I’m aiming to write and post a little bit each day about the family history research I’m doing, and what I find, during a week staying in Edinburgh. But for personal privacy, the posting of these travels on AFamilyHistoryBlog will be delayed by a few days, and will not necessarily be in day by day order! Some of these posts may be given later tweaks, with added photos, etc.
I spent much of a day in the archives at Hopetoun House, South Queensferry, near Edinburgh. I was looking into my WALKER ancestors, who were tenant farmers on the Hopetoun Estate through from the mid 18th to the end of the 19th century, and into the farms where they lived and worked.
Among other things, there are bits in the Walker family history, originally written by my Grandfather in the 1950’s, which I don’t know any original sources for. So I was hoping that I might find some of those in the Hopetoun archive records.
I had previously been in contact by email with the volunteer archivists at Hopetoun, so they knew that I planned to visit. I arrived at Hopetoun House at 10:30am, as it was opening to public visitors. I went in to the lower ground floor reception, to the right of the main staircase up to the front door (where most public visitors go into the house). I was soon met by one of the archivists, Richard, who took me up through service stairs and corridors, to an archive research room on an upper floor.
I spent several hours there, looking through a number of bundles of old documents; lease agreements (tacks), etc, and was permitted to photograph anything I saw that looked to be of interest. Each bundle has a reference number, and is catalogued in the National Register of Archives for Scotland (NRAS). All the papers in the Hopetoun Archives appear to begin with the catalogue reference “NRAS888/”. In the archive room I was able to search this catalogue, on a computer, to identify the catalogue entries that looked to be of most interest.
(Unfortunately on the internet the full catalogue does not appear to be available! When I search the NRAS Register, it only gives the “top level record” for the papers of the Hopetoun Estate; NRAS888. The individual records, which I was able to search for in the archive room at Hopetoun House, do not appear to be available to search for online!)
Among the papers I saw, there were estate copies of two or three of the same documents that I’ve already posted copies of onto AFamilyHistoryBlog from among the WALKER family papers that I have.
My STAR FINDS from among the papers that I saw at Hopetoun House were plans of Hiddlefaulds (which was demolished in the 1890’s) and of the farm buildings at Kilpunt – both plans dated 1841, along with notes which confirmed that the WALKER family became tenants at Hiddlefaulds in (or slightly before) 1745.
A printed document about the rental income from the estates of “Pumpberston, Illieston, and Kilpunt”, (associated with the sale of these estates at the time that Lord Hope acquired them, circa 1760), details that William WALKER was the tenant in Hiddlefaulds in 1745, but a David KER was the tenant in 1740. A handwritten footnote on this page says that “when Will Walker took Hiddlefaulds he was promised a Tack [a lease agreement] but never got it.“! So the original paperwork was never done! ☻
In total, I took over 170 photos of the documents I saw, that looked to be of interest to me in my family history. These came from the following NRAS catologue numbers (with partial descriptions);
NRAS 888/16/Bundle 4; miscellaneous papers – including “lease of Kilpunt – 1843”
NRAS 888/28/Bundle 8; “papers relative to lease of Newmains, Overtoun and Kilpunt” – 1834
NRAS 888/28/Bundle 10; Tacks and Papers as to Kilpunt and Illieston, 1760 – 1830″
NRAS 888/40/Bundle 3; “papers relating to the lease of Kilpunt – including sketches for farm buildings – 1842”
NRAS 888/1879; “sketch of lands (of Kilpunt) – 1757”.
Its worth noting that the NRAS catalogue descriptions tend to identify the titled estates (such as Kilpunt), but not individual farms (such as Hiddlefaulds).
Its going to take me some time to process all of this, and I know that if I ever get the time and opportunity to go back to the Hopetoun Archives, there is quite a lot more of interest to look at there.
From what I heard the archivist saying, I gather that they have had very few people, like me, visiting the Hopetoun archives to do family history research into the tenant farmers on the estate. But from what I’ve seen, the Hopetoun archives must be a great resource for anyone who is researching a family history with this kind of connection to the Hopetoun estate.
I’m off to Scotland where I’m staying for a week with a relative in Edinburgh, and going to do some research, in Edinburgh, West Lothian, Glasgow, and elsewhere. Then I’m going on to a big family gathering (on the HUTCHISON side of my family), staying in Ayrshire.
I aim to write and post a little bit each day about what I’m researching and what I find during my stay in Edinburgh. But for personal privacy, the posting of these travels on AFamilyHistoryBlog will be delayed by a few days, and not necessarily in day by day order!
In March I wrote about using note apps for genealogy, and how I was planning to use OneNote to organise my genealogy in preparation for a trip to Scotland where I plan to do some research. I’ve been quiet here on AFamilyHistoryBlog over the last couple of months largely because I’ve been trying to organise my notes, etc, ready for this trip.
Well I haven’t gotten on with OneNote as quickly as I had hoped! I began by creating a few notes about people in my family tree, starting with the earliest known members of my Walker family line, and their relatives, which worked OK. But when it came to creating a “Genealogy Index” (as suggested in the various examples of using note apps for genealogy that I had read about), I found that OneNote struggled to cope with things like copying large spreadsheet indexes of ancestors into it!!!
Alongside OneNote, I had started a spreadsheet (initially in Excel) of my known ancestry, at first to help me work out the Dollarhide reference system (with some tweaks of my own to that system). This spreadsheet has expanded to include details of persons; dates, places, note of sources, etc. After a while I copied the spreadsheet intoGoogle Sheets, which I can save/access on a smartphone/tablet so that I can access it while on my travels. Having done that, I’ve continued to work on the spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and its working very well.
The spreadsheet has let me see clearly where the most recent gaps in my ancestry begin to occur, which prompted me to have a look into some of these, to see if I could fill any of them! Several of these gaps are parts on my family tree which I have not actively looked into before. I soon found clear details, that were new to me, about several lines of my ancestry, which take me back another 2 – 4 generations in those lines. I have already updated the CADZOW tree on the site, with my finds in that branch of the family, and posted some comments onto my Facebook feed. Other parts of my ancestry still need to be updated on the website!
The spreadsheet has also allowed me to analyse how many ancestors I know in each generation and the date-range of each generation (which is something that I’ve thought of trying to do for a while). So below is the present (May 2017) snapshot of what I know about my ancestry.
This shows the number of ancestors in each generation that I have forenames for. I don’t necessarily have women’s maiden names, or dates of birth/death for the oldest generations in any line. Numbers in brackets “(? x)” represent a total which includes possible ancestors that I’m not yet certain of! And “x / x” represents the number of individuals / and the number of places in my ancestry that they occupy (i.e. where cousins married, therefore their grandparents each occupy two places in the ancestry. So “2 / 4” = two grandparents, occupying 4 places in the ancestry, the effect of which doubles each generation further back you go).
