Thursday, January 14, 2010

Family Tree Going Back to Medieval Kings and Adam & Eve?

Hello All -

I was having a look on one of the many genealogy blogs that I like to read, and found a great entry about family tree going back to Adam and Eve and Medieval genealogy in general. What a great thing to discuss. So often I have found online genealogies on the various websites that let folks upload their trees, and have found the William the Conqueror and all the various medieval Kings and Queens and then all the way back through to Biblical times to end up with Adam and Eve. Myself personally, I do have my own view of being an Adam & Eve descendant, but I will not share it here.

The blog that I was reading was from Genealogy Star by Mr. James Tanner of Mesa, AZ. He makes such great points on this issue and he has a few good links on the topic too.

One of the links was to the ProGenealogist blog regarding the issue of medieval genealogy.
This is an excellent post for those interested in medieval lineages in Britain.

Now for my two cents worth:

I cannot agree more with the issues discussed from just the two web links I mention above. As mentioned in the links, these type of medieval family trees were made originally for nobility and royal families. It is very unlikely to be proven, unless it can be documented, that John Doe or Jane Doe is a direct descendant of William the Conqueror, etc.

It is so important to be careful with things like this. It is extremely difficult to trace yourself back to such royal families, etc unless there are the sources to prove it. I really wish that those few people who have put their family trees (those who claim to have medieval royalty, etc. ancestors) on these public upload sites would seriously review their content and amend it - unless they have the documentation to back it up.

This content keeps getting copied from one place to the next, and doesn't get vetted. I know that the web is a public place to share all sorts, but lets be responsible about it. I am all for putting a person's researched family tree online. It is a great way to share your information with potentional relatives who share the same families. But, only put it online once the research has been done to a good standard and proved with the documentation supplied. Mistakes can be made in family history, but that is ok as no one is perfect. Even the most recognized genealogists in the field make mistakes. The main thing is if a mistake if found correct things as soon as possible especially if it is online.

This should be the case for all genealogy put up online for the whole public to view. It is in a sense irresponsible and careless genealogy to just put trees online without any regard to its accuracy. It is not my intention to hurt anyone's pride or feelings - it is just as a professional genealogist myself I want everyone who pursues genealogy either as a pastime or a profession to do things the proper way. I have discussed this on various occasions on this blog, and feel that it is vital to do family history research by the best of standards. This means doing research by the GPS - genealogical proof standard.

I can see how some people just starting out in doing family history would fall into the trap - it is very easily done. But, I think once a person has matured in their research capabilities and become more familiar with the methods and techniques of sound research than they will know that these types of online trees are suspect. It can be very attractive to be descended from famous historical figures (medieval, biblical, etc.), but in my opinion it is best to just let your ancestor be who they are - famous or not. All ancestors have their own sense of importance in one way or another; they may not be flashy but they belong to you.

I don't know how many of you have seen this (it is an old piece posted in 2000), but thought it a very good satire by Roy Stockdill:
(Note: please understand that Mr. Stockdill's intent of his old post was for a laugh and should not be taken seriously).

I hope that I haven't stepped on any toes here, but I have to vent on the issue.


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