epidemic of false medieval ancestries for colonial immigrants

+132 votes

The genealogical community is plagued by an epidemic of false noble medieval ancestries of immigrants to colonial America.   Some of these false lineages have been disproven for decades, but the bogus information is still very much "out there" on the internet.  Some of them are based on groundless speculation that has been repeated as "fact" at places like ancestry.com, familysearch.org, the World Family Tree, and various collaborative family trees including wikitree.

This is an issue of special concern to wikitree projects which deal with immigrant ancestors to colonial America, as well as the Magna Carta project of which I am a co-leader  -- there are far too many bogus pedigrees linking immigrant ancestors to Maga Carta barons.  I think this is also an issue of general concern to wikitree, because the presence of so much garbage ancestry damages wikitree's credibility.

How big is this problem?  When I first came to wikitree, I found that about one third of my immigrant ancestors to colonial Plymouth Colony had false ancestries, usually going back to medieval noble families.  Since then I have found repeated evidence that this is part of a widespread general pattern.  And repeatedly, as I have detached false lineages, I have encountered resistance from well-meaning genealogists who are strongly attached to their imaginary ancestors!  I try at all times to be tactful, but sometimes people just don't want to discuss evidence or the lack of it.

For whatever it's worth, I've been stumbling across and debunking false royal ancestries (and getting over repeated disappointment) ever since I was a teenager.

So... how to distinguish genuine medieval lineages from false ones?  For immigrants to colonial America, the starting point is the list of recognized proven "gateway ancestors."  The Magna Carta project has a list of these gateway ancestors here: http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Gateway_Ancestors_-_Magna_Carta_Project

If you see a colonial immigrant with an illustrious noble ancestry who is NOT on this list of gateway ancestors, then the ancestry is almost certainly false.  If it is not false, then that immigrant should be added to the list of gateway ancestors!

Further tips for sniffing out false medieval lineages:

1. Check the sources on the wikitree profile.  If the only source is ancestry.com, be suspicious.

2.  Do a google search using the names of the parents of the immigrant ancestor.  If the only results are links to un-sourced personal family tree sites, this is cause for great suspicion.  Proven lineages almost always have at least one high-quality webpage with good documentation.

3.  Check the dates!  Many of these false ancestries are woefully incompetent, showing a parent born ten years before the child (for example), or a parent born a hundred years before the child.  Sometimes the immigrant ancestor has proven grandparents, but it is an earlier generation that has a false link.

4.  Look for sudden jumps from one county in England to a different non-adjacent county.  This often shows that somebody arbitrarily linked two families, based on nothing more than a common surname.

Now, for some examples of bogus medieval pedigrees:

--Robert White (c. 1558 - 1617) of Shalford, Essex at http://www.wikitree.com/index.php?title=White-255&public=1 -- all of his children came to America and I've seen the claim that he has more proven American descendants than anybody else.  He has a widely publicized imaginary ancestry, and his wikitree profile gives an example of how to handle false parentage -- detach the "parents" and add links to them in the text.

--Henry Adams (1583-1646)) of Braintree, Massachusetts, ancestor of two American Presidents, at http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Adams-277  -- in this case, his royal ancestry was disproven a while ago (as discussed on his profile), but the bogus ancestry got merged back in, until it was recently pruned.  Lesson here:  these false lineages are like weeds, they keep growing back.

--Here's one from Virginia, that still has its false imaginary ancestry (conclusively disproven by DNA evidence) attached at wikitree:  Ralph Shelton (1685-1733) at http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Shelton-52

And finally, here's a newly-discovered set of possibly bogus acestral lines needing further research, the family tree of Isaac Howland, grandson of Mayflower pilgrim John Howland: http://www.wikitree.com/genealogy/Howland-Family-Tree-97

This tree shows Isaac's maternal grandmother Mary (Atwood) Lee descending, up the Atwood tree a bit, from Margaret Grenville.  If this is correct, then Mary is a new gateway ancestor, because Margaret Grenvill has proven Magna Carta ancestors.  More research needed!  A preliminary google  search gives this suggestive website: http://www.genealogy.com/users/l/e/e/Janet-Lee/FILE/0006text.txt

Isaac Howland's paternal grandmother, Mayflower passenger Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland, was the daughter of Joan (Hurst) Tilley.   Wikitree currently shows Joan's paternal grandmother as Agnes (Dalton) Hurst, which appears to be the worst sort of absolutely groundless internet fabrication.  A good summary of what is actually known about the Hurst family, mentioning reputable published sources, is here: http://www.boydhouse.com/michelle/gorham/henryhurst.html






asked in Policy and Style by J S G2G6 Mach 9 (92.4k points)
retagged by Darlene Athey-Hill
Please check out the ancestry attributed to the Winslow family. Pleae see [[Winslow-3|Josiah Winslow]] The parents attached are probably correct (verified by the Great Migration Begins series).
Thanks for your great work and scrupulous review!  Unfortunately, with a wiki, anyone can add back the disproven links, even if we add warnings or notes.  People just don't seem to read before acting. Witness the incessant adding back of Mary Wentworth as a wife of Elder William Brewster.  We just have to be vigilant in reviewing our profiles for inclusion of garbage.
@ Becky, it looks like somebody at the Winslow tree is trying to convert an uncle into a grandfather, so it can tie into the Neville ancestors of Uncle Kenelm's alleged wife.  The dates of the first try are horribly scrambled, so they went further and grafted the Neville line onto the following generation.  Here's a starting point for sorting out the various Kenelms: http://www.cyberancestors.com/cummins/ps13/ps13_406.htm

@Vic, I remember the recent Mary Wentworth addition to William Brewster's line.  As a result, I had productive conversations with both a newbie and an experienced wikitreer who was reluctant to give up the Wentworth connection.  So, putting the best face on things, people who add back false lineages can potentially be "turned to the light" and transformed into guardians of accuracy in their personal branches of the wikitree.
DNA adds another dimension to prove/disprove relationships. I believe the Greene family of Rhode Island has been connected to Tudor Euro/Aristo families through older (and pretty well-researched) genealogies which have been disproven through DNA.

The Worden and Adams and Winslow families in particular have been a headache for me for all of the reasons John cites. I have a bunch of new pending merge requests for those plus the Greenes, most profiles have already been merged 20 or 30 times. I want to say "Please be careful here". I agree a 'false ancestry' category might help, but most important is a *Prominent* notice at the top of the profile biography. stating the false information and why/how it has been disproven, and cleanups of the biographies after merges. And good sources do carry a lot of weight among those who look at the biography notes.
Bob, I'm currently trying to sort out the Peter Worden [Worden-3] line, but I don't have the resources.  I'm going to post on G2G to see if we can get it fixed.  Any help would be appreciated.
Vic, I answered more fully at your Worden query, but the following fits the general discussion here:  Peter Worden is given a very detailed noble and royal ancestry here: http://washington.ancestryregister.com/WORDEN00006.htm#i799

This is based largely on Gary Boyd Roberts' "The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to Colonial America" (1st edition available at ancestry.com) which is unsourced but a good place to start looking.  I suppose the lineage all 600 immigrants should be checked at wikitree -- what a job.  I'm very concerned about this book's lack of sources linked to each generation (there are some bibliographical notes), and I don't know about its reputation for reliability.

Gary Boyd Roberts is an associate of Douglas Richardson, whose less ambitious (but still huge) well-documented series of books is the current "gold standard" for showing royal (and Magna Carta) ancestry for colonial immigrants.
Thanks for this.  I appreciate when a collection can be identifed as correct and I have come to realize that it is just as valuable if not more so when a repeated false lineage is identifed as false and published as being false.  It alerts those well meaning folks that they too have been snookered.  Great job, thanks again.

Just to be thorough (John's answer is correct) see comments by Kimball G. Everingham below - Kimball edited Richardson's books.

Gary Boyd Roberts is hugely esteemed in the genealogical community and very productive of books and articles (he has a popular column at NEHGS). As Kimball points out, scope and objective vary - but not to let that cast any shadow on accuracy or scholarly knowledge.

The Magna Carta project would not eliminate a probable gateway ancestor not listed by Richardson solely on it not being in Richardson's book.

The challenge is how to include a probable lineage when it has been strongly shown to me this week that we simply do not at this time have the resources in the project to be able to verify claims.

It is much easier to eliminate a claim if it is documented as false. If not, but it is not in a well known source that documents it as true - that is where it is time consuming and requires more knowledge than most of us have acquired.

Michael - you do bring up a good point. We need to have a list of reputable sources for people to find their own ancestors. We do have the beginnings of such a list on the resource page for Magna Carta but it is far from complete.

April D.D.

I find this problem is very common. I recall talking to a woman from America who said her ancestors came over on the Mayflower, but it seems he was not a very nice person, so she 'redesigned' her family tree to incorperate someone 'more socially acceptable'. Clearly, some folk cannot understand that if it is not truthful, it is worthless.

Another thought, if just one tenth of the Mayflower claims were correct, the boat would have had to be the size of Wales to carry them all.
I think that a great deal of the problem lays with the motivation of a great many family historians. There are far too many who seem to wish to aim at linking to well known (shall we say ancient celebrities!) rather than actually fastidiously tracing their provable ancestry.

I am a firm believer that starting from the known and working backwards with clear evidence of the backward links is the only way to ensure accuracy. To jump back a couple of hundred years and then to work both backwards and forwards in time seems completely mad to me and invites errors.

This is especially true when the records being assessed are from a time before the formalisation and standardisation of official records of births, marriages and deaths and censuses. The problem of identification of individuals born centuries ago is fraught with difficulties and this is exacerbated where they have a common surname.

I am constantly bewldered about why it is important to focus on tracing back to Magna Carta surety barons? I am equally perplexed about the importance of tracing the ancestry of the colonial immigrants to New England. The fact that they left England seems to suggest that they were not themselves too keen on the power of the aristocratic families who at the time of the Mayflower had a stranglehold on the governance of the country - so perhaps they would be less than impressed in being publicly linked to such people!
I'm not bewildered by it, I think it's pretty normal that folks get excited if they're descended from someone "famous".  There always has been and always will be a tension between those of us who are more concerned with the accuracy and sourcing of our trees and those who are interested in who they are descended from (hopefully Royalty!!).  All the more reason for those of us who are interested in the accuracy and sourcing of our trees to build convincing cases (profiles) for the aristocrats we do have records on and then protect them as best we're able to.  

This goes right along with the discussion about gedcom uploads for pre-1700 or pre-1800 profiles.  The question is, how best to protect these profiles?

Hi John and thank you for joining the discussion on true/false pedigrees.

Given the parentage you list on your bio, it is possible or even probable that you have at least one lineage which extends to a Magna Carta surety baron, and I hope that the work of the Magna Carta project in identifying documented descendants of those barons will turn out to be of use to you at some point.

Your question about why we focus on the Magna Carta barons, and how this is connected to early Colonial immigrants to New England, is one we have see before and well worth considering.

The focus on the Magna Carta surety barons salutes their importance historically. The impact of Magna Carta cannot be overstated - Kings ruled by Divine Right, and to challenge that meant overturning the order of the day. The barons were excommunicated by the Pope for demanding that King John adhere to the principles of Magna Carta. The war that followed tested the resolve of the barons and ended with the death of King John, and the immediate re-issue of Magna Carta by his son Henry III.

The principles embodied in the town charters of early New England settlers echo many of the bedrock principles of Magna Carta: right to a trial by a jury of peers and what is now called habeas corpus; right to one's land and to be compensated justly if it is confiscated for public use being a few of the many rights that reflected back to 1215. It would not be an exaggeration to say America was built upon Magna Carta, from original town charters to the Constitution.

I can't speak for how other people find their Magna Carta ancestors -- I found mine with the step-by-step research from my father, through his great-grandmother, etc. until after work that spread over twenty-two years I stumbled across the fact that I was descended from a Magna Carta surety baron.

This hit me like the proverbial 'ton of bricks' - totally unexpected. It sparked an interest in the document and the history around it which has not faded. I have read history books that would otherwise have not crossed my mind, and developed a strong feeling of identification with England and the English people.

Many of the town leaders and land owners in colonial New England were wealthy younger sons of English Aristocracy. The majority of immigrants were motivated by a dispute with religious authorities in England.

See Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction [1215]

Hi April

Thanks for the note, which I found interesting. I am unsure which of my lineage you think might connect to any surety Baron, I shall ponder that one as I have happily considered every strand of my tree to be particularly working class and proud of the fact!

As it happens I an an historical geographer by training and by passion and I live just fifteen miles from the permanent location of one of the four extant original copies of Magna Carta. I grew up not far from Runnymede and was born in a town that was owned by and whose charter was issued by King John. I believe that I am reasonably 'au fait' with the importance of the document.

I acknowledge that the original was not intended as any sort of protection for the lower orders, but it did set precedence in all sorts of highly important areas of law that have since slowly been incorporated into many of our societies. It is also one of the reasons for not being politically complacent today, because those very freedoms and protections you speak of need to be constantly cherished and the attempts by modern governments to erode them guarded against.

