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:

e92ce-charlesrichards

 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:

fa93e-charles1911

 

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:
fe167-charlesrichards2
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:

f0a05-charlesreal
1911 census record – Charles and Sarah RICHARDS

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!

Calendar of the Dead

Ancestry have now released the National Probate Calendar (1861-1941) which is almost like an index to wills.  A distant relative who has worked with me on my STILING line gave me the heads up and I checked it out:
STILING John 9 October.
The Will of John Stiling late of Tiverton in the County of Devon Yeoman deceased who died 3 February 1862 at Tiverton aforesaid was proved at Exeter by the oath of Edward Stiling of the Parish of Tiverton aforesaid Yeoman the Son one of the Executors.
Effects under £600.
[handwritten underneath] Resworn at the Stamp Office Feb 1865 under £450.

I believe this to be my John STILING for the following reasons:

  • he dropped off the census after 1861
  • wife declared a widow on the 1871 census
  • recorded living at Tiverton since 1811 (son Edward’s birth)
  • has son Edward STILING
  • farmer (yeoman) since 1841 census

This is the first time I had even come close to a death date for John STILING so I was very pleased indeed to see this entry.

I used ancestry to look further into the son mentioned, Edward STILING and found what appears to be his will too. The entry contained: formerly of Barton but late of Tiverton Farmer died 16 Feb 1873 at Tiverton – Elizabeth Daw, widow, his sister executrix.

Not only do I have a death date but also a daughter of John that I was unaware of until now.

Next Steps:

  • Obtain a copy of John & Edward STILING’s wills