Viewing Tip

If you see a large "X" at the top right of Ask Olive Tree Genealogy blog, click on the "X" to close it. Closing the "X" will give you the best viewing experience and allow you to leave a comment on a blog post

Friday, January 22, 2010

Genealogy Research Needs Sources, not Guesses

Jane's Question:
I am trying to trace the birth place of John Chesterman approx 1793? I believe he was born in Reading, Berkshire but for some reason he went to live in the Isle of Man. While in IOM he married Sophia Christian and had many children, of whom I am descendant. I know when he died and that he was in Castle Rushen jail for debt when he died. His birth details are still a mystery and no one seems to be able to help in my search.

I have tried many many sites for geneology and different forums but still we cannot find his birth.Someone told me that they thought he changed his name from Thomas to John, but still no trace of a Thomas either. Any idea's would be greatly appreciated.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Jane, It seems from reading your query that you have relied heavily on hearsay and vague information from others, without sources. You also say that you have tried to find John's birthplace but you haven't told me where you looked.

Often we will find ourselves with no one to ask about an ancestor. Finding details on an individual requires the usual research - birth, marriage and death certificates, census records, newspapers for obituaries or notices, land records, court records and so on.

Since your John Chesterman was born circa 1793 you will need church records for his birth or baptism. Have you been to the Reading Berkshire website to see what is available for the 1790s? I believe that manyt Berkshire Parish Registers have had their baptisms and marriages extracted into the International Genealogical Index (IGI) which can be found at the Family History Library site. Be creative in your spelling of his surname!

Because there is very likely more than one man named John Chesterman, you will have to use other clues (such as the naming pattern of his children) to theorize which might be the correct man. Look at the parents' names - see if they are repeated in John's children's names. It isn't proof positive but it gives you an educated theory to go on.

Be very careful looking for a Thomas when you have found him in records as John. You may indeed find a man named Thomas Chesterman but unless you have more proof that he is one and the same as your John, you are just making wild guesses. It is fine to theorize that ancestor A is the son or daughter of Individual B. But you must look for sources to either prove or disprove that theory! Otherwise you are just guessing.

Take a peek at this article, you may find it helpful "Genealogy Without Sources is Mythology!"

If all else fails, you might want to trace each of John's children, not just your own line. Perhaps you will find mention of grandparents (John's parents) or another clue in records for the children.

The best advice I can give you is to leave no stone unturned! Be diligent, go slow, and search all family members and all resources available to find John's parentage.

No comments:

Post a Comment