Sunday, 22 May 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 9

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 9: Census Instructions? Who Needs Instructions?    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 9: Census Instructions? Who Needs Instructions?” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 22 May 2016).

Do you read instructions? 
Or are you one of those who thinks they know how to do it and then when something doesn't fit goes to the instructions to see how it should be done.

I started to research in the days when the only census information on the internet was the transcribed 1881 census at Family Search. If you wanted to see anything else or find anyone you had to use indexes compiled by a local family history society. The only way to see an image was to go to the archive or Family History Centre to find it on microfilm.

Today viewing a census page and obtaining the information from several censuses can be done within hours or even minutes. But do we understand what the record is we have before us. Why was it created and by whom, what were they expected to do and how did they do it.

In my research I have used census results in England and Wales and in preparation for this study group I decided to find out more about these and give some suggestions for anyone not familiar with them.

I thought I might have to do some searching and initially thought that The National Archives might have more on their website. However I found another website had all that I wanted and more.

On this website they also have images of the 1911 Census Schedules which include instructions on how the form should be completed.

These formed one side of the form and the other side was to be completed by the householder.
Another site which has more information is the Guide to Census Reports. The particular guide of interest to genealogists is that detailing the history as it helps us to understand the records and the reason they exist.

Whilst census records are a mainstay for 19th century research they did not exist prior to this and we need to consider what alternative records we may use.

The range of records available to assist our research is vast and we cannot expect to understand but a small proportion of why these records exist. 
We need to understand that to make best use of them we need to discover 
  • why 
  • who 
  • where
  • when 
  • how 

We cannot fully understand the society that our ancestors lived in. 
However researching can improve our understanding.

No analysis of the information in a document can be considered thorough if we do not know exactly what we are looking at in that document and the circumstances that required that document to exist.

Birthdates could have been written in a bible if you could write, because there was no official way of recording it, and it was a good way of remembering the date when you had a large family. 
Once official records existed, some may have continued to record in their bibles, but others, chose not to as, they now had an official piece of paper. 

Whilst genealogy has no set of instructions we do have guidelines which if we choose to follow will help us build our case like the castle in my previous post rather than the priory.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 8

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 8: What Constitutes Proof?    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 8: What Constitutes Proof?” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 4 May 2016).

Genealogy, like many other disciplines, has to acknowledge that just because something has been recorded, be it, written, spoken or visual, does not automatically make it truthful or accurate. 
Incorrect information may have been recorded for any number of reasons. 
Alterations can be made, even in official documents, which means that the information contained in a source may not reflect the truth.

In this lesson, the author, explains how genealogical proof is a process of building or assembling the evidence required.

When a structure is built we need to take care to build it correctly so it can stand the test of time like the castle in this photograph.

Lindisfarne Castle

If we fail to maintain the structure or do not consider correctly what we need to correctly build it initially we could end up with something similar to this second photograph.

Lindisfarne Priory
So what things do we need to consider in order to build a robust proof.

Elizabeth Shown Mills suggests we need 11 basics in building our proof.
These key words sum up those points.
        1. Thorough
        2. Thoughtful
        3. Careful
        4. Unbiased
        5. Accurate
        6. Knowledgable
        7. Skilled
        8. Creative
        9. Critical
        10. Logical
        11. Well-reasoned
If all of these come in to play it would be reasonable to assume that any beginner would be unlikely to have all the skills needed to produce a well crafted proof. But none of these is unsurmountable and the skills and knowledge can be acquired through practice and education. 
Many of these skills may be taught in school and there has never been a better time to attain the knowledge of what resources are available in order to carry out thorough research.

Do not expect the answers to your research questions to be found in a single document, if an answer is there, consider how you confirm it is correct.
Many things require interpretation, it may be that any conclusion is just the best inference drawn from the resources currently available. We must always be open to changing our interpretation if further evidence is found.

Being thorough does not solely mean finding lots of sources, it also applies to how we look at what we have found. We need to consider, each of these words, each time we look at information, if we are to interprete all of the evidence we have.

It is almost certain that each of us at some stage in our research have gone back to a document or individual in our research to discover that due to a lapse in applying the basics we have missed or misinterpreted something.

