We’ve all seen them. Family trees with children born to a mother who died before their birth, or three children born in the same year and linked to the same parents (and they are not triplets). People marrying at age 10, and women having babies in their 70s.
As we research, it is essential to ask ourselves, “Does this make sense?”. I recently came across some research done on my 5th great grandfather, Edward Bellis, on Familysearch. I have not been able to identify his mother yet but I do have his christening record for 1735 identifying him as the son of Edward Belis. I was surprised to see that someone had identified his mother and had added the new parents’ marriage document as proof of not only the marriage but as a source for Edward’s birth.
If the person who had added the mother and the marriage record would have stopped and looked at the dates, they would have seen immediately that something wasn’t right.
Look at Edward’s christening date. Now look at the supposed parents’ marriage date. A couple marrying in 1737 would not have had a child christened in 1735. If by some chance the child, Edward, was actually the illegitimate son of Edward Bellis, from before he was married to Anne Williams, the record would show it as such. In the 1700s, church officials would write in the birth as illegitimate on the record itself as can be seen below, on the same page as the register showing Edward’s christening in 1735.1
The above is a simple example of why it’s important to pay attention to dates and to stop and ask ourselves, “Does this make sense?”.
- “Wales, Flintshire, Parish Registers, 1538-1912,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KCRJ-SJQ : 11 February 2018), Edward Belis, 16 Aug 1735, Baptism; from “Parish Records Collection 1538-2005,” database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing Holywell, Flintshire, Wales, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey. ↩