reliable sources the last male Ap Adam died in 1424, with his nephew John Huntley apparent sole heir. As a feudal baron, Sir John ap Adam was in possession of many properties across Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire (etc). Their chief residence was Beverston Castle, Gloucestershire (as Lord of Beverston).

The ap Adam family had no interest in Charlton Adam, albeit Sir John ap Adam and his wife Elizabeth possessed a number of properties in Somerset, and this included Charlton Mackrell (a separate manor to Charlton Adam) for a brief period in the late 13th, early 14th century due to Elizabeth's inheritance (via her Grandfather Anselm de Gournay). There is however no record of them taking up any form of residence there, but these coincidences have probably not helped the development of the false alignment of the families. There is also no evidence of any ap Adams choosing to call themselves 'Adams'.

Rather than critique the pedigrees we would rather refer the reader to Henry Adams of Somersetshire, England and Braintree, Mass.: His English Ancestry and Some of His Descendants by Josiah Gardner Bartlett (for Edward Dean Adams  pub. 1927), which we see as one of the best sources of information about this particular Adams family. As an example of a more recent Adams family history, we would also recommend Ancestors and Descendants of Jeremiah Adams, 1794-1883, of Salisbury, Connecticut, Sullivan County, New York, Harbor Creek, Pennsylvania and Vermilion, Ohio by Enid Eleanor Adams (1974) which covers all of the aforementioned with more up to date information. Enid's work was recognised by the American Society of Genealogists who conferred its Donald Lines Jacobus award on her work in 1977.*


*Both researchers identify a few Adams to be found in Somerset in the Subsidy Roll of 1327, including Thomas Adam of Brewham. This is not followed up but Thomas is very possibly a descendant of the FitzAdam family from Charlton, as records show when they sold the manor to Bruton Priory (for 120 marks) they took on a life interest in Brewham manor.