Yes, there is a Northumberland in England

Old Northumberland

Old Northumberland

I have been driven to distraction over the past few hours by Ancestry’s many attempts to persuade me that my ancestors come from Pennsylvania, Ontario or New South Wales. I have no issue with USA, Canada and Australia reusing the Northumberland county name. What irritates me is that ancestry.com seems unable to suggest that any Northumbrian location is English without manual assistance.

Since I was unaware when I first started my tree that this was going to be an issue, I was not too careful about adding the country name to every place name. Now I am suffering for my lapse.

Looking on the positive side, I have been kicked into rationalizing another couple of hundred place names this evening. Hopefully I have now planted my little corner of Northumberland safely back on English soil, but if you read my tree and see a foreign Northumberland has slipped past me please let me know so I can check whether it is correct.

Purging poor place names

Having been warned that the new improved ancestry.com format is very sensitive to place names I decided to tackle the tidying job on all my place names. A combination of manual clumsiness in typing, names plucked automatically from poor transcriptions and my laziness in not adding country names mean that I have quite a task ahead of me. If I don’t sort this out before switching to the new format then I am going to find many of my border region ancestors will be assumed by ancestry to come from USA, Canada or Australia. It seems to search for all of these possibilities before considering that a Northumbrian town might be in England. Tonight I dealt with the obvious mistakes, using the “resolve place names” function in Family Tree Maker. That has cut my list of unresolved place names from 485 to 338, just by clearing up spellings, commas, and adding country to some. Still have a long way to go though, as many of the suggestions made by the software were wrong, so I will have to go through the whole list again manually.

Looking at a problem with fresh eyes

20150901_205116I treated myself to a new pair of specs a couple of week ago. Perhaps they will give me some new insight into this little conundrum. I am trying to find proof of whether my theory about a Gowans connection is correct. This death certificate is for William Gowans, aged 74, who died of typhus fever at Alnwick on 12 June 1841. His death was witnessed by Eleanor Gowans. I am trying to figure out whether William was my 4th great grandfather. This hinges on whether or not my probable 3rd great grandfather William Cracket married an Isabella Gowans. If that theory is correct, then the next question to work on is whether William was her father. Paper trail for these folks in the border lands is a bit thin and so far there is nothing substantial popping up in DNA matches to say yea or nay.

Blog activity 31 August 2015

Blog activity 31 AugWelcome to all my new readers :)

Yesterday I posted a summary of blog activity which indicated little recent interest. This was understandable as my postings in the past couple of years have been infrequent due to other commitments. I followed up the status report with a posting on facebook and  a new link to Digging up the ancients. The effect of that social media posting has been amazing. Both yesterday evening and today there has been a significant increase in reader activity. Here is a new summary for August. Most of the geographical locations for my current readers are understandable, but I am a little surprised by the reader in Namibia. I hope that if this individual is genuinely interested in my family history that he/she will get in touch.

DNA: George Murray and Anne Ruddiman

DNA match iconAnother DNA success story gives me an additional level of comfort that I am on the right track with my 4th great grandparents George Murray and Anne Ruddiman who married 31 March 1811 at Alvah, Banffshire, Scotland. I have previously been a little concerned about this couple as the name George Murray is very common in that part of the world. I now feel more confident that I have found the right George. If you are interested in knowing more about this match take a look at the article: “MRCA: George Murray and/or Anne Ruddiman” on my page DNA plus paper.

DNA: John Henderson and Harriet Miller Newton

DNA match iconMy second DNA success is a match that gives me increased confidence about my 3rd great grandparents John Henderson and Harriet Miller Newton. My match on AncestryDNA is descended from their daughter Elizabeth and I am descended from their son John. It was interesting to see that Ancestry only thought we had Harriet in common. The reason for this is that John was a bit of an enigma. My match has him documented with information from the census, as being born in Haydon Bridge. This is what I started out with too, but I have subsequently found a baptismal record in Kirkwhelpington which makes reference to his birth in Haydon Bridge. For more information about this match take a look at the article: “MRCA: John Henderson and/or Harriet Miller Newton” on my page DNA plus paper.