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 (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-13-classes-evidence%E2%80%94direct-indirect-negative : 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.

Source
Type of information
Type of Evidence
Death Certificate
Direct
Direct
1911 Census
Indirect
Indirect
Burial Register
Indirect
Indirect
Marriage Certificate
Indirect
Indirect

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.

Source
Type of information
Type of Evidence
Death Certificate Eliza Clarke
Direct
Negative
1911 Census
Indirect
Indirect
Marriage Registration
Indirect
Indirect
Death Certificate Eliza Elliott
Direct
Direct

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