Advice before editing this pre-1700 Lancaster profile?

+1 vote

I have information to contribute to the profile of John Gowan Lancaster. This is what I can add : His wedding June 1632 to Elizabeth Fisher and his baptism 21 January 1610 took place in Crumbria  Parrish under the Parrish name of Lankister.   The parents were Xopher (Christopher) Lankister and Jenett (Janet) Hynde Lankister. They had married 20 August 1609 in the Parrish. I think we can add as parents  and different BD ?

These are the sources I am using:

Should I contact one of the pre-1700 projects or know about any style guidelines before proceeding? Thank you!

WikiTree profile: John Lancaster
in Genealogy Help by Mary Dykes G2G2 (2.0k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
Mary, what is your source? It didn't get into the question form.
I agree. I believe this information does not come from a primary document but from online sources which have developed a theory. Also it is being badly distorted. There is no parish called Crumbria. Cumbria is a modern county which did not even exist, and not a parish. And so on.

The Crosthwaite Lancasters are a topic of research themselves and you'll probably find some of them have profiles already. A good way to register a speculative link between two families is to mention it in the profile text with hyperlinks, but then the reasoning of the speculation needs to be spelled out, and not treated as proven.

2 Answers

+1 vote

Mary, your source is fine, but you should cite it so that people can see the source.  FamilySearch provides a link for "Document Information", which you can copy and link to as the source.  ie, "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975", database, FamilySearch ( : 19 September 2020), John Lankister, 1610.

You should also specific the parish: Crosthwaite in Cumberland.

by Lois Tilton G2G6 Pilot (122k points)
Which source are you saying is fine?

If I understand correctly there are two assertions here, and neither have a real source:

1. The American was the same as the one who married in England. That might be a common suggestion, but here we are talking about treating as proven.

2. The parents of the English bride groom. Without checking this case again I am fairly sure they are not mentioned in that record.

The FS source is the transcription of a baptismal record. It is fine. Transcriptions of baptismal records are fine. Images of baptismal records are better.

You may well question what, if anything, can be inferred from this record, if the record refers to a particular person, but there is nothing wrong with the record per se.

I did already question that, Lois. But thanks for the permission.

Secondly there is no source on the current version of the profile which I would call a transcription of anything. Saying your source is the familysearch website can mean a lot of different things, just like saying you used or just online information. If a source is not clear it is not a real source. Adding the word Cumbria is not narrowing it down much.
Andrew, you clearly didn't notice that I suggested Mary edit the profile to cite the transcription provided by FS rather than just "Family Search". The transcription specifies the origin of the transcription as Crosthwaite in Cumberland, not "Cumbria". So the source she found is an acceptable source, but she didn't know how to cite it.

I think Mary needs help writing profiles that meet WT standards, but she is clearly looking for acceptable sources to improve the profile here - as opposed forex to unsourced family trees.

You may want to claim that the John Lancaster referred to in this citation is the "wrong" John Lancaster, but that is another issue.

I do not believe your comments are helpful


Honestly, I think I do understand the point you were making, but I think it gives completely wrong advice about sourcing, and I don't think you are understanding my explanation about why.

The question is whether the sourcing is good enough to justify the new information added to the American profile. That new information connects the American to an English event. And the answer is no, that sourcing is not good enough for that new information inserted into Wikitree. 

There is no appropriate source that has been given, and probably there is none, for the information that has been put into Wikitree now. That is surely the key point here?

The way I read it, you are in a circle of repeating that this would be a different subject, but I think you are wrong about that, and you should reconsider. It is not just a question of the fact that no parish register has been properly cited, but also that no parish register can tell you someone migrated. There is no other subject raised by the original post as far as I can see.

Whenever we ask whether a source is good enough, we always have to look at what it is being used for in Wikitree, which is a migration claim. No source in the world is good for every possible purpose. So I am concerned you are ignoring the purpose of this proposed sourcing, which is to equate specific people in America and England. You shouldn't ignore that.

There are indeed some sources on Family Search which are good for certain uses, but this is not a useful or appropriate point to be making in my opinion. Sources should be judged according to the intended purpose.

We have to look at whether a specific source is being used here in a way which justifies a specific edit. The answer is no as far as I can see.

Various theories about John Gowan Lancaster were discussed a lot some years back by Nancy Matthews and others but many of the old forums (mainly genforum?) where she posted are now gone because of the changes in the various companies and websites.

