Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Cautionary Tale

After a long (unintentional) break from genealogy, I returned to ancestry to find some 'wiggling leaves' attached to Charles RICHARDS (b1851).  There was a death and probate suggestion which seemed very likely and got me a bit excited until I actually checked the detail on the probate entry:
Although the places were apt, none of the names seemed familiar - my Charles married a Sarah MILLINGTON while this person's widow was Ellen.  The names Jesse and Florence Edith were unfamiliar too.  So I searched and found a 1911 census record for this couple:

click for larger image
So with that probate ruled out, I went back to my hints page and looked at the other family trees containing Charles RICHARDS and his family.  At least 3 of these trees (which were referring to my Charles -born 1851, married to Sarah, father to 11 children) had listed that particular probate record as a source!

I rechecked the probate record and also listed was a retired shipwright of Liverpool whose widow was Sarah Ann RICHARDS:
Perhaps this is where the confusion lay?  However, Charles had appeared in every census from 1851 - always in Staffordshire and always related to the coal industry (particularly as a coal miner).

Although it IS possible that Charles may have remarried, a simple search of the 1911 census found Charles and Sarah still living in Walsall with four of their children:

1911 census record
Charles and Sarah RICHARDS
(click for larger image)
I left comments on two of the trees informing the owners of the mistake and am keen to hear back from them as they appear to have information (and PHOTOS!) of Charles' parents and siblings.

In closing, dear fellow geneageeks, PLEASE remember the first rule of genealogy and do not attach information to your tree without confirming it - however much you may want it to be true.  After a long hiatus, I was rusty and nearly fell into this trap - DON'T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU!

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