Re-Think your English Genealogy Research Strategies

Break Your Losing Streak! By taking a new research approach–

Extract onto family group worksheets, everyone with your surname of interest. Get them all out of the parish records where they can be compared for fit and match. You can do this manually on paper charts or digitally on charts included in your genealogy software.

Major rule: Oneone family per chart, one source per chart.

  • Search the marriages first: Parish Registers, Bishops’Transcripts , Civil Registration, Marriage Documents like licenses, bonds, and allegations. Watch for names of men who marry the daughters. Start tentative family units, by extracting these marriages on family group worksheets–each marriage on its own family chart. Add the names of children born to each couple you have identified from the parish registers. Sort by census year so each married couple can be located in the next census after the marriage and followed each census year.
  • Search census records next: 1841-1911; pre-1841 and Census Substitutes. Extract all the entries for your family names of interest. Census decade by census decade. Extract all the men who marry the daughters–so you add to and build the family units as you go.
  • Interim Analysis–identify the re-marriages, especially for the women. Which families appear to move away? Which ones stay in that locality? Look for “Gretna Green” marriages—where the couple eloped to avoid fees and time restrictions. Spot middle names which are surnames. Identify unusual given names—Zarina, Europa, Philomena, Charlotte, and so on. Watch for given names that are repeated in each family unit. Identify other families who marry into your own family units.
  • Set aside family units, which clearly don’t fit, into a separate file for later use.
  • Plan follow-up searches–for those re-marriages you spot, re-check the marriages. In the probate records–if the head of house is elderly, look for a will, inventory, or estate settlement. If the head of house is a farmer, look at the property records–what lands did he own, farm, or rent/lease? Where are the lands located? How did he acquire these lands? If there are several males in the household, search the tax rolls, militia lists.

This strategy works every time. It will separate your ancestor out for you where there is more than one family or person by exactly the same name. Multiple people combined into the same person or the same family is the most common problem in genealogy–in the past and today.

Break your losing streak! Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS Proving identity and relationship are you biggest challenges in a digital world where 2,000 Janet Mossmans are born the same year.  Try this new approach and let me know how go go on.

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