Fantasy noble lineages still a problem?

+14 votes

It’s four years since this thread began, and I’m wondering if fantasy noble lineages is still as much a problem on WikiTree as it was then. 

in The Tree House by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.5m points)
I don't know how it was 4 years ago, but there are still plenty of them around. I hit another one last month, but I haven't been flogging it.
Ooooh yes, it is still a problem. It has improved, but there are still large patches of wilderness, and we need to be constantly watching to make sure already indentified bogus lines don't come back. #VolunteersNeeded

*End of shameless plug for the Disproven Existence Project*
Isabelle, I think you hit on it. The bogus lines coming back. It’s that “Desperate for a Noble/Royal Ancestry Syndrome.” We just can’t eradicate it without the right antibiotic. I’ve got such a line, but it is less important than getting my American immigrant ancestry/descendancy correct and filled out, whether or not it leads back to nobility. See my frustrating work on my Waddell family!
It is getting bad at geni - I have to select my dad with a pin to avoid all the fake colonial ones on my mom's side - but there is also one up his line which is fantasy.
Oh, Lloyd, I’ve got one of those, too, on Geni. Has the most obscure folks in it. I have just ignored it for now.
I agree with Isabelle that it's less of a problem, but I've just recently come across what looks like a 'fake' connection back to the Scottish Sinclair family, so they are still around.
It may be more prevalent in the pre-1500, but its not limited to that era.  There are fantasies in the 16 and 1700s North American profiles also.  There is a 1600s one that I won't connect one of my lines to because the manager is so adamant about their theory of his descent, they drive all other possibities away.  I'm too old for that kind of ...., well, you know what I mean.  We can only hope that one day truth will out.

Disproven Existence Project

Now that's something I could find some time for.

I'm trying to base medieval ancestry profiles in my lineage (10th and back) to agree completely with Wikipedia otherwise the identity is suspect until I can locate another published source. Even then I watch like a hawk because errors in Find-A-Grave seemed to have grown these last 5 years or so. Is this approach OK with all you genealogy scholars?  I'm a retired professional but I'm not a trained genealogist so I bow to your wisdom. But, I'm well past initial reader encounters with the likes of Farmer, Savage, Banks, Weiss, Richardson, etc.  So hopefully I'm doing it clean enough in Ancestry. There is a lot of garbage still floating around out-there but those remains will never go away. Cheers.
Hahaha. :)

5 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
The advent of pre-1500 certification, as well as prohibiting gedcom imports for pre-1500 profiles, and also monitoring of new pre-1500 profile creations, means that creation of new fantasy noble lineages is not likely.

Now we're in the laborious process of spotting profiles that are unsourced and likely fake, and isolating them.  Since a person who never existed cannot have parents, spouses or children, we are severing linkages where they can't be documented.  That makes a lot of fantasy noble lineages go away.
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (389k points)
selected by David Martin
Jack, are they real folks who have no source for a connection, or are they just made up folks? A mix, I’m guessing. I also suppose that we have a lot of unconnected profiles due to cleaning up the mess, am I right?
Yes, both real and fake, and there is an intrinsic conflict between WikiTree's desire as one global tree to connect everyone, on the one hand, and the need to isolate and disconnect but preserve fictional people on the other.

If I make up and post a silly genealogy about Snow White and her uncles, the seven dwarfs, that can be gotten rid of with no ill effect because it lived only in my mind.  But a genealogy created by a monk in 1100 whose bread and butter depended on showing that the local noble was a descendant of Julius Caesar and also Adam and Eve, has been copied a thousand times and lives on in a thousand iterations, and needs to be documented not only as to why it is wrong, but how it came about and what impact it's had on subsequent genealogies.  That's why we have a series of categories for profiles under Legendary and Fictional Genealogy!
Actually, even a silly genealogy about Snow White and her uncles could not be removed. We don't delete profiles (except profiles for living people, and that only in specific cases). It would need a full-blown policy change to remove Snow White.
It is a problem, but one you live with.  If someone claims descent prior to 1500, and certainly 1300, dismiss it out of hand.  They cannot prove it, and likely do not have the funds to pay the researchers and genealogist to dig through pipes and other documents for references (3 at least).

If SAR / DAR / Jamestowne, and have a valid membership number, at least you have vetted, (local, state, and national genealogists), documentation back to those predecessors.
+11 votes
I haven't been around that long here, but have seen some-however, there are safeguards in place to help address the issue.  I doubt fantasy noble lineages will ever disappear, but progress is being made.
by K. Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (137k points)
+10 votes
It's not often the immigrant can simply be hooked on to a genuine Edward III descendant who happens to be handy.  Usually there need to be creative connections higher up the tree to build the line.

Questionable gateways are still easy to find.  You scan the descendancy tree of some English medieval person, look for the line that looks a bit odd, and follow it down to the immigrant.  The majority were never tagged.

