Human Error

It’s important to remember that all of the documents we see are subject to human error! Everybody is doing their very best but we all make mistakes and some may not have been corrected. Church records were predominantly used by the clergy and the people whose data was being recorded might not even have seen them.

Before copy-and-paste

Take these two Siddal records, for example:

7th January 1759 John son of George Siddal from local church records
7th January 1759 George son of John Siddal wrongly transcribed to Diocese records

Records vs Census?

Records are only as good as the memories of the people who gave the details. Especially with records of death: the person’s child would often give the information. You might not know your parent’s exact age in days when dates of birth were not used so often as they are now. Where there is a conflict between death records and census returns I have taken more notice of the census.

John Ward Jnr gave me some hours of indecision and fruitless searching:

John Ward’s burial record shows that he died in 1860 aged 54, meaning he was born in 1806
John Ward is 41 in the 1851 census, meaning he was born in 1810

Weighing up the evidence

Occasionally there could be a major mistake that has gone uncorrected: this I believe is what happened in the case of Ann Forkes‘ daughter Mary Raven. The record of her baptism says that Samuel Raven was her father, but this is the only reference to him that I have been able to find.

I have found, however, a John Raven married to Ann Forkes and I believe they are Mary’s parents. The evidence is circumstantial, but these other records have convinced me that she is the sister of Rebecca and Harriet, John’s daughters:

·  In 1831 Rebecca Raven witnessed Mary’s marriage – the Rebecca born to John and Ann in 1812?

·  In 1833 James Ward, Mary’s husband, witnessed Rebecca’s marriage

·  In the 1841 census, James and Mary Ward (nee Raven) have a Harriet Raven with them. She is the right age to be John and Ann’s daughter.

I could, of course, be totally wrong. They may be cousins and I’ve missed the point completely – but we’re all subject to human error!

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