Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Building a Family Tree: An Example on -- Project Eight

This post is another in the unending series of Projects I am doing to research different people in the Family Tree. See the comment at the end of this post for a further explanation of the Projects.

I might mention that his series is really modeled after the endless case studies method that is the basis for teaching law in law schools around the United States. In law school, beginning on the first day and continuing for about three years of study, the law students read cases. I estimated that I had read tens of thousands of cases while I was studying in law school. The idea is that after you have read all these legal cases, you just might begin to understand how the court and law system works. Well, if you read my "case studies" or Projects you might just begin to understand how genealogical research works.

Here goes another project or case study or whatever.

This is how I am related to this person. He is my 5th Great-grandfather.

As you can see from his detailed information in the Family Tree, his information has not been edited or standardized. This generally means that no one has done any significant work on this person or his family since the inception of the Family Tree program. Am I surprised to find direct line ancestors with little or no research done? Well, considering that I have, at least, sixty-four 5th generation grandparents, this is not particularly surprising.

Once again, I start by looking at sources and standardizing the entries. There are two attached entries, both birth records for a daughter named Rebecca Baily who is shown in the chart above as one of the links in my relationship to James Bailey. Hmm. The entries for James Baily show a christening on 29 September 1771 in Rotherhithe, Surrey, England. But there is not a source cited for this date or place. In addition, both of the attached source records for Rebecca Bailey indicate that she was christened in Ash by Wrotham, Kent, England on 2 February 1800. Additionally, Jame Bailey's wife, Rebecca Wallis is shown as follows:

The Latest Changes section indicates that the changes were made this year, 2018. It is quite unlikely that James Bailey of Surrey was married to Rebecca Wallis who was born and died in Kent. Before I do anything else,  I need to step back a bit and look at the sources for Rebecca Bailey. Here is her family.

There are fifteen sources attached to Rebecca Bailey or Baily.

In looking through all the sources, it looks like Rebecca Bailey is well documented for her christening in Kent and for her death and burial in London, England. It is also fairly clear that her parents' names are Rebecca Wallis and James Bailey. But at this point, I think the wrong James Bailey is listed in the Family Tree. So, is there a James Bailey married to a Rebecca Wallis?

Almost immediately, I find a duplicate James Bailey with more children from Cambridge, England. Let's see how many James Baileys there are. Searching on, I find over 8,000 records for James Baileys in the time period when this one was supposed to be born.

363 of those James Baileys are found in Kent, England records. But I am looking for a James Bailey who was married to Rebecca Wallis in Kent. Does that record exist? We have to all remember that during the time period in question in England, people tended to be christened, married and die within about a six-mile radius. See "Large Online Family Trees Validated by Scientifically Conducted MyHeritage Study" Further, we don't just add the first James Bailey we find with a wife named Rebecca. Actually, it would be better to look for a "Rebecca Wallis." Here is what we already have in the Family Tree.

There are 40 sources for Rebecca Wallis and all of them show that she lived, married and died in Kent. She also had a second husband.

The real question then becomes more complicated. Was there a person named Rebecca Wallis who married another person named James Bailey in Kent that subsequently married a second time to Thomas Freeland? From this, you can see why I say I have at least 64 possible 5th generation grandparents to worry about.

Someone has added another source showing the marriage of a Rebecca Wallis to a James Bailey, but this time the marriage is in St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, Southwark, England. Where is that place? Time to look up the places. You might remember by now that Rebecca Bailey, the daughter was born in Ash by Wrotham, Kent, England. Hmm. There are a lot of places in England named Ash, so we have to find Wrotham. Here is a map showing, Ash by Wrotham and it is in Kent, but it is about 25 miles from the church of St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, Southwark, which is part of London.

You have to use maps to see if what you are putting into the Family Tree makes sense. We still need to see if there is a James Bailey in this scenario. The birth record presently in the Family Tree for a Rebecca Bailey has her born in Southwark, St Mary, Newington, Where is that? Well, it turns out to be about 2 miles from St. Mary Magdalene Church. So, it looks like, at this point, that we have a family with a daughter named Rebecca Bailey who is my direct line ancestor with parents named James Bailey and Rebecca Wallis. But we may still have two different families. Rebecca Wallis may or may not be the same person who married Freeland. Right now, the geography doesn't fit.

