Tree status as at 14 Jan 2013: Individuals=4066 Families=1091
Latest tree updates:
Blog=27 Jan 2011, GenesReunited=27 Jan 2011
AncestralAtlas=23 Jan 2010, Ancestry=28 Jan 2011

Familysearch vs. Tolkien

One domain to rule them all, One domain to find them,
One domain to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mormon where the servers lie …

So, Familysearch wants to put all the world’s historical records online in one generation, do they? From a personal point of view, I find this disturbing, and I’ll explain why….

Much has been posted online recently regarding the increasing “collaboration” between Familysearch and other providers, such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast, MyHeritage, BillionGraves etc. And much has been said in the past regarding accuracy of online data. Don’t get me wrong, I was only too pleased six years ago to have access to online data through such providers, and made great steps in a very short time provisionally traversing my direct paternal lineage through to the mid-sixteenth century of Kent, England. However, I was also fortunate enough to have lived there most of my life, and found it very easy to access paper records at the former Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone, or at Canterbury Cathedral Archives, to verify the data which was being presented to me. Of course, I also have good knowledge of the Kent place names and surnames which were represented. As such, I often find myself adding ‘alternate’ (read ‘corrected’) names or places to Ancestry transcriptions, and reporting faults on transcriptions at FindMyPast.

However, what about colleagues in the USA, or Europe, or Australasia, who may not have such knowledge and take what is presented to them as a true reflection of the original.

I recently located an Ancestry tree containing an ancestor who appeared to have (incorrectly) married his own mother, and consequently had an incorrect list of children and siblings attributed against them. Having spoken to the tree owner, it turns out this was as the result of merging trees and/or data.

We have recently been told that Ancestry have been concentrating a lot on overhauling the software which sits ‘behind the scenes’, some of which no longer suits today’s data or user demands. I think that a concerted effort should be undertaken to semi-automate data checking to stop such obvious mistakes happening. I know that the Merge wizard in Family Tree Maker had such checks. I have not used FTM for a while, and frankly I have now decided to maintain my master set of data on my own blog, and will not be updating my Ancestry tree (which is now 3 years out of date) or any other online presence.

I know I will miss out on ‘hints’ via Ancestry – well, hey, I’ll just check things manually. My tree is now large enough that I would probably not keep up with the hints, anyway. That way, I can focus my research, and if any of that research develops in error it won’t propagate to everyone else’s trees in 10 milliseconds !! There will only be me to blame.

My opinion is controversial, I know, especially when I have made use of data shared on these sites by others. Yet I too have spent time researching and value the effort and accuracy of my data, and welcome any comments to correct innocent mistakes on my part. In this way, I feel my research is more than a data-mining exercise, and benefits from accuracy and local knowledge.

When websites such as those above accept transcriptions and pass them through their ‘checking’ process, are they simply accepting a concensus of opinion as to what a scribble represents, or are they calling upon volunteers with more local knowledge to provide a more weighted contribution. I doubt contributors outside of Kent would have been able to decypher a parish record containing the signature of minister A Egerton-Brydges (Anthony) I recently discovered – my local knowledge certainly helped on that one (and others!)

Accuracy of data must start rising up the priority list of genealogy data providers, in my opinion.

Otherwise we will find we are all next in line to the English throne and Jesus is our nephew!

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Published in: | on February 5th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

William BALDOCK – Labourer, smuggler, property millionaire

I have known about William BALDOCK the smuggler for quite a while now, and often wondered if and how he might fit into my research. I had also recently come across William Henry BALDOCK, High Sheriff of Kent (1800s).
I knew that the smuggler died in 1812, leaving an estate valued around £1.1m ! Was he also the same William BALDOCK who had bought much land and property in Canterbury and other areas of Kent? I had also learned that ‘his nephew’ was rather conveniently the coastal Riding Officer.
Was he related to William Henry? They certainly both appear to have been from or lived in Petham.
I had discovered that William Henry BALDOCK had married Elizabeth DELMAR on 8 Feb 1814 at St. Margaret’s, Canterbury, but could not confirm his parents.
Was William Henry BALDOCK also the same William BALDOCK mentioned as a banker of Petham House, Petham, Kent in an obituary of a New Zealand newspaper (The Grey River Argus, Tuesday October 30th 1883) concerning the death of the latter’s great-great niece and nephew, Julia Alice HARDS and Joseph Baldock HARDS! The obituary also mentioned a relationship to Richard Robinson, 1st Lord Rokeby! The same banker (and other relationships) were also mentioned in the obituary of Baldock BUTCHER in the Sydney Morning Herald of Sep 8th, 1883.