SURNAMEs of Matt’s 2x Great-Grandparents;
3x Gt [iii]
4x Gt [iv]
5x Gt [v]
6x Gt [vi]
7x Gt [vii]
8x Gt [viii]
Generation no. > 5
2 (? 4 )
4 (? 6 )
4 (? 8 )
4 / 8
4 / 8
2 / 4
1 (? 4 )
(? 2 )
(? 4 )
Total; Known Individuals / (Places on tree)
46 (? 52)
25(?29)/ 33(? 37)
19 / 23
12 / 16
Total; Possible Individuals;
Total; Places on tree;
Birth Date Range;
1772 – 1832
1731 – 1803
c.1694 – 1779
1683 – 1749
1622 – 1723
1587 – c.1704
Death Date Range;
1840 – 1925
1795 – 1883
1768 – 1854
bef.1728 – 1839
1688 – 1813
1688 – 1780
Mar. Date Range;
1816 – 1856
1766 – 1824
1728 – 1798
1732 – c.1769
1678 – 1746
1615 – 1722
Another thing that I’ve begun to try and do with Google, and the help of the Google Sheets, is to map where my ancestors come from. I’ve created a Google Map, on which I’ve started placing markers for the place of birth of each ancestor (where I know it). Its a good way to visualise where my ancestry is from. Due to my forthcoming trip to Scotland, I’ve begun by focusing on the Scottish branches of my family, and to show an example below, this is what I get for the WALKER and CADZOW sides of my family (my paternal Grandfather’s ancestors); very concentrated in and around West Lothian.
Last week I took up an offer of 1 month’s subscription to Find My Past – for £1 (the usual monthly subscription is about £10.). Once subscribed, I made sure to disable the”auto-renewal” on the site, and I’ll double check this before the month expires – because I don’t want to be charged £10 every month hereafter!
I thought that the Find My Past subscription might come in useful while on my forthcoming Scotland trip. Then having subscribed, I decided to blitz trying to find all the census records that I can for my ancestors. So this is what I’ve spent much of last week doing.
Here the Google Sheets came in useful again. On sheet 2, where I’ve listed all my ancestors in Dollarhide number order, with separate columns for birth, death, and marriage details, notes, and source details, I added columns for each available UK census date. Then against each ancestors I coloured in the relevant cells to indicate which census dates I might find them recorded in. This made it easy to see who to look for and when. I began searching for the census records on Find My Past, working down the Dollarhide list, beginning with one grandfather who was born before 1911.
As I worked my way down the list I found a lot of records, some of which added new details about people, and in one or two cases added new people to my ancestors. I downloaded all the scanned images that I could, and copied transcription texts into word DOCs which I saved on my computer. In the spreadsheet I changed the colour of the relevant cells to indicate where I’d found records, and noted whether I had found images, transcriptions, or both.
There are still gaps where I’ve not found the records. But I’ve now got a good spread of census records, which I’m pleased with. So with that I’m going to have a lot of things to update on my family tree pages on AFamilyHistoryBlog .
I have been thinking a little, recently, about upgrading my genealogy software. I currently have a very old version of Family Tree Maker. Partly with a trip to Scotland in the summer in my mind, I want something which will work on both Windows PC, and Android tablet/phone, and be accessible off-line, but which won’t automatically publish everything publicly on-line! I’ve looked at a few programs, and downloaded a couple of free trial versions. But nothing has yet struck me as being quite right!
So as a result of Krista’s blog post, I began to have a look at how I might use Evernote (or other similar note-taking apps) for this purpose. There is a wealth of material, articles, etc, out there about how people use apps like this for their genealogy. I soon found that Evernote wasn’t quite right for me, due to the use of its free account being limited to 2 devices! I might want to use it on 3 devices! But looking at the alternatives, I soon found that Evernote’s main competitor, Microsoft’s OneNote might work for me. I would normally prefer the independent, open-source option! But the limits placed on using a free Evernote account drove me towards OneNote!
There is just as much online about people using OneNote for genealogy as there is about using Evernote. One great list of various articles is www.CyndisList.com/organizing/onenote/. I went through a number of the articles there, and decided to give OneNote a try. So I’ve just started putting some of my genealogy notes into OneNote notes.
I hunted online for any templates that I could use, to help me get started. And while I picked up a number of useful ideas (from advocates of both Apps), I didn’t find any template that I thought was quite right for me! I joined the “OneNote for Genealogy” Facebook group, hoping to find lots more ideas and advice about how to use the App. But I was disappointed by the relative lack of activity in that group!
So that means that for now, I’m starting with OneNote from scratch and trying to work out my own way of using it, incorporating some of the useful ideas that I’ve read about. How I use it will no doubt evolve and change over time, and at some point, when its more developed, I’ll try to write something more about how I use OneNote, and how I organise my genealogy notes with it.
During the last week I’ve been looking at the HART family (on the SWAIN side of my family tree), who come from the area around Castle Church, and Seighford, near Stafford. I began by reviewing some records that I got from FindMyPast.com during their weekend of free access last month. Then, when I started searching for more information on-line, I found 5 family trees on different websites, which all appear to cover the same HART family. But each tree is a bit different!
Some of those differences are due to different focuses, on different lines or branches of the family (which is fine). But some of the differences are clear contradictions; giving different parents, or spouses, or dates of death, etc.! So I’m not sure which tree to most believe!
Here are links to two individual profiles in each tree, to start comparing;
(These two profiles are each very similar in all five trees. But as you explore out from them, into the wider family you’ll begin to see the differences! Some of the difference is in the scope of each tree, which is fine. But some are clear discrepancies, which probably stem from different assumptions being made by different people about the evidence from available records, or from people having access to different sets of records/sources.)
I’ve made attempts to contact/e-mail several people who appear to be responsible for these trees or the details that they contain, in the hope of getting more details and a better understanding of the trees, and the sources of their information. But so far I have only had an initial reply from one person, and I’m hoping to hear more about the sources of their information.
Due to this lack of contact, I thought that I should write about it here; about what I know and where I think the links are; to provide “cousin bait” in the hope the some people who are in the know about these trees will find this post and make contact to provide more information and confirm (or dismiss) the connection that I think I’ve made!
A common source for several of these on-line trees appears to be a book titled “Abraham and Lucy Hart; their lives”, by Joyce E. Neill, published in New Zealand in 1981 (75 pages), which I would be interested to know more about. What does it say and what are its sources?
All I can do for now is post what I know, and where I think the link is, in the hope that someone will see this and be able to fill in my uncertainties by contacting me.
Most of the information that I have, comes from my Great Uncle, David SWAIN. He has previously sent me the following details about his paternal grandmother (my 2x Gt-grandmother [ii]), Ellen HART (1846 – 1938);
Ellen was born on the 25th of August 1846 in the Parish of Silkmore- Castle Church Staffordshire. Her Father Charles HART was a well known Coachman her mother Ann (nee WARD). Ellen married James Christopher SWAIN on the 6th march 1870. At this time she was living at Green Hill Worcester.
As my memory serves she was quite a small lady and I am sure was the strength of her family as James appeared to spend much time away on business. She had nine children over a period of 14 years from Allen in 1871 to Nellie in 1885; five boys and four girls.
In 1901 census (James died in 1900), she and her family were living at 6 Avon Street Leicester, and the 1911 census shows she and six of her children were living at 315 East Park Road leicester.
When we visited her she lived with her son Arthur Harry in his house ‘Darvel’ 129 Letchworth Road, Western Park, Leicester. How long she had lived there I do not know.
Ellen died at this address, on the 10th march 1938, aged 91, and was buried in the family vault in the Welford Road cemetery, Leicester, on the 14th march.
When I searched on FindMyPast last month, I found a census record from 1851, for the young Ellen HART and her family, living at “Rising Brook”, in Castle Church. It shows;
Charles HART, head (Ellen’s father), age 48, a farm labourer, born (cir.1802-03) in Seighford, Staff. (I believe the 1861 census gives his occupation as a “Coachman”. But FindMyPast appears not to have indexed the 1861 census correctly, to find him! )
Anne HART, wife (Ellen’s mother), age 41, born (cir.1809-10) in Stafford.
Mary WARD, mother-in-law (Ellen’s maternal grandmother), age 75, in receipt of Parish Relief, born (cir.1775-76) in Bushbury, Staffordshire (now in Wolverhampton).
