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

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