2006-06-28

Researching in circles

I mentioned in my previous post that you should always check your sources. Sometimes even the official sources add confusion.

When I first began researching my family tree I got some information from someone about my anscestors coming to New Zealand in 1873 on the ship Rooparell. They can be seen in the passenger list and are:

  • Charles Double, aged 27
  • Ellen Double (Wife of Charles), aged 24
  • Charles Double, aged 3
  • William Double, aged 7 months

The other information I received was that Charles (full name Charles Cornelius Double) and Ellen (Ellen Elizabeth Humphrys) were married in the 4th quarter of 1869, Mile End, England. Ellen’s parents were Oliver Charles Humphrys and Sarah Saulter and she was baptised on 21 Nov 1847, died 21 Oct 1927.

This was a huge help to my research. I had absolutely no information on the Double side of the family at that time. And here we learn how even official sources cause confusion.

I orded William’s birth certificate. He was born in 1873 in Mile End, London, just before their journey to New Zealand. That birth certificate lists the parents as Charles Double and Ellen Double, formerly Humphreys. So that data seemed to match fine.

Next I got Ellen Elizabeth Double’s death certificate. She died in Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand of heart failure. Her parents were not listed but there last name was shown as Humphreys and occupation of father as Tailor. Again, all matches, great!

Next came Charles Cornelius Double’s death certificate. He died in Auckland from a cerebral haemorage, aged 74. The death certificate lists his parents as being James Double and Mary Double, Grocers. Uh oh, this doesn’t match the information I originally got which had the parents as Cornelius Double and Mary Fletcher.

To further compound the issue, his wife is shown as Helen Elizabeth Double. This is close enough to ‘Ellen’ to be a possible error in the way the name is heard.

To clear things up I looked up the marriage record for Ellen and Charles. There wasn’t one for an ‘Ellen Humphrys’ but there was a marriage between Charles Cornelius Double and Elizabeth Humphries. Slightly different spelling of the last name but that’s pretty common. Is it normal to use their middle name sometimes though? There is an Ellen Humphries that got married in 1869 (the same year of marriage, different quarter though) but to an different person.

I ordered the marriage certificate and it added yet more different data. The dates for the ages on the certificate match up and Charles’ father is shown as ‘Cornelius Double’ which matches the information I received but not the death certificate. Elizabeth has the father listed as ‘James Humphries’ and the marriage was witnessed by ‘James and Sarah Humphries’. The father hear is different to the father I got in my infomrtion originally.

So where to from here to try and find out what the real information is? Currently I’m ordering the birth certificates of the other children of Charles and Ellen to see if they have more details. I’ll also look up Ellen’s birth record and order her certificate. That should confirm the parents. I’ll do the same for Charles.

Here’s hoping this other data doesn’t add more confusion! Currently I’m working on the theory that the parents on Charles’ death certificate are likely to be wrong - death certificates tend to be a less reliable source of information due to the person providing the information maybe not knowing.

I suspect that Ellen is the same person as ‘Elizabeth’ and her father really is James. Interestingly the occupation of her father on her death certificate (Tailor) is the same as on her marriage certificate so that’s promising.

The moral of this post is always check your sources. And then, don’t necessarily trust them! Cross check them with other sources.

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