Black sheep, huh!? Are they referencing “dyed in the wool” black sheep…”bad to the bone” black sheep…or perhaps, “poor choices and indiscretions” black sheep? My family tree has every one of these varieties.
“Dyed in the wool” black sheep: Being a specie of this type depends on who is doing the judging. In this case, King James I of England is the judge of this case. Meet our defendant George Soule who is an indentured servant. He and his master are what are called Separatists. They do not wish to belong to the Church of England of which King James is the head. Loyal subjects of the realm must be loyal to this church. George and his master are not. In James’ humble regal opinion, these men are black sheep among the sheep he shepherds. When these Separatists/Puritans wish to come to the New World, James is most happy to be rid of them. So, this flock leaves the fold. George, who is my 9th great grandfather, will board the Mayflower in 1620. His descendants will populate New World with even more “dyed in the wool” black sheep Englishmen and women.
“Bad to the bone” black sheep: These bad boys are rebellious, disloyal, unfaithful. They will take up arms against their king, their motherland, their fellow English citizens…no matter the cost. If their King George III finds them guilty, they will die the traitor’s death of being hung. Their fortunes and lands will be denied their remaining families. How dare they turn against Great Britain and all she embodies? How can they be so ungrateful to the King’s good protection? Just who do they think they are? These anti-loyalists would be termed “patriots”. Joseph Story, Benjamin Dows, Ebenezer Newman, Thomas Newman, Conrad Rhodes, Joseph Boultenhouse, and John Nichols are my 4th and 5th great grandfathers who opposed the king during the American Revolution. Their descendants would fill the newborn nation with others who would also be rebellious. Are they too “bad to the bone”?
“Poor choices and indiscretions” black sheep: What was once a family story, related by my mother to me, turned out to be a real life soap opera. The story went that our great aunt had run away with the parish priest. Researching the story, I found newspaper accounts in several Midwestern newspapers. She had! She stole her husband’s car and headed to her sister’s home in a metropolitan city. The priest was with her along with her 5 year old daughter. The husband went to the local police and asked to have a warrant for the priest’s arrest…the car was registered to him alone so the pair were guilty of auto theft among other crimes. Once captured after a high speed chase by the police in another state, the pair and child spent the night in jail. When the husband arrived, he reclaimed his wife and struck the priest. Later that year, the wife filed for divorce…the priest took off for parts unknown after failing to come to court for the trial. Some think he ran to Mexico…defrocked and disgraced.
No matter who the black sheep are…no matter what they did…no matter at all.