It would probably be most sensible from a research point of view to concentrate on one geographical area at a time and not move on until one is complete, or one sort of data at a time.
However, competing with the most logical plan for research are time, cost and opportunity.
Efficiency: Within England, some resources are held and searchable at a country level, others at a county level. It would be silly and inefficient time-wise to ignore all references that weren’t, say, to Devon because I was working on that area. Also, although my crystal ball is not entirely clear, I do think some sources are likely to be digitalised relatively soon, others not for a good while. I don’t intend to spend many hours in record offices far from home searching through parish registers that will soon be browsable online, just because I am researching that area.
Economy: Some subscriptions include access to data in other countries; it would be silly not to search for Go(a)thams oversees when I have such a sub. because my main focus is on England.
Opportunity: Lastly, some English Go(a)thams lived in areas distant from where I live. It would silly not to take the opportunity to visit them should I find myself in those parts of the country, simply because I am not actively researching the area at that time.
Hence you can expect to find some information about Go(a)thams appearing on this website in what may appear a random order.
That said, I do have a very approximate plan for the order in which I intend to concentrate my research:
Overall (as at Nov. 2016):
I have a couple of subscriptions to websites which expire next March; although I would love to get on with transcribing documents seen at the National Archives (of which I have a backlog) I want to make the maximum use of the subscriptions I have over the next 3 or 4 months. I expect this to consist of:
- Adding more people. Most English Go(a)thams are now on my tree; the people I add during the next few months are likely to be non-Go(a)tham close relations, particularly the parents and siblings of Go(a)thams by marriage (as described in the scope of this study).
- I will also be looking at documents giving more information about Go(a)thams, particularly those now dead who were in the 1939 register and from school admission books.
- I will be doing some limited research into US Gothams.
- ??? – it depends on what else is added to these sites between now and my subs expiring.
From April 2017 …
After that I plan to take a break from more research on subscription sites to tidy this website, to tidy the source references on my tree, add details from e.g. censuses, and get down to those TNA documents (mainly records concerning mariners and Chancery and other equity court cases; the latter mainly concern Devon Gothams). I also have a backlog of wills to add to this website, some transcribed, some not, and photos of gravestones, mainly of Kentish Goathams but a few Devonshire ones as well as villages where they lived and churches where CMBs took place.
Of course documents of wives families can be very useful, for example a maternal grandfather may mention his Gotham grandchildren. This information can not only help build up a picture of the lives of those involved, but also help with the construction of trees. I have started looking at the wives of Gothams, but still have more to do.
Over the ‘summer’ 2017 (circa. May to September) I also hope to have some days out / short breaks / holidays incorporating some research and visiting more places associated with Go(a)thams. Mostly this is likely to concern Go(a)thams in Kent and Devon, but since I expect to be holidaying with friends in Cheshire next year I will probably add a few days – possibly venturing further to Liverpool, or stopping off in Staffordshire on the way up or home.
With a large no. of mariners amongst Gothams, there are muster rolls etc. on my ‘to do’ list; my visits to TNA where these are held are dictated by special offers on the trains as the full fare is prohibitively expensive.
Research by regions
As far as research on Gothams in particular areas is concerned:
- English Go(a)thams
As this is the part that is definitely part of my family tree I have done much of this already. Most research to be done consists of ‘fleshing out’ the tree, and seeing original documents (or images of them) where I have only seen transcribed data. At present the way the data is entered on my tree is some of the untidiest – because it was some of the earliest entered, before I had fully got to know the software and worked out what details it might be useful to save.
Research on the Devon Gothams is well underway. I gathered some information about Devon Gothams while researching my Kent relations, and because a quarter of my ancestry is from Devon I already have a fair knowledge of the resources for the county and have bought quite a few books, CDs etc. which will help. Devon Gothams are also of particular interest to me because it seems possible the Kent Goathams descend from them. Images of most of the Parish Registers held at the PWDRO in Plymouth and the DHC in Exeter have been added to FindMyPast with an index. I have extracted details from the indexed entries, but the index is far from error free, and I have more browsing to do. Most of the remaining parishes are on the DFHS website, although I am keenly awaiting a Morchard Bishop register that was accidentally omitted. The FamilySearch website has started making images of BTs available, which I need to see for a number of parishes whose PRs only survive from a relatively late date. Most Gothams whose baptisms, marriages or burials occured in Devon and are recorded in surviving PRs should be on the Gothams tree; where the events are in later PRs that have not been indexed the individuals are likely to be included from censues and/or the BMD registration index. Some Devon Gothams for whom none of these records exist are also on the Gothams tree, with data from other sources.
- Staffordshire, Shropshire, Lancashire
I have extracted BMD entries for the rest of England, plus images of parish register entries where available (good coverage of Staffordshire now on FMP, and some Lancashire on Ancestry), and located most census entries for those Gothams recorded in them. Although almost all of these are added to the appropriate tree on this website, many of the details are yet to be added. Unfortunately I have not yet found how complete the FMP coverage is; it is clearly not complete and I have some other information for these counties from FreeReg and FamilySearch. I have no prior experience of research in Lancashire, Staffordshire or Shropshire which would give me knowledge of other surviving sources for these counties and as yet have sought out few county-specific resources. Unless in passing, I will probably not move onto these until I have completed what I can in Devon and Kent.
I have data for a number of London strays; no plans to research these further at present.
- Any others in the rest of the UK (which, at the time of writing, includes Scotland)?
(I have followed up some apparent Gothams from indexes; most indexed entries for Gothams elsewhere turn out to be for people with a visually similar surname – Cotham, Gorham, Gothorn, etc.)
- I have followed up most Kent Goathams who emigrated, though so far done little on what is probably the largest US Gotham tree, the descendants of John Goatham. I also have what information I can find regarding others who have, voluntarily or otherwise(!), moved to Australasia.
- I have a little data saved regarding Gothams in the US and elsewhere, but I don’t plan researching ‘overseas’ Gothams thoroughly until I have done most UK research; probably also not until I have done a fair bit of analysis of the history of English Go(a)thams.
- German Gothams – I have seen some data which suggests the name Gotham was also found in Germany. I am no linguist. Help! At some point I will have to confront this – but it is currently lowest priority. I have enough to do in the meantime to hope that by the time I’ve done everything else computer translation tools will make German records readily accessible to a non-German speaker.