Your comment about the leaders of the colonies is fascinating, since it rather shows that the 'right to govern' principles that the aristocracy here maintained was somehow translated to the colonies that were being established in part to overcome those very things. I remember that I once lived for a short while in a village in the county of West Sussex in southern England whose lord of the manor went by the name of Penn. Even after William Penn was involved with the founding of Pennsylvania he was still Lord of the Manor complete with the sole right to appoint or discharge the vicar from the parish church whose living he possessed as an inheritable right. Funny old world really!

Oh John, you should color me green - I am rather envious of you living in the middle of great historical locations! An historical geographer? Perhaps you are familiar with one of my favorite English websites: A Vision of Britain Through Time, from the University of Portsmouth and others? I am very fond of maps - especially historical maps and gazetteers.

It was a world very strange to us, even in the 1600s the church had great powers in the law and held courts where they could hand out fines and punishments. It is amazing how we see contradictions in the lives of people and historical movements, where they were probably aware that they lived in times of significant changes in the social, political and religious orders, as well as the opportunity for class upward mobility in New England where they could own more than a patch of land.

I agree with you that we can never be complacent about the rights and freedoms won by our forefathers.

Hi April

I have lived my whole life on the island of Great Britain, an island with a long recorded history and a well developed archaeological record of prehistory. It is very  difficult to live here without being amidst historical locations.

Yes I am aware of 'Visions of Britain', I lived in Southampton for about eight years which is the next port city to Portsmouth. I was born in Marlborough in Wiltshire, and I have spent a great deal of time with my local relatives in the area, which is just 25 miles from Stonehenge and about five miles from Avebury and the World Heritage site around that village - in Wiltshire there is little else other than farming, the military (Salisbury Plain is the largest Army training area in England) and history. I worked for many years in central London, twice located oppositie the Royal mews on the side of Buckingham Palace, indeed for a time I was working for the then Lord Chamberlain (He, and to date it has always been a he, is the chap who is the professional head of the Royal Household and has several official functions besides. He is also the chap who walks before HM holding the sword of State in the principal State ceremonies such as the State Opening of Parliament and Coronations.

The church in England (and it is a very different situation in Scotland, and since the 1920s in Wales) is termed an established church. The power of the church was great before Henry VIIIs reformation and his break with Rome, but thereafter, because the Sovereign is the de facto head of the church, it is fundamentally entwined with the state itself - a source of argument throughout the modern era.

The ecclesiastical courts were legally responsible for things that impacted upon ordinary people for a period long after the 1600s. There still are 26 seats in the House of Lords in Parliament that are automatically given over to the Church of England and its bishops. There are certain bishops (the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the bishops of Durham, Winchester, London, Salisbury, Lincoln to name a few are permanent members of the Lords Spiritual, and other bishops of more recently created dioceses fill places by rotation). The preamble to all British (and previously English) Acts of Parliament states "Be it enacted by Her Gracious Majesty and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Commons in Parliament here assembled" - so the bishops actually get top rating in all legislation, and until the establishment of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in the past twenty years, they were a fundamental part of the Ultimate Court of Appeal and Court of Last Resort, which was a major function of the House of Lords until that time.

I also share your fondness of maps, they are the foundation of most of my studies and I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society which boasts one of the largest and comprehensive map collections in the world.
Very interesting discussion here; but, John Orchard, don't let the religious dissent in New England color all the colonies.  In Virginia, the early settlers were in it for profit, were devoted royalists, and even fined those who did not attend weekly Church of England services. Even up to Independence, Virginia levied taxes to support Anglican priests.  Until Virginia adopted its Religious Freedom statute in 1786, CoE was state endoresed.
Hi Foster

Yes I realised that not all of the colonies were the same in their attitudes and reasons for foundation, although I had not heard about the Virginian rules in support of the Anglican church, that is really interesting! There are other aspects of this part of the British/American history that links in to it. The British colonies further north that had been settled, mainly for profit, such as Nova Scotia, are often not regarded within the general narrative of the colonial settlement discourse.

In the UK, I sometomes wonder how bland our history would be if there had been no religious dissent, no merchants willing to seek out and literally explore new market opportunities allied to the odd pirate!
I gather that Virginia kept parish registers, by law, from an early date, and an unfortunate consequence of religious freedom is that most of them no longer exist.
That's a shame. A similar law had existed here in England since the sixteenth century, but it had the dual problem of being inconsistently enforced, if at all, and with no standardisation of the style of record.

Consequently, with the extant parishes that existed at the time under review the chances of finding the records are slim. Which is also a shame.

THANK YOU,,, I have had many a person want to add false family branches to profiles because it is on ancestry.com.   I get nervous when the only source is ancestry.com, especially on  the older profiles.

Just a brief note of thanks.  When I first dug into this, in earnest, a few months ago, I was following other people's bunny trails and finding such a fantastic lineage, I had a greater claim to the English throne than Queen Elizabeth II!

I have since gone back and deleted almost all of my original work, which was not fun and represented a lot of time and effort on my part putting together a family tree that was bogus.

It is discouraging when a new person is working on a family tree, only to find that they cannot depend on what others have put out there with little thought or effort at confirming facts.

Thank you for reiterating that we must do our best to verify that what we  put on profiles is valid to the best of our ability to verify.

Cathy, by all means do the research, and it's gratifying that you recognize what must be thrown out -- but you might as well enjoy the ill-gotten gains while they last.  I have fond memories of the month I was a cousin of Shakespeare's MacBeth, and the year I was descended from the Corbet family of Shrewsbury, whose estate I visited before I disproved the connection.  I visited a church in London that a Cheney ancestor was baptized in.  The church is still there, but he's no longer a Cheney ancestor...

But probably don't boast of these relatives too broadly.  My sister was thrilled when we became cousins of Abraham Lincoln, and has never forgiven me for proving that we are not.
A hope I think we all have here on WikiTree is that you don't become so discouraged that you give up.  If you stick with it, you can make a very meaningful contribution and help us get rid of all the hopeful junk that litters our online trees.  One person at a time, that's the way it will get better.
One must note that an absence in Richardson has a gigantic difference in meaning depending on the year 1700  ... he simply does not "do" post-1700 people (unless their very very close relatives fall earlier).

That does NOT mean that RD600 is right or wrong for such post-1700 people, of course, just that proving back to people in Richardson has to be meticulously documented.
Jack, I agree.

I have embraced disproving connections.  I now find it more rewarding disproving connections because I can have greater confidence in what remains.  I gave up the Mayflower, then the Little James and Anne, but I held onto the Puritan Great Migration.

I gave up King Edward I and got him back only to lose him again.  I now may have him yet again, but I have not worked those lines much but have returned closer to home to solidify my closer relatives with better sources.

With the help of another researcher, we smashed the common myths of a Ricker ancestor from Germany, the one that survived is still stuck in America.  We are fighting lots of erroneous and published and repeated info that is still floating around. I love having Wikitree to assemble my data and sources so I can share those profiles and pages with others even if they are not on Wikitree.
Thank you very much John, for this very useful information. I shall save the link to the Gateway ancestors, and eventually check my own ''royal pedigrees'' for false lineages. Thank you for your thorough work. I for one do not want one single false forefather, if i can help it.
 *[http://bloodroyal.tripod.com/ElizabethCarew1372.html The International Society of Royal Descendants (ISRD)] 
1108 West 33rd Street, 
Covington, Kentucky 41015 
How viable is this source and has anyone ever used it?  

A while ago, WikiTree's Magna Carta Project began cataloguing all the immigrant ancestors we could find who showed undocumented lineages back to royalty and Magna Carta barons.  We found hundreds and hundreds of so-called "Questionable Gateway Ancestors," and then researched and detached dozens and dozens, before exhaustion set in.  That particular sub-project is currently inactive, but you might want to take a look at this old G2G thread with instructions on how to find your very own Questionables: http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/140337/do-you-know-your-number

ISRD - like a stopped clock, it'll be right when it's right.  But they won't have better information than anybody else.

With "massively common ancestors", the best info is in the best places and it's generally a waste of time looking anywhere else.  If Complete Peerage doesn't know when Lord Muggins was born or what his wife's name was, there's always a website that'll tell you, but it's only telling you what somebody guessed.

I suspect the particular difficulty with the Carew line is a lack of evidence for Lucy Willoughby's parents.  There were a lot of Greys.

I actually found 3 today, all connected to the Ashley-Cooper, Earls of Shaftesbury family.

I've asked a separate question about them here

Very intersting post. I just did a quick scan of some of my more historical Virginia ancestors and see that the list solidly confirms what I had already--great. It will also help with a number of ancestors where the pond crossing is a bit more murky.

A question I do have, is what work has been done on a gateway list for Scottish aristocratic ancestors and English aristocrats that do connect to the MC signing?  For example, is there a list of gateway ancestors for William the Conqueror's Companions. I have at least one family that has pretty good documentation as one of these--but it was not of a level that it would have been a Surety Barron. Do these exist yet or are they being developed?
Wow since I questioned this link and source, this link now comes up as Error and page not found.  Guess I now have my answer.

the main page is still there, but I don't know enough about Elizabeth Carew to see if I could find her from there.

Many Australian's have the same problem with their ancestors too.  I was "hooked" up to a tree on geni.com and about five branches of the tree were pure fiction. I asked to be disconnected, to no avail.  I wrote notes on all the questionable profiles explaining they were not a descendant of the Welsh Royal family or Elizabeth Woodville, to name a few!  Some of them had no issue, one example was a John Blewett, who is an ancestor mine, but he was NOT the son of Colonel Francis Blewett from Holcombe Rogus in Devon.  I spent months fixing up erroneous profiles after extensive research.  Since discontinuing my tree on My Heritage I found one more branch that is incorrect, thanks to Wikitree, Pole Beauchamp, not related to Stafford family.  I now have my most accurate version of tree on Ancestry, but people have the tendency of copying over other peoples mistakes. The Discovery matches on My Heritage were deadly for loading up wrong information.
Given the fact that on WikiTree you have people constantly at work re-working existing profiles, while some new errors may be made, my gut feeling is that overall, the trend is toward a more accurate tree.  Especially now that we're making it harder to upload any and every GEDCOM.  I hope you'll feel that way, too!
Thanks for this article.  I've worked on my tree for 21 years and even today I'm tickled and amazed at how much I've been able to find.  I've always tried to only include things that are proven or are very likely based on the evidence.

As I'm entering my family tree on Wiki - I've already found two "fantasy" lines that are wrong.  I know for a fact that they are wrong as I've researched them both myself.  

After a few Google searches, I'm still a little uneasy as to the process.  If I see that a link is flat wrong, do I just go and delete it and leave a comment?  I can only imagine that some of these folks who think they're descended from Charlemagne are going to be a bit startled and may even be resistant to the idea that their tree is fantasy.

I saw this on Ancestry.com and other sites - when presented with evidence that trees are wrong, they just don't want to hear it.
That's one reason that documentation is so important.  What I'd suggest is that as a first step you add a comment and offer a discussion.  The current profile managers and trusted list members will get a notification of this comment. As a second step, you add to the biographical narrative a well sourced entry documenting the error that you've found, and ask to be on the trusted list.  In a majority of cases people will welcome documented additions.    Then as a third step, consider the de-linking of relationships.  When I do this I add a link on both profiles indicating what was delinked and why -- if it later proves I was in error this makes re-linking easier.  By this time you'll know whether the existing profile managers are resistant to what you're doing, which may mean discussion is needed, or are happy for you to move ahead.  If the profile is Project Protected, you won't be able to change LNAB or relationships, so an added layer of discussion will be needed.
Thanks for your reply Jack.  I just 'assumed' they would be resistant.  But for all I know, they just copied and pasted from someone else's Ged and they're as interested as I am to get to the true story.

I'll post a comment and a link on one of the errors and seek dialogue.

Regarding being on the trusted list, as this profile is from the early 1630's does it really matter if I'm on the trusted list or not?
I also thank you, Jack.  Communication and collaboration plus respecting other members who may not be aware of incorrect lineages is crucial for a wiki site (where anyone can join, even if we limit who can work on pre-1700 or pre-1500 profiles once here).  Most of us are not "professional" genealogists and many of us "inherited" old lineages from well-meaning but not-fully-informed relatives on whose work we have relied.  Whenever questioning these lineages here, I would emphasize being positive and polite, giving clear, well-researched examples of why you disagree with the parents, children etc. being questioned, and not just a "detach them first, justify it later" mode of action.  This may take more time but, as has been pointed out, some of these incorrect lines have been around for decades if not centuries.  We are a community and dialogue is essential for our ultimate success.
yes, as a Magna Carta project member I'm removing my Holland connection which is proved false.
Being a complete and utter commoner, in person and ancestry, I'm rather glad I don't have these problems to deal with ;)
It is a complete accident (of birth) either way.

It is nice to know the truth about one's ancestry for sure, but other than that, being descended from kings/presidents isn't changing the vast majority of our day-to-day lives significantly. I don't really grasp why it would be so important to fabricate ancestry...to do what? Brag? About a lie?

I joked the other day, that I am related to the Spencer family, and all I care about is when am I getting my invite to Harry and Megan's wedding? Because other than that, the connection is useless. :-D
I agree totally.  I have a vested interest in connecting up my husband's tree  with the tree of Christopher Browne of England, but I have no clue how to find or verify any information from the 14 and 1500's in England. I haven't dared to start  looking for material in foreign countries and have tended to stop looking once my ancestors have sailed to  North America. Is there a page on WikiTree somewhere that would inform a researcher about where to begin, and how to find valid sources in other countries? Is there an analogous community of careful genealogists in Europe? How much more difficult is it to find information as we go further ad further back in time?
Natalie, if I were you, I would start with the ancestor you have, who immigrated to North America, who you think is most likely to have records across the pond, and post a G2G query about him under "Requests for Genealogy Help."  Before you do that, make his biography as complete as possible with as much documentation as possible.  All of that will be clues that others may be able to help with.  Be sure to enter his WikiTree code so that others can take a look.  You'll get some good ideas for how to proceed from that experience!
If you're looking for ancestors of early colonials, the main thing is, you aren't the only one.   American researchers, including professionals, have been trawling England for 150 years looking for any smell of a connection to an early immigrant.  Anything they find is worth a TAG article.

So you aren't going to go on Google or FamilySearch and find something important that nobody else has noticed.  Anything known is well known.  Trouble is, too much is well known that isn't known at all.

New discoveries can still be made.  Only recently, new stuff has been discovered about Mayflower passengers.  But that was done by dedicated experts in the field, working on obscure materials that hadn't been transcribed and indexed.  Discoveries like that aren't made very often.  All the accessible materials have already been accessed.

So it's very simple really.  If your immigrant is a known Charlemagne descendant, it's all been done for you already.  You don't research it, you just look it up.  If he isn't, he isn't.  You'll know he isn't, because if he were, you'd know.

And to make it even easier, the best information is in the best places.  If they say something isn't known, it's not because they failed to notice that somebody had it in his Ancestry tree all the time.  The Ancestry user has made a mistake, not a discovery.

So the task is not to do new genealogy, but just to find out where the experts are up to.  We have to separate out the current state of the art from the mountains of ancient junk that go round and round endlessly and won't shrivel up and die.
I fully understand the urge to strike "genealogy gold" with some previously undiscovered documents that reveal or prove previously unproved lineages.  But there's *plenty* of work to be done within the era where records do exist and where many records are transcribed and/or indexed.  I have no trouble finding persons in 17th and 18th Century Massachusetts who do not have profiles on any of the major family tree websites, or whose profiles need tons of work attaching sources, cleaning up profiles, correcting errors and merging duplicates.  These are no longer my direct ancestors in most cases, but I find the work rewarding anyway, as I know it will help some other researcher someday.
Thank you, Jack and Kyle, for your great positive answers that are in the best WikiTree "one world tree" tradition.  It is working with people like yourselves that make this enterprise worthwhile in my humble opinion.

Keep up the good work!
"So you aren't going to go on Google or FamilySearch and find something important that nobody else has noticed.... "


"New discoveries can still be made.  Only recently, new stuff has been discovered about Mayflower passengers.  But that was done by dedicated experts in the field, working on obscure materials that hadn't been transcribed and indexed.  "


"So it's very simple really.  If your immigrant is a known Charlemagne descendant, it's all been done for you already.  "

Not so! I have an ancestor that was indeed a known Charlemagne (and Robert II of Scotland) descendant ... but I was able, all by myself, to prove he was also a Robert III and Edward III descendant. At the time, most of the stuff I used was not on the Internet and I had to read actual books in our library (largest or second largest University library in the world) or slave over very very dicey quality microfilms from the FHL of the Mormons. But today almost all of this is online. But the diciest of microfilms are hopelessly unreadable over the Internet.

But this person (Robert Rose) while well known was not a priority because he was born so late, in 1704.

And, better, there are known possibilities that need real work. I share one or two well known ones with John Schmeeckle.
That's what I said.  You can find new stuff about distant ancestors in untranscribed unindexed materials.  But not on the search engines, because you won't be the first person to search.
RJ, never say never.

I've found things that have been on the net for years and went unnoticed.

And, many times the transcriptions are wrong.  I was at a wall with a maternal gg grandfather so I tried searching for different spellings of his name and eventually I found him on an 1850 census - sure enough, the name was misspelled.  This allowed me to verify that my ancestor was the same as an individual on a published tree wherein they didn't know who (exactly) this individual was.  Anyone could have connected the individual in the book to the census report but didn't (couldn't) because the name was misspelled in the census index.

And regarding "false" ancestries, many of these records sit for years, unchecked and taken as fact.  In looking at one of my own ancestors, I see that a bunch of dreamers have connected him to a noble family.  A regular google search shows me that they are different lines.

Don't assume that just because something is published it has been fully researched and its value exhausted.
Thank you, J Baty. Many good points in your posts.

I agree very much with your idea of a simple waiting period, of 90 days (or even six months in some cases) perhaps, for changes made to pre-1500 profiles, with exception of course being for pre-1500-approved members who should be freed to make changes in all cases without waiting. This would be a far better alternative to the present practice of automatically banning every one of us other than the pre-1500-approved members from making changes to pre-1500 profiles.
Chris Hampson, it's highly unlikely you are an absolute commoner. Just consider the maths - 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, and so on.... Go back 30 generations and find you have 11,186,510,204 ancestors.Taking into consideration the population of Europe after the black death, minus all those killed in various wars before they procreated. There is simply not enough to go round, we had to share some. Trace back far enough and you are almost certain to find someone famous/infamous.
I'd like to thank all who responded to my question.  I am impressed by all of you and the intelligent, informed, and varied perspectives you share.  Pursuant to this, I'm going to ask another question provoked by some of your comments.

Hah, "never say never."  Using sources available on the internet, I just demonstrated that the lineage of recognized gateway ancestor James Cudworth (published by Douglas Richardson) is bogus.  When the smoke clears, I'm pretty sure that WikiTree won't recognize him as a gateway ancestor anymore.  Details, with examples of sources available for this time period, are available on the profiles of the Machell family and on this G2G thread: "Is James Cudworth a false gateway ancestor?"

Also, using sources available on the internet, I seem to have solved the old Harcourt/Lewknor conundrum (from the 15th century), giving a Magna Carta ancestry to the so-called "bishop's line" (Bishop William Barlow's daughters all married men who became bishops), with a plausible lineage for early Virginia governor Samuel Matthews.  See https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Harcourt-449

In general, a good way to learn how to do research for this time period is to study profiles that cite sources.  One example of this is the various families in the lineage of John Prideaux at https://www.wikitree.com/genealogy/Prideaux-Family-Tree-86

These families are far from completely researched, and some of the profiles rely too much on visitation pedigrees (which are usually but not always reliable for the 16th century, within the family memory of the person giving the information), but there are a number of different sources used, all of them available on the internet.  

Amen John - I'm just into busting my second fantasy lineage using info that is and has been available, on the net, for years.

First on is William Clayton friend of William Penn & 2nd governor of the colony of Pennsylvania Clayton-170.  His g-grandfather, William Clayton Sr. (Clayton-173) was linked to (Clayton-163) as it is on almost every site on the net.  And with the link, if you go back far enough, takes you here:https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Clayton-2202 & it even puts William (and all his descendants) as relatives of the King of England and even Charlamagne himself:

"The ancestors for William Clayton are in error:

"The line tracing a William Clayton back to Charlemagne was first published in: The Clayton family by Henry F. Hepburn. Wilmington, 1904 (Wilmington, Del.: The J.M. Rogers Press). .. the William Clayton that Hepburn traced back is =not= our William Clayton! Unfortunately, back in the 1970s , the Jim Bellarts publishing the "Quaker Yeoman" incorrectly published it and since then it's been hard to keep it from spreading around in error." http://www.geocities.ws/cwheatley2000/claytonfam.html "

Disconnected that fantasy tree and now working this one:


If you look, you'll see his parents are Etiene du Ranc and his grandfather is the Lord or Baron du Ranc de Vibrac.

Folks have taken this common French Huguenot pastor, Jean Ranc, born 1641, in Paris, and attributed him to Jean du Ranc, a Lord, who lives over 700 miles away, and was born in 1642, solely because they have the same first name and a similar last name.

This link that Jean Ranc is Jean du Ranc is on almost every website on the planet.

But, back on point, the evidence to refute this fantasy link is and has been on the net for some time.  We can find that Jean du Ranc is indeed living as a Lord near Montpellier, and is not a Protestant refugee in the German Palatinate like his Huguenot countryman.


And, just today, while looking at the profile of Marg Cypert, and reading the sources, I saw that everyong had missed that her parents were named in the same source that listed her.


and so, I added her parents.

Point is: just because a thousand people have looked at it doesn't mean that there isn't more there.  The more and more documented a profile becomes, the less people fact check it because they assume someone else has already done it.


On the other hand, the Genealogical Community should not disconnect gateway ancestors to European Aristocracy, unless firm proof has been discovered proving  otherwise.

Just as our Victorian genealogists seemed TOO hasty to find Royal lineages for New England Colonial Families, today there seems to be too much enthusiasm for disallowing Gateway Ancestors. Absent solid proof to the contrary, circumstantial evidence should carry weight (i.e. who did these families socialize with and intermarry with).

For example, we know that NOT all the PGM were  merely educated Yoeman farmers and bond servants. We know that wealthy well connected men financed the Virginia Company and obtained Royal Charters from the Crown.

The Mayflower and Winthrop Fleet didn't just happen spontaneously. Some of these wealthy well-connected Puritan families moved to New England, Virginia, and the West Indies,  to remain with their investments.  I guess that the Puritans who came over on the Winthrop Fleet Flagship - the Arabella, - were of a particular social class. These Merchant Venturers were well connected at Court and intermarried with the Aristocracy. Some of these skilled Navagator  financers of the New World Companies, like Puritan/Hugeonaut William Vassall descended from an established French Aristocratic family. The Vassalls  fled France shortly before the St. Bartholomew's Massacre. William's father, Sir Jean Vassall,  financed and staffed out of pocket, two war ships to join Queen Elizabeth's fleet against the Spanish Armada. William Vassals daughter Judith married Resolved White, son of Mayflower passenger William White and stepson of Gov Edward Winslow Jr.

In closing, IF many Royal/Aristocratic lineages are faked, - then logic tells me that the obverse is also true, - that there  are legitimate Colonial aristocratic bloodlines whose proofs have been lost. I'd like to see a calming of  the current passion for disproving and de-linking  Aristocratic ancestors from 17th C. Colonial families; it's as unhelpful as the other extreme of Victorians fabricating fake Royal lineages.
I couldn’t disagree more Christine.

The burden of proof is never on us to disprove an ancestry, it is always on the other side to provide evidence that a connection might be valid.

Circumstantial is of course valid and important to consider.  The recently published ancestry of Mayflower passenger Susanna (Jackson) White is entirely circumstantial, but the weight of the evidence is so heavy that it is almost certainly true.  However, the vast majority of the lines we have broken have no evidence at all.  They all come down to finding two men with the same name and assuming they are the same person.  It is not good enough.

The examples you give are true, but they are a very small minority of the PGM population.  This population has been intensively studied for over 150 years.  There needs to be true evidence before the English origins of any colonist can be accepted.  The White’s are a much better example of the class of people who came to New England than the Vassal’s.  They were religious, working class people with very minor land holdings.  They followed their friends and ministers to Leiden, and then to New England on the Mayflower.  There was nothing that special about them.

The problem isn’t so much that aristocratic lineages are intentionally faked, it’s that every wrong assumption/guess/possibility/unlikely match becomes fact on the internet.  The advantage of wikitree is that we can correct those errors.

There is a science to genealogy.  It is fact based and evidence based.  Those of us who are breaking these lines are doing so based on primary records and quality published sources.  There needs to be more of this sort of critical analysis, not less.
Hello, Christine. You are correct that there is much bias against regal roots, just as there is much bias for them. Either way, bias is blinding.
Well said Joe.

I've been researching genealogy for the better part of 21 years.  I'm relatively new to wikitree but as a somewhat new outsider, I'd say that the feeling I get is too lenient towards what I would consider "fantasy trees."

When it is easy to debunk a false artistocractic connection, in my mind it should be commented and culled, the minute it is found.  But here, you make a comment, you start a discussion, you debate it out, and then, if no one cries too loudly, it gets culled.

I don't see any bias against regal roots.  I see bias against people making claims based on unsourced trees as citations.
That's an excellent and insightful comment Martin. Bias in either direction is harmful because it hinders the truth. The truth is what we're trying to uncover.. We know that there was,  intermarrige between the Puritan  Aristocratic families and the  enormously wealthy Puritan London Merchant Venturers. The BBC has an interesting old series on the interaction/intermarrying between these two  social groups prior to, during, and after the Restoration of King Charles II. Unless we have concrete proof of real ancestors, I don't think that existing ancestors should be cut from Wikitree. I have no problem with fraudulent ancestry being pruned, but not based on  someone's theory or bias.

My attitude towards genealogy is similar to my attitude towards Art Restoration, - i.e.- make as few changes as possible, and be absolutely certain I know what I'm doing. when I do make a "correction".
Christine, this is the reason we emphasize documentation with inline citations so much.  The Biographies are where arguments can be settled, because it's hard to argue with a fact.  I've been on WikiTree for half a decade now and I've had to detach any number of fake relationships, but even though that was disappointing to people, ever never been in an argument about it because I try not to make changes except with facts to back them up.
That sounds great, if everyone making a tree had the same values and integrity towards accuracy.  I think you're looking at folks who entered their tree based on what grandma told them as a kid.  I'm all for those trees - Grandma telling you the name of her Grandparents is real history.

The problem that is now and will be much, much, much larger in the future - are amateur genealogists who want a big tree fast and love that they can find that they're the great grandchild of Duke so and so or the King of England.  You can put in your name on Ancestry and in an afternoon find that you're connected 8 ways to the royals.  Then, these well-intentioned folks will come over here and GED blast their fantasy tree into the database.

If someone says "Family tree based on interview with Granny in 2014," I'm all for it.  But a GED based on an unsourced tree that is based on an unsourced tree...

I scroll around Ancestry and just yesterday I saw one of my ancestors who fought in the revolutionary war, and he had attached to his profile, a war record of some lad who fought in the Civil War.  Same name of course, but off by nearly a hundred years!

Art restoration for Granny, sure.  But they need to at least document where the info came from.  All of these GED based profiles that have no documentation, and then attached to real profiles - they should be culled and regularly.
I love the responses to this topic. Yes, interestingly it was my maternal grandfather's brother Harlow Williamson Harvey (gen 3) who sent me letters, my greatgrandmother's school report cards, and tynt-types of his parents (james Hawley Harvey and Ella Brewer Harvey (gen 4) and their parents. He spoke of his  maternal grandfather Ira Brewer, (gen 5)  a Congregational Church Deacon who ran a tight ship  at Sunday School. His maternal grandmother was Cornellia Whittlesey Harvey. of the Connecticut Whittlesys. I had a good start with a living relative who had first hand info going back to gen 5. .When i applied to the DAR, I learned that my great grandfather's sister was an early member, her application contained some corraborating documents - tracing back to the Revolutionary war great grandfather Eliphalet Whittlesey Jr of Stockbridge and his mother Dorothy Kellogg Whittlesey, - a direct linel descendant of Gov Thomas Welles of Connecticut. My great grandmother's father Ira Brewer is a lineal descendant of  Mayflower passenger Resolved White and Judith vassall White. In other words, my grandfather's brother took me back to his first hand accounts of the 4th and 5thh gen. From there earlier generations were confirmd through 4th gen testemony and DAR records. From  Eliphalet and Comfort Waller Whittlesey through the generations connecting to Gov Welles and his daughter Sarah Welles Chester- The Welles family Society have hired professional genealogists and published 5 volumes tracing the decendants of all the Governor's children, down to the Revolutionary war Generation. If I have a fault, it tend to be TOO conservative regarding proof.
I personally use my Ancestry account to proof out my theories on connections. While I know there are a bunch of people there who want some quick answer to their questions, I can't be the only one who plays with the hints. Their search engines and algorithms leave much to be desired so I have to link and unlink people all the time to see what pops up. My tree there is always a work in progress. Then whatever I find that I can finally prove or get close to figuring out (and I make that distinction in my notes on that person), I move over here.

There are likely multiple places in my Ancestry tree that have inaccurate links, but no one should assume that I believe these links to be fact...especially if they lack sourcing. With the huge database Ancestry has, and the features they offer to provide links to sourcing (those links obviously don't prove the accuracy of that source; it can't do everything; that is our job), anything that is unsourced is either a work in progress or about to be removed because it has been there long enough to show that there isn't enough sourcing to prove the connection.

Moreover, I have certainly run into people who had incoherent pieces of a puzzle that they didn't understand, but helped me resolve a blind spot in my tree. Sometimes our long lost or distant cousins know answers to our tree, but they don't realize it. I document the DNA cousins that helped in this way on my tree in Ancestry. I am now up to 120 instances of this exact scenario.

I don't get the disdain for Ancestry here, but don't miss using it for the tool it is meant to be just because some people use that tool in haphazard ways.
I have little doubt that some folk find Ancestry useful  as a 'finding aid', as long as they take the research further, checking for sources.

The danger is that some folk think it is a valid source in itself, which is not the case. In general, I would say that downloaded Gedfiles have done far more harm than Ancestry.

But that is not the whole story. We also have to contend with those that should know better deciding to delete large sections of our trees that are 'works in progress', simply because they have a personal dislike for what is written. Even when we provide documentary proof, they still do not recant. I accept we need an admin, but who administers them ?

Tim Perry, perhaps you could provide an example of what you're saying.  In general, the way to go when there is disagreement about what primary source documentation does or does not prove, is to start a G2G thread and open discussion to the whole WikiTree community.  

One recent example of G2G discussion in relation to disconnecting a "broken" lineage is the following thread: "Is James Cudworth a False Gateway Ancestor?"

In general, I'd like to say that the situation at wikitree is much better than when  this thread began three years ago.  Members of the PGM Project, in particular, have been disconnecting bad links to parents of immigrants to New England (based on Robert Charles Anderson's authoritative "Great Migration" books), often breaking groundless medieval lineages as a byproduct.

In response to others' comments:  Often, when I break a bogus medieval lineage, I receive thanks, but occasionally somebody is strongly motivated to fight to hold onto illusory ancestors.  On the other hand, some genealogists clearly have the inclination to wield the ax to heavily with their goal of removing bad branches from our common WikiTree.  At different times I've found myself pulled in both directions.  I's an ongoing effort to keep a proper balance, and in my opinion respectful communication is the key to getting things right.

I for one am happy with the work done by Wikitree pruners (or however they style themselves) who get rid of totally unsourced, unproven, undemonstrable, false royal lineages. Several year ago here at WikiTree I found out (quite unasked for) that i was related to every royal house of Europe: i checked the links twice, and there was no mistake. However I never did look at the sources (or lack thereof), i just presumed that WikiTree was reliable. Now, i find that i am related only to the British Royal Family, and that relationship is solid. As an adoptee, I am sensitive to false tales and unauthentic relationships, and my personal motto is: Better one true relationship, than two dozen false ones. When researching my own paternal and maternal lines, or the paternal lines of  my maternal brothers, or cousins, i now and then come across a false ancestor. My suspicion is aroused by unsourced profiles that i am forced to link up with. Upon further research the truth usually easily makes itself known. Usually the false ancestor is the result of the the mixing together of two or more persons into one. Yesterday i had to separate the two identities from one of my brothers' seventeenth century ancestors, one John Rudderow - an English Anglican, who had been fused together with John Rydderych - a Welsh Quaker. The Englishman was the right ancestor. But at Ancestry every single tree shows the two men as one and the same person, with the birthdate of the one, and the death date of the other, and both surnames! Sometimes people who are very distantly related to me are bewildered and even displeased to find our common ancestress here at WikiTree with a different maiden surname. But facts are facts, and a sourced profile wins out against a sourcless one.
""We also have to contend with those that should know better deciding to delete large sections of our trees that are 'works in progress', simply because they have a personal dislike for what is written. Even when we provide documentary proof, they still do not recant. I accept we need an admin, but who administers them ?"

The answer to this is very simple and should be absolute: don't use Wikitree for works in progress. For that use a tree on your own computer (I use Legacy but any will do) or a PRIVATE tree on Ancestry.com.
James, my personal computer holds in excess of 40,000 profiles.

I do not have a great deal of faith in the accuracy of the other sites you mention.

Placing 'work in progress' profiles on Wiki invites others that may have the source information to come forward, is that not part of the alleged collaboration ?

If anyone can offer verifiable data concerning the profiles I manage, I am always happy to hear from them by PM.
"I do not have a great deal of faith in the accuracy of the other sites you mention.

I mentioned Legacy and ancestry.com ONLY as places to put people in the tentative portion of trees in progress. "Accuracy" of Ancestry.com itself has absolutely nothing to do with what you put in your own tree. Legacy itself is a non-thing, its what you put in.

I generated one royal/Magna Carta line that is now on Wikitree badged for Magna Carta. It took years before I was sure enough of it to make it public.

I would never consider putting tentative people on wikitree. I don't think that's right. Now if somebody else has already put that person on Wikitree, and I can't truly disprove their line, THEN is when I feel that saying tentative things is OK, its what wikitree is for. But these things go in the biography or notes.

If a person's place in a tree is tentative, where should they be put? You can't have multiple parents, but parents can have multiple people as children, when in fact only one is correct. Its confusing to people who are not active researchers of that line.
It's part of the Honor Code that we all signed that we cite sources.  

When we create profiles, a source is required.  If you create a profile and write "work in progress" for a source, that will probably get cleaned up by somebody.

"I have little doubt that some folk find Ancestry useful  as a 'finding aid', as long as they take the research further, checking for sources."

Reminds me of that quote I saw last year:

"At least half of what you read on the internet is fake."

- Abraham Lincoln

John, well said - I did just that yesterday: started a thread to engage discussion about, what I believe to be, a fantasy line.  I really had (have) the urge to purge but I went the long (right) way - I've posted it to G2G.  As it is a GED upload with NO documentation, I doubt the G2G thread will get any love (the last two didn't before I cut the branch).


By the way, your link is broken - the text is straight the hyperlink goes somewhere else.
So John, although there is no specified limit to unsourced profiles, (Yes, I have already asked on G2G) it comes down to how someone chooses to interpret the rules, to suit their purpose.

I can't help but wonder, just how many members, admin included, can honestly say they have no unsourced profiles at all. Not many I suspect, if you include those that only offer Ancestry.com as their source.
Christine, great reply.  I really enjoyed reading your story about these ancestors.  It reminds me of a story in my tree that is similar.  When I first started (21 years ago), I know only one ggg grandparent (today I know 31 of 32).  I questioned the family members and my mother told me the story of the one known ggg grandfather.  He was in the Civil War, fought his way through Tennessee and liked it so much that he came and settled there after the Civil War.  And, he was married to one of the Harrison twins.

I began looking, found his Civil War record and sure enough, the 50th Illinois Infantry fought through Tennessee under Grant.  Later, I found his pension being paid to one of the Harrison twins in Tennessee.

Searching the census records I learned his father and mother's names.  A decade later, I was able to find the father in a published book taking the family tree all the way back, through the Revolutionary War, back to Germany, and eventually to France in the 17th century.

This tree was based, at first, solely on the word of my mother.  It took me far longer to find the evidence to support it because it sat only on my computer.  For those in similar circumstances, I'd say to write down your interview with Mom, post it as a free space profile, link to it and create your ancestor's profile.  And don't be surprised when in a decade you get an email from a 3rd cousin who has an extensive tree, letters and photos to back it!
I decided to check my files for all of my first 10 generations of ancestors.

I exported a files with them, and opened it. I removed all "general" sources. I then tagged all people with no sources and no notes, as I have lots of people with sources only in copious notes.

Out of 180 people, 28 had no sources or notes. I looked at names whose spouse or child had notes. The notes of those relatives eliminated all but 8 people with no notes. And 5 of those had real sources on Ancestry, mostly gravestone images. This leaves three, all purported wives whose only data is the first name. I suspect that the source of those was, indeed trees at either Ancestry.com or the FDS website.

Of the additional 4000 or so medieval people in my file, I found an additional 40 or so who had both no notes and no real sources, and were not unnamed, unidentified, no data spouses (which my program automatically generates as a parent.).  I did not check for notes of relatives. I've always been very careful of these. This is an example of what being careful can do. Many which do have sources are to reliable secondary or tertiary sources such as Richardson, the Complete Peerage, or Scots Peerage. Most earliest people are well documented in the Henry Project. I do have a few "long lines" of Irish and Welsh kings that are only documented in academic papers: these are iffy references. I do consider Cawley or Keats-Rohan to be so very unreliable that I do not use them as sole sources.

@ SJ Baty -- I fixed the link, thanks for pointing that out.

@ Tim Perry -- I'm no longer a leader at wikitree, but back in the day I was one of the prime movers getting the pre-1700 badge developed, and I supported the idea of a further pre-1500 badge (which didn't happen until later).  

I'm not a leader anymore, so the following is just my personal opinion and understanding of things:  

You ask how many wikitree leaders have zero un-sourced profiles.  Perhaps it is also good to ask how many wikitree leaders have a pre-1500 badge.  The pre-1500 badges are supposed to be hard to get, to prevent people from spreading the epidemic of false medieval lineages.  Here's another question: How many leaders with a pre-1500 badge have ever -- after they got the badge -- created a profile with no sources?  That number should be zero.