Let's go back to Rebecca Bailey. She marries William Hindes Godfrey in Rainham, Kent, England in 1821. Not much question about that, the Godfrey line is pretty well established since my Great-grandmother's name was Margaret Godfrey Jarvis Overson. She has a christening record showing her christening in the Ash registry. By the way, this record shows that she was born posthumously to James and Rebecca Bailey. This means her father was already dead when she was born. But which Ash is this? Remember, there are a lot of places named Ash in England. There is another record that says that this Ash was in Wrotham. Rainham and Wrotham are about twenty miles apart, still a problem. By the way, the Godfrey family does end up in London.

Was the Rebecca born in Wrotham the same one married in Rainham? Is there another Ash? There is no Ash within ten miles of Rainham. You can use the 1851 map of England on to find out the names of all the places within a certain radius. See What about Ash parish? Hmm again. There are two parishes in Kent with the name "Ash." In looking at the records for the parish register for Ash with the listing for Rebecca, I find that it is likely Ash near Dartford in Kent. None of these places are making any sense. Dartford is about forty miles from Rainham. Unfortunately, the 1841 England and Wales Census does not tell us where Rebecca Bailey Godfrey was born. Neither does her death record.

To summarize, at this point, we have more than one possible birth record for Rebecca Bailey showing she had parents named James and Rebecca. None of them seem to be very possible because they are geographically outside of the range of places she would have likely been born. William Hinds Godfrey was born in Sheerness, Kent, about 12 miles from Rainham.

Back to There are 72 Rebecca Baileys listed in Kent born within two years plus or minus of 1800. There are only six parish baptisms. The record showing James Bailey and Rebecca Wallis as parents is interesting. It shows that the parents were married in Bermondsey, London and that James Bailey is deceased. So we are back to Rebecca Wallis who was apparently christened in Ash by Wrotham, Kent. But there is another Rebecca Bailey christened in 1801 in Chatham, Kent which is right next to Rainham. Her mother's name is Mary Bailey but no husband is listed.

However, this Rebecca Elizabeth marries a John Plumstead in 1821. So, we are left with one choice. The one listed in the Family Tree born in Ash by Wortham. But we are not much closer to finding James Bailey. Well, it looks like we are trying to find a James Bailey who died in about 1800 but it is very unlikely that he is the one who was born in Surrey. We need to find a James Bailey in Kent who married Rebecca Wallis, but died before a baby was born in 1800.

Stay tuned.

Explanation of how this project began and why I am pursuing it.

In this project, I started out by picking a somewhat random person from my ancestors or my ancestors' descendants who lived in the 20th Century from the Family Tree and to hopefully show, step-by-step, the research needed to extend that person's family tree back several generations. In this particular case, I found a direct line ancestor to use as an example. Finding a person who has no apparent ancestors in the Family Tree is relatively easy for those who lived in or into the 20th Century by much harder the further you go back in the past.  To clarify this project, I will not be reserving any of the people I discover for my own Temple List, unless, as in the case with this family, I am directly related to those I find. I will simply leave the "green icons" on the Family Tree for that person's descendants to find and use for themselves. Please refrain from doing the temple work for people to whom you are not related.

Now, after I got going doing the research, I got a couple of requests to research some people further back in time. These turned out to be old, established "end-of-line" situations. Since my original idea was to demonstrate finding people, I started with easier challenges. But in any event,  I may or may not find new people to add to the FamilyTree. Since the families I choose are in an "end-of-line" sort of situation independent of the time frame, there is no guarantee that I will be any more successful than the average user of the Family Tree in finding additional family members. In any event, I hope that my efforts as recorded will help either the family members or others to find more information about their ancestral families and relatives.

Why am I doing this? For the past 15 years or so, I have been helping hundreds (thousands?) of people find their ancestors. I simply intend to document the process in detail with real examples so that you can see exactly how I find family lines. I simply want to show where those "green icons" come from. Since the Family Tree is entirely cooperative, I will simply assume that when I find a family that needs some research that I am helping that family. By the way, this is Project Five of the series because I intend to do this over and over with different examples.

There is another reason why I am doing this. Because I constantly offer to help people find their ancestors and I get relatively few that take advantage of that offer. I need to spend some of my excess energy.

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