Jurisdictions are record-keeping entities. They are important because:
1. All government, church, and private jurisdictions create records on specific parts of the population and particular areas of residence and interaction.
2. Genealogists, like you and I, are dependent upon genealogy records which have survived to trace your family tree.
3. Where major records loss occurs at one jurisdictional level, you can search other levels to fill in the gaps.
4. Libraries catalog and file records by provenance (authorship) and jurisdictions are authors. The question was recently raised, “If I have the internet with all the records available on it, why do I need to know who created the record or what area it applies to?” My answer, “How do you know you have the right John Cunningham? Or the right Janet Mossman out of the more than 2,000 Janet Mossmans born the very same day?”
5. Many of the records created by special jurisdictions have been unavailable until recently–you will be searching sources other genealogists working on the same ancestors as you, have not yet examined. This will give you a decided edge in proving the correct ancestry.
6. Major genealogical sources omit large chunks of people–a research fact that most genealogy textbooks and source guides neglect to tell you–so how would you know you must consult other records?
Consider these omissions in traditional genealogy sources:
__Wills (40%-60%, women’s wills–50%)
__Probate inventories (up to 60%)
__Tax lists, tithables, and rent rolls (40%)
__Church records (50% and higher)
__Deeds (up to 50%)
__Customs records and passenger lists (over 40%)
You will need all of the evidence that you can muster to prove your pre-1600 ancestors:
See “Fortunate is he who traces back to the 17th century with clear proof.” Don J. Steel, “The Descent of Christian Names,” Genealogists’ Magazine (June 1961). According to Sir Anthony Wagner, up to 1975, no one had successfully proven male descent from someone who fought in the Battle of Hastings—for either side. (English Genealogy, Chichester: Phillimore and Company, 1975. p.60) The Malets of Enmore had come the closest in their claim that William Malet fought in 1066. Wagner traces the descents and connections of many families—showing how they die out in the male line from one century to the next. (pp. 78-83). And he quotes from Sir Charles Clay’s Early Yorkshire Families (Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, Volume CXXXV, 1973). Clay covers 100 manorial families that can be traced “from an ancestor living before the death of Henry I and some at least of whose lands passed by inheritance to the reign of Edward I or later.”
It takes much due diligence and careful study of the sources, both printed and original, to document such descents. Most are assumed from evidence before and after the fact.
Can ancient lineages be documented to you? This blog will provide fodder for this discussion. You won’t want to miss the new and old proofs now available. Your favorite British genealogist, Arlene Eakle
PS Stay tuned! The next blogs will provide a Glossary of local British jurisdictions.
PPS Since the comment links have all been disabled for this blog, if you want to join the discussion, please email me and I will add your comments to the blog itself. I invite you to participate with comments or questions.