Thursday, March 8, 2012

Borrowing Research

I know that this is going to be a topic that comes back repeatedly.  Lets just get this out of the way:  I'm guilty.  Yes, I borrow unsourced research.  And, I repeat it on the internet.  I am part of the problem.  But, I'm getting better.  A friend recently bemoaned the problem of poorly sourced research on and the problems it creates once you discover that fathers are said to have died before sons are born, or worse, fathers are born after sons . . ..

The problem of unsourced "research" is rampant.  My knee-jerk reaction is that its driven by a need (the source of which is not really apparent to me yet) to have very, very, very, long lines -- 15th great grandparents.   My friend was bemoaning that ancestry didn't do a good job of providing tools that prohibited this sort of thing.   But I think that they've got a vested interest on a number of levels.  One, people want long lines regardless of whether they are well sourced. Also, when you notice, you "need" their service to search records to see if the things now have in your tree are, in fact true.

But this isn't a new problem.  (By way of background, I've been very lucky in that my tree intersects with several lines that have been already very well developed and very well documented. So, without and such, I've "tapped into" genealogies that are my direct ancestors that don't have this problem . . . for the most part).  I say "for the most part" because there are, even outside of the proliferation of and and others, numerous instances of disputes over lineages that stem from poorly-sourced research that is repeated unquestioned.  Once instance is noted by a distant relative of mine concerning the pedigree of my 8th great grandfather, Philibert Couillaud dit Roquebrune, noted here.

So, count this as post number one on the topic of "when you do your research, note your sources."  And the corollary - when you copy someone else's research, check and doubt their research.  Especially in this age of the internet, where many people can easily "publish" things as facts, there is no guarantee that multiple sources of the same data translate into reliability when each of those sources copies the same wrong source.

But its still fun to copy, isn't it?  As I said, I'm guilty.  So, here's my pictoral confession.  I sent this along to a friend under the subject note "completely serious."  You should see several of the problems immediately as to why we should doubt that I'm a direct descendant of the first King of Wales (I can vouch for the last seven and possibly eight generations).  Enjoy:

 Rhodri "Mawr" (King of The Welsh) Ap Merfyn (788 - 877)
is your 31st great grandfather
Son of Rhodri "Mawr" (King of The Welsh)
Son of Tudwal
Son of Alser
Son of Aelan
Son of Einudd
Son of Tudwal
Son of Dinawal
Son of Llywarch (Lord of Cwmmwd Menai)
Son of Gronwy
Son of Gronwy Vychan Ap
Son of Rhun Ap
Son of Madog Ap
Son of Hywel ap
Son of Richard Ap
Son of BEDO AP
Son of Ralph
Son of Thomas
Son of Thomas
Son of Thomas
Son of Thomas
Son of Thomas
Son of Nathaniel
Son of Nathaniel
Son of Richard
Son of Nathan
Daughter of Jonas
Daughter of Lydia
Daughter of Cynthia Alice
Son of Bessie Leona (M?)
Son of Lloyd Vincent
You are the son of Ronald Lloyd

 And while you are laughing at some of those upper lines, know that these are from NUMEROUS public trees on -- for any of you with subscriptions click on those handy leaves or people, I think that the links are still live.


  1. I ran into the same issue. Grandparents younger than grand children. Its as if you have to know who goes with who to even start. I wonder if people even read before they click.

  2. You can have direct lines of descendants where records of birth and death do not match. People I've known within my own lifetime were not entered into birth certificate records because they were born at home. It took people estimating when they were born or if they were people still alive they needed notarized statements of their birth. So it is easy to make light of how dodgy some of the actual dates are when the lines of descent can actually be true.