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Breaking down a brick wall starting with a lack of full truth from an ancestor

Discussion in 'Search tips - discussion' started by Stephen L, Jan 7, 2023.

  1. Stephen L

    Stephen L LostCousins Member

    Brick walls can often be more difficult to break through if the starting information is not correct because our ancestors did not tell the full truth. I have found details of a highly structured approach and succeeded,

    My wife and I had between us just one brick wall at the level of great grandparent. Fanny BROWNSON was her maternal maternal great grandmother and had been a brick wall since the start of our research with no records of her before she married.

    She married Charles BAUMBER at Chorlton Register Office, Lancashire in 1893 when she claimed to be a 23 year old spinster with her father being Joseph BROWNSON (deceased) a greengrocer. We found no evidence of his existence and no trace of a birth or baptism for Fanny. We suspected that she was born under another name, perhaps illegitimate and perhaps adopting the surname of a stepfather. We were right about her name being different but wrong with our guess for the explanation.

    Last month we attended a Zoom talk given to East Surrey Family History Society by Phil Isherwood on Using a Research Methodology for Family History. He has a blog Seeing The Wood For The Trees – the How-To genealogy blog. The method he recommended in the talk was a structured approach that he fully describes in the post Solving Tough Genealogy Problems. In the talk he worked through a case study The Woman Who Fell From The Skies. As that began with a similar situation of no information before an 1890s marriage we followed the methods in the case study very closely to begin with for our Fanny BROWNSON.

    I could give more details of what we did and probable explanations for the lack of a birth registration and for the lies in the marriage register but that would mean a long post.

    The method is likely to work best in the 19th century and early 20th when there are multiple sources for comparison. Another blog post from Phil Isherwood on Linking Genealogical Evidence: A Method may be more useful for pre 1837.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 5

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