Sunday, 24 July 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 16

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 16: Speculation, Hypothesis, Interpretation & Proof    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 16: Speculation, Hypothesis, Interpretation & Proof,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 14 July 2016).         

For this week's lesson I want to look at some research I did and shared on another blog Worldwide Genealogy.

Before I could contemplate doing any research I had to define what I wanted to look for and why I was looking for it.

Speculation and hypothesis could be thought to be pretty much the same. But a hypothesis should be based on a source of information which we cannot as yet consider sufficient evidence of "proof".

Is not the goal of all genealogists/ family historians to discover the information and convert it in to likely conclusions. 

In this lesson there are 5 parts of the building of proof that Elizabeth Shown Mills concentrates upon " thorough research, analysis, correlation, context, and explanation ". If we ignore any one of these we risk failure in proving our hypothesis and it remains speculation. 
This does not mean that we have not proven our hypothesis whilst we continue our research, we may have found everything extant supporting our hypothesis, a sound conclusion based on what we can find will show our understanding of the process.
My "current thinking" (as Russ Worthington likes to say) may be the only conclusion I can make as other records may not have survived.

I started with a hypothesis and built upon that. Initially all I had was the personal memories of a living individual recounted years after an event.
The account whilst firsthand was telling me about others that he would not have met or had certain knowledge of their relationship. I needed to prove the connection and the records I found needed to fit both the time and place I was researching.


Ruth Ellen Gadsby, born 5 October 1901 in Gunby St Nicholas, Lincolnshire and who died, unmarried, in 1975 in the same place, worked as a cook for a family called Gladstone. The head of this family was the grandson of the Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone and they lived in a house called "Lewins" at Crocken Hill, Ededbridge, Kent. She was working there in the 1950's. 
The property still exists and is advertised with some history. But nothing relevant to what I needed.

The opening of the 1939 register and its availability online provided the first record that could confirm a connection. Many mid to late twentieth century documents will not be available for decades so these records can be useful if you need to do twentieth century research for family who may not have been the householder so would not appear in directories.


The research is outlined in the blog so I will not repeat it here. 
Below is a summary of what I found.

Letter From GaryRuth Ellen GadsbyWorking at Lewins as a Cook for Gladstone's grandson
Headstone in GunbyRuth Ellen GadsbyBorn 1901 died 1975
1911 CensusRuth Ellen GadsbyBorn 1901 - 1902
Death RegistrationRuth Ellen GadsbyBorn 5 Oct 1901
1939 RegisterRuth Ellen GadsbyBorn 15 Oct 1901 Head Parlourmaid.
1939 RegisterStephen D GladstoneBorn 9 Dec 1891 Head of household at Lewins
Birth RegistrationStephen Deiniol GladstoneRegistration of Birth in Chester district Jan - Mar 1892 Birth previous quarter possible.
1901 CensusStephen D GladstoneAge 9 living in Hawarden with father Stephen E Gladstone Clergyman and his wife Ennice.
1891 Baptism Hawarden Stephen Deiniol GladstoneBorn 9th Dec 1891 son of Stephen Edward and Annie Crosthwaite (Wilson) Parish Priest
Marriage Register LiverpoolStephen Edward GladstoneClerk in Holy Orders at Hawarden. Father William Ewart Gladstone Premier of England
1844 Baptism St Martins in the FieldsStephen Edward GladstoneParents William Ewart and Catherine Gladstone. Privy Counsellor. (by H Glynne Rector of Hawarden)

So the documents show she did work at Lewins when the 1939 register was compiled and her employer was Stephen D (likely Deiniol) Gladstone son of Stephen Edward Gladstone and Annie Crosthwaite (nee Wilson) Gladstone. Stephen Edward Gladstone was the son of William Ewart Gladstone.
In 1939 Ruth was Head Parlourmaid so I cannot yet confirm that she was employed as a Cook by the family. Research for more recent employment records is required. The Gladstone Library in Hawarden is close to where I live and I need to enquire as to whether they may have records that can confirm more about her employment record.
Obtaining a birth and death certificate for Ruth Ellen Gadsby would help clarify the birth date. However it is an uncommon name and this will be an expense. A baptism record could be an alternative but they may still be with the church as this is a tiny rural hamlet.