I had mistakenly assigned the wrong parents to one of my husband's ancestors Richard Ward. There were 2 Richard's in Croxton Kerrial, Leicestershire, England. One christened on 6 Jun 1813 son of William and Catharine and the other on 25 Jun 1809 son of Catherine Ward which I now believe to be the correct Richard. The year of birth from the 1841-1871 census returns varies between 1809-1811 and the place of birth of Mary his wife is listed as outside Leicestershire, Marston Lincolnshire or Leicestershire, Muston, Leicestershire and Harston, Leicestershire on the census returns. I had failed to note the earlier christening fitted the information from the census records and that the Richard christened in 1813 had married a Sarah and moved to Harston, Leicestershire. Subsequent research has found Mary, whose maiden name was given as Gray at marriage and in christeninng records for some of their children, was herself christened in Marston, Lincolnshire. 

To sum up, each and everyone of us should keep in the back of our minds whenever we evaluate our sources, am I involving those basics in reaching my current conclusion. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 7

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 7: Family Lore and Indian Princesses    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 7: Family Lore and Indian Princesses,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 4 May 2016).

This lesson deals with the stories that pass down through the family.
These can either be backed up by the evidence or totally refuted.
Whatever we do we must be sure that the person we have found is the one we want and not just someone with a similar name.
We must also ensure that we look at all credible sources for the time and place we are researching.
If we miss that there is another person with a similar name, or don't consider them in our analysis, we will reduce the credibility of our research.

Stories get passed from one generation to another and as each person passes the oral history it can change and even become a totally different tale.
Oral history should not be dismissed as it can help us to deal with conflicts and changes from one record to another. 
Within my own research I have been told why a living person uses a different name to that recorded on the birth certificate. 
Sometimes social attitudes can be such that the truth is not recorded. During wartime many children were conceived whilst the husband was away and at least some of them will have been registered with the husband's surname. Children born to unmarried girls may have been brought up as a younger sibling by the grandparents.

Many like to believe that they are descendants of nobility or that there is a connection to someone with money. But finding a document does not mean that it is one that relates to your family. Does the information fit with what you already know or are there inconsistencies. Don't wait for someone else to point out your conflicts resolve them, if you can't explain them, highlight them, and think about how you may find out more so that you can resolve them. 

Only this last week I made contact with a third cousin who told me “ Joseph George Robbins was born on the 28th December 1887 in Warminster, Wiltshire. He left Warminster and went to London, became a window cleaner and then got a job as a waiter at The Strand Hotel in London.  He met Edith Fuller who later became his wife. Joseph travelled to New York and got a job as a waiter at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.  At some point he sent for Edith and she obtained work in the hotel as a “hat check girl”.  They married in New Rachel, USA. Edith became pregnant and was sent back to stay with her mother in England. Violet Georgina Robbins was born on 5th June 1916.Grandfather also worked on ships as a chef and a waiter working for the Orient line and went to Australia on the Orantees and my aunts could remember he visited Fremantle, Adelaide and Brisbane. ”
I am now in the process of confirming the details.

Transcriptions can be easy to find but I always like to confirm things with originals or digital images.
The marriage transcription is on Family Search and here is the citation
New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 May 2016), Joseph Robbins and Edith Fuller, 21 Feb 1913; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,613,708

I have also found possible passenger lists for both of them travelling to New York she left on 12 February 1913 and he on the 4 December 1912, however the occupations do not fit with those I have been told about, and the Joseph on another ship leaving Southampton on the 11 March 1914 could be him as he is listed as a waiter. She is possibly following in April 1914 on the Olympic.
Did he go out in 1912 trying to find work and then end up doing something else?

Why did they go back to England after their marriage and return on different ships?

The information that is on the passenger lists is never enough to be certain that you have the correct person(s) particularly with common names.

I have found a record card CR10 which shows his Merchant Navy service on the Orontes this has a photograph of him on the card. (see link to Wikipedia page for SS Orontes)
Another researcher added some family photographs to their Ancestry tree in 2009 and the person on the CR10 matches the person in those photographs.

I have found a website for the Waldorf Astoria and believe there may be records in the New York Archives but I will probably have to wait and see if they become available online. 
I also need to check out the newspapers for any information.

Since Joseph and Edith were both born, and also died, in England, I might never have thought to search elsewhere for their marriage. 
Family stories can be useful but we need to be careful to follow up our hints with good documentation.

Monday, 18 April 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 6 and The Research Plan

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 6: Mindmapping Records    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 6: Mindmapping Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 17 April 2016).        

Based on the Settlement Examination I referred to in Lesson 5 I have created a Mindmap showing where I will go next in the research for this ancestor and her ancestors using the information found in the document.

If it is easier to view this link will open in another window My Mindmap.
By looking at what I have found in this document I can create a plan of where to search for further records that will confirm and expand upon what was found in this one record.

