Can we add a "comment on establisted gateway ancestry" under guidance for PGM profiles?

+12 votes
440 views
The PGM project and profiles are a great example of the quality of wikitree and are referenced by many genealogists and family historians. This project has the potential to highlight some of the best features of wikitree. One weakness of the profiles, however, is that many incorrectly appear to be gateway ancestors (by following their wikitree family tree). Most of these PGM ancestors are well researched and only a few appear on researched "gateway ancestor" lists. The PGM project, in dealing with well researched ancestors who emigrated, seems to be the perfect place to add commentary on an individual's known gateway ancestry status. Can we update the guidance for the PGM project to include commentary on gateway ancestry? Perhaps even a section like biography or sources? Not doing anything seems to be approving what has been called an epidemic of unproven or disproved claims.
asked in Policy and Style by PM Eyestone G2G6 Mach 3 (33.3k points)
retagged by Keith Hathaway
By "gateway ancestor," are you referring to an ancestor who links to a member of European nobility?

It seems to me that eliminating spurious claims to noble ancestry (claims that typically would be embedded in profiles from at least a couple of generations before PGM emigration) is something that the euroaristo project is better equipped to deal with, but YMMV.

The National Society of Saints and Sinners gives a good definition of "gateway ancestor" and provides sources:

"During first contact with many of our prospective members, we are confronted with questions about what a Gateway Ancestor is. Comments like “I don’t know what a Gateway Ancestor is, so I must not have one,” are common. Believe it or not, in two short sentences, we can assist people in understanding what the term “Gateway Ancestor” means –

Very simply, a “Gateway Ancestor” is your immigrant ancestor who has royal descent. He or she, then, is your American “gateway” to royalty.

Several useful resources exist to assist individuals in determining whether they have Gateway Ancestors. The “short list” includes:

Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families (4 vols., newly revised and enlarged, 2011)

Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families (3 vols., newly revised and enlarged, 2011)

Gary Boyd Roberts, Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies or the United States (2004 and 2008 editions)

Patricia Ann Scherzinger, Colonial Americans of Royal and Noble Descent: Alleged, Proven and Disproven"

Frederick Lewis Weis, Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America before 1700 (7th and 8th editions)

Because our knowledge of genealogy is ever-changing, we use these resources and many others in our attempt to capture the most recent learning concerning Gateway Ancestors.

3 Answers

+9 votes
 
Best answer
At the Magna Carta project, we use Douglas Richardson's books to identify gateway ancestors.  Other books, such as Weis and Roberts, are generally not well-documented.  If it's not in Richardson, we need strong evidence, which means primary source documentation.

If anybody finds an immigrant ancestor who has an apparent royal ancestry who is NOT on the Magna Carta project's list of gateway ancestors, please let me know and I will research it.  I have done this for dozens of immigrant ancestors, and only one of them, Governor Thomas Dudley-129, has a plausible royal/Magna Carta ancestry.  I'm not surre how to handle Dudley's lineage; I'll probably open a G2G thread on him soon.
answered by J S G2G6 Mach 9 (92.4k points)
selected by PM Eyestone
John -

I will take you up on the offer and I will also dig into them myself. Digging through them one at a time seems to be the only solution.

Also, please see my response to RJ Horace below. It gives a little data for background to my original question.

Thanks
Here are some with immigrant ancestors with royal and Magna Carta lines on wikitree:

Immigrant Boynton-9 to MC; Clavering-13, Clare-651, Clare-673, Bigod-14, Bigod-1, Lacy-284, Mandeville-10 (nephew), Quincy-226, Marshal-4

Immigrant Bartlett-1867 to Marshal-4, Bohun-7 (nephew), Huntingfield-11 (nephew)

Immigrant Clapp-797 to Clare-651 (nephew), Clavering-13 (nephew), Mowbray-151 (nephew), Mandeville-10 (nephew)

Immigrant Lothrop-3 to Bigod-1, Bigod-14, Bohun-7, Clavering-13, Lanvellei-5, Mowbray-151 (nephew), Fitzwalter-101, Marshal 4

Immigrant Parke-9 to Clare-673, Clare-651, Quincy-226, Marshal-4

Immigrante Porter-152 to Bigod-1, Bigod-14, Clare-673, Clare-661, Clavering-13, Lacy-284, Lanvallei-5, Mowbray-151, Quincy-226, Fitzwalter-101, Marshal-4.

