When A Name Can Be A Brick Wall In Family Tree Research

Ancestors in Thorne Family tree
My family tree research has thrown up the occasional brick wall when I have excluded the possibility of spelling an ancestor’s name in a different way from what was to be expected.

 

Just this week I was helping a contact find the death record for one of their forebears and the official death records had listed the deceased using an alternative spelling of the person’s middle name and so throwing some doubt on whether we had got our man or not. In the event the decease’s home address matched the information known about the family home and so it could be confirmed that this was the correct death certificate for my correspondent’s ancestor.

 

In my own tree I have come up against stumbling blocks provided, on the one hand, by poor transcription and, on the other, by variable spelling in newspaper reports that I had been investigating. One of my ancestors had a reasonably common first and second name, for his time, but he had been given the middle name of Crosland that enabled me to distinguish him from his same named contemporaries. Sometimes, however, he would appear as Crossland with two ‘s’s and other times with just the one. Similarly, one of his sons had been baptised with a middle name of Massy but this could be found in records written as Massey or Massy so adding to the chance of missing him.

 

Other problems, found using the search facilities of the main look up sites, were with transcriptions. It needs to be remembered that, when searching for an entry in a census, we are actually making use of the transcription provided by the website and not of the actual data written in the census. This would be impossible to use as it was completed in handwriting and so not open to search engines to interpret.

 

Using the census collections I have had difficulty finding my grandfather, a Hubert Thorne, as he had been transcribed as Herbert. Going back one generation and his father was Sydney, not Sidney and this doesn’t even consider the problems created by the enumerator shortening names such as Thomas to Thos, Elizabeth to Eliza and William to Wm.

 

Other difficulties arise, in my own family tree, when persons are baptised with a first and middle name and then adopt the middle name as a first throughout their life. To compound it all, there middle name is even used on their death certificate as if it was their first. And this doesn’t even touch on the fact that many of us have nick names that we prefer to be called by!

 

The point that I am making here, is to always beware of searching with strict parameters for a person’s name when doing your family tree.

 

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When Ancestors Dissapear from the Records

I was pretty confident of this ancestor search. I thought it was going to be a breeze to find the family history records for this family group. I had located the family in the 1881 census through a combination of knowing the names of the parents and the birth dates of the father and mother.

So next box to tick was to find them in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 census for England & Wales, or at least those parties that had survived as there is always the possibility that some may have passed away between censuses.

But straight away the 1891 census proved a problem for me. I search using the head of the household, then his wife and then the children. Nothing!

I wondered if the surname had been poorly transcribed and so I used the option to search on a name that would have been similar, with no result. I then went back to the 1881 and took a look at the street name and town with the intention of seeing if they had stayed put in the ten years between the census being taken but their surname had been incorrectly gathered. This is a top tip that I was given some time back and on www.thegenealogist.co.uk there is a useful tool that allows researchers to search the census by street name. I’ve used this in the past with success, but the whole lane seemed to have been missed out, or had changed its name in the intervening period.

There is also the facility on www.findmypast.co.uk to do an address search and so I tried using that and quickly identified the road as it had been listed slightly differently in the later census. This shows up the beauty of using more than one site to do your research with. If you can’t find a record in one subscription site’s records then remember this tip is to try using another site, because each company will have used different transcribers to produce their indexes and so you may get lucky with your brick wall.

On thegenealogist.co.uk there is another tool called the family forename search that allows researchers to enter a number of the first names from a family.

This is a fantastic way of digging out difficult to find families in the census. With this feature you are able to search for a family that you have not been able to locate using the surname – possibly because of some unexpected spelling variation. You can use the forenames only as a group search and the results can be refined by adding or subtracting a surname or family members.

As many families had a large number of children, the odds of another family in the same county being an exact match is quite remote. It is possible to narrow the search by year and county, if required, and enter up to 6 possible forenames that you would be expecting to find within a family group.

Hope these tips help.

Census on Computer Screen

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This means that should you click on them and then go on to decide to buy a subscription to that website I may get paid a small commission for referring you. Take a look at what they have to offer you and if you do buy a subscription from my link then …Thank you!

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How to Search for Your English & Welsh Family History

Many of us have a desire to know more about the generations that preceded us and about our roots. We may have become fascinated about where our family originated from; what it was that they did for a living and in what conditions they lived. If your forebears came from England & Wales, then you will want to know what records you can access and where to look for them.

