Tag Archives: research

Thinking some more about Kent

27 Mar

I have been thinking more about my issues with the county of Kent and now I am convinced that it would be beneficial to spend some time learning more about research in Kent.

I don’t have time to research all the parishes in Kent, at least not in one go anyway. Initially I need to focus on the places in my family tree that I need to learn more about and then let my family history research guide me from there, building up knowledge and information as I go along.

I am going to start by extracting a list of Kent parishes and registration districts from my family history software along with some names and dates. Then I can start working on the list of places.

I want to pull together a list of resources for each of the places, finding out which archives, libraries, websites or societies have information that might be of use to me. Along with this I need to build up a list of general links to Kent resources (and possibly some books). It would also be useful to find some maps (or links to some maps) to give me some help with the geography of the county.

The next question is how to record all this information? I am considering using a TiddlyWiki which I think might be ideal for the job, plus I have been looking for an excuse to use one for ages.

Why do I still have such a problem with Kent?

25 Mar

I still seem to have a real mental block when it comes to researching my family history in the county of Kent, England. So many of the branches of my family tree seem to stop abruptly when I cross the border into Kent and I have to admit that my heart sinks when I find an ancestor that comes from Kent.

I have nothing against Kent and it’s people, from what I have seen it is a nice place and I would like to spend more time there. For starters I still need to finish walking the North Downs Way through the county.

There doesn’t seem to be anything uniquely different about family history research in Kent. The same core record types exist as they do anywhere else in England and the research process is the same, but still I have a mental block on research in the county.

Accessibility is a problem, or at least I perceive it to be a problem. It is not particularly easy for me to get to the two main archives at Maidstone and Canterbury, but it is considerably easier than getting to the archives in Gloucester or Carlisle and only a lack of time and money are stopping me from going to those two.

I think the big problem is that I have been rather spoilt by my years of research in Sussex. I now have a pretty good idea of the resources available and where to find them, as well as a reasonable background knowledge of the county. I have also been very much spoilt by the wonderful resources of the Sussex Family History Group.

I am wondering if I need to do some serious research into the county itself. I think it might be worth my time and effort spending a while on the place and not the people, identifying the key records for the places I am interested in and which archive or website has them.

It could be quite a task, but the more I think about the more I think it could be a worthwhile exercise. Still at the back of my mind is the idea that this might just be another way for me to avoid having to do any real family history research in Kent.

Another day, another archive

11 Feb

I had another day off today and the weather was miserable again, so I headed for the East Sussex Record Office in Lewes, East Sussex to knock some more items off my to-do list.

The plan was much the same as yesterday at the West Sussex Record Office, which essentially meant there was no plan, just collect as much data as possible, and if it cleared stuff from my to-do list then even better. Like yesterday there weren’t really any major discoveries, but I was pleased to find a few entries that have been (or should have been) on my to-do list for a long time.

These included baptism records for my grandmother and great-grandmother. I had never got around to looking for either record before, I had a pretty good idea where the first record would be and had already found an index entry for the second and just need to double-check it.

The most pleasing find however was the baptism record for William Joseph Henry BATEMAN. I have written much about William (who joined the Royal Navy and ended up making his home in Australia) but had never sat down before and searched for his baptism record, even though I had a pretty good idea where I should be looking.

The most surprising find was the baptism record for George TROWER in Brighton. Even though he is not a particularly close relation (first cousin three times removed) I had searched for his baptism for several years. His parents were from Henfield, Sussex but spent a few years in Brighton before returning to the family farm in Henfield. It was really pleasing to find his baptism today because I had not been deliberately looking for it.

It shouldn’t take me long to sort through this information (and that collected yesterday) and enter it in the right spreadsheet and database, but these two days have highlighted the fact that I need to get my to-do list a little better organised. Over the last two days I have largely been working with my netbook (for the to-do list and my family tree) and a lined A4 refill pad, this worked pretty well but my to-do list is get too large and in some cases it doesn’t have enough information, perhaps it is time to upgrade from my simple text file.

I don’t have time to correct everyone’s data, so what am I supposed to do?

31 Jan

Last night I ended up looking at some online family trees, shaking my head and tutting at the errors I was finding, and the errors that I was finding that were being replicated over and over again. I should say that I don’t claim to be perfect, I am only human after all.

Whilst I must confess to obtaining a certain satisfaction from finding fault and picking holes in other people’s work (which is no doubt why I spent so long working in quality assurance) I know that it is not a trait that I should be particularly proud of.

I am in the fortunate position of having local knowledge and reasonably easy access to original source documents for most of my ancestors, so I can’t be too hard on researchers hundreds of miles away from making mistakes, but what I can (and do) get annoyed about is people accepting the research of others at face value without  checking.

In one case the details I was seeing have circulated online for many years, as long as I have been researching. I was suspicious when I first saw it, and later proved quite conclusively to myself that it was incorrect, but that false information is still being perpetuated.

My dilemma is what to do about all this wrong information?

I have been largely ignoring it, but I feel guilty about this because I should be sharing my data and helping others, also making contact with distant cousins along the way. The problem I have is all the time and effort that this would take, perhaps selfishly I believe this time would be better spent doing new research and not going over old ground.

The other problem is whether it would actually achieve anything if I was able to convince all those people with online trees to update them. What about those people who have copied the data and are using it offline?

The bottom line is that it is all really too much effort, but as a responsible genealogist I feel I have a duty to set the record straight. There must be an easier solution, because I really don’t have the time to correct everyone else’s data.

