Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys,
How to read my narrative family trees
For short biographies, each person is one sentence, separated with commas, ending in a full stop. For longer biographies, it breaks into normal sentences and paragraphs, and later picks up back into tree style again.
Click on the names in bold to move up and down to other pages. Every time the family below some individual grows too large, I move them to a separate page and you click on their name in bold to go through to it. On that page itself, you click on their name in bold to go back up to their parents. This convention is also used to follow property, such as houses through the families. And when people marry, you click on the name of the spouse in bold to move on to their page to see the spouse's ancestry. And you may have to click through to the spouse's family also to see the children and descendants of the marriage.
Sometimes one wants to refer to someone else in the tree not in a structural way (marriage or parentage), but rather as a more casual cross-reference (e.g. "did some work with his cousin"). In this case you will see someone's name as a link, but not in bold.
When I started doing family trees in 1984, I did what many people do and just hand-drew big graphic charts on large pieces of paper. Eventually I would have to stick together a large number of pieces of paper as the charts got bigger. I was frustrated, of course, by having to constantly rewrite the data by hand as the tree grew and changed without cease. So, starting in 1990, I developed a computer system on which I could draw such charts. I constructed huge long plain-text files, designed to be printed sideways. I had converted all my trees to this format by 1992. But again, I was not happy. It took far too long to edit the trees, and they were very unwieldy when I had to move people around and make other such fundamental changes.
I realised that a narrative Burke's Peerage type format would have a fast turnaround in maintenance, allowing quick chopping and changing, but I resisted it because I still found it hard to read compared with graphical trees.
Hypertext changes everything. Turning the jumps in the narrative Burke's Peerage format into hyperlinks finally makes the format easy to read and follow. And I had to admit that the graphical charts were not always easy to read themselves (e.g. when you included all their descendants, two siblings could get separated by a vast distance, so that 20th cent. families were readable, but 19th cent. ones were not).
And not just hypertext, it had to be hypertext on the Web. I had some vague idea that a program to jump around the trees would be good, but this was in the days of stand-alone PCs, when everyone would need their own copy of the program to read it. But now, when hypertext on the Web can be read by anyone, anywhere, on any PC or TV or mobile, moving off paper is far less scary. And I had to admit that paper was isolating too - the big graphical charts were impossible to photocopy, and people waited years for me to run off another printout for them. The family tree now can be printed out on paper, but is far more easily browsed on the Web.
And the Web delivers many more things. It allows me define the boundaries of the tree, instead of having to have my own copy of everything. e.g. I can just pass the torch on to the Royal family tree site at different points in the tree. On the Web there will eventually come to exist a vast "world family tree", with maintainers for different sections, all linking to each other. Allowing in-law hyperlinks, almost any reasonable size tree should be linkable to others, with the Royal family tree at the core of them all.
Hypertext also handles all those cross-references, multiple intermarriages, in-law interconnections, sources, etc. in a way that no other system can. It allows me publish immediately, making older parts (no living people) available publicly on the Web. It allows embedded scanned-in bitmaps. And finally, once you've got used to it, you can't bear to be unable to link to TCD when you say "educ TCD". I started converting my data to Hypertext Burke's Peerage format in 1995, but the data has grown faster than I can process it. Please be patient. It may take me 10 years to get all my information online onto this website.
These trees are simply ordinary text and spaces surrounded by the <pre> tag. If they do not display properly, it is because either:
Mac users: You may not have a fixed-width font on your system. If not, try to get hold of the Courier font and install it in your fonts folder.
In fact, my versions of all the old, well-known families are really not much more than just an extended Ancestors Chart for me and my wife.
Proven or nearly-proven descents:
- This line leads eventually down to me (proven). You can search for all such lines.
- This line leads eventually down to me, if Letitia Blennerhassett of Tarbert is the mother of George Cashel. See Evidence that Letitia Blennerhassett of Tarbert is the mother of George Cashel. You can search for all such lines.
- This line leads eventually down to my wife (proven). You can search for all such lines.