Unless they changed the rules (I haven't checked), to get the pre-1500 badge you have to create a well-sourced and well-organized  pre-1700 profile,  And then the profile has to be reviewed by a leader with a pre-1500 badge.  Perhaps there was some confusion toward the beginning, and some people got the pre-1500 badge without showing that they're up to speed on proper sources.  But I'm just guessing.  When they implemented the pre-1500 badge, I was happily retired as a "leader emeritus," improving the profiles of my own family tree, which includes tracking down old gedcom imports that I had forgotten to add sources to.  I still stumble across some of those from time to time, usually siblings or in-laws of direct ancestors.

So anyway, can you show a well-done pre-1700 profile that you made?  If you have any interest, you can click here for links to my old nominations for Profile of the Week.

While I didn't read every post here, yet.... The links posted on Henry Adams doesn't work.  nor does the one on Janet Lee ?    I'll continue reading and please pardon if I missed a new link or information on these two.   I'm only half way thru the page.



the link _to_ Henry Adams didn't work for me. Found him [here] (Adams-277, like stated, but the link in the original post had a trailing space attached that broke the link). Once there, I clicked on a bunch of links (I think I got them all) and the only one that went to a "page not found" was http://www.concentric.net/~pvb/GEN/hadam.html (although it appeared twice in the footnotes). However, it was captured by archive.org's WayBack Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20050215210436/http://www.concentric.net/~pvb/GEN/hadam.html

Quite a useful list you've compiled.

I wonder if there is a way to detect royal pedigree by searching the ship names on which our ancestor's arrived?

A week ago I clicked the names of each Surety Baron on the find your connections page of WikiTree. Let's just say I was skeptical that it said I was a direct descendant of every single one of them (only one each of the lines with two people). Each and every one a 24th to 27th or so great grandfather.

It made be think there's still a great deal of cleaning to do on WikiTree so one of my new projects is checking each and every lineage it gave. Yes, there are several known gateway ancestors but could they possible lead to every person on that list...

Glad to find this post even though written some years ago.
T. Stanton, by all means do just as you please, I am not concerned what is decided. I have all my data safely stored upon my personal system, where none can meddle with it, so I'm really not interested. However, the original question was about false claims from colonial immigrants. My pedigree is not false, I am not a colonial, nor an immigrant, but if you choose to be sidetracked, for whatever reason, whatever agenda you wish to follow, so be it.
Tim, I think you commented in the wrong thread.
Tim Perry, I don't follow how my comment relates to you.

I was commenting upon the Connections found by the WikiTree system between myself and the Surety Barons. I have not read nor was I commenting on any answer, post or comment that you had made but this thread is so very long I hope I did not reply to the wrong part of the thread causing some misunderstanding. My apology if I have replied to the wrong comment.
Yes, it is possible for a single gateway immigrant to be descended from all 17 Magna Carta Sureties.

It's much easier to score the full set by being descended from more than one immigrant.

In your case, we can say that Leonard Calvert, father of Lord Baltimore, doesn't have the ancestry that WikiTree gives him.  Nor is he the ancestor of every Calvert in America, as the internet would like to think.

Unfortunately that bogus line is masking better lines.  You're showing a descent from Katherine St Leger and her husband Thomas Culpepper.  Those two are genuine gateways and will score about a dozen barons between them, plus Edward III.
My response was to the comments that appeared in my email inbox, along with the link to this thread. I research my family for my interest only, I neither seek, nor care about the approbation of others. Any links to Surety Barons is just a coincidence, I do not hold them in special esteem, and do not seek them. This is not my thread, and I see no reason why that comment should be sent to me. As a consequence, I was surprised and annoyed to receive it.
Tim, you posted comments on this answer on April 8.  Once you've posted a comment, you automatically get emailed any further comments on the same answer.  Nobody has any control over this.
You can untick the "Email me if a comment is added after mine" checkbox. You have to do this to all your comments in the same thread, and then you stop receiving notifications of answers.
Thank you, Isabelle, that is very helpful.

Thank you Liz... this is an interesting thread to say the least.  

I got to Isaac Howland and realized my Brother-in-law (the Mayflower "expert") had missed an entire generation.   grrrrr    I just spent the last half hour reconstructing our tree.  

I wish ancestry.com would just go away ... their information is just like dumping a bucket of flies in the ointment.   Thank goodness I realized this a mere 6 months after starting to use them.   I do so pity the poor schmucks who believe all the repeated errors on the site.   

Thank you, everyone for your diligent work and y'all have been a great help to me and I'm going to get deeper into this as I get my tree purged of all the trash.  Of course while I'm trying to remove dups on my tree... I'm coming up with more entries ... REAL entries this time.  That's the kind of work I'm happy to do.

Thanks again,


Thanks, RJ. Interesting sleuthing to fuel my continued investigation. With just my first check for the supposed connection to William d'Aubigny I found Anne Walker a completely unproven mother of DAR Woman Patriot Ailsey Davis Teague. (My own notes stop my tree at Ailsey with her mother marked unknown at this time.) Is Anne Walker the mother? Maybe but it is very far from proven even with a questionable secondary source.

That one unproven connection between Ailsey and Anne Walker linked up at least the first three or four of the Surety Barons in the order they are listed on the Relationship Finder list.

Apparently Anne Walker has interesting Irish Quaker ancestors, but the link back to Yorkshire isn't going to stick.  So no great loss.

RJ, I did find a Culpepper hiccup. There are documentation issues between Sarah Culpepper Prichard and the linked father John Culpepper.  Looks like John is in the Magna Carta cue, so to speak, for review. I will have to do more digging on Sarah as daughter of John...no documentation at present (proving or disproving). Frustrating that John's profile cites a Will but gives no abstract and no information on any offspring (digging around on that as well). Record location a little murky with a now defunct county.

The exercise most useful in that it forced me to review primary soruce documentation and confidence level on several generations back to Sarah.

Hmm.  The Culpepper Connections site thinks John the son of Thomas and Katherine wasn't the same John who married Sarah Mayo.


http://culpepperconnections.com/ss/p8384.htm  [PS wrong link see below]

Which seems to leave Thomas and Katherine joining the descendant-free gateways list.

Websites aren't always right though.

Rebecca, Ancestry can be a valuable source of records.Just untick trees etc when searching. Be more cautious if the 'record is an index rather than an image of the original source. Obviously there will be very few images of  documents prior to the 16th Century (some wills  back to the late 14th C )

Not that one, this one.


But it does show the Prichard connection.

And it does make John the son of Thomas's brother John, which saves something from the wreckage.

RJ, is this perhaps what the Magna Carta notes at the bottom of Culpepper-73 were having a tough time plainly stating (or my scrambled brain was having a tough time interpreting)? And married to sisters (I think) surname Mayo. 

Question. In the Magna Carta project note at the bottom I find the notation that the profile will be developed and maintained by the project, signed by Noland-165 (Liz Shifflett). But the profile has not been made PPP and I don't see work on it in circa 10 months. I know they've got a backlog. If I am making documented additions/changes do they need Magna Carta approval? Since I know they are sort of watching this I would make inquiry before a lineage change.

Thanks for culpepperconnections.com.

Consider yourself approved T - and thanks in advance. Yes, I am way overextended, and Culpeper-73 fell off my radar.

The Magna Carta Project section was intended to point out that the John Culpeper that Richardson lists as a Gateway Ancestor (Culpeper-91) is the uncle of Culpeper-73, who is the son of a Gateway (Katherine St Leger).

Cheers, Liz

That was the result of my original confusion years ago.  I thought all the "gateways" were supposed to be real gateways.  I hadn't then realized that there are about 20 people in the list who have no known descendants.

The arrangement as Richardson shows it is

* John Culpepper m Ursula Woodcock
** Thomas Culpepper m Katherine St Leger
*** John Culpepper m Sarah Mayo
**** Sarah, etc
** John Culpepper, no issue

So Thomas's brother John is in the list but not really a proper gateway.

However, the Culpepper Connections website has a different arrangement, with an extra John

* John Culpepper m Ursula Woodcock
** Thomas Culpepper m Katherine St Leger
*** John Culpepper, obscure
** John Culpepper
*** John Culpepper, m Sarah Mayo
**** Sarah, etc

which potentially confuses things totally, because now Thomas's brother John becomes the proper gateway.

However, the profiles aren't supposed to be following that version.

What I am getting reading the notes at Culpepperconncection on what is Culpepper-73 is the data between the two would seem to be confused or simply in the wrong profiles.

Based on connection citations and notes Culpepper-73 would then be born 1633, died 1674, was sheriff of Northampton, married to Mary (not Sarah) Mayo and that marriage had no offspring. Then the DOB shown for Culpeper 91 becomes an issue (I think) as well as Richardson stating wife maiden name unknown.

So then are we back to Sarah Culpepper Prichard as daughter of Culpeper-91? Does the additional John at Culpepper connections solve those issues? Just starting back into this. And wasn't clear are Sarah and Mary sisters? Or Aunt and niece?

If I am following CulpepperConnections (CC) correctly, I am getting:

John Culpepper of Albemarle c1644 c 1694 marriage to Sarah Mayo is documented. (as is daughter Sarah Culpepper Prichard)

Above is the son of John the Merchant Culpepper b 1606 d 1674 Baptismal record exists 26 Oct 1606 Harrietsham, Kent. He is named in the Will of his father who would be

John Culpepper of Astwood Feckenham.

The connection lacking absolute proof would be between John of Albemarle and John the Merchant according to CC. Each record goes to some lengths to state records allowing differentiation between the three contemporaneous Johns are scarce: John the Merchant, John son of Thomas and Katherine, and John of Albemarle. On what does Richardson make his differentiation?

Lastly, an interesting note far down which reads "About 90 years earlier a John Swan married Mary Culpepper daughter of Edward Culpepper of the Aylesford line. Mary had a brother named John Culpepper. It would be worth further research to see if there is a connection to the Swann family that would point to a different Culpepper family connection for John of Albemarle."

The bio on John of Albemarle at CC makes the cogent connection that the merchant John of Albemarle would lkely be the son of the merchant John the Merchant versus the other possibilities (which even include the Barbados Culpeppers).

Does Richardson have sources which would be contrary to this? It does seem the lack of records means at least one of the family connections has to be based on a totality of the evidence and is then only a best probability.

still on Source-a-thon, but are you analyzing the sources cited at that online tree or just the posted info? See https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Magna_Carta_Project_Policy_and_Procedures ... I think we need to find primary sources for these folks.
Liz, yes, going through those sources. I think a few may require contacting the people who did the relevant genealogical research (thankfully contact info is given!). As RJ notes, this might change the gateway to Thomas' brother John.

Key question as I view it now is: absent primary source documentation of the father of John of Albemarle (it appears that documentation does not exist or has not been found), where does the available evidence point. What I appreciate about Culpepperconnections.com is that they give all the plausible alternatives with the pros and cons of each, mention those solidly disproven and why, and then plainly state 'at this time we believe this points to x'

Following the Aylesford line (as mentioned in thread above) as was suggested by the site as another avenue to explore doesn't yet appear to be going the right direction but there are some gaps in trying to establish exactly the descendants of that particular John Culpepper several generations earlier. Worth more exploration but I have doubt about that angle. I think the exploration was suggested because the line had not yet been thoroughly explored and thus could not be ruled out.

T Stanton (or someone), I hope you get a chance to look at the Calvert-Lennard-Boteler lines which starts at Margaret Calvert.  I believe this to be undocumented/unproven/incorrect and the source of many of your false lines.

Makes little difference as far as Richardson is concerned.  He doesn't try to define a list of gateways and he doesn't worry much about descendants.  Thomas and John are in as brothers of each other, and Katherine St Leger is in as the aunt of Warham Horsmanden and St Leger Codd.

He does mention that John was executor (in NC) of the will of his brother-in-law Samuel Stephens, 1st husband of Frances C, who became Lady Berkeley.  Of course the record might not actually say brother-in-law, and it might not be clear which John.
Joe, thanks. I've put it on the list as I work through these. I've found substantive issues with each of my WikiTree lineages back to the Magna Carta barons and generally just past where my own research has gotten to. So, going over each of them--it's not that many for me as it seems a few key errors are in play that tend to link to the same gateways. I'm not the least hung up on the barons, it was just an exercise to see if those lineages further back than I had already researched where substantiated. Ahem. They show a lot of incorrect genealogy basically from near the tail end of where the MC project takes things for the next two to three generations.

RJ, thanks for notes on Richardson. I wasn't sure how Holy that Grail was held and now I feel better about just following the research I uncover checking all the citations even if they contradict the ones placed on the current profiles (which are a bit maddening because they give no real information and can't be checked without seeing a work to which I lack local access).

Back to citation verification...

Richardson is here


Dict NC Bio


Another article in the same source manages to confuse Thomas's brother John with their rich cousin Baron John


Some conflicting information. The NCpedia site states "the Culpepper family have concluded that the John Culpepper of Albemarle was a son of Thomas Culpepper." That is not the conclusion of the Culpepper family, their 'current belief' is that he is the son of John The Merchant. (I see the one and only comment on the NCPedia article is calling them out for misquoting the Culpepper family.)

