Recorded birthday conflicts with gravestone - should I change it?

+5 votes
Hi, I have found the gravestone of Adelaide Wordsworth.  She's currently listed as "before 9 Jun 1831" so I figured I'd be able to supply her exact date of birth. Unfortunately, the gravestone clearly says "Born November 25th 1833".  So should I update her birthdate or not?  (I'm new so haven't yet reviewed all the documentation for the site, so if there a page relating to recording conflicting information please point me to it.)

WikiTree profile: Adelaide Wordsworth
in Genealogy Help by Randy Orrison G2G Crew (990 points)

Hi Randy,

Some great work by you and other Wikitreers helping you out with your question re: Birth date...

Decided to have a look at the profile and noticed after all your hard work when you typed up the Bio you recorded " (Her gravestone records her birth date as 25 November 1933,"

Edit: ( Just realised this is an old post, didn't want to jump in and correct, after all the hard work Randy had done  ) blush Typo fixed on profile 11:1:2020

7 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer

It depends on where the original 1831 date came from.  If the correct Adelaide was listed in the 1831 Census, then the 1833 birthdate must be incorrect.  Gravestones are only as accurate as the knowledge of the person who ordered them.

Edit to add:  Here you go.  An Adelaide Troutbeck, daughter of James Sudell Troutbeck and Ann Troutbeck, was christened 9 Jun 1831 in Sefton, Lancashire.

"England, Lancashire, Parish Registers 1538-1910," database, FamilySearch ( : 11 March 2018), Adelaide Troutbeck, 09 Jun 1831; citing Christening, St Helens, Sefton, Lancashire, England, volume , Lancashire Record Office, Preston; FHL microfilm 1,657,555.

That's where the 'before' date came from.  If she's the same Adelaide on the headstone, the headstone is wrong.

by Herbert Tardy G2G6 Pilot (638k points)
selected by Randy Orrison
The birth date comes from which says "baptised on 9 June 1831", and cites an email message as the source for the baptism location, though I don't see the actual text of the email message on that site anywhere. There's also a census record which implies that her year of birth was closer to 1834. I'm inclined to believe the gravestone, but don't want to step on any toes as I'm still new here.

I provided a citation for the official 1831 baptism record, so you need not rely on a purported e-mail message.

Here's another one:

"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018, Adelaide Troutbeck, 09 Jun 1831); citing , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1,469,037.

See image of original record.

The profile would suggest that Adelaide was born in England, had a son in Australia, then a daughter in England, and died in England.  Which might be true, but needs sourcing (maybe the proof is on the children's profiles - I didn't dig in).

You have two possibilities:  Either the headstone belongs to a different woman, or it belongs to the same woman, but it's incorrect.  Can't have it both ways.  I would not change it without resolving that discrepancy.

Edit to add:  I found some more sources, including Violet's baptism and the 1871 Census showing Adelaide and Violet along with Anne Troutbeck in the same household.  (Again, maybe on other profiles already, but I didn't look.)  So it seems to be the same woman.  Maybe she fudged her age, perhaps because her husband was younger, and no one knew better when she died, so she was buried with inaccurate info on her headstone.  Not at all a unique story.

It's still possible that a different Anne Troutbeck had a daughter named Adelaide a couple of years later.  Perhaps two cousins named Adelaide, both with mothers named Ann or Anne.  I think if you want to believe the headstone, you have to find an 1833 Adelaide birth/christening record.  Another possibility is to find two Adelaides in two different Troutbeck households in the 1841 or 1851 Census.  Good luck!

I'm pretty confident that there's just one Adelaide here. Both (with the before 1831 birth date) and the grave stone (with the 1833 birth date) give the same year of death and show her as the wife of Henry Curwen Wordsworth (and there's nothing to indicate that there were two Henry Wordsworths).  So I'm now happy to believe the year on the gravestone is wrong, and her birth date is 24 November, 1830.

Great!  Now for the hard part.  Having done all this work to figure it out, it would greatly benefit our tree to add the sources and update her biography.  The goal would be to account for the dates so convincingly that no future WikiTreer feels tempted to 'correct' her birthdate ever again.  smiley

I've updated her birth date, and added the reason why in the comment to the update (is that sufficient?).  The LDS record is already linked as a source, though I didn't initially have access to it (I thought it was a pay site, but I've now created a free account there and checked the baptism record myself). This discussion is also linked from her profile page.
Thanks for the best answer star!  Glad you have signed up with FamilySearch.  I know you will find it invaluable!