John WARD, father-in-law (Ellen’s maternal grandfather), age 74, formerly a Cordwainer (shoemaker), born (cir.1776-77) in Bushbury, Staffordshire.
John HART, son (Ellen’s brother), age 18, a Cordwainer (shoemaker), born (cir.1832-33) in Stafford.
Martin HART, son (Ellen’s brother), age 15, a Labourer’s son, born (cir.1835-36) in Castle Church.
Ellen HART, son (Ellen herself), age 4, a Labourer’s dau., born (cir.1846-47) in Castle Church.
On the following census page, two “niece”s (Ellen’s cousins) are also named;
Anne PADMORE, niece (Ellen’s cousin), age 8, a Cordwainer’s daughter, born (cir.1842-43) in Stafford.
Emma PADMORE, niece (Ellen’s cousin), age 1, a Cordwainer’s daughter, born (cir.1849-50) in Stafford.
I also found an 1881 census record, which I believe is for the same Charles HART (Ellen’s father), at 4 Copes Buildings, Stafford. The Copes Buildings lay between Eastgate Street and South Walls, in Stafford. The area was demolished in 1964, and a Police Station now occupies the site. See www.search.StaffsPastTrack.org.uk .
Charles is a widow, aged 78, and brother of Matilda PARKER (his older sister), who is also a widow, age 81, born (cir.1799-1800) in Seighford, Staffordshire. Also in this household is Matilda’s granddaughter, also called Matilda PARKER, age 16, a machinist, born (cir.1864-65) in Stafford.
There are death records (which I have yet to confirm), of the right ages, for “Anne HART” in 1869, and “Charles HART” in 1885.
With these census records, I then went looking on FindMyPast for marriage records. I found the records for Charles HART and Anne WARD, married at St Mary’s, Stafford, on 27th December 1830, and (I think) for Anne’s parents; John WARD and Mary DANFORD, married at St Mary’s, Stafford, on 27th January 1800.
I also turned to www.freereg.org.uk to help me identify records. Here I believe I’ve identified Anne’s birth record;
Ann WARD; b.16/11/1809, chr. 19/11/1809, at St Mary’s, Stafford.
I’ve identified a number of children christened at St Mary’s, Stafford, to parents “John and Mary WARD”. But I’m not sure that they’re all the same family! There appear to have been more than one “John and Mary WARD” in the parish at the time! From about 1812, the “father’s occupation” is recorded in the transcribed register. One entry records the father’s occupation as a “farmer”, 2 as a “labourer”, and 2 as a “shoemaker”. It is likely (but by no means certain) that these are 3 (or more) different families! With the earlier records it is impossible to tell!
Thomas WARD; b.26/8/1801, chr. 6/9/1801.
William WARD; b.3/5/1804, chr. 6/5/1804.
Ann WARD; b.16/11/1809, chr. 19/11/1809.
Edward WARD; chr. 21/4/1813, reg.no.59 . (father’s occupation; farmer)
Abraham WARD; chr. 9/7/1815, reg.no.474 . (father’s occupation; shoemaker). Abraham was buried; 8/2/1816 – 7mths – at St Chad’s, Stafford.
John WARD; chr. 22/12/1815, reg.no.548. (father’s occupation; labourer)
Francis WARD (M); chr. 4/6/1817, reg.no.819. (father’s occupation; shoemaker)
William WARD; chr. 3/3/1819, reg.no.1153. (father’s occupation; labourer)
When I turned to the HART side, I found on www.freereg.org.uk records of 14 children christened to “Thomas & Elizabeth HART”, at St.Chad’s, in Seighford, dated between 1796 and 1811, including Charles HART, chr. 24/1/1803, and Matilda HART, chr. 3/4/1801. Initially I wondered if this was really possible! So many births, so close to each other (many are 13 month, or less, apart!). Maybe there were two couples with the same name in the village (two cousins called Thomas HART, living in the village, would not be unexpected!). But the HART family trees that I’ve now found on-line appear to confirm that this one couple had a total of 18 children between 1796 and 1814.
After the FindMyPast free weekend, I put these records aside for a while, until last week when I began to look at them again. This led to me doing some more general web searches for the HART family, which is when I began to find the on-line family trees that I mentioned at the start of this post. One tree identifies the maiden name of Charles HART’s mother as “Elizabeth CAPENHURST”. All identify Charles’ paternal grandparents as John HART and Hannah MARTIN.
Some of these trees go back another two generations. But they don’t all agree on the details of who the earlier generations were! At least 3 trees cite a book titled “Abraham and Lucy Hart; their lives”, by Joyce E. Neill, published in New Zealand in 1981 (75 pages), as one of their sources. Abraham appears to be a younger brother of my ancestor Charles HART, and is one of two brothers who, after marrying in England, emigrated to New Zealand and, it would seem, had large families out there.
If you’re reading this and know more about this HART family, and about the sources which any or all of these on-line trees are based on, I would be interested to know. I want to understand what evidence these trees are based on before I fully recognise any of them as part of my family tree. Please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch.
A few weekends ago I spent quite some time on FindMyPast, trying to make best use of their weekend of free access to birth, marriage, death, and census records. I posted on Facebook about it at the time. I downloaded and saved a lot of images from censuses and parish registers. But most of what I found was only to confirm details I already had. There were no big new finds. But there were a few small tweaks to some details that I previously had!
These “tweaks” made me look back at what I’ve previously included on the pages of aFamilyHistoryBlog, and I realised that I needed to do a big update to some of the material that I’ve shared here; to incorporate all of the new things that I’ve found over the last year or two, and an accumulation of other small tweaks. So I’ve been busy working on that over the last 2 or 3 weeks, and I’ve just finished updating the main details of my Family Trees pages.
I have also been rewriting my Surnames of Interest list, tweaking dates, adding details of some individuals with each surname, and expanding the list to include many more surnames – like those where I only know of one or two generations of the family with that surname.
You can see aFamilyHistoryBlog – SURNAMES of Interest page, or look below for a copy of my February 2017 version of the list. You might also be interested to look back to my previous “Names of Interest” posts to compare. See; January 2016, and January 2014. There will be some further refinements made the the SURNAMES page, adding hyperlinks to tagged names, etc.
Note; I have not yet touched the “locations” of interest in this Feb 2017 update. It is another thing that I need to look at!
