Saturday, 29 March 2014

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2 Chapter 4 Homework

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. 

[Book available from the publisher at 

Chapter 4: Genealogical Proof Standard Element 2: Source Citations

As with previous homework I have given this a slant from a UK researcher's perspective.

This is an area that I struggle with despite understanding the theory.
I think part of the problem is a lack of credible examples of recognized sources. Evidence Explained (1) barely touches on the sources that I have regularly used in my research and when it does I do not find the citations helpful, particularly as they refer to only one repository for information which may exist in more than one place.

Births, Deaths and Marriages in England and Wales from 1st July 1837 were recorded as Civil Registration events at a local level by registrars, or in the case of marriages performed in Churches or other places permitted to perform such ceremonies they were recorded by the celebrant. In all cases at least 2 registers were kept. Churches keep a record of marriages and send a copy to the registrar and the registrar sends copies of his register to the General Register Office. This makes for a high possibility of errors in one or more entry. It seems unreasonable, given the expense, to get copies of all entries, and even then unless they are a facsimile they are also open to error, so most researchers will gather a selection of certificates from originals to derivative copies made by a clerk copying an entry from a register.

My last statement makes it clear that certificates used extensively by researchers in England and Wales will not have a common source even though the information contained within should be identical. The importance of quoting the source correctly is more significant when considering the analysis of the evidence and the reliability of the source.

I have attempted to show examples in the shared spreadsheet for some of the commonly used sources, I hope to add more later, and would welcome any comments. I am unsure as to whether shortening some of the information would be acceptable but I have also included a link to a page I found on the website of The National Archives which I hope others will find useful.

  1. Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, Evidence Explained:Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd Edition (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007)

Friday, 21 March 2014

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2 Chapter 3 Homework

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. 

[Book available from the publisher at 
Chapter 3: Genealogical Proof Standard Element 1 Thorough Research

Here is my take on chapter 3 which I shall look at from the angle of someone who has only researched in England and Wales.

To meet the requirement of the Genealogical Proof Standard for thorough research you must understand your area of research. This requires a knowledge of a number of things.

  1. The geography of the area, particularly at the time period when your family lived in the area.
  2. The records available for the area.
  3. The law as it affected the area.
In order that you can understand these you require a knowledge of where you can find what you need.
The major genealogy websites such as Ancestry, Find My Past and Family Search all have aids to finding what you need and the book we are using provides other pointers for research in the United States, but the links are not necessarily applicable to other parts of the world.

The importance of original records cannot be stressed enough and whenever possible derivatives should be replaced by originals. If the originals no longer exist then it is important to obtain the best independent records available and as such we need to understand the reliability of the records we use.

Maps can be a great resource to help us understand the movement of our families and any changes to the jurisdictions. Changes may be due to changes in the law and how the official records are kept.
We still find beginners asking about certificates, for an event before civil registration started in 1837, in England and Wales. Even after this date not everything was recorded, especially in the early years.
Understanding what can be found in the records is not something that can be learnt overnight and it is important to understand that the records can tell a conflicting story which means that your conclusion could be overturned at any time by new findings.

We all need to be open to possibility that our research may not have been as thorough as we would have wished, this is often down to the expense related to the research in both time and money.

Don't be afraid to make a conclusion based on what you have found, but be prepared to have it overturned if someone comes up with another piece of evidence, that conflicts and is more reliable. If you have the resources to do further research to strengthen or refute your conclusion, it is imperative that you do so, as none of us want to trace the wrong ancestors.

The following links might be of use if you are researching in the UK it is not a comprehensive list and I am happy to add any that may add things that I may have missed.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2 Chapter 2 Homework

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at ]
Chapter 2: Concepts Fundamental to the GPS


As a good proportion of the exercises for Chapter 2 would involve quoting sections of the book I will discuss my understanding of the chapter and provide examples from my own research which help to illustrate the points raised.

The first section deals with the primary objective the research question. This may be considered to be the most important stage before any research is undertaken.

