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logoProformat News                  ISSN 1833-9514
No 23
January 2008


February seminars

3 Feb: Coming to grips with FamilySearch, WEA 10:00am
17 Feb: Tracing your English ancestors, Tea Tree Gully Library 1:00pm.

SA Lonely Graves 3 CD
The 3rd edition of SA Lonely Graves will be available from Gould Genealogy this month. It contains details of 1809 graves outside cemeteries along with biographical information about the deceased. 585 graves have photographs.
Those holding previous editions can purchase the new edition at a discount on presentation of their old CD.

1911 Irish Census
Digitisation of the Census started last month with Co Dublin. You can check the order in which counties are being processed at:the National Archives of Ireland site.

Hindmarsh District BDM records
Hindmarsh District BDM records were returned to the Hindmarsh Library at Port Road Hindmarsh in mid-December and they are no longer at the Hindmarsh Historical Museum.


Adelaide Proformat will be closed until 28 Jan 2008.

In this issue:

• February seminars
• SA Lonely Graves 3

Hindmarsh District BDM records

The perils of medieval genealogy research


Adelaide Proformat
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Ship paintings

The perils of medieval genealogy research
The medieval period (or Middle Ages) is considered to be that period of history that ended with the advent of the Renaissance, that is about the 15th century. Some scholars give the end a precise date linked to an event and commonly Columbus’ voyage to America in 1492 is widely accepted.
The key feature of the period has to be the feudal organisation of society.
In England we have a significant number of medieval records basically generated by two government departments – Chancery (secretariat) and Exchequer (treasury).
The volume of records is not the problem with research in this period but rather identifying individuals.
The tried and tested principle of genealogy is that one works back one generation at a time and confirms every fact with at least one, but preferably two independent sources and this is just not possible with this era.
Researchers have a better chance if their ancestry links into a noble family but even then many of their published pedigrees are fanciful as they attempted to improve their social status by tenuous links to very important people of the past.
Finding a familiar name in the Domesday Book for example, does not mean that finding a matching surname in the same vicinity in a later 1390 poll tax records (200+ years later) suggests a link and yet many medieval genealogists will claim this.
Coupled with this problem has to be the number of fraudulent pedigrees published in the 19th century. Many well-to-do families were conned into parting with their money for fanciful pedigrees linking them to famous people of the past. They in turn published this fictitious material and that in turn has been taken up by many modern researchers. Any book on peerages or famous people containing pedigrees and especially those compiled from public contributions, need to be treated with the utmost caution.
Anyone who suggests that they descend from Norman conquerors, will likely have tagged their history onto one of these suspect genealogies unless they have managed to clove themselves onto a royal tree. Ironically that should not be difficult to do as some scholars have suggested that the majority of living people with British ancestry descend from Edward III.
Proving, of course, it may be quite another matter. In fact I would go as far as to say that living people are interrelated many times over. For any two humans in history or today, it is not a question of do they have a common ancestor, it is only a question of how far back in time was the most recent one!

The number of estimated descendants of Edward III have been estimated by some scholars as high as 80% of the present population of England. Roderick W. Stuart claims millions of descendants of Edward III in America alone: Edward III is the latest king from whom a large number of Americans and Europeans can claim descent. His American posterity numbers in the millions. [Stuart, 1998].
Mathematically this is quite easy to prove...
In 1350 (the time of Edward III) Europe's population was estimated to be 70-100m. If we ignore marriages between relatives regardless of how distant then everyone of us had one of us have more ancestors than the whole population of 30 generations ago, namely 1,073,741,824.
The number of provable step by step descendants of Edward III is quite another matter as previously alluded to above. Genealogist and author, Melville Henry Massue the Marquis de Ruvigny in 1911 named 40,000 of such people and estimated 100,000 trees could be done. Debrett's Guide to Tracing your Ancestry by Noel Currer-Briggs and Royston Gambier 3rd ed 1990 says there are now more than 300,000 of such people living today.
Having said all that, it is still the task of the responsible genealogist to work back in time, one generation by one generation, accumulating adequate evidence of all the genealogical events and especially birth records.

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