This all seems to revolve around the year of birth 1633 vs 1644. The Culpepper family site specifically discounts John of Albemarle as son of Thomas because John son of Thomas was b 1633 (research done by Fairfax Harrison "and others"). The 1644 year of birth which the Culpepper site uses (and Richardson uses) appears to come from research of court papers done in 1990 by a masters thesis candidate at NC State University (I read large parts of that excellent thesis today). The Culpepper site notation is very specific (and I paraphrase), 'until the 1633 year of birth for John son of Thomas is disproved we believe John of Albemarle is the son of John The Merchant Culpepper b 1606.'

Has the year of birth 1633 of John son of Thomas been disproved? Do we know upon what that year of birth was based? In most of what I read it seems an accepted fact (perhaps based on the Fairfax Harrison work) so very interesting to see Richardson picked up the 1644 from the thesis work.

Does that mean we come back to John of Albemarle as son of Thomas? From the extensive background reading I have done today I would believe either way is an educated supposition as there simply are no primary documents. If John of Albemarle and John son of Thomas are one and the same person it makes life easier with one less John Culpepper!

I've done a page and half of notes on the Culpepper site citations (they are excellent) and contents for anyone via email. Too long to post here. After that research my opinion that John of Albemarle was son of John the Merchant was based upon the 1633 vs 1644 date of birth question.

[Edited for clarity]

Hi Joe (Cochoit), this goes back to your comment on Margaret Calvert of six days ago.  I posted another G2G on this elsewhere but wanted to recap in this thread.

I completely agreed the relationship between Margaret Calvert and Margaret Hollingsworth Walker was false until Jack Day updated a bunch of the Walker family profiles. This shows some kind of relationship between Margaret Hollingsworth and Abraham Hollingsworth as I can't otherwise find a reason for the property transactions that involve Hugh and Margaret (Hollingsworth) Walker and Abraham Hollingsworth. Still digging around in this but can always use additional eyes and brains on it. Any ideas?

Those property transactions are under Hugh Walker profile.

I think Joe was talking about the ancestry of Margaret Calvert.  You have to trace her back to Ireland, and from there to Yorkshire, and then connect up to Leonard, whose ancestry is unknown anyway.

I now see that's probably what he meant. I didn't get that far with verified or verifiable information. It seems the Hollingsworth family website acknowledges Margaret Hollingsworth Walker as first daughter of Margaret Calvert Hollingsworth. Alas, no documentation on the entry but there is a link to PDFs of an old family publication (written by a genealogist) whose 100+ issues can be now be searched for additional information.

I'm having to piece meal Irish Quaker records from a lot of disparate places for a couple of family lines. Is there simply no repository for the MM/QM/YM records for the Irish meetings?

An interesting answer from the Culpepper Connections chief Lew Griffin regarding John Culpepper son of Thomas and Katherine vs John Culpepper of Albemarle son of John the Merchant Culpepper. To recap, Richardson has John of Albemarle born 1644 as the son of Thomas and Katherine.

Apparently Richardson is in error here and there are parish records contrary to his entry. From Lew Griffin: "John, the son of Thomas and Catherine, was definitively born in 1633. That's from a church parish record. So the John who gave his age in deposition, leading us to the 1644 date of birth, was definitely a different John.

"So Richardson has definitely made a mistake and confused the two different Johns. I have a copy of Richardson and consider him authoritative. In this particular case he has clearly made an error."

Lew has kindly pointed me to some archival documentation in addition to the parish birth record.

So, it seems we need to change John Culpepper of Albemarle b 1644 to be the son of John Culpepper The Merchant.

Thank you for your report, T. Stanton. It does look like an error on the the part of Richardson.

Another noble connection blown to little bits. Well, America was certainly the product mainly of farmers and merchants, initially.

Just looked at your email - nice to know there is still a Magna Carta connection. We'll need to change our records to match the evidence.

I still prefer Richardson's version.  I only noted the discrepancy because you can't make sense of the website without noting it.

10 Answers

+23 votes
Best answer

Perhaps as well as Space:Gateway_Ancestors_-_Magna_Carta_Project you could create a space for the proven errors, like those you list and one for those needing more research to prove or disprove.

answered by R. G. G2G6 Pilot (212k points)
selected by Rebecca Snider

I am very familiar with this the Bacon line was affected by Gustav-Anjou, described as: "an infamous genealogical inventor whose meticulous but fraudulent research influenced the family "histories" of many prominent American families in the late 19th and early 20th centuries."

Here is more information on him and how he affected the genalogies of so many colonial immigrant geneaalogies.

Gustave Anjou


Wow... thank you for that link; I forsee a huge project going through wikitree and checking on that huge list of families *gulp*.  I did a google search using "fraudulent lineages" and came up with the following resource at Cyndi's list: "Myths, Hoaxes, and Scams: Fakes and Falsehoods" http://www.cyndislist.com/myths/fakes/

And I think Rhian's suggestion of a space for bogus lineages is the way to go -- that way we'll have a resource to show new members why their lovely new additions aren't being accepted.
I believe giving space to erroneous and problematic lines would be very useful. My Robert Royce and William Allen would be likely candidates for such a page.
I made a list of all my immigrant surnames and checked them against the list of Gustav Anjou surnames. If one showed up, i checked it against other information. If all that I found was a genealogy site with no other reference, I disconnected it. I need to go back and make sure they weren’t reconnected. I suggest putting a note in the profiles that were butchered by him on the profile.
I am in the New Netherlands Settlers project and we have a disproven page - I see this story how these things keep getting added back and that is a waste of everyone's time and energy!


here are some of our bad tree things and maybe if we all tell the new people about these as part of the resources to get started researching and editing here at Wikitree we can stop some of these bad myths and false stories from being passed on
+24 votes
This was a huge problem with my earliest ancestor - http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Grant-201 - where numerous false parents were linked to him over and over, most likely based on incorrect data for the LDS sites.  I became a bit unravelled once when I had to re-connect the majority of 100 years of descendants after one person butchered his site.  I hope we can continue to improve this aspect of wikitree, as these old profiles are too old to be private, yet still need to be protected from well-meaning folks with very bad data.
answered by Geoff Grant G2G1 (1.8k points)
+34 votes

Our Magna Carta project overlaps both the European Aristocrats and the Puritan Great Migration projects, and both of those projects have the same headaches as we do with false pedigrees.

UPDATE 20 May 2015 -

Magna Carta project has created a page to register fake lineages:

Popular Errors in Colonial and Medieval Lineages

I think Rhian's idea for creating a space for the proven errors is great - why should we all keep reinventing the wheel, so to speak. Once a lineage has been documented as false, it could be where any of the three project's members or any other person can look it up to see the details.

Kathy Patterson and Darlene Athey, also Jillaine Smith and Chris Hoyt and Vic Watt - would you like to have the Magna Carta project create a space where the false pedigrees can be listed by anyone from any of the three projects? It would be futile for each of the projects to keep their own list when they overlap. John has already started a page on this, which is in the process of being reorganized so each surname is linked to the page with the details on the false pedigree. We began with the false pedigrees all on one page, and that is becoming a master list linking to separate pages for the different questionable lineages.

It's at the top of our to do list - or would one of you prefer to tackle it?

Your thoughts on whether such a page is wanted - (all three projects could link to it).

Should we have a category:questionable pedigree which could be placed on profiles with this kind of issue, to make it easier to keep track of them while they are being properly sourced and reorganized?

answered by April Dauenhauer G2G6 Pilot (107k points)
edited by April Dauenhauer
April, I think this is an excellent idea.  I don't have time to set it up (sorry!), but am totally in favor of it and willing to discuss if there are questions/decisions re: setting it up.

Hi April Dauenhauer,   

Thank you for your post. 

  1. Do folks think the information/text in the contemplated  "spaces" would receive/benefit from the same search engine coverage as postings to G2G? Somewhat similarly, do folks think the biographical text on profile pages receive the same coverage, etc. as posts on G2G?
  2. What kind of content (details) would be sought for qualifying cases? Readability?  
    These cases are not easy to write up, expecially as names, relationships and historical documents about any number of persons are often involved. Even more challenging to produce supporting content that hits the mark for a broad audience with diverse interests. Consider the content may benefit from an accompanying abstract. (Maybe not a Twitter friendly version, but closer to it.)

    P.S. Many foks prefer to use their limited time to research those to whom they _are_ related. More often than not, debunking and explaining a falsehood calls for research about those to whom you are probably not related.
  3. "Errors in Print" and cross referencing.
    If the project took off, would at some point it require something like Rob Ton's proposal in "Should we give sources their own pages?"
  4. Integration
    How would the "space" content be integrated to WikiTree profiles? G2G? . 

As some of the question above probably suggest, not having to "reinvent the wheel" seems to require some technology support.  

Thank you in advance for your thoughts.--GeneJ


GeneJ X -


Thank you for bringing up very good questions which I had not considered.

With just the few examples Magna Carta project has examined, it is clear to me that a search engine for the questionable lineage pages would be not only desireable but actually necessary for it to be truly effective. As more questionable lineages are posted it will become an insurmountable task to search them manually.

An abstract would be preferrable, and without a search engine it would be necessary.

Many people are already spending more time than they would wish on keeping the false pedigrees out of famous profiles. If we had them documented and searchable, at least those same people could just send a link to the person wanting to insert questionable ancestors. Defenders of lineal integrity could quickly refresh their memories on what ancestors, and why, would be excluded. Instead of everyone who is currently curating the vulnerable profiles of famous people having to keep their own notes, such notes and warnings and discoveries could all be in the same, searchable database where new problem lineages could be posted and so everyone would benefit from sharing knowledge.

Since many of the false pedigrees have already been documented here and there, organizing links to those place would be a great shortcut for numerous problems.

In the long run, the question is too often not about whether or not one will spend the time, but simply which way it will be spent - in repeating the same look-ups and explanations, or in building the searchable database with others so all that is needed is a link on the profile that attracts fake pedigrees.

Such a project would only be as extensive as those who are working on it desire.

How to integrate the 'space' content into WikiTree profiles or G2G is beyond my knowldege.

You are right GeneJ, technology support would be needed.

I think Kimball is the perfect person to lead such a project. Although at first it seemed to be something which could be under the Magna Carta umbrella, it is much greater in scope and implementation than I could see -- very much its own project, and a very important one which would be a marvelous help to the biggest projects on WikiTree - PGM and euoaristo as well as Magna Carta and others.

I can help the project, and its leaders-to-be such as Kimball, with clerical tasks but have no knowledge of the false pedigrees, such as Kimball does or John Schmeeckle and Becky Syphers have.

I can only hope there will be popular support for the Popular Errors project, as it is greatly needed by the community.

April D.D.

I can shed some light on Douglas Richardson's and Gary Boyd Roberts' books.  I'm a good friend of Gary and the editor of Douglas' books.  Douglas and Gary are also good friends, but calling them associates isn't quite right. 

The scope and objectives of the books are different.  Douglas' work is far more ambitious, as its size suggests, but it covers a smaller set of American immigrants.  Gary's work covers all immigrants, so very many of its 600+ folks are 20th century immigrants from whom almost no one descends. 

Douglas' work only covers 17th century immigrants.  But even some of those with known medieval ancestry are not included for various reasons.  Most of the immigrants included are fairly closely related to other included immigrants.  Those with long, rambling, undistinguished ancestry, and unrelated to other immigrants, are not included.  Others with unquestionable medieval ancestry, but some difficulty documenting a single generation, are not included.

I've repeatedly argued that he needed to include a list of those not included so that people would know why, but such a list has always been too low a priority to create.  The point is, just because an immigrant is not included in Douglas' Royal Ancestry series, does not mean he believes the descent is in error, though it could.

Thank you so much Kimball, for explaining what was included included in Richardson's books and why. It is a great help to understand the scope of his books.
Perhaps a practical question related to Roberts' and Richardson's books is in order:  Is the 17th-century immigrant Peter Worden-3 a bona fide gateway ancestor?  His lineage appears -- without documentation -- in Roberts, and is conveniently copied at this website: http://washington.ancestryregister.com/WORDEN00006.htm#i799

Do we add Peter Worden as a new gateway ancestor based solely on Roberts' reputation?  Or possibly the research has been done somewhere -- I simply don't know.  How many other examples like Worden are included in Roberts' book?  50 or 100?  If so, there are bound to be a lot of pre-existing wikitree lineages from these people back to Magna Carta barons.

As Kimball pointed out in relation to Richardson's book, some well-known lineages were omitted because they have a single "unproven" generation.  How do we evaluate such situations here at wikitree?  Whose standard of proof are we using?  I've had situations in the past where other experienced researchers have refused to embrace conclusions that I felt were obvious.

If a not-quite-proven lineage is widely accepted on the internet, how should we handle this at wikitree?  Maybe the lineage really is proven, but some people are being too conservative in their judgment.  How do we handle a situation, for example, where Richardson and Roberts disagree?  I know of one case where experienced medieval genealogists have refused to embrace Richardson's conclusion regarding a Champernoun descent from King John.  Is Richardson being too loose with the evidence?  Do we need a way for wikitree to speak with its own voice on such questions?  Do we have sufficient collective expertise to maintain a credible public opinion?  My personal opinion in this case is that Richardson's conclusion is plausible, but nobody (not even Richardson) has done justice to the biographical facts of the matter, as far as I have seen.