Planned questions should be focused, on an individual. Any already documented evidence should be reviewed so that the specific information needed to answer the question can be targeted appropriately.

Most questions look at relationships.
I have an Ann Taylor who married Peregrine Rosling in Billingborough, Lincolnshire, England 13 May 1819 (1) and she died 16 Oct 1878 in Swinstead, Lincolnshire, England aged 79 years (2) her year and place of birth from the census records is 1796 - 1801 Billingborough, Lincolnshire, England (3,4,5,6).
My question is who were her parents?

I have Nathaniel Gadsby who married Elizabeth Bemrose in Ruskington, Lincolnshire, England 25 May 1815 (7) and he was buried 2 Jan 1856 in Castle Bytham, Lincolnshire, England age 69 years (8) his year and place of birth from the census records is 1781 - 1786 Aserby, Lincolnshire, England (9,10)
My question is who were his parents and where was he born? 
There is more than 1 place in Lincolnshire that could be a contender for Aserby you need to take in to consideration the local pronunciation. 

Identity questions such as What was the maiden name of Mary Eley?  the wife of Edward Eley and mother of Louisa Richards who had been married to Thomas Richards in Jersey but had then discovered after the birth of their daughter that he was already married. She was born in Millbrook, County of Southampton and married Edward Eley in Titchfield, County of Southampton.(11)

Activity questions such as When and where did Thomas Richards who bigamously married Mary and fathered a child Louisa who was a private in his majesty's 76th Regt of foot (11) serve in the aforementioned regiment?
Finding a record of his service could also provide clues to his identity.

In the sources I have used to discover the information I have about these individuals I have both original records such as the settlement examination and derivatives such as the transcription by the Lincolnshire Family History Society. I have transcribed the information in the settlement examination and that transcription is a derivative record.
There are various types of information in the settlement examination and to make it easier to describe I have included a copy of the transcription for Page 76 below.

Town and County
of                     The Examination of  Mary Eley
 Southampton             now Residing in the Parish of Saint Michael
            of  the said Parish of  Saint Michael                                      
Wife of Edward Eley ˆin the said Town and County, Labourer
           taken on Oath, this 10th Day of July
        1827 before us two of his Majesty’s Justices of
the Peace in and for the said Town and County,
touching the place of the legal Settlement of  her
Daughter Louisa Richards of the said Parish of Saint Michael, Singlewoman
The said Examinant saith, That she was born at the Parish of Millbrook
In the county of Southampton as she hath heard and believes where her Parents
Then resided but whose place of Settlement was the Parish of Titchfield in
The said County of Southampton as she hath also been informed and believes
That her father died in the Poor House at the said Parish of Titchfield and
That her mother is now living at and receiving two shillings weekly from the
Said Parish of Titchfield That this examinant was never apprenticed nor ever
Served as a yearly servant for one whole year That upwards of nineteen years ago she
Went to Jersey and was married to Thomas Richards a private in his majesty’s 76th Regt of foot then on duty in the said island and remained there some months after her
Marriage when the Regiment was removed to Colchester in the County of Essex and
From thence to Black Heath camp that her said daughter Louisa was born at
Colchester in the said county of Essex but in what parish this examinant
Does not know and this Examinant further saith, that the said Thomas
Richards to whom she was so married as aforesaid was a married man at the
Time he married this Examinant and that while the Regiment lay at Black
Heath camp his wife and three children came there to him which when this
Examinant knew as she saw them there and was informed by a man in the
Same Regiment that it was his the said Thomas Richard’s wife and that he
Knew her to be such the said Examinant left the said Thomas
Richards and came with her said daughter to her parents who then resided in
Hamble in the said county of Southampton that this Examinant then
Worked at various places and about 13 years ago she was married to her
Present husband at Titchfield church that some time after her second
Marriage the said Thomas Richards came to see this Examinant but she
Refused to see him and since that time she has never seen or heard of
Sworn before us
John Jolliffe                            The Mark  X of
Mayor                                      Mary Eley
Richard Eldridge                    Orders made (out same day to) Augst 14th
                                                1827 to Titcfield Hants

