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Thursday, 5 April 2012

F is for Feisty Females, the Fylde, Funerals & False Trails - A to Z Genealogical Challenge

Great aunt Jennie
Ros at http://genwestuk.blogspot.com/ has come  up with the idea of an A to Z genealogical challenge for the month of April.  It soon got me thinking, so here are my contributions.

F is for:

Fesity Females seem to abound in my Danson family with my great grandmother Maria, great aunt Jenny and my aunt Edith fitting this description to a T and providing many a blogging tale.

Poulton-le-Fylde Market Square
The Danson family were firmly based in the Fylde - meaning level green place - broadly the area in north west England  between the River Ribble to the south at Preston and the River Wyre to the north at Fleetwood.    Historically  a remote and poorly populated land of small villages and hamlets, it took the agricultural improvements of the 18th century,  and a century later the railways to bring the Fylde into the mainspring of national life.

Funerals  -  It is always worth contacting local libraries/archive centres to trace newspaper reports of events.  An account  of my great grandfather's funeral appeared in “The Fleetwood Chronicle and Fylde Advertiser” of 28th September 1906 and noted of  James Danson 

“His father was the toll collector at Shard Bridge for 14 years.  Mr Danson had been ill for some time, but had only recently taken to his bed.  The chief mourners were Mrs Danson (wife), Messrs Robert, John, Thomas and Willie Danson (sons) Mr John Danson (brother from Clitheroe), Miss Cookson (niece), Mrs Miles, Mrs Roskell, Mrs Geo Riley, Threlfall.  There were a number of beautiful wreaths.”

False Trails can abound in family history and for many years  when researching my husband's Donaldson family, I made serious wrong assumptions.

I traced the family easily through census returns and old parish records to the marriage of Samuel Donaldson,  and Ann Howieson in South  Leith, Midlothian in 1759.  Then I reached the proverbial brick wall in trying to prove Samuel's parentage. 

In the Old Parish Records, there was a  Samuel Donaldson born in 1729 in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire on the south west coast of Scotland.   This very much appealed to me - the date was about right, the coastal location on the banks of the Solway Firth fitted with Samuel's later life as a merchant in a seaport and Kirkbean had an interesting history as the birthplace of John Paul Jones, found of the American navy.  On the basis of following ancestral roots, we even had a short break exploring the area.

It was only many years later when I came to write up 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 Saamuel 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 

The traditional naming pattern can sometime be a clue to identifying the "right" person.  However Samuel's firstborn son was named David (probably after his maternal grandfather), though second son was John. None of his five sons was called James, and none of his three daughtters named Jean or Janet.

Given that it was not compulsory to register births, marraiges 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 backgournd history of Kirkbean came to nothing, though we did enjoy our holday there.  And the lesson - don't jump to conclusions that can see you following a False Trail

 Marriage entry for Samuel Donaldson  in the Old Parish Records for South Leith , Midlothian, 1759 

1 comment:

  1. Susan I admire your courage is "dumping" the false trail...many people would have clung to it. We tend to think everything is documented but with a significant fee attached to church events, it was a deterrent for those without a lot of money.


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