In the Lancaster DNA project we worked with Nancy quite a lot on some of these questions. As far as I recall this was all still speculative? In any case, before adding a major claim, we need to have all the evidence and explanations prepared. This is a major claim.

Unfortunately however this is one of those families where there is a lot of internet copy-paste style work which creates a constant confusion because the original notes and reasoning are rarely kept or understood. We all know many profiles with such problems tend to be profiles which are claimed to be immigrants to America, exactly like this case.

This way of working which connects up people from totally different places, without checking whether there was good evidence or not, is a long-run problem in all internet genealogy, which we are all now trying to clean up and be more careful about.

I am obviously not against explaining what the leading speculations are, but that is not being done here. To break the circles on some of these speculative migration claims we need to lay out the reasoning for any speculation which we want to insert into Wikitree.

We should also be looking to see if the English Lancaster which we are now merging into the American one perhaps has a profile already. 

Equating two people from different continents is not something we should not do lightly. But that is what has been inserted into this article.

Best Regards


English Births and Christenings is an index. It is a source  within the wikitree definition of where you found the information. Lois's suggestion about how to cite it is correct.  But English Births and Christening is what I would call a finding aid; an index isn't a transcript. 

  In this case,  Family search does have a copy of a transcript of this register  (volume 2) A search for Lankister shows quite an extensive and tangled family. This is  the baptism of a John Lankister in Crosswaite  page   . (we know that the couple were of Portescaill and it looks like ... though I'd like others to check...that the baptism was actually  in Jan 1609/10 rather than as I would have guessed 1610/11.)

So this couple did have a son John baptised then but is this the person on the profile? Does the 'source' back up the claims?

This date seems a too late to support the birth date on the profile..The 'regulations' were to baptise on the Sunday or Feast day following the birth Prior  to the Civil War, most people  seem to have followed this exhortation (except perhaps the very rich, who might have organised a ceremony but they didn't wait until  the child was 18 months to 2 years old

This baptism also doesn't support the name, John Gower Lancaster. Where does the Gower come from,this child was baptised as plain John.

There is no evidence for emigration.

Here is another transcript of the register showing the birth.

It was indeed 1609/10

This page

seems to show that same John Lankaster buried March 18.

So the source was just fine, except it was applied to the wrong person.

"So the source was just fine, except it was applied to the wrong person." hmmm. All sourcing questions are context relative.

There is no such thing as a good source, "except" wrongly applied. All sourcing is done properly only in the sense that it is well-applied. A "good" source with no application (whatever that would mean - perhaps just one which is well transcribed?) would never be the subject of this type of discussion. This is a real profile, and not a practice example.

Lois, apparently, like me, you know more about the person depicted in this profile than the information currently IN the profile. That should be irrelevant to the original question the way it was asked. (And I have no problem with the question.)

Crosthwaite for example, is not at all mentioned in the profile, let alone any sourcing which says anything about Crosthwaite. 

...My apologies for spending so much time on this, but I feel (probably the same as you) that it is important to help our learning editors to get these types of cases right. Difficult to do these discussions in writing without sounding over-critical!

+4 votes

Hi, Mary. I did a little cleanup to the profile. There were two Sources sections and the biography text was in the second Sources section instead of the Biography section.

I did not change any of your text but please be aware that on WikiTree we do not use the first-person "I" or "my" in biographies (such as "I am descended thru John....") because we have one big tree, no one owns the profile for John, and anyone reading the profile will not know who the "I" refers to.

Also, please start listing your sources of information. Just saying the source is yourself doesn't count and listing "Family Search" is not complete enough for anyone else to find the information. See for information on how to do sourcing for WikiTree.

Good luck and feel free to ask any further questions here.

by Bennet George G2G6 Mach 1 (12.3k points)
Hi Mary,

You have also added a mother for John Lancaster’s alleged wife Elizabeth Fisher based on a 1623 marriage entry. Elizabeth Fisher was apparently born in 1611. This marriage entry is not at all likely to be for her parents & I suggest those parents are wrong.

As already noted by Andrew et al, there is nothing to suggest that any of the records currently being used are ‘sources’ for the people they are attached to. I would hold off searching for family members in Cumbria and search for a reliable source that confirms John Lancaster’s place of origin.

Apologies if I’m teaching you to suck eggs. You shouldn’t have been told your sources are o.k. They are not at all, unless you can find the link between Virginia & Cumbria.

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