Sometimes the immigrant has been snipped off, leaving the junk line dangling.  In the last month or so, just following threads on G2G, I've run into about 15 cases of blameless English families being shamelessly gerrymandered to concoct ancestries for Americans who they were never actually related to.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (573k points)
Yes they are at both ends, there are probably just as many fake 'Normans' or 'Anglo-Saxons'.  At one point most of the English peerage had to be connected to at least one side in the Battle of Hastings, and peerage compilations like Burke's were happy to oblige.
I have one female ancestor who was married to one man and never set foot in America somehow additionally married to three additional men all overlapping with each other who never set foot outside of America and the actual husband and produced children asexually at an alarming rate.  Needless to say I rectified this gang kidnapping lol
I often feel that there should be more emphasis, work on the 'pedigrees' of those left behind when a line is cut. Quite frequently an early emigrant will have his supposed parents removed and will be project protected. As RJ says whats left behind is often cobbled together, a line of individuals who may have nothing to do with each other and/or may be an amalgum of different people .( frequently recognisable by their propensity to gallop about the country to be baptised, married and buried)

But creating fantasy lineages is nothing new. In  England, in earlier times, status at birth could be crucial (Magna carta rights didn't apply to those born  of 'churls')  I've recently been reading about one pedigree going back to the conquest but created  in the 2 months between May and July 1466 , and officially endorsed by the King .
That's why it's important to document the error in the biography both of the real person, and the other profiles that were disconnected from it.  Then when you see the disconnected profile and want to research it, you see what happened and have a starting point.
0 votes
I have not really run into this much. I do go back to what some consider 'mythological" but I am not so sure. Many times science (archaeology, forensics, dna, etc) has proven mythological people or places. I take some with a grain of salt and do not add them to my line, and some I do, such as Harald Fairhair as even the Norwegians and Swedes accept him as real.

I go directly back to Herman Isaac Op den Graef who is a well-known Linen Weaver and Mennonite Bishop from Kreigsheim, Germany. His parentage is in much dispute as some claim he 'has no parents', meaning they are just unknown, and there is a huge amount of people who believe he is the child of a morganic marriage between Julich of Kleves and Anna Aldeklerk and related to most of the royal houses of Europe. This one I take with a huge grain of salt and I do not add this extra line to my trees. I believe it could be a possibility, but until proven, it is not something I am willing to add as I want my real ancestors and lines.

With all this said, we need to be very careful we do not take down possible lines that are questionable with some probability. I have read very credible discourses on how and why King Arthur is real as are the characters in Beuwolf. None of were alive during this time and so we truly do not know.

It used to be believed that the Coelacanth fish was extinct and an ancient fish whose fossils had been found and these fish lived millions of years ago. Then a fisherman brought one up in 1938 which spun the heads of scientists and Darwinists of the day. This fish was not supposed to be alive, and yet the Japanese had been fishing for them for centuries. Prior to 1938 people would have told you you were crazy had you said you believed these fish were still alive- but they were. I feel the same way about many of the legendary people whom we are told were not real, though there is reason to believe they were.

If a person seems way too bizarre, or if the information does not have enough substantiation, disregard it, which is what I do.

I meant to say none of us were alive when legendary people lived- so we really do not know. Sorry I missed this.

This is another reason to thoroughly document the people who are believed to be legendary.  Right now, it's pretty much considered that King Arthur was a legend, but we have a profile for him where we can collect all the information we can source, and if someone comes up with a birth certificate tomorrow and DNA proof of relationship the next day, all we have to do is tweak his profile a little bit!
Perhaps one day they will find through found bones (grave) or writings around the time he lived that Arthur was real, though many English sites claim him as real.

Most of the legendary people are in the ancient lines back into the 700's and before- especially once one gets down around the 400's. I want accuracy, but  since these are so ancient I do not care if they are legendary as it is so far back it does not affect my much more recent lines.
+3 votes
I'm still seeing new fantasies introduced.  I broke a few fake lines only to see that one of the lines were changed and the bogus connection reestablished.

It would be nice if we had a template that alerted folks that this profile has previously had a fantasy connection and not to re-connect it.
by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
edited by SJ Baty
Oh Yes, please. I had a new one arrive a couple of days ago.
I had some very suspect connections, I didn't add them, but they were there, I was trying to determine at what generation I should disconnect them, but someone else did it for me, now hopefully they will not be reconnected.
I always include a note or paragraph in the biography as to what relationship used to be believed, the link to the profile involved, and why it was disconnected.  If it's post-1500 and likely to be re-connected, then it needs to be PPP'd.

Agree - I usually add a note (in bold) warning of the previous fantasy.

I'd really like to see a template: {{Incorrect ancestry}} that gives the message:

This profile has been previously linked to incorrect ancestors. Please read the research notes before changing the ancestry of this profile.

I agree that header notes with a very similar format are very commonly needed in similar situations, and that a template might therefore be appropriate. For the time being we all "hand make" such notices so there are many "drafts" out there for the needed text. :)

SJB's draft looks good and simple though.

Optionally the template might perhaps have variables which could be added for the specific profiles connected in the past, and an extra sentence could be added when that is filled in?

...but until we get such a template I'd encourage everyone to past a nicely formatted note at the top of any high risk profile. Putting the note in a nice neat pastel yellow text box makes it stand out.
High risk profiles are the ones that PPP is most useful for, because PPP blocks both LNAB changes and relationship changes. PPP has enhanced value now that it is being tied to project management of the profile, so when you see PPP you know which project is involved.  

As for the template, any warning is useful.  It's a sad commentary, though, that people need to be told -- and they do, and they still won't follow through -- to read the research notes before making relationship changes.  Because making relationship changes without reading what's in the biography and research notes is really a form of vandalism.   So while the proposed template is much more polite, the real message is -- "Hey, you, if you're inclined to vandalism, read this first!"
At least for the period I'm working on recently PPP would be a blunt weapon which would cause other problems. Bad profiles often need both merging and disconnecting.

I think concerning template (or hand made warnings) editors often make honest mistakes because there is no clear warning. If we did not try to explain yourself, we can't blame anyone?

So such a message seems a simple (and not extreme) thing to try.

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