Fifteen months ago I produced a list of the top-ten surnames in my family tree, for fun really more than anything, however it did highlight an imbalance in the names in my family tree.
I thought it was about time I had another look at the most common surnames in my family tree, so I fired up my copy of Family Historian and Microsoft Excel and produced an updated list (the number of individuals with the surname is shown in brackets):
- TROWER (139)
- GASSON (123)
- MITCHELL (94)
- HEMSLEY (75)
- BOXALL (53)
- KINGHORN (49)
- FAIRS (45)
- GEERING (39)
- HAYBITTLE (36)
- WREN (31)
This is much “better” than last time, the top four names are the surnames of my grandparents. The HEMSLEY surname was way down at number ten last time, so it is good to see that I have done enough work to push it higher up the “chart”.
The HAYBITTLE and WREN surnames are both new entries. I remember doing some work on the HAYBITTLEs, but I don’t remember doing much work on the WRENs but I suppose I must have done.
Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
I was fiddling around with Family Historian last night and then in Excel, producing a list of the top-ten surnames in my family tree.
I thought this was going to be a mostly pointless exercise, purely for fun and curiosity, but it has highlighted an imbalance in my research, which I now wonder whether I should try and put right.
The top-ten surnames (really top-eleven surnames), with the number of individuals in my family tree, are as follows:
1. TROWER (127)
2. GASSON (104)
3. MITCHELL (84)
4. FAIRS (45)
5. BOXALL (38)
6. KINGHORN (28)
6. VINALL (28)
8. BATEMAN (27)
9. GEERING (26)
10. DRIVER (25)
10. HEMSLEY (25)
The first three names are no surprise, after all they are the surnames of three of my grandparents, the surprising thing is that my fourth grandparent’s name is HEMSLEY, right down at the bottom of the list.
I don’t know quite why I feel that this imbalance is wrong, but I certainly feel I should invest some more time on it so that it moves up the chart. It wouldn’t be difficult to add lots more HEMSLEYs to my tree, but it needs to be done with purpose rather than just adding everyone I can find.
I am going to add the task of reviewing my HEMSLEY line to my to-do list, seeing what meaningful work I can do on the family. I am sure there are some interesting people and stories waiting to be discovered in Framfield, Sussex.
The task of producing a family tree chart showing all of my ancestors back to my 4x great-grandparents was not easy, but I have learnt several useful lessons in the process, both about my ancestors and about me.
Firstly, it wasn’t easy trying to work across such a wide range of family lines at one time. I would much prefer to spend longer concentrating on each family rather than just grabbing as many details as quickly as possible before moving on to the next.
It has given me a good idea of the geographical distribution of my ancestors. This will be useful when visiting graveyards or record offices, as I will know which other surnames to look out for.
It has confirmed that most of my ancestors were ordinary labourers and from the South of England. No exciting or unusual occupations have emerged from my research so far.
However I have found a few interesting stories to follow up and research further, such as the illegitimacy of Ruth HILTON and why Henry SHORNDEN changed his name to WRIGHT.
For the first time I can say that I have a brick wall in my research. On the negative side this means I have a gap in my tree, but on the positive side it does mean that I have a decent challenge to get my teeth into.
Finally it has shown that I need to get my photos sorted out, as well as finding some for my maternal ancestors. I have copies of lots of photos on my hard drive, but they are not very well organised and I need to make a proper effort at trying to identify some of them, or at least finding dates for them.
Now my Christmas Tree Project is complete, or as complete as it is going to be for the time being, it is time to think about what I am going to do next with it, apart from stop calling it the Christmas Tree Project.
I like having a visual representation of my ancestry, so I think I will probably carry on and try to fill in the next row of ancestors. These are my 5 x great-grandparents, and I already have 69 out of 128 identified with varying degrees of detail.
There are of course many details still to fill in, some of the details I have are quite sparse, and there are more ancestors still alive at the time of the 1911 census to be found than I previously thought.
Three of my 4x great-grandparents are still missing, and one wife still has no maiden name, so finding those are a priority.
Finding my 5x great-grandparents however is not going to be top priority, I will probably be focusing more on specific branches and families in specific locations next year, rather than trying to find all of that generation.
Now I know how to get a chart printed, and how straight-forward it is, I will try and get it updated on a regular basis, perhaps every couple of months, tweaking and fiddling with the text in the boxes and fine tuning the layout as I go along.
Rather than missing out on getting my family tree in print and failing to complete my Christmas Tree Project I decided to get my chart printed today.
The printing of the chart was very easy, from Family Historian I created a pdf file of the chart. I selected a custom size for the pdf (841mm x 3276mm) and copied the resulting pdf to a flash drive.
I took the flash drive along to Kall Kwik in Horsham, West Sussex. They weren’t sure it would work, they hadn’t printed such a large pdf before. But it did work, a the result was quite impressive.
The photos didn’t come out quite right, but they are good enough, the printer is only meant for printing plans and line drawings.
There are a couple of things I will change for the next one, the font size needs increasing and the thickness of the linking lines needs increasing.
Of course the chart will never be finished, there are several details I could add in terms of residence and occupation, and I know there are a few more photos I could add.
The cost of this chart (£8.00 plus VAT) was such that I can afford to get one done every month or so. I am not sure that I can add another generation to it, it might be possible, but the print size will have to be reduced or the amount of information reduced to fit it all in.
The only problem is what to do with it, we don’t have anywhere in our flat to actually put it on permanent display. The only way I could get a photo of it all was to lay it out along our hall floor.
I didn’t get a lot of family history done this week, what with Christmas and my final week at work. I am worried that me family tree chart is not going to be ready, I only have two and a half days left to get it printed.
- Add some headshots into my family tree chart
- Create a PDF of my family tree chart and get it printed
Anything else that I manage to do during the week will be a bonus, but I am not expecting to have much spare time. However I do want to start looking ahead to what I am going to do next year.
My Christmas Tree Project has thrown up some quite interesting situations, that need further investigation, plus of course there are still three of my 4x great-grandparents that are missing, those will be quite a challenge to find.
Most of the week was pretty quiet, but I made up for it yesterday with almost a whole day devoted to family history. My Christmas Tree Project will be my main priority this week, both searching and working on the presentation of the chart.
- Continue working on the Christmas Tree project, filling in missing details. This week will mainly be the East Sussex side of my tree, around Framfield, Blackboys and Buxted. I noticed the other day that I am missing lots of death dates for my ancestors from there.
- I still haven’t prepared a plan for a visit to the London Family History Centre. I put off a visit this weekend to give me more time to prepare, but I am rapidly running out of time.
- I need to create headshots of my ancestors to appear in my Christmas Tree chart. Cropping the photos I have and linking them into Family Historian. Also create a generic “missing photo” headshot.
- I also need to work on the text scheme for the chart boxes, trying to make the data I have look neat and tidy, be easy to read and informative.
- Try and clear some more paper from the stuff to sort folder. There are no large collections left in it now, so it is just a question of picking out one page at a time and deciding what to do with it, before I throw it away.