I've done little on Ancestry over the past week...just about half-an-hour each day on a branch of the family who originated in Yorkshire in the early 1600's. They haven't thrown up any surprises so far and they weren't titled people either so records are few and far between...
But their Parish records are Latinised which I always really enjoy reading...Jacob becomes Jacobus and plain John is Johannes...I'd been going to put one of the records of marriages in 1611 on for you to see, but I'll need to print it off and then scan it because it won't save otherwise. Copyright I expect...I'll do that tomorrow, the writing is beautiful, though not easy to read unless you are familiar with the style . I trust whoever it was who transcribed them into present day English...
It is awful sad to know so many ancient records and manuscripts were destroyed over the years...Cromwell is to take the blame for much of that destruction...but it is also quite incredible that the carefully scribed record of a couple's marriage in 1611 in a tiny Parish in Yorkshire still exists...all those years without being eaten by silverfish or tossed out on a bonfire as being of no interest.
Very occasionally the cause of a death will be noted...not often enough but just sometimes. I came across a distant cousin who was said to have 'been found drowned in the canal' and doesn't it beg many questions...did he deliberately drown himself...was it pure accident. He was sixty years old...pretty ancient for the 1600's, maybe he slipped and fell or perhaps he was drunk and keeled over into the canal. He could have been a canal boatman of course who fell while negotiating a lock...I suppose it doesn't matter now.
The records of burials usually give little away...Widow Grimshaw...buried. But I wonder what her first name was and how old was she when she was written down in a careful Curates hand...the frequent use of the term 'relict' for the widow of someone...and it is still used today in Ireland by the traditionalists...Ann Jones, relict of Aubrey Jones. Almost as though Ann had little identity of her own.
Early Parish Baptism records are virtually useless...I came across one Irish record where it simply stated 'William, son of William'...no dates...no indication as to what Father William did for a living or the Townland he hailed from...and absolutely no way to link that William with the tree I was researching...
The Mother was never mentioned either in English or Irish Baptismal records until around the middle of the 1700's...then some Churches began to include her first name...almost as an afterthought.
There was little in the way of the regulation of Church records until the early 1800's when details began to be kept and the records were sent away each calendar year to the Bishop...prior to then, it was really left up to the individual Vicar or Priest.
Records of marriages can be another minefield...for some reason the names of the witnesses were always included even from the early days...but as to the ages of the couple you have to hazard a guess more often than not because records often state they were 'of age' in other words they were both old enough to marry...some Parish records include the grooms living...some don't. Most will tell you whether they were spinsters and bachelors but many simply state...'no obstruction to marriage' so then you'd need to know if they were widows or widowers marrying for the second or third time...all you can be sure of is that as far as the Vicar was concerned they weren't committing bigamy...
And of course he would certainly know. Parishes were small and everyone knew everyone else...ordinary people didn't travel far in the 1600's so it was highly unlikely you'd have married someone outside your immediate area...then you find the exceptions of the titled people who travelled far and travelled widely and often had their marriages arranged for political and inheritance reasons...they are easy though because there are simply so many official records.
What practically everyone did in the 1600's was have their endless babies baptised and they were usually baptised on the day, or the day after they were born. Choosing a name for the latest addition to the family was generally left to the Father or the paternal Grandmother...in fact that happened with my Great Grandfathers son who chose Napoleon as a his name...it is said my Great Grand Mother followed him to the Church and said under no circumstances do you baptise that baby Napoleon...they compromised and called him Frank, with Napoleon as his second name...
Should a baby have died under a year old then it was commonplace to name the next child after the child who'd died...there are so very many in my family. That seems to have been almost a tradition...not just in the Victorian days but also back in the 1600's when the same name will sometimes appear three times before it 'sticks' as the child grows past babyhood.
In the branch I'm researching now, there are three babies named Jacobus...born in 1616, 1617 and 1619...it was the child born in 1619 who grew to adulthood...the other babies died soon after birth...
I do like reading those old Parish records...I love the handwriting and the way the names are almost squashed...one beside another to save as much space on the vellum as was possible...all those people...all those lives. Stored in wooden chests in musty smelling village churches or taken home for safekeeping and put in the attics of gloomy vicarages...