Tag Archives: baptism

Statisticly Speaking: Missing birth and baptism events

12 Jun

I have decided that I would like to be able to use Family Historian to produce lists of individuals based on certain criteria, such as a list of all those men who might have served during the First World War.

To be able to produce these queries I need to have an idea of the lifespan for each individual and for this I need to have a birth/baptism event and a death/burial event for each individual.

I have been taking a look at how much work would be needed in making sure that I know where and when everyone was born. It looks like I have quite a bit of work to do.

Out of a total of 1797 individuals currently in my database there are 769 people (42.8%) without birth dates and 845 people (47.0%) without a place of birth. The discrepancy between the two is not really surprising, there are many occasions where there is not clear evidence where a person was born, even if I have a date of birth.

The situation with baptism events is not quite so good, there are 958 people (53.3%) in my database without baptism dates and places.

The fact that the number of dates and places match is consistent with the fact that all the baptism records are all coming from the same source (parish registers) so they should match, however the birth records come from a variety of sources, some providing only dates and other dates and places.

The good news is that there is only a partial overlap between the births and baptisms which means that there are only 379 people (21.1%) without a date for either their birth or baptism.

I am not sure yet where I shall focus my attention, the 379 people without a birth or baptism date is the obvious place but it might be better to tidy up the existing data first before adding any new data.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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My Family History Fortnight: Sunday 10th June 2012

10 Jun

There is not a lot of family history activity to report for the last two weeks. The fact that I have left it for two weeks shows just how family history free my time has been. There was a good excuse last for last week’s inactivity, but the week before was really just down to me being lazy.

Holidays galore

I had hoped that the long bank holiday weekend last weekend would provide some time for me to do some work, but there was so much else going on that I never really got down to any research.

On top of that the end of this week has seen my wife and I away for another long weekend, primarily for me to indulge my passion for trains, but also as an excuse to get away for a few days.

Percy Ebenezer Trower

Much of my recent blogging has centred around my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer Trower. Although this wasn’t really a conscious decision on my part, it probably stems from the fact that in the absence of any new research I have been “forced” to go back and look at information I already have.

In particular I keep returning to the fact that I really ought to transcribe his diary. Whilst it is useful to be able to look up particular dates and events it is not possible to search the entire volume without having an idea of the date. I fear there is so much more of interest that could be uncovered if only it was transcribed and possibly indexed, or at least searchable.

The sheer scale of the task and Percy’s handwriting has put me off up to now, but I feel now might be a good time to start.

Adding birth and death details

The other thing that I have looked at is the lack of birth and death details for many of the people in my family tree.

I want to be able to do a bit more querying of my database, so that I can produce lists of people to search for things like First World War service and Probate Index entries.

For this I really need to establish the starting and ending points for the people in the database. This means I need a birth/baptism and burial/death record for each individual.

This is not something that is going to happen quickly, some should be quite easy to work out, but some of the deaths could be difficult to pin down with any confidence without getting a death certificate, which is nothing something I really can afford to do.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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William Trower and the fly in the ointment

24 May

My 4x great-grandfather William Trower of Henfield, Sussex is one of the weak points in my Trower ancestry.

At first glance everything seems right with the world, William was born about 1790, his death was registered in 1875 when his age was given as 85. Likewise with his burial at Henfield on the 8th January 1875 his age was given as 85.

Tracking back through the census we find him aged 81 in 1871, 70 in 1861, 59 in 1851 and 50 in 1841. In short everything seems to add up right and points to William being the son of Henry and Ann Trower.

A baptism exists in the Henfield parish registers for William the son of Henry and Ann Trower on the 13th March 1791. Don’t you just love it when everything works out neatly?

Unfortunately the fly in the ointment is a burial at Henfield on the 23rd January 1794 for William the son of Henry and Ann Trower, which of course I can’t explain.

Was this William my 4x great-grandfather? or rather was did the William who I thought was my 4x great-grandfather die at the age of three? Should I be looking for another William?

I can’t satisfactorily explain this burial record, it looks like my William Trower could not be the son of Henry and Ann Trower, but there are no other William Trowers who would fit the bill for my William Trower.

My saviour is in the form of a family bible (technically a prayer book), which has been passed down through the Trower family, or rather has survived through the generations without being thrown out. This bible clearly links Henry and Ann Trower with William’s descendants.

So where does this leave the William who was buried in 1794? I can only assume that Henry and Ann Trower had another son after my William but he died suddenly, perhaps before he had even been given a name or baptised. Stuck for a name for the burial register they used the name William. Either that or the vicar simply made a mistake.

Perhaps one day I will find further evidence (there is no sign of a will for William’s father) to be able to prove the relationship one way or another. For now I can only acknowledge the presence in my database of this fly in the ointment.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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More about Georgina Allison

29 Mar

I have previously written about the tragically short life of Georgina Allison, the illegitimate daughter of my 2x great-aunt Kate Allison, and I knew that there would be very little more to uncover about her brief life.

However, that didn’t stop me trying when I went to the East Sussex Record Office a couple of weeks ago. Baptism and burial records would probably be the only other records available and as the burial register is presumably still in the hands of the Vicar at High Hurstwood the only record left was the baptism register.