My Genealogy Goals for 2010 – How did I do?

30 Dec

About this time last year I wrote a few blog posts about what I wanted to achieve in 2010 and as we are almost at the end of 2010 (and it is a bit late to do any more about it now) I thought I ought to face the music and see if I actually achieved anything I set out to do.

The first post was 2010 to do list – sort my photos and postcards in which I described my wish to get all my photos and postcards organised and integrated into my genealogy software Family Historian.

Pass or fail? Fail – my old photos are slightly more organised on my hard drive now and I now have a process in place for recording and scanning my postcards (but only as new ones arrive) but none of the photos or postcards have been added to Family Historian.

Next up was 2010 to do list – identify my photos and my desire to put some names to the many unidentified photos in my collection and if not names then at least some dates and places.

Pass or fail? Fail – I spent a couple of months looking at one photo, which I don’t think I ever wrote about and didn’t come to any real conclusions, and that was about it. If anything I have probably added more unidentified photos to my collection, although I did manage to discover the location of one postcard this year with the help of Google Street View.

Then was 2010 to do list – spring clean my database which described several goals that I wished to achieve when it came to my database. This was largely about tidying things up, checking for errors and filling in some missing details.

Pass or fail? Undecided – I am actually still working on this at the moment, progress is slow but I am getting there.

After that came 2010 to do list – what to do with wills? in which I described the problems I have with recording all the information that can be found in a will and how I intended to overcome this.

Pass or fail? Fail – Most of the wills I have in my collection have not been fully mined for data, usually I pick out the information that interests me (names of children) and then move on to something else.

With a little irony the next post was 2010 to do list – create a proper to-do list which described my plans to create a ‘super’ to-do list, which would record everything I wanted to do with my family history.

Pass or fail? Pass – I am still using a simple text file as my to-do list and to be honest I am finding this is perfectly adequate for my needs and so simple to use and update.

Then things got specific with 2010 to do list – some actual research goals which listed several of the individuals that I wanted to pursue in 2010, this was quite a mixed bag of relatives and ancestors, all of whom seem to have had an interesting story to tell.

Pass or fail? Fail – Although I did do some work on most of these individuals I never really followed any of these stories through to their conclusion.

Finally came My New Year’s Resolution itself, to start researching my wife’s Italian ancestry. Somewhat predictably this was a major fail. I did buy a book on researching Italian family history and a kit for learning some basic Italian, but these have sat on my shelf largely untouched all year, no progress whatsoever.

In 2011 I think I will keep things a little simpler and more achievable. Most of these goals from last year are still ones I would like to achieve in 2011, but above all I need to be realistic and recognise that I don’t have the time or money (but mostly time) to do everything I want to.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 51

19 Dec

Virtually no family history took place last week, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about family history but did really get down to doing much work.

Really the only bit of work I did was on the LEWRY family of Bolney, Sussex investigating the relationship to a probable new distant cousin, who contacted me. The good news is that we are all most certainly related (probably 5th cousins) but I don’t have enough evidence to hand to prove it conclusively. This week I will try to get together the evidence I do have and put together a reasonable argument for the relationship.

I did spend a little time on the housekeeping of my database, looking to fill in some gaps on the first two wives of Thomas KINGHORN, but didn’t really spend much time on them. I found a couple of records on the Ancestry.co.uk London Parish Register Collections, but haven’t saved them yet or entered the details in my database. It must try to do that this week.

As everyone was talking about it I thought I ought to take a look at the new familysearch website, but having previously checked out the pilot/beta versions of the site I didn’t really spend much time there. I will probably write-up my thoughts in a blog post this week. It will probably prove useful in the future, but at the moment it doesn’t seem to have the content I need, nor do I have the time to investigate the site fully at the moment.

I am going to have to blame Christmas and the cold weather for my lack of family history research this week. With most of my Christmas preparations sorted out now I hope that I can get back down to some family history this week. I also want to try put together a couple of new pages on my blog both of which will act as an index, one for my ancestral profile posts and the other for the sections of the two long distance paths I have walked (the South Downs Way and Capital Ring).

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 50

12 Dec

It was a very disappointing week for family history last week, I think perhaps I have just been a bit too lazy for my own good, although the run up to Christmas doesn’t really help either. I achieved very little this week in the way of actual research and not much housekeeping either.

All the stuff that I wrote about last week (the KIPPS and KINGHORN families) didn’t get finished off and there was no new work on either of those branches. I was hoping to finish off those lines (to a reasonable level) and carry on with my housekeeping, but that never happened. I will try again this week, I really need to concentrate on the KINGHORNs of Carlisle otherwise I wont be ready to go up there and research them next year.

On the housekeeping side of things I didn’t progress much further, perhaps another two or three individuals. I think now I am scared about the size of my to-do list! It is getting to a state where it looks like it will be almost impossible to complete it all within my lifetime, and I shall soon have to start prioritising which items I really want to work on.

I did try to put some work in on George MITCHELL, but have struggled to find much information about the London to Brighton Railway (and specifically its engines) online and after some preliminary work in the catalogues it looks like I might be out of luck when it comes to finding information on his widow and some form of poor relief. I wont give up hope yet, but it doesn’t look promising.

So what do I realistically expect to achieve this week? I think I shall be setting the bar low this week, so I have a good chance of achieving something I set out to do. I will probably work on a few more individuals, tidying up their records and adding more to-do items. I want to do a bit more work on the ANSCOMBE family, now that I have their entry in the 1911 census to work with, but I think I am going to be running short of time again this week.


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