I have also created 8 sub-pages; one for the surnames of interest in each of the 8 branches of my family tree that I present on this blog (from each of my Great Grandparents);
BARKER. [HUTCHISON]; from Kirkcaldy, Fife (FIF); 1650 – 1800. Two BARKER sisters married two brothers in the OLIPHANT family (see OLIPHANT and BARKER family papers). Mary BARKER [v] (1733 – 1775), m. 1763 – to William OLIPHANT. Christian BARKER [v] (1741 – 1777), m. 1776 – to Henry OLIPHANT. [FP] [TR]
BARR. [WALTON]; Renfrewshire (REW); 1700 – 1850. Mary BARR [v] (Y? – Y?), m. James HENDERSON. Son John HENDERSON [iv], b. 1797, Houston, REW. [TR]
BARRON.(or BARON) [WALKER]; from Corstorphine, Mid Lothian (MLN); 1650 – 1800. Elizabeth BARRON [v], b. ???, d. ???, m. 1728, in Corstorphine (MLN)/Kirkliston (WLN) – to William WALKER. The BARRONs lived at “Clay-Walls” (or Kershall) near Gogar in Corstorphine parish, Mid Lothian, during the 1700s. They may be related to the BARONs of Preston (near Linlithgow), who’s details you can find HERE. [FP][PCR]
BASSETT. [EYRE]; from Gloucestershire (GLS); 1800 – 1900. Elizabeth BASSETT [iii], b.1829, d.???, m.1848 – to John BUCKNALL (1822 – 1887). [TR]
BAXTER. [TWITE]; from Sibsey, Lincolnshire (LIN); 1750 – 1900. Sarah BAXTER [iv] was born in Sibsey, circa 1789-90 (ref. Censuses), d. 1878. She married Joseph MAWER in 1822. But because there were two “Sarah BAXTER”s christened at the right date in Sibsey, I’m not sure which is her, or who her parents were! [PCR]
BELL. (or BETT / BUTT / BEATT). [HUTCHISON]; from Kirkcaldy, Fife (FIF); 1700 – 1800. The surname BELL (and spelling variations) relate to several different individuals from the same geographical area, who all married into the OLIPHANT and BARKER families. It is not clear whether these individuals all come from the same “BELL” family, or from several unrelated families with the same/similar surnames! Janet BELL (or BUTT) [vi] (Y? – Y?) m. Robert OLIPHANT (cir.1696 – 1772), and Christian BELL (or BETT) [vi] (Y? – Y?) m.1733, George BARKER (1704 – Y?). [FP] [TR]
BETT. [HUTCHISON]; from Kirkcaldy, Fife (FIF); 1700 – 1800. See note on “BELL”, above. Isabel BETT (or BEATT) [v] (Y? – Y?), m. 1773, in Kirkcaldy – to John HUTCHISON (or HUTCHESON). [TR] [PCR]
BINNIE. [HUTCHISON]; from Cramond, Mid Lothian (MLN); 1700 – 1800. Robert BINNIE [v] (Y? – Y?), m. 1768, at Cramond, MLN – to Janet GEDDES. Their daughter, Joanna BINNIE [iv] (1782, Cramond – Y?), m. 1804 – to Alexander HUTCHISON. [TR] [PCR]
BLACK. [CADZOW]; from Carnwath, Lanark (LKS); 1750 – 1900. David BLACK [iii], b.cir. 1802, Carnwath, LKS, d. ???, m. Agnes MANN. Their daughter, Helen BLACK [ii], b. 1838, Carluke, Lanark, d. 1923, m. 1862, at Livingston, WLN – to James CADZOW of Lesmahagow. [TR][PCR]
BROWN. [ELLIOTT]; from ??? Croydon, Hertfordshire (HRT); 1750 – 1900. Mary BROWN [iii], b.?, d.cir. 1869, m. John (Jack) ELLIOTT. Their son, Joseph John ELLIOTT [ii], b. 1835, in Croydon, HRT, m. Lucy Elizabeth FRY. [TR] [PP]
BUCK. [ELLIOTT]; from Exeter, Devon (DEV); 1700 – 1900. Elizabeth BUCK [iv] (1775, Exeter – 1852, Exeter), m. 1801, – to Richard CLARENCE. Their daughter, Caroline Mary CLARENCE [iii] (1809, Bermondsey, LND – 1874), m. 1837, in Gurnsey – to Edmund FRY. [TR]
BUCKNALL. [EYRE]; from Stroud, Gloucestershire (GLS); 1700 – 1900. The BUCKNALL family is traced back to Samuel BUCKNALL [v] (1763 – 1821), m. 1790 – to Ann CLISSOLD (1765 – 1827). Margaret BUCKNALL [ii] (1857, Rodborough, Stroud, GLS – 1935, Upper Norwood, London), m. 1880 – to Alfred James EYRE. [TR]
CADZOW. (or CAGOW / KADZOW); from Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire (LKS); 1700 – 1900. William CAIGOW [vi], b.?, d.?, m. Janet WILSON. Their son, William CAGOW [v], b. 1760, Carnwarth, LKS, d. 1858, Hallhill, Lesmahagow, m. Jean MANUEL. Download a CADZOW ancestor “pedigree” file (.pdf) HERE. [TR]
CLARENCE. [ELLIOTT]; from Sampford, Essex (ESS); 1700 – 1900. The CLARENCE family is traced back to about 1500, around Great Sampford, in Essex. Caroline Mary CLARENCE [iii] (1809, Bermondsey, LND – 1874), m. 1837, in Gurnsey – to Edmund FRY. See; http://studymore.org.uk/quasho.htm#Fryfamily . [TR] [PP]
CLISSOLD. [EYRE]; from Stroud, Gloucestershire (GLS); 1700 – 1850. Stephen CLISSOLD [vi] (Y? – Y?), m. Mary WATT (???? – 1789). Their daughter Ann CLISSOLD [v] (1765 – 1827), m. 1790 – to Samuel BUCKNALL (1763 – 1821). [TR]
DAVIE. [WALKER]; from West Lothian (WLN) / Lanarkshire (LKS); 1650 – 1750. Marion DAVIE married Thomas JOHNSTON (a farmer at East Mains of Ballencrieff, near Bathgate, West Lothian), and had 3 children, born in 1723, 1724, and 1728. It has been suggested in documents about the JOHNSTON family, that Marion DAVIE was related to the Covenanter, James DAVIE, who was killed while attending a conventicle at Blackdub, in about 1673, by a party of dragoons, and was buried in the secluded old churchyard of Bathgate, where there is a stone to his memory. I have no documentation as yet to verify this claim. See; https://afamilyhistoryblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/22/mair-and-johnston-part1/ [PP] [TR] [TBC]
DOUNS. [WALKER]; from Uphall, West Lothian (WLN); 1750 – 1850. Barbara DOUNS [iv], b.?, d.?, m. George NEIL. Their daughter, Isobel NEIL [iii], b. 1788, Uphall, WLN, d. 1860, m. 1816 – to John WALKER. [FP][PCR]
ELLIOTT. (or ELLETT); from Croydon, Hertfordshire (HRT); 1750 – 1900. John (Jack) ELLIOTT [iii], b. 1793, d. 1864, m. Mary BROWN. Their son, Joseph John ELLIOTT [ii], b. 1835, in Croydon, HRT, m. 1864, in Brighton – to Lucy Elizabeth FRY. Download an ELLIOTT ancestor “pedigree” file (.pdf) HERE. [TR] [PP]
EYRE.; from Lambeth/Sydenham, London (LND / KEN); 1800 – 1900. Edward EYRE [iv], b. 1800, d.?. His son, Alfred George EYRE [iii], b. 1832, d.?, m. Emily SMITH. Their son, Alfred James EYRE [ii] (1853 – 1919) was Organist at the Crystal Palace, and Master of Music at St John’s Church, Upper Norwood. Download an EYRE ancestor “pedigree” file (.pdf) HERE. [TR] [PP]
FLINT. [WALKER]; from West Lothian (WLN); 1700 – 1800. John FLINT [vi], b.?, d.?, m. Marian MURKEL. Their daughter, Janet FLINT [v], b. 1739, d. 1817, m. 1766, at Kirkliston / Mid Calder (WLN) – to James WALKER. [FP][PCR][MI]
FRY. [ELLIOTT]; from Bristol / Wiltshire (WIL); All dates. A well known family of Quakers originating from Sutton Benger in Wiltshire, who became chocolate makers and type-founders in Bristol. Also related by marriage to Elizabeth FRY (nee GURNEY), the famous campaigner for prison reform in the early 1800′s. See; http://studymore.org.uk/quasho.htm#Fryfamily . Lucy Elizabeth FRY [ii], b. 1844, Plymouth, DEV, d. 1931, m. 1864, in Brighton – to Joseph John ELLIOTT. [TR] [PP]