Other immigrant ancestors with royal lines: Scott-217, Carpenter-19, 201, 337, Kimball-138.

I sincerely hope a couple are valid! Let me know if I can help.
+7 votes
The GAs on Richardson's Magna Carta list are all being added to the Gateway Ancestors category - most already done - and will be awarded Magna Carta badges when they're ready.

Richardson's RA has a wider range of targets and a longer list of gateways.

WikiTree has hundreds more, and they cover the whole range.  There are lines that rest on "good authority" and are shown by "usually reliable" books or websites.  And other lines are just nonsense made up and submitted to Ancestral File, unvetted.

Many unproved lines will never be debunked, because they are in fact true, even if the evidence doesn't exist.  Deciding what's good isn't just a case of looking it up in a book or a database.  Most of the genealogy hasn't been done yet.

There's a massive amount of work to do to know the exact status of every line.  In the meantime, anything done tends to be arbitrary and go round in circles.
answered by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (393k points)
RJ,

Thanks for your answer. I agree that there are probably quite a few gateway ancestors yet to be established and some of these PGM lines may be valid. Richardson's Royal Ancestry, as the latest released, is a great source for additional gateway ancestor names and is one that I use.

Let me put some numbers to what I found. I just went through [http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Puritan_Great_Migration_Ancestors 34 PGM profiles] and found that 12 had lines to royalty. That is just over 35%. One of them (Wyatt-300) appears on gateway ancestor lists. That leaves 11 (32.3%) profiles that claim to be gateway ancestors but do not appear on well researched lists.

If there were a couple that appeared well researched, I would conclude there are potentially more and it warrants further research. When 1 out of 3 profiles of well researched individuals have royal lines that do not appear on other gateway ancestor lists, I question our quality and conclude that our wikitree has a problem.

Would you draw a different cocnlusion?

Digging into these lines one at a time seems to be the answer.

Just to clarify, the Gateway Ancestors list on WikiTree refers specifically to descendants of Magna Carta Surety Barons, as found in Magna Carta Ancestry by Douglas Richardson, published 2011.

In 2013, Douglas Richardson published Royal Ancestry, and so far as I can tell, the Gateway Ancestors are also on the list in that book, which refers to descendants of kings and queens.

Gateway Ancestors is often used to describe descendants of royalty, so I think I will rename the section of the Magna Carta Project which is Gateway Ancestors, to say 'Gateway Ancestors to Magna Carta barons'. While it appears the same early colonial immigrants are on both lists, I would just like to clarify the purpose of Gateway Ancestors in the Magna Carta project. No objection to royal descent, but our project is about Magna Carta.

The Royal Ancestry volumes of 2013 include additions and updates to the 2011 publication, and also go several generations past the Magna Carta barons, to William the Conqueror.

Gateway Ancestors/Magna Carta has a section for proposing documented additional lineages to have the Gateway Ancestors icon added to their profiles. Anyone who wants to work on this section or any other parts of the Magna Carta project are very welcome.

P Eyeston - your message seems to indicate you have found 11 profiles that claim to be Gateway Ancestors that are not on our list. Please send me a list of those profiles? It is important that the CATEGORY Gateway Ancestors be used solely for the Magna Carta barons' descendants. If those profiles are not documented descendants of Magna Carta barons, but are referring to Royal descent, that distinction needs to be made. Thank you P for your diligence!

Thanks April.

I think clarifying the category on wikitree to "Gateway Ancestors to Magna Carta Barons" would be a good change. (For a conversation another day, I think there also should be a "Gateway Ancestor" category reflecting how it is commonly used in genealogy. Those tagged as such should of course have lines that are well researched and stand up to review. It is just another area where wikitree could 'lead the way'.)   

Highlighting that some of these immigrant ancestors with royal and Magna Carta lines may be valid and they all should receive further research is important. These are PGM project profiles, all of immigrants who have likely been well researched, and are a good example of the best of wikitree.  

