Why so many of my 5x great-grandparents are missing

22 Feb

I have started in my attempt to find all my 5x great-grandparents with a review of the existing data, the work needed and possible problems. I didn’t get very far before I realised that there was a good reason why I hadn’t identified these direct ancestors yet.

It is not going to be an easy project (if it was that easy then I would probably have found them already) for a number of reasons, there are a few specific issues like illegitimacy but several common issues, largely due to the dates I am talking about.

Specifically I am talking about a time before civil registration began in 1837 and before the first detailed census in 1841. So there is now marriage certificate to give me a father’s name, no birth certificates with a mother’s maiden name and no age or place of birth information from the census.

Although these obstacles are not uncommon and not insurmountable, when they are coupled with missing parish registers, illegitimacy and even a bit of migration within the country it can all add up to a major challenge.

In some cases it is going to mean a bit of guess-work to narrow down the choices to several likely parents and then work forwards trying to find evidence for children (and grandchildren) perhaps in a will or as an informant in a later birth or death certificate, hopefully building up enough evidence to prove a connection.

Fortunately most of these people lived locally (in Sussex, Kent and Hampshire) with only a few slightly further afield (Cumberland, Gloucestershire and possibly Somerset) which will be a bit harder to research, but not impossible.

My Ancestral Profile post a couple of days ago was the result of my first review of information. Since then I think I have found out what happened to Ann’s daughter (also called Ann) and where she was born (Heathfield, Sussex) but still need to prove it. Checking my dates it is quite possible that Ann was the daughter of Francis HOWLETT but I just don’t have the hard evidence to back it up yet.

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