I am Nick Thorne, The Nosey Genealogist, and I have just published an amazon Kindle book called: How to Search for Your English & Welsh Family History. In it I lead the reader through some of the research work that you will probably need to undertake to pursue these goals. Assuming that you have a yearning to find out more about your British roots, this is a concise introduction to English & Welsh family history which can help you in your quest.

I include a look at online and offline records,starting with the census collections and the civil registration data. Different types of Parish Records are dealt with in one chapter including the Dade and Barrington registers. If your ancestor is missing from the church records, then I explain where to find the Bishop’s transcripts and what these copies are.

Baptismal, marriage and burial records are not the only records that were locked away in the Parish Chest and so I look at some of the other documents that may have survived.

Researching records of a marriage and what a Clandestine marriage was are included in this short book as is an explanation of why your ancestor may have had a double baptism. Nonconformist, those of a Christian denomination other than the Church of England, and parish graves are investigated, as is researching records of a marriage, illegitimacy and stumbling blocks in the parish records.

If you don’t have a Kindle then you can download Kindle for PC from amazon and read Kindle books directly on your PC!

If you want a concise book on English an Welsh Family history then click the button to Buy from Amazon in the box below.

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Revealed the Health of Ancestors in the 1911 census

Findmypast.co.uk has recently published the ‘infirmity’ column of the 1911 census on its site. This means that if your forebears had filled this column in on their census return, you’ll now be in a position to see fresh information about your family’s illnesses and conditions back in 1911.

It has been under the data protection regulations of the UK, that this potentially sensitive information was not allowed to be revealed until 100 years had past.

Now, however, it’s possible to find out the state of your family’s health back then. Within the census collection is the example of Elizabeth Eleanor Thorp from Yorkshire who is recorded as having ‘one eye removed in 1907 for disease (gout)‘.

Other examples that the team at findmypast have found in the infirmity column show that our ancestors weren’t afraid to reveal their quirks and eccentricities: ‘A taste for drink combined with gout’, ‘stron and hearty would like to be married’ and ‘sound as a bell thank god’.

More records that can be found, recently revealed by this subscription and pay-as-you-go site, are recorded details of children born to women prisoners who were aged three or under at the time of the census.

Until 31 January 2012, they are offering us the chance to view the 1911 census at hugely reduced prices. View a 1911 census original image for 10 credits (previously 30) and a transcript for 5 credits (previously 10).

Any 1911 census images and transcriptions you viewed on findmypast.co.uk from 1 December 2010 will be free to view again. This is because, following feedback from users they have made it possible to save the records that you have already viewed from 1 December 2010. You’ll need to re-view any 1911 census records that you have looked at before this date, however. Take advantage of their reduced prices until 31 January 2012 – why wait?

 

 



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Family Tree Research tips for the New Year

Happy New Year everybody!

I am just back from a trip away to visit the family for the Christmas break and inevitably got to meet some people who are interested in their family history and knowing my interest in the subject had various questions for me. Some wanted to be given quite specific advice on how to find an ancestor, while others just wanted to know how to make a start in this hobby.

For the beginners I trotted out the well worn mantra that you should write down everything that you know about your family as far back as you can go. I advised them to concentrate on the information that they knew on their parents, grandparents and, if possible, their great-grandparents while noting down the names, dates of birth, marriages and deaths together with the places that these events had happened in.

I told my friends that they should record where in the world that their ancestors lived and in what part of the country this was, as that would have a bearing on where to look for the records. Then they could make a start with the census collections and gradually work back making sure to always look at the original image to check for spelling and only use transcripts as a useful guide to the former warning them that the transcript could have been copied down incorrectly.

For the slightly more advanced, I explained about locating difficult to find relatives by using a variant of the surname. Expanding that, as spelling in the records was not consistent and relied on the way it may have sounded to the vicar who was entering it in the parish register, their ancestor’s name may be spelt differently from the way that they wrote it today. I advised about visiting the County Record offices to search for information and how the Archon search on the National Archives website could be used to find repositories.

Other new friends asked me about searching for wills, Apprentice indentures and marriage licences. Then there was the conversations that I had about taxation records and also the manorial records.

I was so pleased to find that more and more people seem to be interested in the subject and I do hope that they discover what a fascinating pass-time that this is and begin to enjoy the detective work as I do!

 

 

Help Me Get Back Before 1837 in England & WalesGetting Back Before 1837 in England & Wales.

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