Sunday, 26 June 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group

Hilary Gadsby

Sources, Information, Evidence
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Sources, Information, Evidence," Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 25 June 2016).         
A Basic Vocabulary for Historical Research
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “A Basic Vocabulary for Historical Research," Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (    : accessed 25 June 2016).    

Much of what we do as genealogists piecing together what we can find about our ancestors can not be "proved" in the way that science calls proof. We can never be certain that history was how it appears to us.
This does not mean that what we create will be a work of fiction. By careful choice of source, extraction of information and analysis of those pieces of information we construct a credible case to support our hypothesis.

The information contained within a single source whilst directly answering a question will invariably not be sufficient to confirm an identity. We need to take all the information we can find and put it into context. Only when we have done this can we have any certainty that the information is relevant to the question we are trying to answer.

Understanding the terminology we use in our historical research as discussed in the Quicktips post is key to ensuring that the lineages and associated family information is as accurate as possible. Many historical documents may not have survived or details regarding our family may not have been recorded. Even when we do find references, to what we believe to be our family, we need to show due diligence and consider what inaccuracies may be present both intended and accidental.

In my blog post I discuss how I started to piece together a part of my husband's family. 
It's still a work in progress with missing parts of the puzzle. 
I need to discover more reliable sources, to provide me with the information, that I can use, as evidence, to support any conclusions I draw.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 13

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 13: Classes of Evidence—Direct, Indirect & Negative    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 13: Classes of Evidence―Direct, Indirect & Negative,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 25 May 2016).              

Evidence is not what we read, see or hear in a source. It is our interpretation of what the information in the source is telling us.

If we are to interprete the information in a source we must be clear as to what we have found and how it can be incorporated.
We may refer to this as the body or wealth of evidence. This is because a single source of information cannot be considered as sufficient to support the answer to our research question.

Like sources and information we classify evidence as it helps us to reach more credible conclusions or working hypotheses.

I shall look at how I determined a date of death for my ancestor Alfred William Wiltshire.
Post 1837, in England and Wales, all births, marriages and deaths should be registered and a certificate will tell you the date and place of death for a named individual.

This information directly states that Alfred William Wiltshire died on 30 January 1911.
But does this provide enough evidence be certain I have the correct answer to my question. How can I be certain that this information refers to the person I am researching?

Can I find some other source to provide either indirect or negative evidence?

Does another record indicate that I have the correct death certificate?
Is he recorded in the 1911 census?

Here we have his widow and the son mentioned on the death certificate is also in the household. The address also fits with what is recorded so this census helps to indirectly answer the question.

I also have a burial record found in the parish register for West End which gave a burial date of 2 February 1911. On the marriage certificate for his daughter its states that he is deceased.

Type of information
Type of Evidence
Death Certificate
1911 Census
Burial Register
Marriage Certificate

Research is not always this straightforward and this second example shows that we cannot always get the answer we want as easily.

I could find no trace of Eliza Clarke in the 1911 census so had she died in the 10 years since the previous census?
A death registration for an Eliza Clarke was found in the registration district where she had been living with her husband George and I had found his death certificate and burial near to where they were living.

The death certificate arrived and what did it state? It was not for the same Eliza the name of the spouse and the place of death did not fit.
Where was Eliza? Was she still alive? Had she remarried?

A possible marriage was found 

and another search of the 1911 census reveals

so when did Eliza die.

Thorough research of this family has broken down what could have proved to be an obstacle. The daughter mentioned on the death certificate was her eldest. Both mother and daughter had several surnames during their lifetimes but the information found in various documents has helped to pull it all together.

Type of information
Type of Evidence
Death Certificate Eliza Clarke
1911 Census
Marriage Registration
Death Certificate Eliza Elliott

Monday, 13 June 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 12 and Following Up

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 12: Chasing an Online Record into Its Rabbit Hole    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 12: Chasing an Online Record into Its Rabbit Hole,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 25 May 2016).     
Following up on QuickLesson 12
Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Following up on QuickLesson 12," Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 25 May 2016).         

I have found an image of a record of interest at a website. What exactly have I found?

Unlike the lesson on the website I am not going to discuss an online record. The reason being that my research in England started before you could find records online although much has been added in recent years. We still rely to a great extent on documents we need to order or visit an archive to view. 

When we do get a document what do we see?

Certified Copy of an entry in a register held at the General Register Office issued 24th April 2003. This appears to be a photocopy of the entry and the writing is all the same. The event took place in 1869 in Swinstead Parish Church.

Certified Copy of an entry in a register held at Oakham Register Office issued 16th December 2002. This has been handwritten by the Superintendent Registrar who signed on the date of issue. The event took place in 1893 in Empingham Parish Church.

Certificate of Registry of Birth issued 21st February 1902 by the Registrar for the Sub-District of Saint Mary Extra the Entry No 356  in Register Book No 32 for a birth of 29th January 1902. 

Certified Copy of an entry in a register of Deaths held in Stamford typewritten and issued 3 April 1951 the day of registration of a death on 31st March 1951.

