One of the people on the site for us with knackered lungs has asked me to do her family tree for her...she'd almost finished it when the site she was using snatched it away and closed down so now she's virtually back where she started from...
I said I would of course 'cos I do love poking about in census records and such-like.
But her tree is heaving with those eejits who announce that John Smith was born in America when the records clearly say he did no such thing...and then I found person after person who died long before their children were born and people who married when they were two years old and had ten children before they were twenty.
It's not rocket science...it 'ain't difficult to read a feckin' record and have a bit of a think...that can't be my person...'cos I already know my person was a wool fuller and this bloke was a brick layer and he was born one hundred years after my man...
Then there were the dozens of folk who lived to be a hundred. Now, that might be so in exceptional cases, providing the person has managed to avoid the smallpox and typhus and plague...if he or she hasn't succumbed to violent diarrhoea after stuffing themselves on poached rabbit...but whyever don't they stop and think before they happily put a date of death down...people in the seventeen hundreds didn't live to be one hundred years old...they just didn't. Perhaps one or maybe even two did...but they were the exceptions among a society who thought sixty was positively ancient and eighty was exceptional.
And then we have the eternal problem of America...people who lived in the 1400's in England did not travel to, and live in America. They simply didn't.
But up they pop...John Smith born and bred in Dorset had all his children in America...no, he didn't. If he did, where is the evidence...where is the record of his passage and the ship he sailed on...our John lived his entire life in Dorset...he married there and reared his children there and he died there...
Honestly, it drives me crackers so it does...
I do so like the stories behind these people...I love to read that one was a 'fuller' and then I have to find out what he did for his living...I like the semi-professional people who had an apprentice to their craft or trade...I like to find that John began as a grocers assistant and became a grocer himself with his own shop...the find-a-grave website gives you the headstone of the person you are seeking with the inscription and those who have left tokens of their esteem for long gone tenth grandfathers...
All the ships who sailed to Americay...along with the lists of the passengers are there...you can struggle to decipher parish records written in haste by the underpaid curate or in careful copperplate by the Vicar himself...there isn't any need to put down any old record on your tree and hope it'll be alright...
And if the records show little or nothing about your people...then say so. Use 'abt' or 'tbd'...it doesn't have to be filled in now this minute...they're not going anywhere .