Whilst working on the project, I have stumbled across several exciting discoveries which turned out to be not so promising or as unique as we had expected. For instance, whilst we initially thought we had struck gold upon stumbling across Richard of Connington and Adam of Lincoln (there’s an Ufford near Lincoln) who spent time at the friary of Stamford, we have now realized that finding Sandford/Sampfords etc. close to Affords/Assfords/Alfords etc. and friaries is not so uncommon as we had anticipated. For instance, I stumbled across a Sandford manor in Somerset within twenty miles of both the friary at Bridgwater and the village of Ashford.
I also have stumbled across numerous red herrings. Many took the form of entries in the indexes of the Victoria County Histories for Richards of Sandford/Sampford as well as a few Adams of A-, which almost all turned out to be men living centuries after our period, or merchants and mayors, clearly not members of holy orders.
I also ran into many more “red herrings” of a less convincing nature, pure coincidental juxtapositions of various people and places involved in the project. I recorded one interesting example in my notes on the Sandford in Worcestershire, when I found the following index entry: “Sanford, Hen. S. J. Ayshford, iv 36 . . . see also Sandford.” Seeing a Sandford in the same name as an Ayshford excited me, never mind that it involved a Henry and not a Richard or Adam. It, of course, was a total red herring.
For another, take a look at the following section of my notes which features the Great Dissolver himself and a Richard living in Sandford:
Sandford on Isle of Wight
• Henry VIII visited his son Richard Worsley at Appuldurcombe in 1538.
• Richard seems to have been a common name there amongst the Worsleys; Sir Richard Worsley purchased the manor in 1781.
Once I realized how common such coincidences actually were, I stopped recording them in my notes, even as curiosities. One thing is certain: England has an abundance of Richards, Adams, and Sandy-bottomed-river crossings!