M*CH*MORE One Name Study
The purpose of this page is to explain how the family trees have been constructed from the available source data.
The two basic problems that have to be solved are:
The general procedure has been to look for consistent evidence from at least two sources. When this has not provided a solution, we have followed one of two rules:
Finding evidence for a link is easier in some cases than others. We look at the following cases:
Readily available records of persons born in the 19th century in England or Wales normally provide enough information to solve both of the above problems:
Of course, there are many cases where the above do not provide convincing evidence of a link. This happens, for example, when a person was not at home at census time, the person died before 1851, a birth was not registered, two persons of the same name were born at about the same time in the same place,or no gravestone has been found. Additionally, records cannot be treated as 100% reliable because many people were illiterate (and so had no written record of their personal details) and many transcriptions contain errors (due to the difficulty of reading the handwriting).
Prior to 1837, the only systematic records are church baptism, marriage and burial registers. Some registers go back to the beginning of the 17th century, but the early records are difficult to read. Very few parish registers have been transcribed.
These records contain very little information: Baptismal registers give only the names of the father and mother (from 1813, also the occupation and abode of the father), marriage registers only give the names and parishes of the bride and groom and the names of the witnesses, and death registers often only give the name (from 1813, also the age at death).
The task of linking different records together is made even more difficult by the following factors:
On the other hand, ordinary people were much less mobile than they are today and rarely moved further than a neighbouring parish. See E A Wrigley (Ed.), An introduction to English historical demography, pub. Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1966: "Generally speaking, marriages between persons resident in the same parish, and those involving a partner from an adjoining parish or one within a five-mile radius, account for 75-80 percent of all marriages, and if we extend the radius to fifteen miles, we are likely to include all except an insignificant fraction of places of origin of partners" (p. 22).
In order to allow any links to be made, however conjectural they may be, the following assumptions have been made.
These assumptions, which are based on links where little doubt exists, still do not always allow a definite link to be made. This is especially the case in parishes like Stokenham and Buckfastleigh, where there was a relatively high density of M*CH*MOREs and many had the same first name. On the other hand, they may also have introduced false links.
Before about 1600, only the wealthier people left records—mainly in the form of wills, leases and other legal documents. Not many M*CH*MOREs fell into this category, and linking them is virtually impossible.
Linking people in 20th century families is made easier by certain factors:
On the other hand, there are no census data available, many M*CH*MOREs have emigrated and privacy considerations restrict the sharing of data.
The availability of the information needed to make links varies widely between countries: