Author Topic: What was your most painful mistake?  (Read 712 times)

Offline JAKnighton

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What was your most painful mistake?
« on: Thursday 04 January 24 12:21 GMT (UK) »
We've all made mistakes in our family tree. Usually as beginners, but even experienced researchers can slip up - and fixing those mistakes can be painful. We get attached to those who we believe to be our ancestors, so finding out that they're not related at all and having to remove them from our tree can hurt.

In my case, it was the parents of my 5x great-grandmother, Mary Barrass. Mary existed at an awkward point in time. I knew that she married her husband Robert Gray in Gateshead, County Durham on April 28, 1823 and that their daughter, my 4x great-grandmother Dorothy Gray had been born in Newcastle in 1834. However, the family had moved to Glasgow, Scotland by 1851, and this was just before the statutory registration system in Scotland had begun. Her husband Robert was a widow by 1861 according to the census and I could not find a death record for her after 1855 which meant she must have died between 1851 and 1854. This was frustrating, because if she had died after 1855, then the death record would have given the names of her parents.

But I (foolishly) persevered by making a silly assumption, that the place of her marriage, Gateshead, was the same place she was born. I managed to ignore the fact that her birth county in the 1841 census was said to be Northumberland and not Durham. I also overlooked that her first child, an illegitimate son named Edward Dodd Barrass, was christened in the parish of Earsdon in Northumberland in 1816, which should have been a big clue.

The record I honed in on was the christening of Mary Ann Barrass in Gateshead in 1796. Her parents were George Barrass and Isabella Shipley who married in Gateshead in 1792.

I soon discovered that Mary Ann's father George Barrass had an interesting story. He was a linen draper and partner of the firm Messers. John Rodham & Co. in Gateshead, but then left to work on his own in 1786. In 1800 he was charged with forgery and he went on the run, and a reward of twenty guineas was offered for his capture. His body was eventually found, drowned in a brook between Whitburn and Sunderland, on 18 Oct 1800.

This was the kind of family story that we genealogists dream of. Particularly for ancestors born before the 19th century, who typically leave very little details of their life behind in their records. I traced George's family further back in Gateshead and into Whickham, which offered a tantalising possibility that he was connected to the famous Barrass brewery family that lived there.

But in 2022 a helpful member of this forum sent me a private message. She had managed to find the death of my 5x great-grandmother Mary Barrass in Glasgow cemetery records in 1854. Most importantly, she pointed out that Mary was far more likely to be the Mary Barrass born in Earsdon, Northumberland in 1794 - the same place her oldest son was born in 1816. This Mary's parents were named John Barrass and Jane Crammond, which matched the names of two of her children, John Barrass Gray and Jane Barrass Gray.

I was slightly embarrassed and disappointed that George Barrass and his amazing story was not part of my family history anymore. My real 6x great-grandfather was actually John Barrass, a pitman who died young in 1796 and didn't leave any more details about his life behind. I became aware of how common and widespread the Barrass name was in the north east of England and so have had difficulty tracing the family back very far with any certainty.

Having said that, there is a different satisfaction in knowing that you have a new family history that is better supported by the facts, and not just an assumption that has lead you astray. It's given me a new approach for how I analyse the evidence and I've learned a valuable lesson.

This turned out to be longer that I originally planned. I hope you found it interesting and that you will share your stories here!
Knighton in Huntingdonshire and Northamptonshire
Tweedie in Lanarkshire and Co. Down
Rodgers in Durham and Co. Monaghan
McMillan in Lanarkshire and Argyllshire

Offline coombs

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Re: What was your most painful mistake?
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 04 January 24 13:22 GMT (UK) »
Very interesting story and I myself made a similar mistake, but my ancestor was born around 100 years before yours, but in Norwich, Norfolk.

My ancestor Susan Riches wed Henry Helsdon in Norwich All Saints in 1725. They had children, Dennis, Robert, Henry and Elizabeth up to 1739. A Susan Riches and her weaver father Isaac Riches lived just a street or 2 away in the 1720s, from where my Susan wed. Henry Helsdon was a weaver who lived near to Isaac Riches. I had eliminated a Susan Riches born in Pockthorpe, Norwich in 1702 and one who died as a baby in about 1695. I also eliminated a Susan Riches born 1703 in Old Buckenham, Norfolk, as she wed in the parish in 1725.

The Susan Riches, daughter of Isaac was born 1694 in Norwich, baptised at St Michael at Plea, to Isaac and Elizabeth nee Bush, and Eliz was the great granddaughter of a vicar called Cuthbert Bush. I honed in on her and was convinced she was the one who wed Henry Helsdon in 1725. I admit I did add her to a draft family tree.

However, 5 years later in 2022 the Norwich Consistory Court Norfolk (which also has many Suffolk ones due to Suffolk being in the Diocese of Norwich) marriage licenses came online with an index and scan of original image. I found a marriage in 1744 at St John Timberhill, Norwich of a Susan Riches to Charles Brandon, a worstead weaver. The age of Susan on the license was 10 years out she was said to be "about 40 years old, a spinster" but it did slightly alarm me as it was the parish the 1694 born one lived in. St Michael At Plea was also a select parish they could also marry in. Charles Brandon and William Baker were bondsmen. Alarm bells ringing.

Charles Brandon left a will in 1756 and he mentions wife Susan and her late father Isaac Riches, a worstead weaver of Timberhill, Norwich. However she may have still been a cousin of my Susan. The only known one I have left is a Susan Riches born 1691 in Mancroft, Norwich, daughter of James and Deborah. James may have been a brother of Isaac, as Isaac's father left a will mentioning his sons Isaac and James Riches of Norwich.