Perhaps there is the need for some type of forum or arbitration committee to discuss such issues.  Who decides what are the appropriate standards of evidence?

I'm going to give a practical example, that of Edward Prideaux-147.   My personal opinion is that there is sufficient circumstantial evidence to conclude that Edward is the son of Francis Prideaux-85.  And Edward has three presumed brothers -- what about them?  (The case supporting each one as a son of Francis is different, but they are mutually supporting.)  And was Francis Prideaux really the grandson of Ann Moyle-309?  That one is my own discovery, contradicting a commonly-accepted Gifford lineage that I proved to be false ("ob. s.p." -- end of story).

There are Magna Carta and royal lineages at stake with this Prideaux/Moyle example, as well as 19th-century descendants who immigrated to the United States.  I have written a detailed summary of the evidence, with links to the individual profiles, at http://www.wikitree.com/index.php?title=Space:Magna_Carta_1215&public=1#Edward_and_James_Prideaux
John, Your points are are all well done. I do not have many answers but certainly have confidence in your research.

Roberts gives a bibliography without embedded footnotes, that is, he puts his sources down at the end of a profile or lineage and one is left ot search each one for whatever particular proofs may be had. This is not the WikiTree standard, which is to provide embedded footnotes linked to sources for each and every fact in a profile. I must say I was disappointed.

No one of course can be perfect, and I'm sure Richardson would be the first to agree there could be a fault in his work here or there, because he is constantly updating his books, removing gateway ancestors whose references have not met his standards, and adding new ones he has discovered.

We need members of the PGM, Medieval Ancestors, and Mayflower projects to speak to the issues you raise.
Re: Using space pages for keeping track of false ancestries

I'd be more inclined to use project subpages. If we did create Project:Popular Errors, we could have subpages for different projects, regions, etc. For example, Acadian myths could be at Project:Popular Errors/Acadian Myths.

I suppose space pages could work just as well, though. As long as they're open, anyone can still edit them. Just personal preference I suppose.
Hi John,

Do hope you start a thread on some of the topics your comment raises.  

In my experience, authors and publishers don't exclude a generation because they are being too conservative.

If there was a bias in authored materials, it is probably the other way around. Especially early authored works often connected too many families of the same surname. They may have sold a lot of books in the process, but family historians have been paying the price ever since.

The authors we are talking about in this thread care much about their body of work. They often have have a knowledge of the source material and a worthy historical perspective. It is cool to be involved at a time when so much good stuff is happening.

In the case of my own family, more than one ancestor has been linked to a line that has since been discredited (lack of historical foundation).

Hi Lianne,

John and I have decided to go with your suggestion of a Popular Errors page linked to our Magna Carta project - for now. It is better to have something and keep it simple than to wait on the staff being available to technically support a big 'errors' project.

We welcome Kimball's input, and input from all of the knowledgeable leaders whose project profiles overlap ours.

Our project has entered a new phase, connecting every generation between the colonial Gateway Ancestors and the Magna Carta Surety Barons, with a Magna Carta Template on each profile in the lineage.

There is simply too much to accomplish on our project, to work on a large Errors project at this time. Maybe in the future it can be added to a special database and automated.

Look for the link to our "Popular errors" page on the Magna Carta home page by this evening, to be filled in as time permits.



I would like to add a small, but important caveat here. Whilst the work of Richardson et al is very useful, nothing is carved in tablets of stone. The fact that a researcher has not found evidence, does not disprove anything, it is simply unproven, NOT proven to be true or false.

All the illustrious names in research belong to humans, fallible, just like you and I. No-one has sole custody of the truth, bestowed by divine providence.

I am the first to admit that opinions are just that, regardless who voiced them.
I would suggest a much simpler, more rational solution, rather than rubbish work that someone has perhaps spent years on.

Why not have information that has been verified displayed in black, and that which has not been sourced displayed in blue. Thus highlighting that which may require further investigation, without causing offense, and no need for demands on any profile for sources.

We are all doing our best to get it right, and because someone's mother may be in doubt, that is no cause to disregard everything else. As the old saying goes, "It's a wise child that knows it's own father", and although useful, DNA, contrary to popular belief, is not infallible.
THANK YOU for this.
Thank you April... I love the idea.  Looking for errors is sometimes faster to address than muddling thru an entire tree for the people.

I'm just starting with the G2G "experience" and can't be here all the time but I love the email notices.  

It drags me back to places that I had passed (for future research) to add some comments, links, sources, and new entries.

Love the idea focusing on "errors".

Just my humble opinion,

+22 votes

A considerable amount of my work at WikiTree has been organizing and documenting profiles for people whose identity and ancestry has been misunderstood, misrepresented, or lied about.  A good example is [Du_Bois-12|Chrétien du Bois] for whom 5 different erroneous ancestries, 1 erroneous son, 1 erroneous wife and 2 completely fictitious wives, have been published.  As has been noted, people keep adding and merging the same errors, notwithstanding the very extensive documentation I've provided.

Some better way must be found to stop people from adding and merging documented errors.

Part of the problem has been that the WikiTree compare view has cut off the profiles so that one must scroll down through each profile separately to view the text where all the information about genealogical errors is.  Most people haven't done this.  I note that this has recently changed so that a larger amount of each profile is shown.  This is great!  Though, I would extend it even more.  But I think this creates an opportunity that might help!

If we create a Popular Errors project, we could create a really obnoxious logo to put at the top of the text.  This should be able to be seen in the WikiTree compare view.  A project is also a good way to promote that identifying and overcoming a popular error is a good thing, not just a sad loss of previously beloved ancestors.  It could include various categories like published errors, frauds, and specific sources like Gustave Anjou and the Horn Papers.  It would be a project that all other projects could use as a resource.  Disputed information could be included, though handled differently.

I've just become co-leader of the New Netherland Settlers group and Liz will remotely kick me for saying this, but this is a project I would like to work on.  As I don't know how to run a project, I'd need help from several of you.  

answered by Kimball Everingham G2G6 (6.5k points)

"Some better way must be found ..." 

"good way to promote that identifying and overcoming a popular error is a good thing, not just a sad loss of previously beloved ancestors."

Thumbs up. 

Kimball, a Popular Errors project is just what is needed, and I hope you will be leader.

If you do, I can spend some time on the more clerical tasks (lists, sorting, editing) and hope you will get a lot of support from people knowledgable in erroneous pedigrees.

April D.D.
Aside from PGM, Magna Carta, and Mayflower, more projects which have been plagued with Popular Errors are Descendants of Pocahontas, US Presidents, and as you pointed out Kimball, New Netherlands.

While some of them like New Netherlands may not overlap so much as some others like Pocahontas and PGM for example, it still seems to me that a central searchable information bank of Popular Errors is a better route than each project making their own lists.
The Acadians project also struggles with repeatedly fixing the same few imaginary ancestries that get added again and again (everyone wants to trace their Acadian ancestors back to France, but usually the records just aren't there). If a Popular Errors project is started, I'd be happy to contribute some Acadian Myths.
Right off the bat I can think of two things that can be done.

For profiles that are repeatedly changed, there should be a mechanism whereby new changes are logged, broadcast, and then held for a period - say 30 days, for others to comment before they are enacted.  For example, for a person who constantly has erroenus parents added, the next time someone adds new parents, the new parents would show as "pending for 30 days awaiting consensus & comments."  If one of the regulars to that profile sees that it is an erroneous entry, they could click to block the change and leave a comment why.  In this way, the profile would be preserved without having to go back and do the same work again.

A second (and similar) way would be for the old tree (the profile before the changes were made) to be preserved for some time, say 90 days or 6 months and if it is seen that an erroneous change is made, instead of changing it back, the change could be just undone or canceled.
J Baty, the post on which you just commented is almost four years old.  Since then, a few things have been put into place to help with the issues:  you now have to be pre-1500 certified and you can't import a gedcom with pre-1500 people.
Add check boxes for sources. It won't stop people putting in false details, but it will encourage them to try and find and include real details, and more details. It would also make it quicker and easier to verify details.

Alive. Tick!

Personally known. Tick!

Personally verified by known family. Tick! (In family photos etc)

Photos. Tick! Upload...

Birth registration. Tick! Details....

Baptism registration. Tick! Details...

Marriage registration. Tick! Details...

War records. Tick! Details....

Death Registration. Tick! Details....

Burial records. Tick! Details....

Grave site. Tick! Details.... Photo.

Peerage Listing. Tick! Details....

Other books. Tick! Details.....

Other genealogy sites. Tick! Weblinks...

Other web references. Tick! Weblinks...
It would seem we need to expand our -Get the Fraud out of Wikitree plan then - as well as repeated false link ups in projects with info pages on the bad lines with all names in bold - we need a big universal page that links them together - this kind of stuff does not necessarily stay within projects and people do not always join projects so they do not see the warnings like they would if they did

Perhaps this is the place where automation is needed - an automatic sort of reject happens if someone tries to attach a wrong/myth person in that has already been unattached several times - I bet this could be done
+14 votes

Hello John and all!

Because he has been mentioned here...

I have just completed a pretty thorough, if I do say so myself, and sourced overhaul of the biography of Peter Worden, and as a member of the Magna Carta Project I am also working on documenting his Trail. As noted in his bio thus far, he has one line which Richardson (Royal Ancestry) accepts, and another unproven line to five (!) more MCSBs which some genealogists accept but Richardson does not. The accepted line to de Ros is the one I will be Trailing. I admit I'm hoping not to find gaps in it, but if found I shall surely concede them.

What sort of weight should we give to Gateway Ancestor organizations like the Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in the USA? The DAR old SAR applications I've seen on Ancestry.com are super-problematic, so existence of an exclusive org doesn't by itself prove anything, but perhaps some orgs' standards are more rigorous than others?

I'm also a Winslows descendant and I totally don't buy their claims to royal ancestry (note the particularly clumsy and transparent attempts to bolt on poor Ellen Unknown as a daughter of Peter; it's a terrible hack job and it offends my sensibilities), although I suppose that's easy for me to say since I believe I still have the Wordens to fall back on!  ;)

answered by Cheryl Hammond G2G6 Mach 1 (18.8k points)
edited by Cheryl Hammond
In regards to the Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in USA, the sources they recommend http://www.charlemagne.org/Sources.html mostly look reliable (apart from Turton, which I think is now considered very problematic for some lines).

However I think the best genealogy uses primary sources and if the're not available for whatever reason, then secondary sources that quote primary sources are the second best option.  My recommendation would be not to use the Order, but try to access those sources they rely on, such as Richardson, or Cokayne, which we know are well-researched and present a more detailed study of the genealogy of the period.

As an aside I did look at their articles about Charlemagne, but given that none of these appear to refer to any sources, it does make me question the rigourousness of the research on the entire site.


Hi Cheryl,
Congrats on the impressive profile of Peter Worden!  That's a great example for others.

As of course you know, the Magna Carta Project's "gold standard" is the work of Douglas Richardson, and any lineage that isn't embraced by Richardson needs to be double-checked VERY carefully.  This means that a lot of lineage societies accept questionable lines with weak links that should be discussed on WikiTree G2G threads before making a final decision.

Along the same line, Gary Boyd Roberts is a well-known genealogist who has published a well-regarded but unreliable book entitled Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies.  Douglas Richardson only accepts 200 or so of these lineages, so does that mean that Roberts has 400 dubious lineages in his book?

One example is Christopher Branch, an ancestor of Thomas Jefferson.  In the earlier edition of Roberts' book, he accepted a line that goes through one of three wives of Christopher's grandfather William Branch, although there is no proof about which wife was the mother of Christopher's father, oops.  In the most recent edition of Roberts' book, he tacks William's wife's lineage onto William's MOTHER, based on a "forthcoming" article that was never published, oops.  There is a G2G thread about Christopher Branch's lineage here: http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/126701/magna-carta-ancestry-for-christopher-branch

To use a more plausible example, Richardson hasn't embraced the lineage of James Veitch, although many others have.  Malcolm Veitch of Scotland had a son James who was the right age to have been the immigrant to Virginia.  There, that's the "proof." And granted, Veitch is an uncommon name, and James of Virginia was a well-to-do gentleman.   Is that good enough for you?  Good enough for WikiTree?  It IS good enough for Gary Boyd Roberts, good enough for Burke's Peerage, and good enough for the King of Arms of Scotland!   James Veitch's parents have been detached, but perhaps they should be added back?  James Veitch's wikitree profile (with extended discussion of this issue) is here: http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Veitch-6

And here's an even better one:  William "the Extravagant" Aubrey mentioned sons Harry and John in his will.  Many people (but not Richardson) have accepted that these two sons were the same as Henry and John Aubrey, immigrants to America.  It seems likely to me, but... is the double-match of names good enough?  I started a G2G thread on this here: http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/116689/what-evidence-is-there-for-the-parentage-of-henry-awbrey

So far, Henry and John Aubrey's parents haven't been detached, but maybe they should be.  How to decide...