Fortunately there was an entry for Georgina in the baptism register, she was baptised on the 23 March 1916, just seven days before she died.

Interestingly she is named as Georgina Whitney. It is not clear whether the Whitney part was meant to be her surname (Georgina Whitney) or whether it was her middle name (Georgina Whitney Allison). Both her birth and death were registered under the name Georgina Allison.

Either way I think it is a pretty big clue to her father’s name and if I were a betting man I would put money on her father being George Whitney, but that is pure speculation because only her mother is named and her occupation given as laundress.

Just to make sure there could be no ambiguity, the vicar (Thomas Constable) has written the word “illegitimate” under her mother’s name where her father’s name should be.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Henfield, Sussex – parish register transcriptions released

19 Feb

Every once in a while it feels like a particular genealogical resource has been created just for my benefit, such is the case with one of the latest releases from The Parish Register Transcription Society.

I have been eagerly awaiting the latest parish register transcription CD since it was announced last year, because it covers the parish of Henfield, Sussex which has been home to my Trower ancestors for a couple of hundred years.

The transcriptions cover the following registers for the following years:

Baptisms 1596 – 1897
Banns 1653 – 1656, 1687 – 1698, 1756 – 1812 & 1823 – 1901
Marriages 1595 – 1894
Burials 1595 – 1900

Naturally I have consulted the Henfield parish registers dozens of time, usually on microfilm or microfiche at the West Sussex Record Office, but to have this transcript available at home is going to be a great boost to my research.

Although I have probably extracted every Trower in the registers, this transcription will become particularly handy when it comes to tracing descendants of my ancestors as a result of the marriages of the women of the family. Each new family surname requires another visit to the parish registers.

This collection of transcriptions is available to buy on CD through their website and others (I ordered my copy from the Sussex Family History Group) or it can be searched online through their pay-per-view Frontis website.

For those with Sussex ancestors the PRTS are currently working on the following parishes: Cuckfield, Pagham, Slinfold and Coldwaltham.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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NEWS: Over 1.4 million new Hampshire parish records published on findmypast.co.uk

30 Mar

Findmypast.co.uk have been steadily adding parish register transcriptions to their website, but until now there hasn’t really been much to get me excited. That was until last night when I read the news that they had added over 1.4 million Hampshire parish records.

This is great news for my research, having online access to these records is going to be a great boost to my research and especially for tracing my MITCHELL ancestors. Of course these are only transcriptions and would need checking against the original parish register entries, but they represent a great finding aid and starting point.

These records are the work of the Hampshire Genealogical Society and I suspect they are the same records that they publish on CD, which I have previously used at the Hampshire Record Office. Ironically I was very close to buying a couple of the CDs at Who Do You Think You Are? Live last month, but decided I couldn’t justify the cost.

According to the website the collection features:

  • 574,192 baptisms (covering the period 1752 to 1851)
  • 153,011 marriages (covering the period 1754 to 1837)
  • 720,468 burials (covering the period 1400 to 1841)

Links to lists of the actual parishes included can also be found on the announcement page on the website. The cost to view the full entry appears to be 5 credits each or free for those with a subscription.

Dabbling with non-conformity

15 Feb

I have met this situation several times, a family has several children baptised at a traditional Anglican church but then for some reason they switch to a non-conformist church. Some times they will then return to the Anglican church for the baptism of later children.

The latest occurrence of this concerns my 2x great-grandparents Thomas and Ellen DRIVER. At East Sussex Record Office I confirmed that two of their six children were baptised as Wesleyan Methodists.

I had initially found these records on the SFHG Data Archive where it appeared that they had been baptised at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at Lewes, Sussex. On checking the original baptism register last week I discovered that the baptisms weren’t necessarily in Lewes itself, but within the Lewes Circuit, something that wasn’t clear in the data archive entries.

As usual this information provides more question than answers. The big one of course is why? Why did they decide to switch to Methodism? It is difficult for me to imagine that this was an important decision for my 2x great-grandparents, the church means nothing to me other than a place where my ancestors once stood and where most of them were baptised, married and buried, but it doesn’t mean that my ancestors didn’t consider it important.

I need to find out where the nearest Methodist Chapel was and see if there might be any record that they were members of that chapel, a quick scan of a few county directories should hopefully help me answer that first bit and then it will probably be a question of visiting the archives again.

There is still the question of where their other children were baptised. There were six in all, and I only have baptism details for three of them:

  • Kate DRIVER (baptised 28 March 1880, Framfield, Sussex)
  • Asher DRIVER (born 1882, baptism unknown)
  • Minnie DRIVER (baptised 26 May 1884, Lewes Circuit)
  • Ambrose DRIVER (born 1885, baptism unknown)
  • Herbert DRIVER (born 1888, baptism unknown)
  • Anna DRIVER (baptised 8 November 1891, Lewes Circuit)

So I need to learn a bit more about Methodist records, the local Methodist “scene” at the end of the 19th Century and then search the all the parish registers for the local churches regardless of denomination.

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