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When 'silly' Ancestry Tree data can be factual

Discussion in 'General Genealogical Queries' started by Bob Spiers, Jun 27, 2020.

  1. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Having come across so many ‘silly’ Ancestry Trees and seemingly farcical data recorded, I realised I would probably qualify myself if the information I was about to record on the page of a 2nd cousin, 3 x removed, was taken at face value.

    The cousin was Charles Spires (sic) (c1837) and his spouse Sarah (nee Sheppard) (c1832). Charles was from Worcestershire and Sarah from neighbouring Herefordshire. They married in 1858 (in Worcestershire) and in 1861 were living in Breconshire, Wales. But it was when I came to the birth areas of their 6 children (1859-1870) the silliness began. Here is how it reads, in birthplace sequences:

    1859 Scotland - 1860 Worcestershire - 1862 Yorkshire - 1863 Ireland, -1864 Ireland - 1870 Yorkshire.

    I began to wonder if they were part of a travelling circus or fair, but Charles’ occupation (in 1861) is shown as an Iron Stone Miner (digging out rocks for their iron content to be extracted. No longer commercially viable, but perhaps in the mid 1800’s skilled Miners may have been in great demand)

    By 1871 the family were living in Yorkshire, Charles still an Iron Stone Miner. By 1881 (still in Yorkshire) Sarah is now Head but married and not a widow. (Charles may have been hospitalised as he died in 1884). Two sons are shown as Iron Miner and Labourer at Iron Mine – so Iron (stone) Mining had to be the key to their movements. But does that explain Scotland or Ireland birthplaces, and I get this information from the 1881 Census which I show below. (see notes that follow)

    Note #1: Charles is scored out and Sarah written over. Sons, George & Benjamin born Ireland. Alice (she is the second of that name, (the earlier Alice having died as a baby) born Rosedale Yorkshire, Charles Jr born Scotland and Mary A born Hutton le Hole, Yorkshire.

    Note#2: Children are shown out of age sequence. The true order being Charles, Mary A, George, Benjamin & Alice-2. So, tying into the sequence shown above: Scotland-Yorkshire-Ireland-Ireland-Yorkshire.

    Confusion reigns supreme when checking out the 1871 Census which shows ALL 3 sons (Charles, George, Benjamin) born in Scotland.

    'Scotlands People' confirms Charles born 1859 at Drymon, Stirling, Scotland and although the script looks nothing like Drymon, can take Scotland as read for him (incidentally Charles -the father – was shown just as a Miner). I found no trace of either George or Benjamin.

    I found George married with a family in a 1901 Census, shown as George Spiess (italicised as Spires) and sure enough born Ireland. In 1911 George defines his place of birth as Points Pars, Ireland. This satisfies him being born in Ireland and although I have yet to pinpoint Points Par, am pretty sure it is in Armagh, Ireland (now Northern Ireland) and that is what the 1871 script shows, except it was dittoed as being in Scotland.

    With Benjamin the same but with a tease. In 1901 he is shown born Armagh, Ireland. But in 1911 (this time in his own hand) he shows his birthplace as Worcester, Worcestershire. I think this to be a deliberate falsehood for his own reasons. I am happy to go with born Ireland.

    BUT to the crunch: How come the family base touched so many places? ‘Iron stone mining’ must be the key. Perhaps he learned the trade in Wales (Llanelly, Breconshire) then found work in Scotland (there was an early rail network by the 1860’s) before returning to Yorkshire. Shortly after -again likely seeking work – he and family crossed the Irish sea and settled in Armagh for a few years. Finally returning and settling in Rosedale Yorkshire. The last child Alice was born in Hutton le Hole, Yorkshire.

    So, a veritable ‘Tour de-Britain’ settling in Yorkshire where sons and daughters raise their families. Charles Sr dies in 1884 & Sarah in 1911 - just making the Census of that year aged 80.

    So, I suppose the moral of the story is not to assume information found in other Trees is always silly or absurd; sometimes it is plain factual.

    Attached Files:

    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Many of our ancestors had to travel in order to find work, even ag labs. But some had to travel further than most: miners and stonemasons are two jobs that spring to mind.

    As Bob points out, the advent of the railways made it cheaper and more practical to travel long distances, and both the Penny Post (from 1840) and the abolition of newspaper duty not long afterwards would also have had an impact.

