Dealing with very popular names

+8 votes
Does anyone have any tips on finding the correct source for names that were/are every popular?

For example, I have been researching Thomas Lynch (husband of linked profile) but there are so many Thomas Lynchs - how would I know which record is his?  There are thousands of Canadian census records that have no relationship information attached to provide hints.  I imagine this is a common issue for anyone researching someone with a very popular name.

Do you have any tips/tricks you use to narrow the search?
WikiTree profile: Carrie Lynch
in Genealogy Help by Tannis Mani G2G6 Mach 2 (20.8k points)

4 Answers

+6 votes
What a great question! Hoping some Wikitreers have some suggestions. I have a John Thompson that's a tricky one, too!
by E Childs G2G6 Pilot (135k points)
+9 votes
If you're lucky, your "Jane Smith" may have a bunch of children or siblings who can be connected to Jane with primary sources.

If so, researching each child or sibling might turn up details about Jane's extended family that can be used to pick her out of the crowd of other people in the region with Jane's name.   

Not a surefire strategy but it might help.
by E. Compton G2G6 Pilot (198k points)
Yes, finding a family member with a less common name can give you a breakthrough.

Does this work for John Smiths and Robert Smiths as well as Janes Smiths? (Got all these! ) laugh 

+12 votes
As with real estate, location, location, location! If he came from a small town in Ontario, for example, the Thomas Lynch up in Manitoba (for example) probably isn't him. Look at maps, mark out where you have found him for sure, and see what is nearby. Of course this gets complicated if he did a lot of migrating, but it's a good place to start. (No pun intended.) Also, build out his family--if he lived next door to his brother-in-law, and then his brother-in-law moved to another place, but a Thomas Lynch still lived near him, that's probably your guy.
by Amber Brosius G2G6 Mach 2 (26.0k points)

Location is also all-important in Sweden, with all our patronymic names and mostly a small selection of given names for men, resulting in namesakes all over the country - while the farming population just weren't all that mobile.

+7 votes
You don't have a Thomas on the linked profile as husband. There is a Caroline/Carrie Lynch married to Thomas in Manitoba with the right age. That Thomas was born in Ireland (per the 1881 census). So the first thing you need to do is decide if the Caroline Lynch married to Amabel Hogue is the one married to Thomas Lynch. We know from the Manitoba probate records that she was widowed by 9 Nov 1888 so is likely the same one. So you do need to find more info on Thomas but he was born in Ireland.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (552k points)
Forgot to mention that the probate file she is named is for a Joseph Stanley. It reads like he was her father. That would be an avenue to pursue for her.
Hi Doug! Thanks for the suggestion.  She is indeed the same who was married to Thomas Lynch and then later to Amable Hogue. Thank you for the information about her being widowed. I am going to checkout probate records (I was not aware of that word or its meaning until now). This is definitely helpful information.

The probate files is at "Manitoba Probate Records, 1871-1930," database with images, FamilySearch( : 9 August 2017), Caroline Lynch, date 1888-1889, Eastern Judicial District, Manitoba, Canada; citing file number , Provincial Archives, Winnipeg; FHL microfilm 1,381,839.

Check the page before the one that comes up. The information actually starts there.

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