My tree and Go(a)tham One-Name Study are works in progress – and probably always will be.

Before using my tree I would recommend you at least read through the main points on this page (in bold), and the explanations if you want more detail.

  • I am sure the trees on this site have errors.

This may be due to mis-transcriptions by me, by others where I have not seen the original documents, in the original documents or due to me making the wrong assumptions. And typos. Actually, it’s probably due to all of these.

Where I am aware of uncertainties I note these, but I have probably overlooked some inconsistencies or alternate explanations.

  • If you wish to research further based on what I have done, it is your responsibility to see that you agree.

If you find you have spent time and money researching your ancetors and it turns out that the starting point you took from my tree was wrong then I will not accept responsibility. You are welcome to use my site to help you get started; I have bought all the birth and death certs that are relevant for my direct ancestors, plus a few others, but can’t afford to buy loads more. Hopefully the change in the law means that they will become available quite cheaply or as part of a subscription in the future, but in the meantime I would advise you to buy the certs where appropriate, or check the full entries in Parish Registers where I have not yet done so.

  • Just because I show sources or a reasoned argument it does not mean I am right.

Including my reasoning helps me to see if I have considered contending or conflicting data, and it may help you to see if you agree with me, but it is not always conclusive.

Possibly the biggest difficulty in genealogy is identifying which of 2 or more people with the same name is the one that one is looking for, especially once one gets before 1837 after which marriage certificates name fathers, censuses show family groups etc. Because my, or another tree, shows a source, for example, a baptism,  it does not mean it is the baptism of the right individual.
Often more than one cousin, possibly born the same year, lived in the same parish. Sometimes there is no one of the name in the parish and one has to search a wider area. In such cases, when I am aware of more than one contender, I will provide my reasoning. Sometimes this will be pretty conclusive, e.g. a will may name not just a son ‘Joe Bloggs’ but the son’s wife and children, making it clear which Joe Bloggs had that particular family. Sometimes the evidence is less clear. Maybe the Joe Bloggs had a son with an unusual name; it may then seem probable he was the one with an uncle with the name. But maybe the name had been used for several generations in the Bloggs, so the other Joe Bloggs had a grandfather with the name – only I haven’t traced them far enough back to realise this.

But please don’t take this to mean I must be wrong because you have seen many trees most or all of which disagree with me. I may be, but …

I sometimes also include reasoning where I think the events data speaks for themselves, just to make it extra clear when I know I disagree with dozens, maybe hundreds, of trees on Ancestry etc. This almost certainly does not mean I disagree with hundreds of people who have considered the same data and come to a different conclusion; most likely one or 2 have looked at a subset of the data, drawn the wrong conclusions, and this has been copied by many. These errors are  particularly a problem where Devon is concerned, due to many attempts by people to construct trees based on IGI (now FamilySearch) data despite it having data from less than half of Devon parishes.

  • Just because I show a source it does not mean the data is right.

Clearly parish registers have some errors with names and dates. I generally assume these to be right unless I have good evidence to believe otherwise.

  • The software I use and GEDCOM restrictions may make some things not as clear as I would wish.

For example, a few people are shown with two (or more) sets of parents. You will have to read the notes to know if these are because I’m not sure who the parents were and am showing different possibilities or because one set are the biological parents, the other the adoptive parents.

Also, I cannot show all dates as I would wish. e.g. there are instances when I know the approximate date of an event, and that something preceeded it. But I can only show ‘about’ or ‘before’, not ‘before about’. For example, I may have evidence that a man died before a case in the Court of Chancery, but only know an approximate date for the case. Since ‘Before about’ is not an option, I have to plump for ‘before’ but the evidence and possibly a note by me should make it clear that this is approximate; if the court case was later then the death could have been.

  • For simplification I regularly add certain data which may not be right:
    • Unless or until I know otherwise I show a woman’s name at marriage as her maiden name.
      There will be times when this is wrong. Where I have not seen the PRs or transcripts of them but only an index (e.g. the GRO index) there will be nothing to show me. Where I have seen a PR entry or marriage certificate from July 1837 on the name should be correct (provided the record was). Most PR entries from 1754 on and many before this will show marital status but not always. I know there are instances where I only know a woman was a widow because of information on a marriage licence.
    • Unless or until I know otherwise I show the wife in a household in census entries as the mother of her husband’s children in the household.
      Because a relationship is only (officially) shown to the head of the household it may be that the children were those of an earlier wife. Sometimes a wife’s children were shown as the children of the husband, rather than as his step-children (often in the past referred to as son-in-law or daughter-in-law). Mostly a different surname will make it clear that they were unlikely to be the biological children of the head of household but not always.
    • Unless or until I know otherwise, I will show a death date (before or range etc.) based on a spouse being described as a widow or widower.
      Usually this will be accurate, but of course there are instances where a couple had separated and the information in a census is not accurate. The reverse can also occur, including if a man was a mariner or gone for a gold-rush or similar, the family may not have heard of this death.
    • Unless or until I know otherwise I show younger family members in a household in the 1841 England and Wales census as children of older family members.
      The 1841 census does not show relationships, most younger people with the surname will be children of an older person or people, but they will be cases where they were, for instance, a nephew or niece. An young adult female may be a daughter-in-law. Mostly I make a comment where I have assumed a relationship without other evidence but there are probably cases where I have failed to do so.
    • Similarly, unless or until I know otherwise I show a couple in a household in the 1841 census as husband and wife.
      There may be cases, though, where these are brother and sister, or brother and sister-in-law etc. I may also have mistaken a man and his young wife for a man and his daughter.
    • Unless I know or suspect otherwise, I show those remembered on a gravestone as buried in that churchyard or cemetery.
      Sometimes the inscription makes it clear a person was buried elsewhere, sometimes a place there were living is given which suggests it. Occasionally there is no such information but  burial records suggest this was not the case. There may be cases where I have not seen the burial register and have made the wrong assumption. It should be clear whether I have seen a burial register entry as well as a gravestone, or just the latter. (If I have checked the register and it lacks an entry I will have noted it).
    • Unless I know or suspect otherwise, I show events at church in whose Parish Registers they are recorded.
      This is of course, usual: we usually have no other information as to where an event took place, and yet in a few cases an event is recorded in the register of more than one parish, with no note that the event took place elsewhere. This can happen when a couple married in a parish which was not where they lived.
      Mostly pre-1754, quite often those who married by licence married in the place where the licence was issued. Much of my research concerns Kent (Canterbury Diocese) and Devon; this seems to have been far more common in the former county, where a marriage by licence was often at one of the many Canterbury churches, though the only marriage I recall at the time of writing these notes in two registers is a Devon one.
      This also happened with one family on my tree who lived in a detached part of a parish, far closer to another church. Memorials are in this nearer church, suggesting that is where the burials were, although also recorded in the church of the parish they lived in.

In case the above makes my tree seem very unreliable, I should point out that I usually attempt to see all census entries, so many potential mistakes will be prevented by the data shown in other censuses. Others will be clarified by seeing baptism entries etc. To not initially add these people as family members would make the tree unclear and notes complicated.

  • To help my tree show in searches and DNA matches I have guessed some birth and death dates and places, from baptism and burial data.

I use the same tree to export (without all the details) to other sites, including Ancestry where I also have my autosomal DNA results. A lot of software, including TNG used for this website, uses baptism and burial data where there is no birth or death data, as ‘substitute’ data, e.g. if you search for a name the search results will show a baptism date in place of a birth date, so that it is (usually) easy to pick out the one you want of a number with the same name. Unfortunately Ancestry doesn’t do this, and so I have entered probable years of birth, and almost certain of death, and the probable places, in the birth and death fields for my direct ancestors. (I may add data in this way to more people). Sometimes people were baptised in a neighbouring parish, though usually this will be noted. Probably more often they were buried in a neighbouring parish in a family grave, or in relatively recent years or well-to-do families in a more distant location. Some of this data, therefore, will be wrong.

  • Where a wife had a child or children before marriage I rarely have data to show if they were the child or children of the man she married.

I try to guess but because men’s attitudes to children that weren’t his will have varied I have probably got this wrong in some cases. Hopefully I have added notes with my reasoning for showing them as the children of the man their mother married. Where I have not so added them it may be due to a total lack of evidence either way, and so there are probably more unlinked to their fathers than vice versa.

I take as clues what surname(s) the child used, the order in a census entry, the gap between the child’s birth and the parents marriage, but all of these are inconclusive.

I accept as evidence of a relationship a claim by the father that they were his (e.g. in a will), a bastardy order, the father named as such in a baptism record, the father named as such in a marriage record (this last is probably the least reliable).

  • Dates / events – the meaning may not be what it appears

When I show a date or a range of dates for e.g. a residence or occupation, the actual dates may be a wider range. The dates shown will be the singe date or the earliest and latest of a range for which I have evidence of a person living in a particular place or following a particular trade, etc.

Sometimes the person may have moved away and back, or turned to another occupation for a while, so the range of years may be wrong. I think, though, to list each instance as a separate event would be both tedious for me to enter and for you to read. I consider it better to consolidate where practical, but mention all references. These should enable you to see if potentially conflicting data could be the same person having temporarily moved etc.

  • Dates – not all entered correctly at present

I should have studied the software I use more before I started using it – ‘between’ should refer to something being true at an unknown date within a range, ‘from … to’ for all dates within a range, but at present these are used inconsistently. The context should mostly make clear, and I am tidying these (mostly I have done).

  • Core data more reliable – but often less tidy

By core data I mean data about my direct ancestors and their closest relations for my tree, those with the name Goa(t)ham or Gottam etc. for the Go(a)tham One-Name Study.

My tree: I give more time to researching the details of the lives of my direct ancestors, have bought all the BMD certificates I know of for them etc. It is therefore less likely I have made errors regarding these, though there are some branches I have given little time to so far. I could live off the more ‘fringe’ people on the tree, but often they provide the background or evidence for the more central people. Inevitably, though, there is a greater risk I have missed instances where 2 or more have the same name and have thus shown the wrong one. Many of my direct ancestors are amongst those I added first to my tree (though I am still discovering more).

Initially my tree was just for my own reference, so notes could be abbreviated, so long as I could understand, and inevitably, there has been a learning curve to knowing what it is worth recording and how. In particular, GRO refs I didn’t show as such – I knew all the references came from the GRO index. I also didn’t include the name, but learnt that it could help to know the spelling, Christian name order etc. as this could help add weight to an argument about whether a reference was to a particular person or not. So a reference of the form ‘q1 Milton 2a 1234’ means a GRO reference for the quarter shown in the year shown for the event, which took place in Milton Registration District and is recorded in volume 2a on page 1234.

Over time I am tidying these references and notes, but here the reverse is often the case of that with accuracy. Those on my tree first are likely to have the most limited and abbreviated notes, and a disproportionate number of these will be my direct ancestors and other close relations.

Go(a)tham One-Name Study: One of the possibilities of a ONS is to put trees together by looking at all the data for a name, not just those of one’s direct line. To put these Go(a)thams in context and find some of this data referring to them it can help to find a wife’s parents, possibly even grandparents etc. Inevitably some had common or at least locally common names, and mistakes amongst these are more likely. Hence, too, my reference to ‘men’ – it’s not that I regard them as more important, but if a woman who became a woman by marriage may have formerly had a common surname; a Go(a)tham woman who married may go on to have a common surname – there is a greater risk of me muddling events a Go(a)tham woman before or after she was a Go(a)tham than the events of a Go(a)tham man.

Because I have been interested in all Goathams since my Dad told me we were all related when I first got interested in family history in the 1970s, the quite distantly related Kent Goathams too are amongst the earlier, more untidily entered; the Gothams from Devon and elsewhere will mostly be much tidier, though a few were on an early tree before I decided to do a ONS.

My tree and Go(a)tham One-Name Study are works in progress – and probably always will be.

If you have a correction to make, or wish to challenge or seek clarification of my reasonging, argue with or query an assumption, I would be pleased to hear from you.


Caveats etc. – PLEASE READ — No Comments

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