And which William is the one represented in the painting ‘William Baldock of Petham, near Canterbury’ by T. Dinsdale, held in the collections of Canterbury City Council Museums and Galleries?

William BALDOCK of Petham, near Canterbury, by T Dinsdale (painting)

William BALDOCK of Petham, near Canterbury, by T Dinsdale (painting)
(c) Canterbury City Council Museums and Galleries

Then, recently, I located a goldmine…

“The Seasalter Company – A Smuggling Fraternity (1740-1854)” was written by Walter Harvey and first printed in 1983. It mentions gang members and their ‘business’ dealings, and a considerable amount is given over to William BALDOCK and his nephew, the Riding Officer, …. Richard Hobday BALDOCK !!

.. Hold on a moment, that name HOBDAY rings a bell!

In August 2009, a year or so after I started my genealogy research proper, I visited the Society of Genealogists in London to investigate their holding of a BALDOCK (of Elham) pedigree roll. It transpired that, at the time, I did not have any record of the names mentioned, so I copied down the family tree contained on the roll and filed it.
This week I located the tree, had a look and there they were – Richard Hobday BALDOCK, William BALDOCK (d. 1812) and William Henry BALDOCK (High Sheriff 1818, and partner in the Union Bank, Canterbury), all linked to the Elham tree! It turns out that Richard Hobday and William Henry were brothers, and both nephews of William the smuggler! Their parents were Richard BALDOCK and Mary HOBDAY.

William the smuggler was know to have at least one boat, and no doubt used his regular trips round the coast to London to hide his smuggling activities. Wallace Harvey also wrote a book called “Whitstable and the French Prisoners of War” (1971), and this will be another purchase soon.
The inland smuggling route included Lenham where, along with Pluckley, Charing and Egerton, many of BALDOCK ancestors may be found. Were other relatives of his in the area also involved? I would add that I have not yet linked my ancestors from this area to William the smuggler.

Sources variously claim William’s early life was as a cowherd, or hairdresser’s boy; his father appears to have been a bricklayer. Hence, my choice of the word ‘labourer’.

During the Christmas break, I had also managed to just miss out (by £1 !!) on an ebay auction item consisting of a 1794 indenture of property sale concerning William BALDOCK the smuggler. How gutted was I?!

A recent conversation with a local professional genealogist said I’d done well to link up my research after only five years. He’s got some that’s lasted around twenty!

A brief investigation regarding any link to Lord Rokeby has turned up nothing yet, although some descendants show up in Canterbury.

I now need to check and combine information in the trees with my own research, and look forward to growing my tree further!

Watch this space!

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Published in: | on January 20th, 2014 | No Comments »

A family affair

Whilst perusing through the parish registers for Stalisfield this weekend, I came across an unusual entry:

William's father was also his step-grandfather!

William’s father was also his step-grandfather!

It says ‘William the Son of Thomas BOLDUC by Esther KINGSLAND his wifes daughter, his wife being then alive‘. William was baptised 23 Dec 1753 in Stalisfield, Kent.

A quick check through my records would indicate that I probably don’t have this Thomas (although his birthdate needs further research). The wife mentioned was Mary ELLETT who married John KINGSLAND on 6 Oct 1710 in Throwley, three and a half miles away. Esther (Hester) was baptised 21 Jun 1719 in Throwley. Mary married Thomas on 30 Sep 1747 in Throwley.

Therefore, Esther was probably around thirty-four when she gave birth to William, whose father was her own step-father.

I will probably never find out whether this family affair was desired by both parties, or indeed accepted by the family. I have not yet determined what happened to Thomas’s marriage thereafter. The fact that the parentage is mentioned in parish registers, even that of one over three miles away, would hint that they did not feel shame in admitting it, or that the knowledge was known outside the family.

Social historians would no doubt be able to indicate the commonality of such a union. I guess today we would judge by their appearance on the Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer shows!

 

References:

  1. STALISFIELD St. Mary, composite parish register 1699-1812, CCA-U3-264/1/1, Canterbury Cathedral Archives.

 

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Published in: | on December 2nd, 2013 | No Comments »