GANDY. [WALTON]; from Fallowfield, Lancashire (LAN); pre 1850. Mary GANDY [iv], (Y? – Y?), m. ??? – to John WALTON, of Longsight Hall, Fallowfield, Manchester [TBC] [TR]
GEDDES. [HUTCHISON]; Mid Lothian (MLN); 1700 – 1800. Janet GEDDES [v] (Y? – Y?), m. 1768, at Cramond, MLN – to Robert BINNIE. Their daughter, Joanna BINNIE [iv] (1782, Cramond – Y?), m. 1804 – to Alexander HUTCHISON. [TR] [PCR]
GREEN. [TWITE]; from Boston, Lincolnshire / Lewisham/Holborn, London (LIN/LND); 1800 – 1900. Susannah GREEN [iii], b.cir.1825, Boston (LIN), d. 1893, m. 1851, in Lewisham (LND) – to George TWITE. Susannah’s father, Thomas GREEN [iv] was a wheelwright from Boston (LIN). [TR][PCR]
HART. (or HEART) [SWAIN]; from Staffordshire (STS); 1800 – 1900. Ellen HART [ii] (or HEART), b. 1846, Castle Church, Stafford (STS), d. 1938, Western Park, Leicester (LEI), m. 1870, at Whittington, Worcester (WOR) – to James Christopher SWAIN. [TR]
HENDERSON. [CADZOW]; from Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire (LKS); 1700 – 1900. Elizabeth HENDERSON, b. ???, d. 1795, m. William MUIR. Their daughter, Margaret MUIR, b. 1795, d. 1857, m. 1816, at Dalserf (LKS) – to William KADZOW (CADZOW). (n.b. as of January 2017, all tags for “HENDERSON” on aFamilyHistoryBlog relate to those on the WALTON branch of Matt’s family, who are not related to those on the CADZOW branch!). [TR]
HENDERSON. [WALTON]; from Paisley, Renfrewshire (REW); 1700 – 1900. Helen Urie HENDERSON [ii], (1859, Paisley, REW – 1945), m. 1890 – to Edward Arthur WALTON. (n.b. these are not related to the “HENDERSON”s on the CADZOW branch of Matt’s family!). [TR]
HUTCHISON.; from Kirkcaldy, Fife (FIF); 1700 – 1900. John HUTCHISON (or HUTCHESON) [v] (Y? – Y?), m. 1773, in Kirkcaldy – to Isabel BETT (or BEATT). Robert HUTCHISON [iii] (1806 – 1883) was a wheat & grain merchant in Kirkcaldy. Download a HUTCHISON ancestor “pedigree” file (.pdf) HERE. [FP][TR][PCR]
JAMES. [SWAIN]; from Birmingham, (Staffordshire/Warwickshire?) (STS / WAR); 1750 – 1900. Ann JAMES [iv], m. 1813, at St Martin, Birmingham (WAR) – to Christopher JOHNSON.
JOHNSON. [SWAIN]; from Birmingham, (Staffordshire/Warwickshire?) (STS / WAR); 1750 – 1900. Isabella JOHNSON [iii], b.cir. 1817, Birmingham?, d. 1882, Stafford, m. 1837, at St Martin, Birmingham (WAR) – to James SWAIN. [TR]
JOHNSTON [WALKER]; from Bathgate, West Lothian (WLN); 1650 – 1900. The earliest generations (traced back to 1692) were farmers at East Mains of Ballencrieff, Dykeside, and Nethermuir, near Bathgate. Subsequent generations of the JOHNSTON family were involved in banking in Bathgate, and in printing & publishing in Falkirk. I have a printed family tree “of the JOHNSTON family, Bathgate” – compiled by Alexander A. CUTHBERT. I believe this tree dates from about 1906 (the last date on the tree). See this tree on the blog page, HERE. [FP] [TR] [PCR] [PP] [MI]
KADZOW. (see CADZOW)
KEY. [HUTCHISON]; from West Lothian (WLN); 1800 – 1900. John KEY [iii], (Y? – Y?), m. 1845 – to Sarah WHITE (or WHYTE). Their daughter, Sarah “Hannah” KEY [ii] (1850 – 1938), m. Henry William HUTCHISON. [TR]
KING. [EYRE]; from Gloucestershire (GLS); 1750 – 1900. Mary KING [iv] (???? – 1874), m. 1822 – to Edwin BUCKNALL (1791 – 1869). [TR]
MANN. [CADZOW]; from Carnwath, Lanark (LKS); 1750 – 1900. Agnes MANN [iii], b.cir. 1803, Carnwath, LKS, d. ???, m. David BLACK. Their daughter, Helen BLACK [ii], b. 1838, Carluke, Lanark, d. 1923, m. 1862, at Livingston, WLN – to James CADZOW of Lesmahagow. [TR][PCR]
MANUEL. [CADZOW]; from Lanark (LKS); 1700 – 1850. Jean MANUEL [iv], b. ?, d. ?, m. William CAGOW (or CADZOW). Children born in 1786 and 1788, in Lesmahagow, LKS. [TR]
MAWER [TWITE]; lived at Sibsey, Lincolnshire (LIN); 1750 – 1900. Census records identify Joseph MAWER [iv] as a “wheelwright” and “carpenter” who was born circa 1800, at Walsoken, Wisbech, on the Lincolnshire/Norfolk border. But he appears to have lived most of his life in Sibsey, and I suspect that he had earlier family ties to this village. He married Sarah BAXTER, in Sibsey, in 1822. She was about 10 years older than him! Joseph died in 1883. Their granddaughter, Annie MAWER [ii] married Charles TWITE. [TR][PCR]
MUIR. [CADZOW]; from Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire (LKS); 1700 – 1850. William MUIR [iv], b. 1750, d. 1796, m. Elizabeth HENDERSON. Their daughter, Margaret MUIR [iii], b. 1795, d. 1857, m. 1816, at Dalserf (LKS) – to William KADZOW (CADZOW). [TR]
MURKEL. [WALKER]; from West Lothian (WLN); 1700 – 1800. Marian MURKEL [v], b.?, d.?, m. John FLINT. Their daughter, Janet FLINT [iv], b. 1739, d. 1817, m. 1766, at Kirkliston / Mid Calder (WLN) – to James WALKER. [FP][PCR][MI]
NEIL. [WALKER]; from Uphall, West Lothian (WLN); 1750 – 1850. George NEIL [iv], b.?, d.?, m. Barbara DOUNS. Their daughter, Isobel NEIL [iii], b. 1788, Uphall, WLN, d. 1860, m. 1816 – to John WALKER. [FP][PCR]
OLIPHANT. [HUTCHISON] from Kirkcaldy, Fife (FIF); 1600 – 1900. Mary OLIPHANT [iii] (1808 – 1852), m. 1837, in Kirkcaldy – to Robert HUTCHISON. Mary OLIPHANT’s parents were 1st Cousins x2 – sharing the same 4 grandparents; Robert OLIPHANT [vi] (cir.1696 – 1772) m. Janet BELL (Y? – Y?), and George BARKER [vi] (1704 – Y?) m.1733, Christian BELL (Y? – Y?). I have posted onto aFamilyHistoryBlog, details of a collection of original OLIPHANT and BARKER family papers – wills, etc. [FP] [TR]
PATRICK. [HUTCHISON] from Kirkcaldy, Fife (FIF); 1650 – 1750. Lucras (or Lucretia) PATRICK [vii], (Y? – Y?) m.1691 – to John BARKER. [TR]
PORTSMOUTH. [ELLIOTT] from Basingstoke, Berkshire (BRK) / Shoreditch, London (LND); 1700 – 1800. Anna PORTSMOUTH [vi] (1732, Basingstoke, BKS – 1803, Bristol), m. 1755, to Joseph FRY, type-founder, printer, and chocolate maker, based in Bristol. See; http://studymore.org.uk/quasho.htm#Fryfamily . [TR] [PP]
RUSSELL. [HUTCHISON]; from Kirkcaldy, Fife (FIF); 1650 – 1750. Jannet RUSSELL [vii] (Y? – Y?), m. James OLIPHANT. Children born circa 1696 – 1710. [TR]
SCOTT. [WALTON]; from Renfrewshire (REW); 1700 – 1850. Elizabeth SCOT [v], (Y? – Y?), m. 1790, at Paisley, REW – to John URIE. Their daughter, Helen URIE [iv], (1798, Ferguslie, REW – 1878, Pollockshields), m. 1818, at High Paisley – to John HENDERSON. [TR]
SMITH. [EYRE]; from London (LND); 1800 – 1900. Emily SMITH [iii] (Y? – Y?), m. Alfred George EYRE. Their son, Alfred James EYRE [ii] (1853 – 1919) was Organist at the Crystal Palace, and Master of Music at St John’s Church, Upper Norwood. (Unconnected to the two SMITH families in the WALKER branch – below).