In summary, if it's not accepted by Richardson, then we have to carefully examine a lineage no matter how many others have endorsed it.

Cheryl -

Outstanding job on Peter Worden! That is a wonderful example for a profile. Well done!

First off, before any hereditary society discussion, the work you're showing here clearly meets a standard that any of them would admire. 

Interesting that you mention DAR. One thing to keep in mind, that I learned as a member of SAR, SAR does not consider any DAR or SAR record copies that are pre-1970s reliable. They will now only accept their own work, post 1970ish, with all the check marks and signatures for each generation. The check marks, if you're not familiar with them, are the registrars marks for each date, location, and connection. 

My impression is that a lot of the hoops you have to jump through today with SAR are a direct result of how poor their standards were in the past. Some of these "hoops" are relevant to the genealogy, while many are just aiming for consistency (I've had a package returned because I didn't cite a gravestone the way the registrar prefers).

I would say that the modern era SAR/DAR record copies, with all the check marks, are generally pretty solid. If you can stomach the returned packages of gravestone formats, etc.

Beyond SAR/DAR, the groups do vary in terms of their standards. Generally, it does seems that the more recent the record copies are, the better.

Of course, to go back to Charlemagne, DAR/SAR probably are not very good comparisons. Revolutionary War groups are far more geared towards volume of applications and the lines are far shorter. The local and state Registrars are very concerned with format, kicking applications back for anything that may not be "standard".

Even a Mayflower line, which in my case was more than twice the number of generations in my Revolutionary War lines, is really only the half-way point to Charlemagne.

To the Mayflower Society's credit, they were outstanding. If you give the Library an outline of the line you think is correct, for a token amount ($20?) they produce a package that shows where your line overlaps with other valid lines they have accepted already and they show every proof for each generation. They'll even shoot you copies of the proofs. The person at the state level, who I dealt with, was a genealogist who knew her stuff and handled all the formatting. 

For the Worden line that you're working on, Mowbray-20 is probably one proof away from getting connected to the right father. You know she's a Mowbray... the challenge is where does she connect?

The good news is that millions of records have been added that have yet to be reviewed and researchers like Richardson and others are combing through them every day. This is an amazing time to be a historian and a genealogist.

Again, well done!





Cheryl, do you mean SAR instead of DAR? there are many SAR applications on Ancestry.com and they are usually so wrong that I never look at them. I have never seen a DAR application on Ancestry and think that they do no allow it.
Worden is interesting because apart from the Mowbray question there have been issues in the Sherburne area.  (WikiTree is fixed, but many other websites have the old version.)

What tends to happen is that a garbled version appeared in some Victorian pedigree book and everybody copied it until some modern genealogist got round to looking at primary data and found it didn't fit.  Many basic errors have gone undetected for a long time.  The need to rework everything from primary records instead of relying on the pronouncements of authorities hasn't been understood very long.

Trouble is, very few people are doing that work, so basically most of the genealogy hasn't been done yet, not properly, and in the meantime we make do with what we've got, though many of the sources aren't as good as we'd like.

Richardson's books are state-of-the-art when published.  Work continues, cracks appear, updates are issued.  But you won't get better info in older books, because Richardson knows about those.  It's not like they've got stuff that he hasn't found.

Christine Mowbray is different, because everybody has the same data in front of them, what little there is, but different experts have different ideas as to what it adds up to.  Then there's no right answer.


As for Societies, I suppose the nearest would be BOMC, formerly Order of Runnemede.  The guy in the picture is the same as on the Charlemagne site.

I think they commissioned the original Browning book on Magna Carta.  But in their current incarnation they look like just a vanity thing and don't seem to have got to grips with the genealogy at all.  If they get any applications I doubt they vet them much.
Tom, you are quite right, SAR is correct rather than DAR. I have clarified my answer. :)
+7 votes
Very good points on how to see fabricated lines. Another thing I noted was the line (or link, actually I am referring to my study of the Belgrave line) that was widely claimed. Many many family trees had it listed.

None of the family trees had substantial sources. In addition, some odd things appeared when comparing the family trees' claims.

1. Details especially dates of birth, death and marriage would widely vary. Locations of birth, death and events also varied.

2. Spouses names and ages would vary. Sometimes just slightly different names or dates. But sometimes huge differences.

I would guess the variation comes from many folks just "making up" the linage. It is likely the fabrications would not be identical.

answered by M B G2G6 (8.5k points)
edited by M B
+10 votes
We all are subject to personal bias, even the most experienced among us. (Fantasy works in the system as a powerful drug, and the withdrawal process can be just as difficult and even just as painful as any withdrawal.) Not merely fabricated genealogy, but even the latest "proven" and accepted genealogy, can have this affect, on any of us, blinding everyone to some details which, though always present in the accessible material, cannot be seen until a newbie with blank slate comes along and sees things afresh.
answered by Martyn Mulford G2G6 Mach 2 (22k points)
I wonder what in this post warrants a down vote? We should really require a justification for that.
I agree Helmut - I "upvoted" it (so it no longer shows a negative number). Some folks bring Facebook standards to WikiTree and erroneously consider a down vote akin to a "sad" FB face. And sometimes a mouse gets a mind of its own & downvotes something against the user's intent (my mice have always been better behaved than that :D).
Now that I've begun, just recently, using my Moto phone for internet sometimes, I see how very easily one can hit the down vote by accident, especially with my really poor eyesight. Fortunately, I've found, one can quickly change an accidental vote if one catches it.
+8 votes
After 21 years of research, I finally came to Wikitree to post my tree.

As I am posting ancestors, sometimes I enter them as a new profile and sometimes I see that someone has already created that profile.

I have to say that after 21 years, my tree is quite wide and deep.  But even so, I've found a few surprises along the way.  I found at least 3 links to noble families and I spent the better part of last month researching two of them.  In both cases, I find that they are fantasy links.

Yesterday, I worked on the third and it is also a fantasy.

In each case, EVERY source is a link to another tree OR a link to a book that doesn't provide the link but it is assumed.

So, in a tree with 31 of 32 found great-great-great grandparents and at least a dozen lines going back to the 1600', I find 100% of the "noble" links are bogus, I can't help but wonder if 99% of the supposed noble links that people believe are also fake?

I was just looking at a 2015 G2G wherein a man couldn't work out the relationship finder for his Mayflower ancestor.  Some folks helped him to sort it out.  I entered the same info and the link is now broken - broken all the way to his great grandparents (I checked each of them).  It seems that he had this link based on a bad record and someone researched and broke that link.
answered by SJ Baty G2G6 Pilot (245k points)
Some valid points made, but I have to say that there is also an eagerness to dismiss all claims of aristocratic heritage. It is  a simple mathematical fact that every one of us has a connection of some sort, if you can find it.

I agree that it is often counter productive to break links unless you have positive proofs. It's almost as if there is a kind of inverted snobbery behind much of it, but I very much doubt that many folk claiming royal descent are therefore assuming superiority. If proven, a fact is just a fact, nothing more or less.

Consider, 2 parents - 4 grandparents - 8 great grandparents .... this figure rises exponentially with each generation, until you reach a number that far exceeds the sum total of humans that have ever lived. Therefore, we clearly all share far more ancestors than we might suspect. DNA tests of a persons ethnicity will show a surprising array of races within each of us.

The fact that you have not yet found documentary evidence is not proof either way, it does not prove or disprove. General consensus only shows what we choose to believe, human nature is such that we ignore or dismiss that which does not gel with our preconceptions.

"The fact that you have not yet found documentary evidence is not proof either way, it does not prove or disprove."

Sure, but when we make a record that John was the father of Sam, it doesn't matter if John and Sam are related 12 generations past, we're trying to set the record for individual (person to person lineage) connections.  If there is no proof that Sam is the son of John, then putting it on the net is disingenuous.  I see no snobbery in removing a false link that is not based on a genuine source.

S. J. Baty, define 'a genuine source'. I note that a great many profiles show Ancestry.com as their source, since when have they been 'a genuine source' ?

I was able to substantiate the profile I was dealing with, both with the heralds visitation, and also the individuals last will and testament, how much more proof do you require ?
If you read my other posts in this thread you'll see that I give an interview with Grandma as much weight as I do a book published by an historian.

If I ask Grandma the names of her parents, where she grew up, and I document it in an academic way, this is the same as a book you would find in a university or the library.

As for Ancestry, no, I don't every consider it a source; it is merely a reference.  Citing Ancestry.com as your source makes as much sense as citing Google.  I'd go even farther and say that so many of these "references" I see "Ancestry profile 7767663, roll 1373," are useless as well.  No link, no text, no reference to the facts = nothing.

And so, I believe that documentary evidence is ANY evidence that has been documented.  If you create a free space page and write down your notes of your interview with Grandma, that IS documentary evidence.  

I think you and I agree, we're just crossing lines on how we say it.
+4 votes
I've spent the better part of this week researching some ancestors and I regularly look at the Ancestry.com "fact" sheets because they often have (direct) links to the census forms rather than searching by name.  This saves a lot of time, especially when a Thomas is listed on the census as "Tho" or George as "Geo."

In doing this, I see that at least 1/2 of what is linked in Ancestry for the 18th century isn't just unsourced, it is flat wrong.  Again and again I see the wrong parents attached to children - sometimes to an uncle or aunt, sometimes to a completely different family line.  Sometimes I email the person who posted but there is just so much of this junk that you could send a decade and not clear it all out.

I really hope that, as Wikitree grows in popularity, we don't get a flood of bad recordings.

Here is a "for example," in this case, I emailed the poster and the record was removed, she claimed a typo - but this, unfortunately, is more common than not.

In this pic, we have an Ancestry member who posted a "photo" - a screen shot from their family tree:


We can see that John Carter was born in 1765.

And when we click on the photo, we see this:


His mother was born in 1652.  And he was the third child!  If we figure ~ 2 years for subsequent children, ole Katherine Dale was knocking kids out until 1771 - at the ripe age of 119 years old!

What is most astonishing is that this very record shows her dead by 1703.  Imagine, having childen 68 years past dead and burried.

In a perfect world, you would click the Ancestry.com "BS" button and it would be reviewed and removed.

Luckily, the person who posted this record saw the logic and took it down.  But I've emailed tens (hundreds?) of these without reply and they're still up years later.
answered by SJ Baty G2G6 Pilot (245k points)
The flood hit WikiTree about 2011.

I think many people are number-blind.  They just don't see the story in the dates.

Beyond that, I think there are attitude issues.  There's a strong streak of "not my fault".  It's like, "I shouldn't have to learn how to do this stuff.  And I shouldn't have to work too hard.  If it hasn't been made easy enough, that's not my fault.  If the stuff in the books and websites is wrong, that's not my fault.  I'm entitled to have it the way I found it."
+6 votes
It takes hours of work to get an unsourced and probably erroneous link to parents removed, yet the error only took seconds to create. You can still find them all over the place. Been working on half a dozen this Easter alone. Don't really mind as the work is quite satisfying when done. However these don't appear out of thin air. They are all out there somewhere waiting to invade again. Is there, or should there be, a questionable offspring project? Protecting the parents does no good as things stand but a project that protected all the children who for whatever reason might be falsely linked might help. Between us we must know a lot of the likely candidates. Writing a biography of someone who is said by historians to have had no children then having to account for children posted on Wikitree makes the whole thing rather silly. Such accounts belong on the profiles of the alleged, usually unsourced, children. I keep wanting to slap unsourced on profiles with lots of sources and interesting work done in the Americas and no sources that establish the notable parents at all. Very un-Wiki but I think Wikitree is the only Wiki where the errors spread out and corrupt a lot of the good work that is being done. Am I just baying at the moon?
answered by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (108k points)
No.  You are not baying - I'm right there with you.

I've followed the steps:

remove the link

make an annotation

create a link back to the bad link profile

& I've even gone as far as posting a note (warning) that the fantasy parents are not the real parents.  I'm hoping that anyone who comes to make the same link in the future will look, read and become educated.

If not, and they create a bad link, I see no problem with removing it, posting a new note and sending them a friendly message that their 9x great grandfather was a fisherman and not an Arch-duke.

Post a comment asking for a source that confirms the parents... then wait.

If there is no response, post again "since the relation is not confirmed by sources it will be removed"... in some cases it's better to post a G2G.

Still no answer? Disconnect, add relevant notes to the profile with links to the parents and do the same with the parents' profiles.

If the profile gets reconnected, request project protection. This profile is the first I protected as soon as the French Roots project became official...

What Isabelle said.

I'd like to add, that when I see fantasy connections that I KNOW are wrong because of proper sourcing, I add, at the top of the profile, a section that calls this out.

== Incorrect Ancestry ==
'''Joe Schmoe was previously connected, incorrectly, as a son to John [Schmoe-99665] and Mary Schmoe [Perkins-119998].  These links are in error, please see the documentation (sourcing) below and refer to this discussion https//www.wikitree.com/g2g77000/quit/-linking-the-wrong-parents-to-joe-schmoe.'''

== Biography ==
yadda yadda yadda...

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