So the parents of my Susan Riches who wed Henry Helsdon is as yet unknown. As we know there may be some baptism registers missing or her family were non conformists. I would think she was born in Norfolk, but also several Riches in Suffolk.



Researching:

LONDON, Coombs, Roberts, Auber, Helsdon, Fradine, Morin, Goodacre
DORSET Coombs, Munday
NORFOLK Helsdon, Riches, Harbord, Budery
KENT Roberts, Goodacre
SUSSEX Walder, Boniface, Dinnage, Standen, Lee, Botten, Wickham, Jupp
SUFFOLK Titshall, Frost, Fairweather, Mayhew, Archer, Eade, Scarfe
DURHAM Stewart, Musgrave, Wilson, Forster
SCOTLAND Stewart in Selkirk
USA Musgrave, Saix
ESSEX Cornwell, Stock, Quilter, Lawrence, Whale, Clift
OXON Edgington, Smith, Inkpen, Snell, Batten, Brain

Offline LizzieL

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Re: What was your most painful mistake?
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 04 January 24 15:21 GMT (UK) »

I was slightly embarrassed and disappointed that George Barrass and his amazing story was not part of my family history anymore.

Love the pun  ;D

My mistakes are too numerous to list. The one that cost me most time was assuming my ancestor Amos Carr (bapt 1759) was the first child of his parents (Richard and Elizabeth) and assuming the marriage between a Richard and Elizabeth the previous year in the right sort of area was the correct one. I spent a lot of time tracing back the ancestors of this couple, then found four earlier children baptised to Richard and Elizabeth. Eventually I found the right marriage about 15 miles away although both Richard and Elizabeth were born in neighbouring villages they chose to marry some distance from home. Maybe because he was 30 and she was 18 at marriage. The names of the parents of the second (hopefully now correct) couple are a much better fit with the names they gave their 10 children. To add to my embarrassment: I was so sure of my first couple that I actually added them to my Ancestry tree rather than just keep them as possibles in my off-line tree.
Berks / Oxon: Eltham, Annetts, Wiltshire (surname not county), Hawkins, Pembroke, Partridge
Dorset / Hants: Derham, Stride, Purkiss, Sibley
Yorkshire: Pottage, Carr, Blackburn, Depledge
Sussex: Goodyer, Christopher, Trevatt
Lanark: Scott (soldier went to Jersey CI)
Jersey: Fowler, Huelin, Scott

Offline JAKnighton

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Re: What was your most painful mistake?
« Reply #3 on: Friday 05 January 24 21:19 GMT (UK) »
However, 5 years later in 2022 the Norwich Consistory Court Norfolk (which also has many Suffolk ones due to Suffolk being in the Diocese of Norwich) marriage licenses came online with an index and scan of original image. I found a marriage in 1744 at St John Timberhill, Norwich of a Susan Riches to Charles Brandon, a worstead weaver. The age of Susan on the license was 10 years out she was said to be "about 40 years old, a spinster" but it did slightly alarm me as it was the parish the 1694 born one lived in. St Michael At Plea was also a select parish they could also marry in. Charles Brandon and William Baker were bondsmen. Alarm bells ringing.
I will have to check these records out. I have similar issues with my ancestors who lived around Norwich.

I was slightly embarrassed and disappointed that George Barrass and his amazing story was not part of my family history anymore.
Love the pun  ;D
I wish I could say that was deliberate!
Knighton in Huntingdonshire and Northamptonshire
Tweedie in Lanarkshire and Co. Down
Rodgers in Durham and Co. Monaghan
McMillan in Lanarkshire and Argyllshire


Offline coombs

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Re: What was your most painful mistake?
« Reply #4 on: Friday 05 January 24 23:02 GMT (UK) »
Small world then, if you also have ancestors from Norwich.

I was born in Norfolk to Essex parents who both have some Norfolk roots, so finding Norfolk blood, especially Norwich and Acle areas felt great, like parents had "come home".
Researching:

LONDON, Coombs, Roberts, Auber, Helsdon, Fradine, Morin, Goodacre
DORSET Coombs, Munday
NORFOLK Helsdon, Riches, Harbord, Budery
KENT Roberts, Goodacre
SUSSEX Walder, Boniface, Dinnage, Standen, Lee, Botten, Wickham, Jupp
SUFFOLK Titshall, Frost, Fairweather, Mayhew, Archer, Eade, Scarfe
DURHAM Stewart, Musgrave, Wilson, Forster
SCOTLAND Stewart in Selkirk
USA Musgrave, Saix
ESSEX Cornwell, Stock, Quilter, Lawrence, Whale, Clift
OXON Edgington, Smith, Inkpen, Snell, Batten, Brain

Offline ThrelfallYorky

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Re: What was your most painful mistake?
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 09 January 24 14:56 GMT (UK) »
The long-term most painful mistake we can all make in this game is believing what relatives tell you is the exact truth!
TY
Threlfall (Southport), Isherwood (lancs & Canada), Newbould + Topliss(Derby), Keating & Cummins (Ireland + lancs), Fisher, Strong& Casson (all Cumberland) & Downie & Bowie, Linlithgow area Scotland . Also interested in Leigh& Burrows,(Lancashire) Griffiths (Shropshire & lancs), Leaver (Lancs/Yorks) & Anderson(Cumberland and very elusive)