SWAIN.; from Bristol (WIL) / Birmingham / Staffordshire (STS) / Leicester (LEI); 1750 – 1900. The SWAIN family lived in various locations around the English Midlands. Many of them were involved in Shoe and Boot making. From the latter 1800’s the direct family were settled around Leicester. Earlier generations had connections to the Stafford and Worcester (WOR) areas. James SWAIN [iii], b.cir. 1800 – 1801, Bristol (WIL), d. 1883, Stafford (STS), m. 1837, at St Martin, Birmingham (WAR) – to Isabella JOHNSON. Download a SWAIN ancestor “pedigree” file (.pdf) HERE. [TR]
TABRUM. [ELLIOTT]; from Sampford, Essex (ESS); 1650 – 1800. Ann TABRUM [v] (1717, Old Sampford, ESS – ????), m. 1740 – to John CLARENCE. [TR]
THOMAS. [TWITE]; from Carew, Pembrokeshire (PEM); 1750 – 1850. Mary Ann THOMAS [iv], b.cir. 1796, Carew, Pembrokeshire (PEM), d. 1872, Edmonton, Middlesex (MDX), m. 1819 at Walcot, Bath, Somerset (SOM) – to Joseph TWITE. [TR][PCR]
TWITE.; from Bath, Somerset (SOM), then London (LND); 1750 – 1850. Joseph TWITE [iv] was a shoemaker, b. 1781, d. 1845, at Philip Street, Bath, m. 1819 at Walcot, Bath, Somerset (SOM) – to Mary Ann THOMAS. Their son, George TWITE [iii], b. 1824, became a Butcher at 46 Fetter Lane, Holborn, LND. Download a TWITE ancestor “pedigree” file (.pdf) HERE. [TR][PCR]
URIE. [WALTON]; from Renfrewshire (REW); 1700 – 1900. John URIE [v], (Y? – Y?), m. 1790, at Paisley, REW – to Elizabeth SCOT. Their daughter, Helen URIE [iv], (1798, Ferguslie, REW – 1878, Pollockshields), m. 1818, at High Paisley – to John HENDERSON, who was Provost of Paisley; 1841 – 1844. [TR]
WALKER.; from Kirkliston, West Lothian (WLN); 1650 – 1900. The WALKER family lived and farmed in Kirkliston parish, West Lothian. The first records place them at “Puncheonlaw“, N.E. of Kirkliston village, towards Carlowrie, from 1728. In 1745 they moved S.W. to Hiddlefaulds(or Hiddlefolds). They also had connections at this time to Overtoun farm (or Overton), in Kirknewton, Mid Lothian. During the 1800s they combined the farm at Hiddlefaulds with its neighbour, Kilpunt(or Kilpont), which the family moved to in the 1840s. From here the family moved down to Hertfordshire in 1898. William WALKER [v], b.cir. 1694, d. 1768, m. 1728, in Corstorphine (MLN)/Kirkliston (WLN) – to Elizabeth BARRON.
I am working on a series of blog posts about various old WALKER family papers. Download a WALKER ancestor “pedigree” file (.pdf) HERE. [FP][PCR][MI]
WALTON.; from Fallowfield, Lancashire (LAN); pre 1850. John WALTON [iv], of Longsight Hall, Fallowfield, Manchester, married Mary GANDY (dates unknown!) [TBC]. Their son, Jackson WALTON [iii] (1809 – 1873), moved to Aberdeen and then Glasgow. Download a WALTON ancestor “pedigree”file (.pdf) HERE. (details to be checked. Some vague details, and differing sources which may be contradictory!). [MI] [TR] [PP]
WARD. [SWAIN]; from Staffordshire (STS); 1800 – 1900. Ann WARD [iii], m. 1830 at St Mary’s Church, Stafford (STS) – to Charles HART (or HEART). [TR]
WATT. [EYRE]; from Gloucestershire (GLS); 1700 – 1800. Mary WATT (???? – 1789), m. Stephen CLISSOLD (Y? – Y?). Their daughter Ann CLISSOLD (1765 – 1827), m. 1790 – to Samuel BUCKNALL (1763 – 1821). [TR]
WHITE. (or WHYTE). [HUTCHISON]; from West Lothian (WLN); 1800 – 1900. Sarah WHITE (or WHYTE) [iii], (Y? – Y?), m. 1845 – to John KEY. Their daughter, Sarah “Hannah” KEY [ii] (1850 – 1938), m. Henry William HUTCHISON. [TR]
Counties are abbreviated using the Chapman codes. All locations should be read as being located within the British Isles, unless another country is clearly stated. I have set the “dates of interest” quite broad, to try and cover one or more generations on either side of those that I already know of.
[i] [ii] [iii] [iv] [v] [vi] [vii] [viii] – represents the generation of my family tree that the person named belongs to, counting backwards. [i] = my Great Grandparents. [v] = my 5x Gt Grandparents.
At the end of each entry is a note about the kinds of sources that I have for that branch family;
[FP] = Family Papers, original documents, etc. I generally have high confidence in the accuracy of information from such original sources!
Today I was reflecting on a number of interesting pieces that I’ve either seen, heard, or read, about family history/genealogy in the last couple of weeks. I’ve thought about posting links to some of these onto “AFamilyHistoryBlog” – the website which I’ve been developing for nearly 3 years now. But I haven’t particularly wanted to do so because I want to keep the blog focused primarily on my research into my own family history.
Then the idea came to me that I could create a Facebook page where I can easily share links to interesting general articles like these, as well as to “AFamilyHistoryBlog” articles about my own research.
This is intended, in part, to be a kind of scrapbook/diary for myself – to collect together such articles that I find of interest.
But I would also like to encourage family, and anyone else who’s interested in my family history research, to “Follow” BOTH the WordPress blog (click the “FOLLOW” button in Right-hand column of the website), and the Facebook page (click “LIKE” at the top of the page).
I will continue posting articles about my own family history research onto AFamilyHistoryBlog and will then share those articles on this Facebook page. But I will also use the Facebook page to quickly share anything else I see of general interest to family history research.
