Assumptions In Research Are Tricky

While working on one of my Richardson family in Lincolnshire, England, I came across an Ancestry Tree that had a newspaper clipping that was associated with one of the wives of my relative. It didn’t make sense to me. I decided to do a bit more digging and it resulted in multiple “surprises” and wrong assumptions. It’s turned out to be a great lesson in always double checking all of your information, no matter how cut and dried it seemed. More importantly, I learned not to quickly make assumptions.

The questions raised by the newspaper article, revolved around the second wife of Robert Richardson of Waltham, Lincolnshire. Robert had 9 children with his first wife, Jane Surfleet. Jane died in 1843 and Robert married his second wife, Mary Dawson Parker.

In 1851, Robert, Mary, along with five of Robert’s children from his first marriage and two of Mary’s children from her first marriage, lived in Waltham, Lincolnshire.

In 1861, Robert was living on his own in Waltham and listed as a “widower”. His daughter, Rebecca, age 21, and two younger children, Moses, age 2, and Fanny F, age 2 weeks, were living with him. Moses and Fanny were listed as being the son and daughter of Robert. The information in this census led me to believe that Mary was the mother of Moses and Fanny, and that she probably died giving birth to Fanny.

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Another Case of Family Lore Changing Details The Death of Samuel Ratcliffe

It’s been years since I did any serious research on the Ratcliffe family of Cheshire and Lancashire, England.  Recently, due to some new DNA matches, I started to look at my old information on the family.  I saw my notes  saying that “according to family, Samuel Ratcliffe supposedly drowned in the River Mersey”.   That fact remains true, however, the details passed down left out some details.

Up until now, all that I had as far as documentation was his burial record in Little Leigh, Cheshire, England.

Samuel Ratcliffe Burial

I was told that Samuel was a “waterman” and that the assumption was that he drowned while working on the river.   Today I decided to search the newspaper archive on FindMyPast and see if I could find anything on his death.  The absolute last article in the search results was exactly what I was hoping to find.

As you can see in this article,  while he was an employee of the Bridgewater Navigation Company, Samuel’s death was the result of a bad decision made after a night of drinking.  Not exactly as noble as falling off a boat while working as a waterman.

Samuel Ratcliffe Death

I had been in a discussion on Twitter the other day with other genealogists about “Family Lore” and stories handed down vs facts. This discovery is a prime example of how much they can differ. Family lore is always great to “clues”, but it’s always smart to try to back it up with facts.

A New DNA Match Helps Connect Stanford Families

Mohill

Mohill, County Leitrim, Ireland Market Square

When I put together my first genealogy book back in 2013 I ran in to the challenge of deciding how to include not only my two direct Stanford lines, but also how to include the three other Stanford families in New Haven that I was pretty sure connected to one or the other of my Stanford lines but couldn’t prove it. I ended up making the book in three parts. The first two parts were my two families and the third was the three “probably related” families. One of which was the descendants of Patrick Stanford and Catherine Mulligan.

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