( ) crossed out
The information about her birth and her parents is going to be secondary or indeterminable and the information about her experience will be primary. Some of the information regarding the wife and children of Thomas Richards will be of indeterminable origin since it is unknown as to how the man in the same regiment knew that she was the wife (was he at the wedding).
I have books about people living in the areas where my family lived that have made mention of relatives. I have not made use of these for anything other than providing suggestions. However if I was unable to find original records these authored works could be invaluable in reconstructing the family. One family said to have 22 members was much easier to distinguish once I was aware of this fact.
Many of the sources we commonly use provide direct evidence to answer our research questions.
Negative and indirect evidence may be more difficult to determine for example one of my ancestors appears to be missing from the 1881 Census for England and Wales, I know from a copy of a letter that he was at some point a soldier and he is not listed with this occupation on any of the other censuses. It may not be unreasonable to consider that he was possibly missing from the census because he was not in the country and was serving as a soldier at this time. I have since discovered his military record and he attested in 1887 under his second forename which appears to have been the name he used for many years. It lists his address which I recognize as being his mother's home and gives a further clue as to where he may be living in 1881. I feel I may need to make better use of timelines if I am to fully understand and use indirect and negative evidence in determining proof statements.

The distinctions we use for sources and information help us to assess whether we have answered our question using the best available evidence.

By understanding why a source was created and how it was created or what created it and by whom and when and where, in other words the 5 W’s, we can strengthen the evidence to answer our research questions.

It is not enough to find a source of information we need to look at exactly what it tells us that is pertinent to our research and whether we need further information from another source before we have the evidence needed for genealogical proof.

Evidence is entirely dependant on the research question which is why it is important to clearly define our goals as questions before we start our research process.

  1.  "England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 08 Mar 2014), Peregrine Rosling and Ann Taylor, 1819.
  2. Source: [S259] Death Certificate Rosling Ann Data Entry Date: 18 October 1878 Certainty Assessment: Primary evidence
  3. Source: [S1551] Census 1841 Class HO107 Piece 622 Book 30 ED 3 Folio 9 Page 11 Peregrine Rosling Swinstead,Lincolnshire,England
    Where Within Source: Class HO107/622/30/3/9/11 Data Entry Date: 6 June 1841 Certainty Assessment: Secondary evidence
  4. Source: [S1561] Census 1851 Class HO107 Piece 2095 Folio 91 Page 12 Schedule 36 Peregrine Rosling Swinstead,Lincolnshire,England Where Within Source: Class HO107/2095/91/12/36 Data Entry Date: 30 March 1851 Certainty Assessment: Secondary evidence
  5. Source: [S1577] Census 1861 Class RG9 Piece 2315 Folio 30 Page 11 Schedule 42 & 43 Peregrine Rosling Swinstead,Lincolnshire,England Where Within Source: Class RG9/2315/30/11/42 & 43 Data Entry Date: 7 April 1861 Certainty Assessment: Secondary evidence
  6. Source: [S1638] Census 1871 Class RG10 Piece 3311 Folio 26 Page 4 Schedule 18 Edward Rosling Swinstead,Lincolnshire,England
    Where Within Source: Class RG10 Piece 3311 Folio 26 Page 4 Schedule 18
    Entry Date: 2 April 1871
    Certainty Assessment: Secondary evidence
  7. Transcription from Lincolnshire Family History Society confirmed by viewing online images at Find My Past
  8. "England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 08 Mar 2014), Nathaniel Gadsby
  9. "England and Wales Census, 1841," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 08 Mar 2014), Nathaniel Gadsby, 1841.
  10. "England and Wales Census, 1851," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 08 Mar 2014), Nathaniel Gadesby, 1851.
  11. Registers of examination as to Settlement 1711-1901 Southampton City Archives Service Settlement Examination for Louisa Richards Single woman St Michael Parish 10th July 1827 Pages 72,76 and 79 Digital images