I think you need a narrative explanation in the biography.  Your comment about changing the birth date only shows in the change log.  The way the birth record is cited gives no clue as to its contents or quality.  Sometimes people trying to help on profiles don't read the details in the change log or even look at the existing sources. But they surely will see that lovely headstone image and conclude that the birth date was entered incorrectly on the profile.  Rinse and repeat.  Gotta get inside that loop, and the way to do that is to explain clearly and completely in the biography.

I'll add, regarding your earlier concern about stepping on toes, that Adelaide has no profile manager.  No toes to step on.  Do what you need to do, with a clear conscience.
Thanks for your help and advice. I've added a biographical note about her birth and baptism dates, and also added a comment to the photo of the gravestone. Hopefully that's enough to prevent any future confusion.

That should do it.  Good job!  yes

And you're very welcome!

Randy, I would also send something to Find a Grave selecting 'Suggest other corrections'.  Send them the source that you have now, requesting that they add a note on the page.  Hopefully they will do that so it will deflect future changes to the profile.
Good point - I actually created the memorial there myself, and have added a note to it.
+4 votes
According to an entry in the family Bible, one of my great grandparent's birth year is 1834 and according to the tombstone it was 1832. I decided to go with the 1834 birth for my records.

I was told by a librarian at a genealogy library that tombstone's can be inaccurate.
by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
+8 votes
Found the image of the baptism on Ancestry. Gives her dob as 24 November 1830, baptised 9 June 1831. She was older than her husband so perhaps coy about the year of her birth. Also note one day off. Not that bad when you don't have a birth certificate. Posted link to image on the profile. good catch. Nice pic. Welcome to Wikitree.
by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (272k points)

Wow, good find.  yes  Here's a different image of what appears to be the same record I linked earlier.  It has 'Born 24th Nov 1830' written in the margin, where my link has no such notation.

Thanks for that excellent find. I've added notes to her profile about the conflicting information, and updated her birth date to the date on the baptism record.  If I could give stars to two answers I would.
+3 votes
Hello Randy,

Thank you for this post. It has helped clear up why so many Australians claim descent from William Wordsworth the poet via William Wordsworth-43 son of Henry as he was born in Victoria, Australia. His death at 4 years is an inconvenient truth.



by Graeme Rose G2G6 Mach 1 (10.7k points)
Graeme thanks for posting William's death record!  I cleaned up his profile a bit.  Would you mind checking your comment on William's profile?  There is no Woodsworth-859 on WT.
Thanks Herbert,

Typo. Woodworth-859

That's a pretty cool profile, Graeme!  yes

What's a TOL?

+1 vote
as a general rule of thumb you can say that the "younger" the entry is, the more correct it should be. In the records I currently use for the connectathon, there is often a remark: "The age said in the census and the age in the death's church books differ for x years. The age of the census is taken."
by Jelena Eckst├Ądt G2G6 Pilot (765k points)
+2 votes
Keep in mind that there can be an error in any kind of source.   If you are sure the birth record and headstone represent the same person and the birth record was created near the time of the persons birth such as a birth certificate that is more likely to be the correct one.  If the record is a transcription that introduces more possible chances for error.  Sometimes the date is a christening date.  Then there are circumstances like my dad.  He was a twin whose sister died on the day they were born.   His birth was recorded two days after his actual birthdate and that was recorded as the birthday.   He always went by the earlier date that was correct according to his parents and grandmother.   They never officially changed the birth record.  All other records: marriage, insurance, work, military,  death certificate,  headstone show the earlier date.  I would always make a "best guess" based on what I know at the time and record a Research Note about any discrepancies and my thoughts in deciding as I did.  If new information is discovered it can always be revised and an addition made to the  notes.
by Cherry Duve G2G6 Mach 4 (49.1k points)
+3 votes
Lancashire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1911

Name:  Adelaide Troutbeck

Birth Date:  24 Nov 1830

Baptism Date:  9 Jun 1831 Parish Sefton, Lancashire, England

Sefton, Lancashire, England  Phillimore Ecclesiastical Parish Map4977

Father"  James Sudell Troutbeck

Mother:  Ann Troutbeck  

Register Type: Parish Registers

Reference Number  Pr 2882/18

Related questions

+3 votes
1 answer
0 votes
1 answer
+2 votes
3 answers
+4 votes
1 answer
80 views asked Sep 23, 2015 in Genealogy Help by Ann Ross G2G6 Mach 1 (11.7k points)
+9 votes
2 answers
+2 votes
1 answer
66 views asked May 20, 2020 in WikiTree Help by Sally Gearin G2G Rookie (190 points)

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright