Lost Fortunes in the Family Tree (Slight Rant)

Another article (which is mentioned in the one about JK Rowling) from the Times Online (timesonline.co.uk), by Lois Rogers.

Excerpt from the article:

ONE of the biggest studies of inherited wealth in Britain, to be published this week, reveals that one in five of the population can trace their ancestry back to a family much grander and richer than themselves.

While half of those who used a new computer system to research their family tree back as far as 500 years found that they were upwardly mobile, at least 20% discovered that their ancestors had made (and then lost) a great fortune.

Genealogy sites have become some of the most popular on the internet, and an analysis of the family trees drawn up by more than 1,000 people who used Genes Reunited, an offshoot of the Friends Reunited website, to trace their ancestors has provided a unique study of social mobility dating back to Tudor times and beyond.

The article mentions how many can trace their roots back to rich/prestigious families (see, we really are all descended from royalty!).

They mention that there was an analysis made of the family trees of a thousand people on Genes Reunited, and how it showed how people moved up or down in the social hierarchy.

I’m not going to rant.

I’m not.

If you went, and took a thousand family trees from RootsWeb/OneWorldTree, etc. your going to find quite a few errors. If I can go out to OneWorldTree, and find twenty different trees concerning the same individual just 200 years ago (a very unique name, born in a sparsely populated area, with a wife with a very unique name as well, with children who have very unique names), and five of those trees have them raising six children, and five have them raising three children, and ten have them raising ten children, and the all of them being way off on birthdates and names of children as well as parents….

I’m not going to rant, but I hope that this does not become a trend, because I could see various people analyzing family trees and just accepting them at face value, and trying to present them as legitimate news and history.

This would in turn influence more people to accept everything they read on the internet at face value.

I have relatives who, at least in regards to genealogy, are convinced that I, with all of my first and second-hand knowledge, and legal documents, can’t be right about a few relatives, that they read about on some site, run by somebody whom they have never met nor have even tried to meet.

Four distant cousins, I’m talking about. I’ve talked to their children and their grandchildren. I have copies of photos, marriage licenses (no, they weren’t married to one another!), a driver’s license, social security applications, military service records.

But some of my relatives would rather believe a stranger who lives a thousand miles away, who can’t even get the proper spellings or birthdates right, who has no docummented sources, they must be right and I must be wrong, because after all, they read it on the internet.


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