It’s very easy to make false assumptions; but harder to get the real facts.
I’d like to tell a cautionary tale from my own research.
First some context; on occasions I’ve found other people’s family trees posted in various locations on the web, which appear to have connections to mine. They claim to have connections to the same ancestors. But there are some differences! Some “extra details” that are a surprise to me, or some clear discrepancies! So I try to contact the person who has posted the tree; to try and get more details and find out what their sources are; to see if it really does fit with my tree and whether there are new details that I can add to my tree.
Too often I’ve either had no response, or they are unable to explain the sources of their information. And too often people appear to have relied only on details obtained from the transcriptions of Parish registers (like the IGI), and to have assumed that the same “name” appearing in several places in the Parish register all relate to the same “Person”.
I want to explain, from an example in my own research experience, why I believe that this particular approach is highly unreliable! And why I believe that more evidence is normally required!
It must be said that there is a scale to the reliability of this approach. If you’re dealing with particularly rare or unusual names then there may be a reasonable degree of reliability to this approach. But more often than not you’ll be dealing with relatively common names (both forenames and surnames), and here this approach is totally unreliable!
Remember also that in the past people rarely moved very far, unlike they do today. So it was very common to find extended families living geographically close together, and to find cousins or second cousins, or uncles/aunts & nephews/nieces, who shared the same names, living in the same parish. So, unless you can study the original text for un-transcribed details (which might confirm a continuity between different records), you can’t rely on a name that appears in the records on several occasions being a reference to the same person on each occasion. But also people did sometimes move, and the person you’re looking for may be married in a completely different parish to where they were christened.
In my recent posts about Walker family papers, I have mentioned 2 examples (William Walker, b.1739, and Elizabeth Walker, b.1769) where trees posted by other people appear to have made assumptions from the Parish registers that the same “name” appearing in different places in the registers is the same “person”. But these associations seem to me to be at odds with the evidence that I have found in the original family papers that I have!
I have another example from the same family where I appear to have made the same kind of error! This demonstrates the unreliability of this approach, when there is no other evidence to support the assumptions being made!
When I uploaded my GEDCOM to FindMyPast (in Jan. 2016), I noticed that I had “Isabell Walker” (b. 23rd Aug 1729 in Kirkliston, West Lothian) recorded as marrying William Glass in May 1760. The “Walkers in Scotland” website lists the IGI transcriptions for the marriage like this;
16750 – Isobel WALKER, William GLASS, marr, 4 May 1760, Edinburgh Parish Edinburgh, Midlothian, 993527
16751 – Isobel WALKER, William GLASS, marr, 2 May 1760, Kirkliston West, Lothian, 1066630
The similarity of these 2 records means that they are almost certainly recording the same couple, registering their marriage in the parishes where each of them lived. This appears to be the only record for the marriage of an “Isobel Walker” (or similar name) recorded in the Kirkliston parish records. So at some point I appear to have associated this marriage with the Isabell Walker b. 23rd Aug 1729 in Kirkliston, to William Walker & Elizabeth Barron. I’m not sure if this came from seeing this association being made in someone else’s tree! But more likely, it’s an association that I had made myself!
I know that I’ve not found any evidence for this association from among the family papers that I have, or from any other sources. So seeing it again through the FindMyPast Family Tree Builder made me question what evidence I had for it. Nothing except the transcribed Parish registers, it seems, which I don’t think is sufficient!
So last week I started searching on-line to see if I could find any more evidence that would prove (or disprove) this association. If I couldn’t find more evidence, then I intended to delete this association from my tree, as unreliable! But it would be important to keep a separate note of it being a possibility, for future reference and further research.
As it was, I soon found evidence that this association was completely false; that the “Isobel Walker” who married “William Glass” in 1760, could not be the daughter of William Walker & Elizabeth Barron, b. 1729. The first thing I found, from Google Books, was; “The General Correspondence of James Boswell, 1766-1769: 1768-1769”; a transcription of letters, published by Edinburgh University Press in 1997. On page 92, an editors’ end-note about one of James Boswell’s letters says the following;
“ Lady Jane’s serving-maids were Isobel or Isabella (‘Tibby’) Walker and Euphemia (‘Effy’) Caw. Walker (b. 1719), a naitive of Leith, re- mained in the service of Lady Jane until Lady Jane’s death. She later (c. 1759-62) became servant to William Hogg of Edinburgh and c. 1762 married William Glass, gardener at Newliston (Douglas memorial, pp. 130-31, 142; Hamilton Proof, p. 48).”
(“Lady Jane” was; Lady Jane Douglas, married to Sir John Stewart)
This indicates that the “Isobel Walker” who married William Glass was 10 years older than the daughter of William Walker & Elizabeth Barron. None of the described life events of this Isobel Walker appear to match with what I would expect to find for the Isabell Walker in my family tree! I wanted to find out more! I wanted to check out what the source of this note; the “Douglas memorial” actually said!
After a bit of web-searching, trying slightly varying terms, I found 2 contemporary records, digitised on Google Books, which mention the Isobel Walker who married William Glass;
The Memorial for Archibald Douglas contains numerous mentions of “Tibby Walker”, or “Ifobel Walker” (the “s” being replaced with an “f” – it was common in old handwriting to sometimes write an “s” like an “f”. This practice has been copied in the original print, and in the modern, digital transcription.). She is also identified in parts of the text as “Isabella Glass”, and “Mrs Glafs”.
It takes a while to read through these references and their contexts. There are 2 or 3 points where the text indicates that Isobel was “about the age of twenty-nine” (in 1748), and that she “was further advanced in years” than her colleague, Effy Caw, whose birth-date is identified in one place as “1st February 1727”. All this proves to me that this “Isobel Walker” (who married William Glass) is too old to be the “Isabell Walker” in my family tree, who was born in August 1729.
The point of this post is to show how easy it is to make false assumptions. It was unreliable for me to assume (without other evidence) that a name appearing more than once in the records of a parish related to the same person on each occasion. It may, more often, not be the case. I have tried this approach and proven it to be potentially faulty! But it seems to me that too many people take this kind of approach, or at least fail to provide sufficient details of any other evidence that they may have to support such assumptions.
The trouble I have is that when someone posts, publishes, or shares a family tree which contains this kind of assumption, these assumptions become “pseudo-facts” which people using the tree further down the line will treat as real, proven information.
Take the Johnston family tree (published circa 1909). I have treated it all as fact. Looking at the tree, without other evidence to hand, you have no way of knowing if it all has evidence to prove it, or if any of it is based on assumptions (like those I’ve describe above) which may turn out to be false (if you could find the genuine evidence)! I do have other evidence which supports significant parts of the Johnston tree.
Likewise the genealogy of the “Barons of Preston” in “Some Old Families”, by Hardy Bertram McCall (published in 1890); you would probably take it on faith to be accurate! But due to the evidence that I have found in my family documents, I have some questions and doubts about that genealogy (expressed in my notes HERE).
I want my trees to be as accurate as possible; based on evidence rather than assumptions; facts rather than theories. I’m happy to discuss assumptions and theories (mine and other people’s), as you can already see from some of my blog posts. But I want to be really clear about what has evidence and what is assumed. I want to try and avoid including assumptions, that lack clear evidence, in any formal trees or genealogy reports that I post to this blog or publish anywhere else.
I hope that others will also want to be as clear in distinguishing between evidence and assumptions, and in providing reasonable evidence for their information.
