In May 2018 I wrote about the progress I was making on my family tree. The previous ten generations of my forebears have a maximum total of 1,023 people. How many of these, I wondered, could I name.

I found that I knew the names of only 319 of these (31%) Today, three and a half years later, I can name 358 (35%), only 39 more.

Ten generations takes your to your 7th great grandparents. Most of my children’s 7th great grandparents were born in the 1700s (where I know their date of birth). I know the names of 86 of the 512 forebears of this generation. I don’t know very much more than the names of 62.

For the last year I have been transferring my research to WikiTree, a collaborative project intended to produce a ‘singular worldwide family tree’.  (The genealogist Kitty Cooper discusses the scheme in a post of 26 April 2019). By contributing my research to WikiTree it will be there as a resource for my cousins to use now and indefinitely into the future, safe, I hope, from accidental and malicious damage.

There are discrepancies between my personal research tree and WikiTree. For one thing, I have names of forebears on my personal tree about whom I know nothing more than their name. These people cannot be added to WikiTree until I have more information about them. When I add a person to Wikitree, I provide source citations: I state how I know the facts being added and how I know about the relationship of the newly-added profile to the existing people on the tree. Adding my family tree slowly to Wikitree is an excellent way to review my family history research.

When looking at the 1,023 individuals of the previous ten generations of our forebears, I have only 258 recorded on WikiTree, 25% of the possible maximum.

A useful challenge that categorises ancestral profiles was posed earlier this year by the Dutch genealogist Yvette Hoitink. She suggests there are six levels of profile beyond ‘Unidentified’ (where not even the name is known):

  1. Name only – perhaps the forebear is named in a child’s record but no other details are known
  2. Vital statistics – know the dates but little else
  3. Occupations, residence, children, spouses – know several key points of information; know when and where they were born, married, and died, but also where they lived between those key dates and what they did for a living; know who their children were, and if they married multiple times.
  4. Property ownership, military service, religion, criminal activity – filled in more biographical details about their lives; researched in court, notarial, cadastral, church and military records, where applicable; if they owned property, how they acquired it, how they disposed of it; whether they left a last will or if they had a prenuptial agreement; for men, whether they served in the army; what religion they were and which church they attended; if they were criminals, what they did and what their sentence was.
  5. Genealogical Proof Standard – Yvette categorises this as ancestors for whom she has finished reasonably exhaustive research and has proven who their parents are; finished researching them in a wide range of records, such as newspapers, town records, and tax records; documented them according to current genealogical standards, analyzed everything properly, resolved conflicts, written up her conclusion, and met the Genealogical Proof Standard.
  6. Biography – Yvette categorises this as ancestors for whom she has not only finished the research, but has produced a biography or family story with historical context from it.

I have started a preliminary review of our tree against these criteria. I have been reasonably conservative in assigning levels: for example, I have written more biographies or family stories with historical context in this online research journal than are shown in this chart.

Surname groups from left to right: Young, Cross, Sullivan, Dawson, Champion de Crespigny, Cudmore, Boltz, Manock.
Forebears where I only know the names (level 1 shown in blue) are not yet recorded on Wikitree, I need more information to record them there.
The chart was generated with DNAPainter.

The chart was generated using DNAPainter and the dimensions facility on the ancestral tree tool. DNA Painter Dimensions are custom categories giving the ability to create and share different views of your direct line. One of the dimensions you can apply to your tree is what stage you have reached for each forebear in the six levels of ancestral profiles of Yvette Hoitink’s level-up challenge. I learned about the addition of this new DNA Painter ‘dimensions’ feature in April. I have been meaning to apply it.

Applying the dimensions to each of the profiles was laborious. I sped it up slightly by applying level 1 (only know names) to all profiles on the tree. I then individually edited each of the other profiles with what I felt to be a fair assessment of the state of my research.

When I finished adding the categories I was able to generate a summary of genealogy facts. For example for the tenth generation (the outermost ring on the fan chart) I could produce the following summary:

7th-Great-Grandparents 86 of 512 identified

Surnames: Way, Bishop, Colling, Way, Bishop, Moggeridge, Morley, Read, Hemsley, Jenner, Whalley, Hague, Gilbert, Trevithick, Huthnance, Ralph, Champion de Crespigny, Fonnereau, Scott, Gough, Trent, Phipps, Phipps, Tierney, Dana, Trowbridge, Kinnaird, Johnstone, Bayly, Holmes, Grueber, Smyth, Snell, Chauncy, Brown, Cosnahan, La Mothe, Perez, Corrin, Quay, Mitchell, Hughes, Price, Plaisted, Sier, Wilks, Wilkinson, Green, Neilson, Taylor, Miller, Cudmore, Apjohn, Furnell, Massy, Gunn, Manson, Harper, Cavanagh, Lane, Orfeur, Kirkby, Palliser, Wogan, Coates, Odiarne, Haffenden, Mainwaring, Bunbury, Latham, Kelsall, Duff, Skelly, Harrison

Research Level

  • Level 1: Names only  62 12.11%
  • Level 3: Occupations, residence, children, spouses  11 2.15%
  • Level 4: Property ownership, military service, rel  10 1.95%
  • Level 2: Vital statistics  2 0.39%
  • Level 6: Biography  1 0.2%
  • Unassigned  426 83.2%

I look forward to more research and exploring and recording my family history beyond collecting the names.

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