Whilst the Gladstone dynasty is well documented proving a link to the family with reliable documents may not be easy. Had this person been a SMITH or JONES even a small discrepancy in the date of birth could have prevented a proof conclusion.
Less common names can make research easier but location, occupation, dates of events can all be used to pinpoint the correct person and relationship. 

I have researched the common surnames such as SMITH and WARD and have a WARD line back as far as the parish registers exist. 
However I have not yet researched the early ones thoroughly so I only currently have an initial
This is also going to be true for much of what I have as I, like many other researchers, concentrate most effort on the direct line and, whilst recording the existence of other members of the family, do not routinely follow all the branches.
With time not on our side we all need to ensure all our research counts. 
Good preparation is crucial and will enable us to concentrate on finding the right records to answer our research question. 
Looking for the right record, in the right place, and time period.
We need to be constantly considering whether we are meeting those five criteria of:-
  • thorough research, 
  • analysis, 
  • correlation, 
  • context, 
  • explanation

Monday, 11 July 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 15

Hilary Gadsby

13 July 2016
QuickLesson 15: Plagiarism—Five "Copywrongs" of Historical Writing    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 15: Plagiarism―Five "Copywrongs" of Historical Writing,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (—five-copywrongs-historical-writing : accessed 10 July 2016).

In this lesson Elizabeth Shown Mills discusses the possible ways that those who write may be copying the works of others. Of we fail to recognize that we are using the works of others inappropriately we may be accused of plagiarism or breach of copyright.

You will often find that I include links to the works of others on this blog, and others to which I contribute, by doing this I am acknowledging that person's work and directing readers to the original. I prefer to do this with anything I find online as it requires that I only discuss that I have found the item useful and/or what I have taken to be the message from the author. The reader can then make their own judgement on the original piece, without the possibility, that substantial amounts of the author's work are being copied to my blog post.

Earlier this year I attended a talk about copyright and how it affects me in the UK. There was discussion about fair use and who owns the copyright of a published work. Whilst it may not be relevant to many genealogists, it was interesting to note that, a blog post or other materials created as a part of an employee's occupation, are under copyright of the employer, rather than the employee. Each and every genealogist should be aware of the copyright law, that affects them, especially if we are to share our work with others.

The majority of this lesson deals with the discussion of plagiarism and copying. Taking large parts of a published work and making little if any changes to how it's presented. Taking the work of others without attribution, even be it only a small part of the complete work, is unacceptable.
If we see a work which cites an original record should we not, where possible, consult that original record rather than an interpretation.

Cite your sources, avoid copying, consult originals and be aware that whilst the facts may be shared the format of their presentation may be the creation of another.

Monday, 4 July 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 14

Hilary Gadsby

QuickLesson 14: Petitions—What Can We Do with a List of Names?    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 14: Petitions—What Can We Do with a List of Names?” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 3 July 2016).         
"Printed Primary Sources" & Naive Trust    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “ 'Printed Primary Sources' and Naive Trust," Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : accessed 3 July 2016).

Whilst there are many who do a great job in transcribing records for the rest of us to use, ESM in this QuickTip advises caution, in this post I discuss why we should do this.

In England where I have been doing my research we have many original records in our archives and to protect these there are ongoing transcription projects and many are being scanned to make digital copies. There are also many available on microfiche which is sometimes used to create scanned images.
Indexes for births, marriages and deaths were often written well after the original registration occurred if you find a typewritten index it is unlikely to have been created at the time and the handwritten indexes could be difficult to read. 

The transcription of the christening of Thomas William Thirtle.
"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch( : 6 December 2014), Thomas William Thirtle, 16 Nov 1817; citing Norwich, Norfolk, England, reference item 26 p 43; FHL microfilm 1,517,748.

Only tells us part of the story and it is only by going to the register itself that we find out more.
 "England, Norfolk, Parish Registers (County Record Office), 1510-1997," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 25 June 2014), Norwich St James with Pockthorpe > Baptisms > 1813-1827 > image 3 of 107; Record Office, Norwich.

Whether it is a transcription of an index or an original document the closer you can get to the original the greater the reliability.
If you are fortunate you may also find more information than you expected and frequently transcribers will only transcribe part of the information as they are expected to follow a standard format.