I was tempted last week by the offer of a weekend of free on-line access to “billions of historical records” at FindMyPast.co.uk. And after a great talk at my local Family History Society meeting, by Myko Clelland from FindMyPast, I decided to sign up, give it a go, and see what new things I could find. So I registered, and uploaded a GEDCOM file, with nearly 4,500 people in it. Then I had an initial explore of the site, and waited for the free access weekend to start.
The FindMyPast website was not as good as I had hoped! I’ll explain how I got on as a new user, and in particular the things that frustrated me about the site.
The first thing I found disappointing with the site was that the “Hints” system which FindMyPast advertises as a great way to find new, relevant records to help build up your family tree, only works (currently) when you edit entries, or manually enter new ones. It doesn’t provide hints for the people that you’ve added from a GEDCOM file! FindMyPast should make it clearer before you start that when uploading a GEDCOM file you won’t get “hints” for the individuals in that file.
My next frustration was that when I did start getting “Hints” (after adding details from paper notes that were missing from the GEDCOM file) – although at first sight many hinted records looked to be relevant, digging deeper revealed that they really weren’t relevant to my tree. A couple of times I added facts to my tree using the hints provided by FindMyPast, but then deleted them again after looking much more closely and checking back on my paper notes of details I’ve previously found! (this largely related to parish registers from the 1700’s).
It appears to me that FindMyPast‘s threshold for matching the information to provide its “Hints” may be set too low! Many of its hints can be very quickly screened out. But the difficulty comes with the ones that you have to dig into much more deeply to detect the inconsistencies. It is so easy to see something that seems to match, and add it to your tree. This could so easily lead to many false paths in numerous family trees.
AFamilyHistoryBlog is (in part) my attempt to counter some of these “false” trees that appear on-line, where people have assumed connections to exist between separate records, but without any clear evidence for the connection. I hope that by posting the real evidence that I have from original family documents and other reliable sources, I can help to challenge and correct some of those “false” trees which can so easily develop. I also hope that if and when I follow a false path, my blog will allow others to contact me with any evidence they have, to put me back on the right path.
I had hoped to find many more images of original documents to be available to view on the FindMyPast website. But while it does have images of things like census records (which is useful), it doesn’t seem to have images of the parish registers which I had hoped for! Only the transcriptions of them!
Very often seeing images of the original parish registers (which I have done in the past on microfilm) provides additional clues/evidence that is too often missing from the transcriptions; for instance names of witnesses (who often may have been relatives), or names of places (houses/farms) where the people lived, which can confirm a continuity between different records. Without establishing such continuity between records you often can’t be certain if the name appearing several times in a parish register relates to one person, or to several different people with the same name. It was very common in the past, when extended families often lived geographically close together, to find cousins or second cousins, or uncles/aunts & nephews/nieces, who shared the same names, living in the same parish. So in the records (and more-so in their partial transcriptions) it can be very difficult to tell these individuals apart!
After these initial frustrations with the FindMyPast system, where I was largely trying to find more about earlier ancestors through parish registers, etc – largely the Walkers of Kirkliston (whom I’m currently posting documents about), I decided to change track. I began to have a look at the lines of my ancestry that I can trace least far back. From my 3x Gt-grandparents back, some gaps begin to appear. So I began looking to see if FindMyPast could help fill any of these gaps.
That generation of my tree typically features individuals born in the late 1700’s and particularly the early 1800’s – people who often had their families at the time of the early censuses. So it proved easy to find out some more about some of these ancestors from the UK censuses. In one case I have been able to obtain the maiden name of a 3x Gt-grandmother, where before I only had her married surname.
Elsewhere I was able to work out sideways, adding children and other details in the next generation. But this also produced one more frustration with the FindMyPast system. FindMyPast would try to use the census data about a household to identify everyone in the family and use that to update or add individuals in your family tree. But too often it risked duplicating individuals because slight differences in name spelling meant that it didn’t link the person in the census to the person in your tree! And you couldn’t easily compare the full household list in the census with the whole family group in your tree, to check who was there and who was missing.
In one case I added a “son-in-law” from the census to my tree. I already had the son-in-law in my tree, but FindMyPast didn’t connect the two together, or connect the son-in-law from the census to his wife in my tree (who was also in that census entry), but only to his parents-in-law! So “Henry” then appeared twice in my tree – a duplicate! I tried to find out how I could merge the two entries into one! But I couldn’t!
The best help I could find was on a blog by Phil Moir, who is “technical lead for the Family Tree team” at FindMyPast. That helped a little, but wasn’t exactly what I wanted! In the end I had to resort to copying the new details provided by the census, from the “new” Henry, and pasting them into the profile of the “old” Henry, then delete the “new” Henry from my tree. Not very satisfactory! It should be much easier to merge two “profiles” into one.
Another example of the problem with FindMyPast‘s handling of census records is where a child in a family had died. Then a new child was given the same name, which was common when child mortality was high – in this example “William”. The 1891 census records the younger William (b.1886). But the FindMyPast system picks up on the older “William” in the family tree (b.1867), who had died (1871) before the 1891 census, and attempts to persuade you to change his date of birth to that of the younger James, who is in the census and on your tree. If you were to follow through on FindMyPast‘s advice and update “William’s” details based on the census record, then you would have two “William”s with the same approximate date of birth in the family group. This would then look like a duplicate of one individual (similar to what I described above), when in fact they were two different individuals, with a wide gap between dates of birth.
You really need to be able to compare the census records, and what FindMyPast is hinting you to change in your tree, side-by-side with the WHOLE family group that you currently have in your tree. You need to be better able to see the context of the wider family into which you’re being prompted to add new details of an individual. As far as I can see at the moment the best that you can do is to switch between the “merge” page and the “family view”, in separate browser tabs. This isn’t satisfactory. You should be able to view them side-by-side, in the same tab, in order to fully check how the details in the hinted record compare to the family group that you already have in your tree.
So, to summerise my experience; while FindMyPast could be very useful as a research tool, the frustrations that I’ve had as a new user trying it out for the first time, mean that I can only give it 2 stars! ★★☆☆☆
The free Family Tree Builder app is great and I’ll probably continue to play with it, adding material that I’ve got elsewhere. It looks great. I just wish it was a bit easier to navigate between different branches of my tree. A tab at the top of the “family view” that would let you get quickly to an index of all the individuals in your tree would be great for that.
The available records that you can search is also good. But I think that the systems of “Hinting” records, and of merging record details into your own family tree needs improvement (I realise that this is sure to be a very technically challenging thing to get right!).
So I think that I am unlikely to take out any kind of subscription to FindMyPast until I can see them ironing out many of the frustrations that I’ve mentioned above. Once they do, it’ll be a really great tool.
Its nearly a year since I had the idea for this blog, and after a number of months of not doing anything much with the blog, or in researching my family history generally, I’m having a fresh look at it. As I’ve said on the Intro page, I’m not a regular blogger and I expect my posts to this site to be sporadic – associated with short bursts of research.
With Christmas 2014 approaching, I thought that I would just do a couple of web searches related to different parts of my family tree to see if anything new popped up! The first few searches (of places associated with the WALKER line) yielded nothing new! But then I turned to the opposite side of my family tree; to the MAWER family. This immediately led to records with a lot of new details, thanks mostly to new websites (or at least ones I had not found before) which make historic records much more easily accessible.
I’ll plan to write up what I’ve found about the MAWERs in the new year.
But this made me think again about developing this blog (which at the time of writing remains as an off-line draft!). So I’ve been going back over the site and some of the articles that I wrote earlier in 2014, tweaking a few little things here and there! I hope to post some more content going into the new year, and get this website into a shape to go live on the internet early in 2015.