Thursday, 25 September 2014

Holy father of. . .

What I wanted to write:

Dear Fellow Ancestry Member,

I have watched with horrified fascination over the past week as you have saved record after record that I have posted, from my family tree to yours.

Just one question.  How on earth do you think you are related to the people in your own tree, let alone those in mine?  

I hardly know where to start.  Don't you think it's odd that the great-great-great-grandfather you've assigned for your home person was, according to you, married seven times, and that four of those marriages are double marriages to his own sisters-in-law? Or that the 32 children you're claiming he fathered are mostly duplicates (mercifully) of nieces and nephews, and in a couple of cases, great-nieces and first cousins?

Sorry, that's three questions.

Let me tell you about the man you think is your ancestor.  He was blind from childhood and he taught music, played the organ, and tuned pianos.  How do I know this?  Because I have checked -- and this means I actually read -- each census between 1841 and 1891.  Do you know what else the censuses tell me?  No children.  None of those 32 children you have with them, a number with different surnames.  (Didn't that puzzle you?)

He married Sarah Mason in Islington in 1847.  She may have been his cousin; the Mason name appears in older generations.  She certainly wasn't his aunt, as you have indicated for the two Sarahs you claim he married.  The age difference might have been a clue to you.

I don't even want to get into the dog's breakfast of erroneous ancestors you've mixed up for him out of a hodgepodge of family trees you've borrowed from Ancestry.  I cringe, frankly, to see that you've listed my tree as a source.  Clearly, you have never looked at it. 

I would also like to point out that the grandfather you've assigned for your home person is highly unlikely to be related to you at all, so everything else is moot.  You claim he came to the States and married a Lillie Dubois in 1890.  I found him in the 1891 British census, living in Islington, London with his parents and siblings, and studying the law.  In 1901, he's still living with his parents who have moved to Surrey.  You've saved this record to your own tree.  Did you bother to read it? He's listed as a solicitor and he is single.  You have him as the father of  six children by then.

Eleven men named Frederick William Hales were born in England between 1845 and 1871 -- it is not an unusual name.  I am positive that the Frederick William Hales in your tree is not your ancestor.  I think you should remove the documents you have copied from my tree; it is a poor use of them and you are proving absolutely nothing.  

And I really wish you'd remove the reference for my tree.  You're embarrassing the hell out of me.


What I actually sent:

Dear (her name), 

You are, of course, free to ignore this.

I have noticed, with some interest, that you have been saving copies of various documents I have posted to my tree, connected with my great-great-grandfather, my great-great-great-grandparents  and their family.  I am somewhat dismayed to see them attached to the wrong people, especially since I am sure you would like your tree to have your real ancestors in it!

I can tell you that the Frederick William Hales and his ancestors -- at least as you have placed them on your tree -- cannot possibly be related to you.

Will you permit me to tell you why?

You say your ancestor Frederick William Hales, the father of William Nallard Hales, married Lillie Dubois in 1890 and fathered eight children during the following 16 years.  My third cousin twice removed Frederick William Hales (who is the grand-nephew of my great-great-great-grandparents, not their grandson as you have in your tree) was living with his parents at the time of both the 1891 British census and the 1901 British census, where he is clearly noted as being a solicitor and and single.  In 1903, he was a godfather to the son of his eldest sister Edith Eliza Seymour (née Hales) at a christening at St Andrew Alexandra Park in north London.  He married Margaret Evelyn Rawson at the very same church in 1920.  He is noted as a 51-year-old bachelor - not a widower. 

None of this fits with the details you have provided about your ancestor who is clearly another Frederick William Hales.  This means, I'm afraid, that none of the ancestors, uncles, aunts, and cousins that you have for your Frederick William Hales, nor the documents you have attached,  belong in your tree. There were eleven men named Frederick William Hales born in England between 1845 and 1871.  I'm sure, with some research and detective work, you can find your true ancestor, the Frederick William Hales who belongs on your tree, and learn his story.  Have you considered joining a family history society?  They could be of tremendous help to you.


See?  This is why I need to wait three days before trying to correct someone on the internet.  She may get ticked off with me anyway, but I, at least, think I don't sound as angry in the second draft.

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