Here are the names I shared with John that are immigrant ancestors who have Magna Carta lines on wikitree but are not tagged gateway ancestors. These are all from the PGM project. I only looked at a small sample of PGM project immigrant ancestors. Other profiles that I looked at also had royal lines but did not connect to the Magna Carta project. I added those in my message to John above as well if you're interested. 

(plugging the immigrant and the MC Baron into relationship finder will show the line)

Immigrant Boynton-9 to Magna Carta Barons; Clavering-13, Clare-651, Clare-673, Bigod-14, Bigod-1, Lacy-284, Mandeville-10 (nephew), Quincy-226, Marshal-4

Immigrant Bartlett-1867 to Marshal-4, Bohun-7 (nephew), Huntingfield-11 (nephew)

Immigrant Clapp-797 to Clare-651 (nephew), Clavering-13 (nephew), Mowbray-151 (nephew), Mandeville-10 (nephew)

Immigrant Lothrop-3 to Bigod-1, Bigod-14, Bohun-7, Clavering-13, Lanvellei-5, Mowbray-151 (nephew), Fitzwalter-101, Marshal 4

Immigrant Parke-9 to Clare-673, Clare-651, Quincy-226, Marshal-4

Immigrante Porter-152 to Bigod-1, Bigod-14, Clare-673, Clare-661, Clavering-13, Lacy-284, Lanvallei-5, Mowbray-151, Quincy-226, Fitzwalter-101, Marshal-4.

Let me know if I can help with any of these. 

Thank you P Eyestone for that list; I'll start rooting around this weekend, and will probably start more than one G2G thread when I get going.
I've been finding these from the other end - see a side branch from an MC trail and follow the line down.  I added a few to the project workbook page, but then I pretty much stopped because there were obviously going to be hundreds.

Browning did one of the first gateway books and he put in a disclaimer saying he was only collecting claimed lines and took no responsibility for verifying them.  Other people use the same disclaimer, including Gary Boyd Roberts and Ancestral File.  They all say it's the user's responsibility to verify the line.  But nobody reads the small print.

I don't see how you could set a standard.

Even Richardson doesn't always have primary sources.  He shows Geoffrey Plantagenet lines through Fitzwilliam and Ela de Warenne - as does everybody else - but as MedLands says, the primary source for this marriage has not been identified.
+3 votes
As co leader of the PGM project, I'd have to agree with Ellen that the EuroAristo project, generally, and then the Magna Carta project (if the line goes back that far) are better equipped and sourced to be in charge of such tagging.

The PGM project follows the lead of Anderson's Great Migration series, and that series generally does not go back beyond one generation before the immigrant. If I've seen a reference at all to royalty in Anderson, it's usually a refutation. But really, he doesn't go there.

All this said, I'm happy happy happy to have PGM profiles' links to royalty and/or the Magna Carter Surety Barons be accurate.

Thanks for your attention to this.

-- Jillaine
answered by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (641k points)
Thanks Jillaine. This issue kind of falls between projects, but impacts the overall quality of our tree. Having the Magna Carta project evaluate the lines seems to be the best answer.

One way I could see the PGM project helping with this issue is having profile managers check their profiles for relationships to a couple of Magan Carta barons.

I have now gone through the PGM profiles with last names starting with A and B and have found 72 profiles with royal and/or Magna Carta lines that are not currently tagged "gateway ancestors". (This worked out to a little under 1 in 4 profiles) I only checked each person's relationship to Clare-673 and Marshal-4. Of the 72 with relationships, all but a handful were direct descendants of both. The others were cousins through other well known Euroaristo names, in which case I just put them in the royal line category.

We will have quite a bit more information after those 72 profile's lines are reviewed.

To the extent PGM profile managers want to help and grow the list from 72, we could then feed Magna Carta and Euroaristo with a good list of lines for review.
P.E.,

Those 72 profiles "with royal and/or Magna Carta lines" -- how do you know they are? If you're using the relationship finder, that simply means that the profiles are currently "claiming" to be gateway ancestors; my understanding of the appropriate use of the tag "gateway ancestor" is that it has been confirmed through documentation. I wouldn't trust the relationship finder at all-- although it's a good way to identify those that need confirming through documentation. Is that what you meant?

Sorry for the delay in responding; illness, biz travel and holidays put me back a bit...

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