Accuracy and Assumptions in Irish Ancestry Research



Never assume the data in the record is absolutely true and correct. Many in Ireland, during the times we research, distrusted the Government (after all the Ireland Gov. was in Westminister, in Great Britan/UK, and was enforced and Administered from Dublin Castle by the Lord Ireland for Centuries), and mislead anyone who asked questions – others were vain and still others did not know)- still others might not want to tell anyone the information on Official Forms like the Census). Some got 7 years younger between the 1901 and 1911 Census (when they should have aged approximately ten years)! Bottom line most were forthright, others were evasive.

So, Assume nothingremember the saying about assuming:  (spell it out) assuming makes an  ASS (out of) U (and) ME!

Just because a woman is a man’s wife doesn’t mean she is his children’s mother; check their birth records. Just because you’ve only known your surname spelled one way doesn’t mean people with variant spellings are not related to you; surname spellings have become consistent only in the last 100 years. Just because a gravestone say Great Grandma Hannah died in 1898 aged 68 doesn’t mean she was born in 1830; check the records for up to 10 years before (or after) that date. A good researcher, the “Pros” check and double check.

Do your own research. The Internet is heavily populated with family trees that have been copied, often many times, from sloppily researched or even deliberately misleading originals. It’s tempting to grab a ‘ready made’ tree or branch of a tree and attach it to a seemingly matching piece of your own ancestral heritage, but if you don’t double-check every bit of the research, you could end up taking your own genealogy research in the wrong direction. What’s the point of that?

Be cautious with naming patterns; don’t follow them religiously. While they existed in Ireland and many other societies, few families always, always followed them. Some did, Some did not. Some did partially with the first two, three, fourth Children, then they did not and ignored the “traditional naming pattern. If the Grandfather was revereed, then they probably followed tradition (if on the other hand, someone dispised their GF, then when they had Kids, they probably did not follow tradition of naming first born after Father’s Father. They can be a clue worth following up, but make sure you find the evidence before recording it as certain.

Check your maths before you start filling in dates on your family tree templates. A woman who married your 3 x great-grandfather in 1812 should not be recorded with an estimated date of birth in 1805 just because her 1841 census says she was 36.

Understand the lies and errors. Ditch the notion that all your ancestors were saintly and never told a lie. Vanity is not a modern phenomenon. Neither is the pleasure of ‘getting one over on the authorities’. Not everything noted in an official document will necessarily have been honestly recorded. There is also the possibility that there was some other influence at play when someone told an untruth. In many cases, they won’t even have been providing misleading information intentionally. Age was less of an issue than it is now and many people didn’t know exactly when they were born so they simply estimated. Bear in mind also that freedom of speech and religious practice are relatively modern notions. Your ancestors may well have lied about their true religious persuasion to avoid arrest, eviction or social exclusion.

Don’t test your memory. Remember, while you still can, that your memory is fallible. Expect to forget who gave you that nugget of information about Great Aunt Nellie becoming a nurse overseas. There will come a day when you want to start tracing her life but don’t know where to start or the name of your original source. Note everything. Get accustomed to taking a photocopy or transcribing the title page of every book or document that yields ancestral information. If you train yourself to carefully record all your sources, you will avoid having to duplicate your own efforts and will also allow others to evaluate the trustworthiness of your genealogy research.

By following these guidelines you’ll be able to proudly present your genealogy research in these family tree templates and be confident that others can rely on it, too, including your own descendants.

 Family Tree Templetes

Old Newspapers are great resources: