Genealogy research mistakes are wonderful learning experiences. They can be blessings when they show you how to improve your genealogy research. Which genealogy research mistake in your past has provided the most benefit to your present? How did you discover the mistake?
Which Ellen Danson married Ralph Dewhurst?
My four times great grandfather John Danson had a daughter Ellen Danson, baptised at St. Chad's Church in 1763 (Poulton Parish Register, Lancashire). In searching for a marriage I came across an Ellen Danson marrying a Ralph Dewhurst - and made the basic fatal family history mistake. I assumed this must be my Ellen.
I then received an e-mail from a fellow member of the Lancashire Family History and Heraldic Society who had in her family an Ellen Danson (daughter of Raplh Danson) and guess what - this Ellen married Ralph Dewhurst. So who was right?
In my favour is that Ellen and Ralph appeared to name their eldest daughter Margaret, (the name of "my" Ellen's mother) and second son John after her father - so following the traditional naming pattern in the north of England and Scotland. On the other hand these are Christian names in popular use, and "my" Ellen would have been 33 years of age on marriage, which seems quite old for the time.
For many years when researching my husband's Donaldson family, I made serious wrong assumptions.
It was only many years later when I was writing the narrative of the Donaldson family history, that I stopped suddenly and thought - I have absolutely no proof that the Samuel Donaldson, born Kirkbean, was the same person as the Samuel Donaldson who married 30 years later in Leith and was my husband's G.G.G.G.G. Grandfather.
I had another look at the ScotlandsPeople website (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/) and there were only 3 entries for a Samuel Donaldson born in Scotland in the relevant period:
1729 - Samuel son of John and Jean
1725 - Samuel, son of James and Jean
1752 - Samuel, son of John and Janet
Given that it was not compulsory to register births, marriages and deaths, perhaps there is simply no record of Samuel's birth and no evidence to confirm the names of his parents.
So years of assumption and work on the background history of Kirkbean came to nothing, though we did enjoy our holiday there. And the lesson - DON'T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS
The Puzzle of Peter
Early on in my Danson family history, my aunt recounted a story of her grandfather James having a younger brother buried in St. Chad's Churchyard, Poulton-le-Fylde. I soon found in the local library a Danson entry in an "Index to Graves" which I noted down as:
, wife of Henry Danson Elizabeth
Also of Henry Danson
By changing the order in which I had originally written down the inscriptions to give emphasis to “my” James parents (above), I had completely misinterpreted the entries - not helped of course by the repetition of the same Christian names down the generations.
That I had made a mistake was further confirmed when I found in a history of St. Chad’s Church that the graveyard had been closed in 1883, so the James Danson buried there could not be the James Danson my great grandfather who died in 1906.
Whether there was a young Peter remains doubtful, and perhaps the family recollection was on this occasion wrong.
But there were also lessons for me - DON'T ALWAYS BELEIVE WHAT YOU ARE TOLD AND TRANSCRIBE INFORMATION CORRECTLY
|St. Chad's Churchyard, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire where|
my Danson ancestors were baptsied, married & buried.