Whilst all of these documents were created by officials are they all the same.
How much would you trust that the information in the document is correct?
Do you understand why, how, who, when and where they were created?

Three of these documents state they are copies. Would you trust any of these more than the others? If so why? 

Whilst the final example is typewritten it was created on the date the event was registered and signed by the person registering the event.

The third example states that a birth was entered into the register and tells us the date of birth and who was born. It was written by the person registering the birth on the date of registration. However there is insufficient information in this record to confirm a link to a family. This is what we call a short certificate issued for free.

Both of the other certificates were created well after the events were registered. Both may be flawed. 

The handwritten copy could have transcription errors if the original was difficult to read. (I tried to view a copy of the church register which had been filmed onto microfiche, either the original or the microfiche were poor as I was unable to determine any of the writing so will aim to view it elsewhere when I am able.) 
The first example is a photocopy, so you may falsely believe, it could not have a transcription error. However the registers held at the General Register Office are not the original entries. Every three months, at the end of March, June, September and December, the superintendent registrars send a copy of each entry of birth, marriage, and death registered by their office in that quarter, to the Registrar General in London. 

Understand what you have before you. It may be the best you can obtain but be aware that an item may not be as close to the original as it appears.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 11

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 11: Identity Problems & the FAN Principle    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 11: Identity Problems & the FAN Principle,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 25 May 2016).

The FAN Principle referred to in this lesson is looking at friends, associates and neighbours to help find information pertinent to the person we are researching.

Common names can be a particular problem. I have the surnames SMITH and WARD in my husband's family and ROBERTS in mine.
However some surnames can be a problem in particular localities as many are what we call locational surnames and were adopted from the place where the family lived when surname usage started.

I have recently started a One Name study of the surname ROSLING and I shall use an example from this.
The origins of the family I have been researching appear to be in Lincolnshire, England, as far as the current level of research in the UK has shown. 
(My research is at an early stage and earlier records may uncover different origins as I am aware of this surname elsewhere in Europe and it could have been introduced to Lincolnshire from an early invasion)

The name Peregrine Rosling would not be considered to be a difficult name to research as both first and surname are not common. However if you know the family the first name Peregrine is one that has been used by several generations.

This shows the results of a general search for this name at Find My Past

Peregrine Rosling born in Swinstead, Lincolnshire, England has been particularly problematic to follow.There are 2 persons who show on the census records with the same year and place of birth. 

How do I distinguish who belongs to which family?

I have looked at the other census records 

This Peregrine has a wife Eliza who was born in Morton Lincolnshire and appears to be living in the same house with Ann and Edward Rosling could they be close relations.

This Peregrine has a James Mettam widower living with him and his wife Elizabeth he is described as Father of Peregrine and Elizabeth was born in Swinstead. Was his wife Elizabeth Mettam?

The registers held at Lincolnshire Archives have been scanned and digital images are now available to view on the Find My Past website.

Looking at the Baptisms for the parish of Swinstead this is what I have found 
Parish Baptism Register 1813-1871 Swinstead, Lincolnshire
Page 18 No 143 13 Feb 1825 Peregrine son of Peregrine and Ann Rosling Swinstead Labourer
Page 17 No 136 27 June 1824 Peregrine son of Robert and Sarah Rosling Swinstead Farmer

So the first Peregrine could be the son of Peregrine and Ann Rosling?
What was his wife's maiden name?

It is likely that both marriages were registered in the Bourne registration district as all these birthplaces and residences are in this district.
Fortunately Lincolnshire has had many of the marriages transcribed and the indexes can be downloaded. (This link may not be working but I have a copy I downloaded)

I have extracted those of interest and they can be found here.

So how do I confirm I have the correct Peregrine in each family as I now have 3 of them marrying in Swinstead within 10 years. Can I find the one who married in 1846 in the 1851 census and where his wife was born.

So I have discovered the maiden name for each wife and where the wife was born. Each Peregrine had a father with a different first name so I can now have more confidence that I connect each of them and any descendants to the correct family.

Birthplace of Spouse
First name of Father
Christening Date
Name of Spouse Father
13 Feb 1825
Charles Wilson
27 June 1824
James Mettam
Elizabeth Jane
Castle Bytham
Robert Glenn

When I have done more work on my one name study I will be able to piece together more about how these families are related. The older Peregrine has not been found in the register of baptisms for Swinstead.

I have started to explore other parish records for this area for information.
Every piece of the puzzle is important to ensure we are looking at the right person in that record. 

I have further work to do so that I can discover more about the family of Ann the wife of Peregrine and mother of the younger Peregrine. Having discovered her maiden name and birthplace I find there are at least 2 possibilities for her baptism. Determining who the possible siblings are and what happened to them may help me discover which baptism and family are most likely to be her. I suspect this will involve a lot more analysis of what the records show and I may need to work with unfamiliar records but understanding the importance of who is in the community will help me pull together the clues.