Monday, 8 December 2014

A downside...

First of all, welcome to Jackie Hawkins via Bloglovin.

What could be a possible downside to tracing your family history and in effect, being the family historian. Well, if you are going to do it properly, you really need to invest in birth, marriage and death certificates and census information for example. Don't just sit down for an afternoon on the internet then believe you have traced your family back to the 1600's!

There are loads of family trees on a certain web site (some occasionally useful most rubbish), who have taken that quick route and have completely mish mash versions of their family history. People marrying before they have been born, people dying before they have been born, children being born 70 or 80 years apart - say what!

You will digest hopefully, a myriad of information, both good and bad, some amusing, others not so. One of the things we have both become aware of though, probably because we are ageing, is what your nearest and dearest have died of. Such information most of us will not know unless we had an early earnest compulsion for asking elderly relatives about such things. Most of the time, they often can't remember or simply do not want to discuss anything about their past. No amount of persuasion will cajole them into revealing anything if they don't wish to. Hugh amounts of misinformation also gets passed on which can be very misleading.

Anyway back to death certificates. Certificates cost money so make sure (as much as you can do), that the ones you are ordering are the correct ones. We have a relatively small collection of certificates ordered in error and it is rare indeed to find someone who wants them.

Similar to birth certificates which let you know your mother's maiden name, address etc, the death version should let you know where your relative was living when they died, their age (this wanders up and down quite a lot as some informants didn't know when a relative had been born), the name of the informant and the cause of death.

Did you know for example that if you have a relative die in the USA, you cannot buy a full version of the certificate which tells you what they died of, as you do not have a State Security Number. What a blow that was. No, you pay your money and get a certificate back without such necessary information. As it happens, the doctor of this particular relative was an oncologist (cancer doctor), and as they had suffered with bowel problems on and off all their life, guess it might have been bowel cancer that did for them.

As you go back through the generations, you build up a picture of both sides of yours and the half of your DB if doing it. Even allowing for living circumstances at the time of each person, we seem to have an awful lot of cancer, stroke and heart related deaths. Gulp!




10 comments:

  1. A distant cousin of mine traced our family line back to around 1600 but there are only names, nothing telling what they died from. Thanks for the welcome. I don't have a blog but love reading them.

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    1. That is often a problem as many people with the same name exist in the same place, that is why baptismal papers etc, which do go back hundreds of years, are needed to confirm everything.

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  2. I've been researching my family history for many years and I agree there are folk who get terribly excited that they've "gone right back to" such and such a date normally about the year 1600 or whatever. I'm sure we could all do that but for me, I like to put the meat on the bones as it were, concentrating on three or four generations back, finding out about their lifestyles, occupations and putting their social history into context. And yes you're right about cross checking those certificates, I too have several wasted copies! P x

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    1. Same here regarding fleshing the bones. We have some interesting occupations as well as the same names both sides each, as well as between us! Can make searching very difficult. We have been doing it nearly 34 years and I sill cannot find the death of my paternal great grandmother!

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  3. My father met my mother during the war out in India and brought her and my brother back to the UK in 1948. My brother was classed as an Alien by the British authorities because he had no birth certificate and entered the UK on my mothers passport. My mother died over 20 years ago and most of her 11 other siblings have sadly passed away to. Trying to trace that side of my family would be near on impossible. Good luck to anyone who is trying it must be so interesting.

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    1. From what I can gather the Indian authorities kept very good records but you have to go there to access a good many of them. DB's paternal 3x grandfather was born there in 1854ish but we can't get any info at present.

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  4. My father's lineage has been reasonable well documented, by his cousin, to an early 18th centuary blacksmith who traveled to the Americas and then the lineage return to Britain. But my mother's is a complete mystery although there is rumour of gipsy blood and tea plantations! Maybe one day I'll find the time.....

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    1. Well, if your mother was a gypsy they do have quite a lot of information on their own web sites. Plantations could be in several countries:(

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  5. I have delved a little into this. Partly for my son to look at when he's older. I only have one child so would like to have some sense of family history for him to look at.

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