Sunday, 26 September 2010

Enthusiasm vs accuracy

Contact from an enthusiastic, I presume, "newbie" to this wonderful hobby reminded me of the wisdom enshrined in the GPS.
No not one of those marvellous devices telling you where you are and how to get to where you should be instead, but the Genealogical Proof Standard.
To quote the Board of Certification of Genealogists (American)

"Proof is a fundamental concept in genealogy. In order to merit confidence, each conclusion about an ancestor must have sufficient credibility to be accepted as "proved." Acceptable conclusions, therefore, meet the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).
The GPS consists of five elements:

* a reasonably exhaustive search;
* complete and accurate source citations;
* analysis and correlation of the collected information;
* resolution of any conflicting evidence; and
* a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.

Perhaps it is too much to ask of an enthusiastic newcomer happily copying data from trees found on the web and claiming relationships to people found there on the flimsiest of "evidence", but even the newest of newcomers should be able to distinguish between the possible and the impossible and do some basic checking, even if it is of other trees.

This little lecture being prompted from someone claiming to be my 7th cousin via the DAWs, stating that the relationship was from her Sampsons back to Philip, and down to my Isaac.
As I've never found any proof of a relationship between the Sampson DAWs of Buckland Monachorum, and my Isaac of Lumburn Mill/Tavistock, I asked what her evidence was for the connection.
None was forthcoming, but as one of the links quoted was for a John DAW b 1742 being married to Sarah MOORE, I smelt a rat in the "conclusions" being drawn.
John and Sarah (MOORE) DAW, are only possible parents for my Isaac (as outlined with doubts, on Isaac's page), and happen to have married in 1744.
A tad precocious for a 1742 birth.
A bit of digging on the other names mentioned led me reasonably quickly to my conclusion that her family was that of Joseph and Jenny (DAWE) DAWE who had family at Meavy before moving to the big smoke of London/Surrey.
That Joseph is highly UNlikely to be the Joseph son of Joseph and grandson of Sampson of Buckland Monachorum as his dates don't match, and most census data gives his birthplace as Cornwall, not that I've definitively identified where in Cornwall as yet (I presume somewhere close to the boundary with Devon as the 1861 census says Berehatton(?), Devon, the rest say Beer, Cornwall).
Regardless of the mis-links, it was an interesting exercise, as all of these families have many connections to mine, and one day, who knows, someone might pop out of the woodwork with all the missing links, with accurate source citations, and dates that gel.

It was also quite interesting seeing what others had for the same "families".
Just looking at two of the culprit trees with John (married to Sarah MOORE) shown as the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (CROSSMAN) DAW of Buckland Monachorum.
Several have John b 1742 marrying Sarah MOORE and Elizabeth REED, but with no dates for Sarah, although most do seem to have Isaac as their son and born 1769/70, so technically possible, if you ignore his siblings born 1745 +.

Another has John b. 1730, marrying Sarah MOORE in 1744, and Elizabeth REED in 1799, and dying in 1814.
Not absolutely impossible, but unlikely to be marrying at 14.

But if you look at the same tree from Sarah's viewpoint, she is shown as marrying two John DAWEs, one 1730-1813, the other 1724-1778, both "marriages" producing an Isaac of about the right dates.
For the record, I believe the 1742 John, son of Joseph and Elizabeth (CROSSMAN) married twice, firstly to my Elizabeth KING, and secondly to Elizabeth REED, with a son from this last marriage marrying Mary ANDREWS, another of my Devon relations.

All in all, quite an entertaining diversion from the real life stuff keeping me from this hobby rather too much at the moment.

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