I also show many branches that are not direct ancestors. The level of detail I go into varies. For our more recent families that are not documented elsewhere I go into exhaustive detail, showing all blood relations. When I reach old, well-known families that are documented elsewhere (e.g. nobility, royalty), I still try to show all direct ancestors, but not all blood relations (there would be millions of them).
admin administration of person's estate after their death (admin - when no will, probate - will) approx approximately bapt baptised bur buried c. circa (about that date) C.C. Curate cent century cr created (date of creation of a hereditary title) dau daughter Dept Department ed editor of, or edited by edn edition educ educated at emig emigrated esp especially est estimated (probably by me - subject to future revision) estab established fl floruit - was alive at a certain date (fl 1991 = was alive in 1991) inaug inaugurated incl including mar married matric matriculated née born as (maiden name) NOT used to point out errors in other documents, to refute previously held facts nr near par parish (normally refers to civil parish) poss. possibly PP parish priest pr will proved prob. probably pron pronounced pub published qr quarter (of a year) ref reference repub re-published sp sponsors (at baptism) succ succeeded (to a title or lands) tel telephone temp tempore - in or around that time (temp 1721 = late 1710s, early 1720s) think I think, or it is thought (todo) things to do (if you want to help me, you might do some of these for me!) wit witnessed (at marriage) yrs years
C Central E East LHS left-hand-side N North RHS right-hand-side S South W West
OJ Julian calendar with old style new year, or "Old Style". NJ Julian calendar with new style new year. G Gregorian calendar, or "New Style".
The old style year ran from March 25 to March 25, so that 8th Mar 1735 OJ is really the end of the old year, i.e. 8th Mar 1736 NJ, i.e. 19th Mar 1736 G.
From 1582 to 1752, England used OJ while the Continent used G.
I think NJ is the clearest way of expressing old style dates, that is, express the year properly, but don't change the day since that's the day that was recognised at the time. For example, 26th Feb 1703/4 becomes 26th Feb 1704.
Similarly, if someone is: age 13 in 5th James I
then I simply say: born 1595
without going into complications.
The reason I don't get too uptight about dates of birth based on ages is because ages are so often wrong. Unless you have a document at the time of the birth itself, all dates based on later statements of age should be taken with a grain of salt anyway.
Likewise, I list siblings in order of age, but in the absence of actual dates of birth the exact ordering should be regarded as still uncertain.
For living people, I publish only a bare skeleton tree, listing who married who, and who begat who - a simple list of names, with no dates, addresses, or even countries indicated. For an example, see how I handle my own family.
I realise this lists people's mother's maiden names, which is an ID sometimes used by banks, etc. However, the alternative would be to not list the person at all, and stop the tree completely a generation or two back. This would make the tree largely incomprehensible to family members, since they would be unable to find anyone they knew on it.
I'm open to discussion on this, but in fact I don't think the maiden name issue is a big problem, for the reason that all geographical details will have stopped a generation or two before. It is unclear what country the living people are supposed to be living in, let alone what town or city. It could be anywhere in the world. So my current policy is by default to put up a bare skeleton tree of the living.
If this is too much, I am quite happy to remove you. Simply contact me to let me know you want to be removed from the tree. If you change your mind I can restore you later.
For example, say I am given the full name of a living person: "John Richard Smith". I have no other name for them. If I write this as "John Smith" I am assuming they go by their first name. But they may go by their middle name. Since I don't know which name to drop, I leave it as "John Richard Smith".
So if I publish your middle name(s), please contact me to confirm which name you go by and I can then remove the other name(s).
When I say "X married Y and had issue", I always mean issue by Y. When there are multiple marriages, I separate out the issue by each spouse. When there are affairs I separate the issue as well. And likewise when there are adoptions. Here are the two scenarios:
(1) (2) X, mar Y and had adopted issue:
X, mar Y.
You simply tell me which one you prefer. The one I prefer is (1). The one I do by default is (2). I am happy to do either of these. Just tell me what you want.
(1) (2) (3) X, mar Y and had issue:
and had adopted issue:
X, mar Y and had issue:
X, mar Y and had issue.
You simply tell me which one you prefer. The one I prefer is (1). The one I do by default is (2) or (3). I am happy to do any of these. Just tell me what you want.
I have spent a great deal of time and money on this research. Research involves travel and many expenses.
Some research "things to do" are not done for years, because I do not have the money to do them.
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