    Soldiers are another example, although in most cases they'd be travelling with their regiment rather than changing jobs. My 3G grandmother's eldest brother was born in Ireland, where his father was serving, but baptised the following year in Oxford. It's only because the birthplace is noted in the baptism register that I know my 4G grandfather served in the army - the only one of my direct ancestors to have been a career soldier, to the best of my knowledge.
  3. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    The combination of birthplaces of my 2x great-grandparents' family looks equally unlikely, but it is confirmed by censuses:

    Father born 1834 in Cople, Bedfordshire
    Mother born 1838 in Elm, Cambridgeshire
    1st child born 1862 in Kilburn, London
    2nd child born 1864 in Boston, Lincolnshire
    3rd child born 1868 in Rochdale, Lancashire
    4th child born 1875 in Dudley Hill, Yorkshire

    Father was a sadler and obviously moved around a lot! He died aged only 43 in 1877 in yet another place the family were staying - Long Eaton, Derbyshire (where he was run over by a train). His widow moved to Manchester with her children, including my great-grandfather - and there the family stayed for several generations. My great-grandfather also became a sadler, but he had a shop and clearly stayed put! His brother (the one born in Rochdale) dabbled with saddlery but then joined the army and continued the travelling: he died in India of asphyxia due to excessive drinking, according to his army record.
  4. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I suspect that's a polite way of saying that he choked on his own vomit.
  5. Tim

    Tim Moderator Staff Member

    Bob, I think he was a spy....
  6. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    It tends to be a good idea not to assume anything in genealogy!

    More seriously, though, the fundamental difference between an unlikely looking (but nevertheless factual) tree and a plain silly one is evidence. And by that I mean 'proper evidence, not just 'the only baptism I could find' sort.

    I have some pretty unlikely looking scenarios in my own tree, as I guess do most of us.
  7. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Well he would certainly have been a great candidate, and perhaps he was finally found out in 1884.:p
  8. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    I have a few families where there seems to be a lot of moving around -
    One because of the army - this one cause me trouble because there simply are no censuses with the father, but mother and father were born in Edinburgh, but their son was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire and their daughter in Elham, Kent. (All birthplaces close to barracks between the father's postings to Canada, the Crimea and finally India, where he died. So by the 1861 census, his wife was back in Edinburgh).

    The most curious one however, who honestly probably could simply be taken as silliness (if I hadn't found the evidence to prove it) would be my 3x great grandfather, who married three times - all three times, he married in the same church in Yorkshire (Bradford Cathedral).
    This wouldn't seem strange, unless you realised that between marriage 2 and marriage 3, he had emigrated to Australia.

    His marriage to my 3x great grandmother (marriage 2) was in 1840. She died in Australia in May 1855, which he witnessed. He married wife number 3, in Yorkshire in October 1856.
    Who knows whether or not he took my 2x great grandmother, at this point aged 11, back to Yorkshire with him for the wedding! But soon enough he was back in Australia, as his first child with his new wife was born in Australia in 1858.

    It was intensely difficult to find him and his new wife, in fact for a long time I thought he had simply disappeared like another ancestor of mine, and spent a lot of time purchasing and discounting death certificates before I finally found his, which listed two of his marriages, and all his children from marriage number 3 and his single surviving child from marriage number 2 (my 2x great grandmother - she has a very distinctive name, so no doubt it was her, even though her father was a very boring "George Wilson").
  9. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Would you believe I have found an even sillier ‘silliness’ in the household of my Spires ancestor (see #1 above) discovered because I could not find a Mary A Spires born in Hutton le Hole, Yorkshire.

    Viewing the 1881 Census again, and noticing Mary was dittoed with Charles as "married", I wondered could she possibly be the spouse of Charles rather than his sibling? Despite the 1881 Census showing her as a ‘daughter’ perhaps she was the a "daughter-in-law" shown under her married name.

    I now believe she is the Mary Ann Ogle born 1861 in Helmsley, Yorkshire (registration district for Hutton le Hole), who married Charles Spires in the first quarter of 1881, which is why she could be found with him and his family at the time of the Census. By 1891 they had settled in Stockton (on Tees) Durham where Charles is shown as a ‘Craneman’ . They had children Charles & Frederick.

    This information means the original Charles Sr & Sarah family went from Wales to Scotland, then Ireland and settled in Yorkshire where their last child Alice was born.
  10. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    I had that same problem with one of my ancestors. She was shown as "mother" in one census and "mother-in-law" in another. It took some considerable time to figure out just whose mother she actually was, and explained why some trees showed different surnames (and are therefore incorrect). I think I have mine correct, and there are DNA matches, although I no longer have any faith in those.
  11. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    I have found this sort of thing quite often. But another oddity I found in the 1871 census was one ancestor, whose name was Charlotte, had her name changed to Charles, and her age crossed out in the 'female' column and placed in the 'male' column. It was definitely the right person from other family members and she had changed back to her true sex in 1881. I wonder if the erroneous amendment was because she was running a business (employing 1 man) and maybe that was unusual for a woman in 1871?

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