There is more to family history than just collecting and collating facts, certificates and dusty old photographs. It also requires analysis, evaluation and judgement. Among the judgement calls to made are when is a piece of evidence good enough to rely on it and move on. One example being, when I found a William Cracket baptismal record in the right place and close to the ancicipated year could I accept this as great great grandfather William or did I need to keep looking in other nearby locations? That type of judgement cannot be made just on the basis of a single piece of evidence, but should also take into account other sources such as census records, marriage records and death records to reduce the possibility that this may have been another William. Just a short alphabet post for me this time round as I am off exercising some of that judgement trying to break through a couple of Northumbrian brick walls.
One of the things I have learned from my genealogy research is that if you get stuck then try again from a different angle. I use several different online sources and often find that something which may not be indexed on one will turn up on another. I have also learned that it is wise not to be too restrictive on search terms. A wider search can often throw up something that will be filtered out if the search criteria are too narrow. It can also give interesting collateral information about other family members than the object of the search.
I is for Ironside
I is also for Ironside, one of my Scottish pedigree lines which starts with 3x great grandmother Margaret Ironside. Margaret was born in 1816 at New Deer in Aberdeenshire.
I started out focussing on the family element of family history, but have now progressed to considering the history aspect too. With the exception of Romans and Vikings I was never particularly interested in history as a subject at school, so my knowledge of the history of the past two or three centuries is seriously lacking. As I have added new people to my tree I have tried to find out more about the historical context in which they lived their lives. This has given me much more insight into the transition from an agricultural society to the industrial age and also the timeline of events in the first World War. One of the most interesting pieces of historical research has been looking into where the Northumberland Fusiliers served in 1915 and 1916 to track the path of my great uncle Edmund Webb from enlistment at Amble to his death in battle at Flers-Courcelette.
Moving on from history to genealogy I can claim four H-names in my pedigree. All four come from my mother’s half of the tree.
H is for Hall
First in the alphabet comes Hall. My Hall ancestors lived at Elsdon in Northumberland and I have been lucky enough to find good sources of information about them.
H is for Hedley
Another of my pedigree H lines is Hedley. I have not found quite so many of them. They too have lived in the Elsdon area and I found them by following up the Hall line.
H is for Henderson
The closest of my H pedigree lines is Henderson, to be found in Amble and Cullercoats. My maternal grandmother was a Henderson.
H is for Hunter
My final pedigree H is Hunter. Yet another Elsdon connection found by tracking back up the Hall line.
It was tempting just to hop right into G is for genealogy, but I decided to challenge myself more and go with G is for Geography. This is because my genealogy research has forced me to learn more about the geography of my own home country. My knowledge of some of the midland counties was very fuzzy so I have learned a lot as I have tracked my relatives from the mines of Northumberland back through mining areas in other counties to their agricultural roots. I have started to put together information about this geographical journey on my Places page.
G is for Garden
No, I am not about to change a lifetime habit and develop green fingers. Strange really that I have so little interest in gardening as both my grandas and my Dad were keen gardeners. Garden in this instance is the name of my 5x great grandmother, Isobel Garden who married George Ruddiman. Isobel was born sometime in the mid 1700s in Aberdeenshire.
My tree has many branches because large numbers of offspring appear to have been the norm among the mining, fishing and farming families of North-East England and Scotland. Three of my grandparents are from large families. Grandmother Ellenor Turner was the seventh child of ten. Grandmother Margaret Jane Henderson was the third child of seven. Grandfather George Crackett was the eighth child of ten. (Shown in the banner of my blog).
Taking it back one generation further the big families include: Cracket 8, Parkinson 5, Carr 5, Henderson 7, Thornton 11. Similar trends can be seen in the earlier generations too with most of the couples having somewhere between 5 and 10 children.
F is for findmypast
F is also for findmypast which is one of the resources I find most useful for my genealogy research. I find their transcriptions among the most reliable, although Cracket has on occasion been twisted to Crackel. So far I have just used the UK site, but expect I am soon going to have to take a look at both Ireland and Australia. I have not managed to figure out yet whether having a subscription for one country gives any discount opportunities for the other countries.
It took me far too long to learn the importance of evidence and of documenting my sources as I find them. This was partly because I found the formal documentation of sources in my tree software rather daunting. I now realise that even though I hopped over the formal documentation to start with that I could have saved myself a lot of extra work if I had at least used the notes section to jot down where I had found my information. The benefits of hindsight. Hopefully some day I will catch up with myself.
E is for Evans
E is also for Evans. Not a pedigree line for me, but nevertheless an important branch on my tree. My grandmother’s sister Jane Ann Turner (Auntie Jean) married a Welshman, William Daniel Evans in 1924. They lived in Swansea and had two boys born in the 1930s. Although I knew Auntie Jean from her regular visits to Northumberland I never met any of her family and have no idea whether her sons are still living or whether they had children. Too many Evanses in Glamorganshire for that line of research to be easy. Would love to hear from any of her family, so if you are one of her descendants reading this please drop me a comment and I will get back to you.
I get many comments that it is strange to have a hobby that has so much focus on the dead, but genealogy has also given me several new living relatives, several of whom I have regular correspondence with. As far as the deceased are concerned I see this as an opportunity to document their lives and their fates, which are many and varied. A chance for some of them to be remembered before everyone who may interested in their stories joins them on the list of those who are gone. Among causes of death that I have found are fire, drowning, roof falls, crushed by a pit tub, run over by a steam traction engine, manslaughter, consumption, unsuccessful surgery on a brain tumour and many more. A lot of the fun in this hobby comes from finding out more about these people than just their names and dates. Fascinating to see what kind of lives they led and reflect on the influence that has had on subsequent generations including mine.
D is for Davis
D is also for Davis. My great grandmother, Mary Davis, was born at Whitwood Mere in Yorkshire on Christmas Eve 1868. Great great grandfather George Davis is from Madeley Wood in Shropshire, but came to Northumberland to work in the mines.
D is for deadline
Tonight I am also going to have to admit that D is for deadline. I have just a couple of minutes to get this published as my postaday before Cindarella’s coach turns back into a pumpkin pulled by little white mice.