The Research Plan: Two-step Next Steps?
Elizabeth Shown Mills, "The Research Plan: Two-step Next Steps?" Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 17 April 2016).

The key element to my research from the map I have created is to find out more about the identity of Mary Eley mother of Louisa Richards. If I was to find more in some of these records I would have to determine her maiden name. I briefly discussed where I have got with my research in my previous post.
The research process requires a step by step approach and not fully analysing the results at each stage can lead us to jump to the wrong conclusions.
I was fortunate that Mary married Edward Eley using her maiden name and this marriage was the only one in the register that would fit the information obtained from the Settlement Examination. If she had married someone with a more common name in this area the search would have been less straightforward.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Where next for Twile?

Do you want more of your family to be involved in creating Family History for future generations?

Whether it's taking pictures, writing stories, or just sharing experiences, we are all creating our own family history everyday. 
The younger generation use social media to interact with each other and some even use it to keep up with their families. 
If you use Facebook you will see numerous photographs every day. Some of these are of milestone events weddings, christenings, birthdays and other special occasions. 
Would you like to save these for your descendants to see or share them with family who live away? 
Some members of the family may be reluctant to share in such a public arena and would prefer a more private place.

Twile was created so families can share there experiences and knowledge about the family in a fun interactive way and everyone can add their own part of the story. 
It uses timelines and is very visual great for engaging the younger generation. 
There are also ways of incorporating historic events within your timeline to show how these evnts may have affected your family.

Why not try their 30 day free trial.

I wrote a post in February so take a look if you have not read it and read some of the Twile blog to find out more.

The Twile team (in red) of Paul Brooks, Kelly Marsden and Caroline Brooks at the Find My Past Stand at Who Do You Think You Are Live 2016

Earlier this week I posted about my experience at Guild Conference and WDYTYA Live. Paul Brooks was at both conference and show and was explaining how Twile works and asking whether there is anything they could do to make the website work for those doing surname studies. I must admit I was not sure how it might work.

The team have been busy since Rootstech trying to respond to the suggestions they received from those likely to use the site to build and share their family history.
I could write about the discussion of what is to come but instead I will share with you an interview I conducted with Paul in the hall at Who Do You Think You Are Live.

Here is the link to my interview.

Caroline Brooks talking to a member of the Find My Past team

Sunday, 10 April 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 5

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 5: Analyzing Records    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 5: Analyzing Records,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 30 March 2016)

For this weeks lesson I would like to refer you to an earlier post which includes a transcription of a record I found when I visited the archives in Southampton, Hampshire, England.

I had contacted the archives before I visited as I had been looking for a bastardy record for my 2xgt grandfather. The baptism record, that I had received a copy of from my aunt, showed that Stephen was the illegitimate son of Stephen Buckle and Louisa Richards and was christened in 1827 at St Michael's Church in Southampton. 

When I received the baptism record I could have left it at that as I had the name of the father recorded. However even though I had this information I had heard of bastardy records and hoped that I might learn more. I have still not used these records in my research yet.
Fortunately for me the settlement examinations for this time period had been indexed and as Louisa Richards appeared in this index I looked at the record transcribed in the aforementioned post.
Understanding of why a record was created is important and may lead us to discover more.
Why were they asking about where the mother was born, and had worked. In this document there is also reference to the grandparents. To fully appreciate what information is contained in this document we need to know more about settlement and how the parish of settlement is determined. Why were they trying to determine a parish of settlement?
The analysis of this document reveals many details about the early life of my ancestor and creates many questions. 
I refer you to my preferred reference source for more information about settlement
Herber, Mark D. Ancestral trails : the complete guide to British genealogy and family history. Stroud: Sutton, 2004. p 345-349.
Questions posed by this document were touched upon in this earlier post and some of these can now be answered by further research. Discovering the marriage of Edward and Mary revealed her maiden name. Her christening revealed her father's name and the Christian name of her mother this led to marriage of the parents. Records for Jersey are difficult to find but I discovered a transcription online so a trip to the beautiful island of Jersey is now required. I may have discovered more about Thomas Richards but I need to discover what military records are available for this period. I believe he may have been involved in the Napoleonic wars as I found a record for his regiment.
Thorough research involves more than analysis of documents. Context and understanding of what may help your research ensures that everything is looked at in the context of when and where the record was created.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

My Colourful Ancestry

These two images were created using Family Historian for the recent genealogy craze this Easter

This is the one for my husband

This is mine

I may add a chart to include all the main events birth, marriage and death at a later date but for the time being these show the birth counties in England.