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Old 02-09-12, 10:03
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Default Irregular relationships

Most of my families are Janet & John & Spot the dog types. Mother, father, children with no more than the possibility of a pregnant bride to hinder research.

Most of my families are rural, with the vicar making spiteful marginal notes if they transgress.

Best mate's family is urban and very different. With divorce an impossibility, the women drift in and out of relationships.

Have just found one woman living and dying under the name of her common law husband, but her daughter has had to prove the will under her mother's married name (and no mention of an alias)

Do others find that it is not those at the bottom of the heap, but those with possibly higher expectations of life, who cause us so much trouble?
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Old 02-09-12, 10:16
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I find the people who are most troublesome to research are the ones who seem the most real to me - if I've spent hours and hours trying to trace them then I can easily remember what I found out about them, whereas if I got back several generations in a couple of hours from a PR they just don't stick in my mind.
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Old 02-09-12, 10:55
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Oh, how true! And I am just going to make best mate's day by revealing that her esteemed ancestor had a drunken encounter with a lady of the night and when her protector returned was chased from the room and in the confusion fell downstairs, to his death.

I have five generations of James Broomfields all married to Mary, Sarah or Betty. They all have sons called James, George and William. There is nothing to distinguish one from another, when I know they must have different characters, different lives, but they are just a row of inanimate puppets.
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Old 02-09-12, 11:01
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I agree that people living in cities seem to go in for more irregular relationships, but I guess that's not really surprising. All the bigamous marriages and people flitting between relationships in mine and OH's tree are either in Bristol or London. They are all 'bottom of the heap' people (not sure I like that turn of phrase!), but I guess it could have been higher expectations of life that brought them into the cities in the first place, just that nothing worked out for them. They are also the people who have taken the logest time to unravel. Like Kite, I don't find myself able to remember my rural ancestors very well because the research is either too easy or completely impossible! My favourites are those who are a big challenge, take ages, but do come out of the woodwork in the end!
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Old 02-09-12, 12:10
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Oh, this is odd. My most memorable family AND it was the easiest to research, was my Greens of Gawsworth. They were pillars of the community (ok, the odd undignified scuttle up the aisle) and mostly toed the church line virtues of hard work, honesty and moral restraint. But they left so much written information behind them that I love them to bits.

Conversely, I hate the Holdens, who led interesting and varied lives but have covered their tracks, just allowing me a tantalizing morsel of info every now and then. They definitely play with me because every time I genuinely give up on them, they waggle something intersting in front of me.

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Old 02-09-12, 12:52
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Most branches of my family have rural roots and were poor. The amount of illegitimacy is very high, but tradition in that part of rural Scotland seems to indicate that as long as you were pledged to one another having a baby before you married was fine. The kirk hated it, of course, and hauled the couple before them. But the kirk also condemned peasant weddings because there was too much drinking, dancing and merry-making stretching over several days. I have some marvellous kirk records which describe the lifestyles of my family back then and it makes for entertaining reading. I've also got a travelogue written about that area from 1832 which adds more colour to the portrait of the past. The writer also did sketches including the 'run-down hovel' where my ancestors lived and one of the 'bare-headed and bare-footed' female farm labourers in their dark blue dresses with pink aprons.
One of my great-great grandfathers - born in this parish in the wilds of Scotland - was anything but dull, thanks to his criminal record. He was arrested for 'raising sepulchres'. The wealth of detail in the court papers relating to his defence is extraordinary. He claimed he had borrowed a cart to use to visit a farmer he once worked for on the off chance the farmer may be able to give him some spuds so he could feed his starving family. On the way there, he chanced upon a whisky smuggler, who only spoke Gaelic (he spoke both English and Gaelic). The smuggler offered my gg grandfather some of the illicit hooch in exchange for a lift. The story describes the state of the road, countryside, houses, people, superstitions and much more. He was given a year - which the newspapers stated was an extraordinarily tough sentence when it was a first offence and only involved one body! Then he fades from any official records. But I know that he had 17 children by two wives - the youngest being one of my great-grandmothers.
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Old 02-09-12, 15:13
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Quote:
But they left so much written information behind them that I love them to bits.
That's the difference then, OC. In my case, if lines are 'easy' to research they also tend not to leave much information. I haven't forgotten tracing my Wells line back to about 1650 in one afternoon, but I couldn't tell you much about them right now.
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Old 02-09-12, 16:42
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I am doing a lot of "painting by numbers" fh at the moment, to the detriment of house and garden.

I tend to say pompously "Oh it was proper research in the old days, when you trawled through parish registers/censuses etc" This hasn't stopped me stamp collecting best mate's ancestors. I've been diving in and out, getting very irritated at parish clerks who insist on witnessing weddings, so I was really chuffed with Hannah Nockolds. Distinctive signature that I remembered seeing somewhere.

Spent an hour or so looking for her in censuses, found her marriage and guess what, it was witnessed by family members!

Thought I ought to find out who she was, so I worked through all the marriages WRITING DOWN THE DATES.

Whoops.

There was only one marriage she witnessed: it took place on the same day as her own:
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Old 03-09-12, 09:11
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I don't have any posh people in my tree. They're all labourers or domestic servants. But the one who is most pesky is William Williams who has 5 different birthplaces and 3 different birth years on the censuses and who refuses to die!

Mary is the worst name to research, especially an illegitimate rellie called Mary Gray. If she'd used her middle (father's) name of Timbers she'd be a lot easier to trace.
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Old 05-09-12, 06:04
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I have a good variety of ancestors - lots of rural people who mostly lived fairly regular lives and generally all had to get married, with a fair whack of intermarrying and even one very dodgy marriage which is a man marrying his half sister's daughter :S.

My urban ancestors are fairly varied - I have some weaving ancestors who were wealthy and had descendants stayed wealthy and some who descended down into poverty (my line!) and a lot of Irish and French immigrants. It's the poorer ones who didn't marry or moved on from regular relationships and sometimes into oblivion.
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