By Maureen Storey
We’ve had no new members nor even any Sole enquiries in the last few months so I have taken the opportunity to do some much needed house-keeping on the Society’s databases and to add to the section of the database that contains the descendants of George Soule of the Mayflower.
The house-keeping has mostly involved making place names consistent, so that it is easier to search for all events in a particular area. For example, where the name of the church in which an event took place is known, it was previously recorded with the church’s name first, then the parish, such as St Andrew’s, Holborn, but this made it impossible to sort by area. Because Family Historian has more data fields than Generations, our original programme, it has now been possible to separate the church and the parish into different fields, meaning that searches can be done on just the parish.
The early generations of the family of George Soule of the Mayflower and his wife Mary Becket appear in the series of books Mayflower Families in Progress published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.
A great deal of effort has gone into authenticating the data in these books and they are generally regarded as the definitive version of the families that they cover. For George and Mary’s family the books published so far cover the first six generations and the data in them was added to our database several years ago. Since then information on the later generations has been added in a piecemeal fashion as we acquired it and then only if the source of the data was reliable. As it is unwise to just accept data from the Internet, without being able to check its source and for many years it was difficult to access original US source material from the UK, progress on the later generations has been slow. However, the digitization of records by the commercial family history companies and by the LDS church means this is no longer true. The lull in activity elsewhere in the Society has meant that it has been possible to expand our records for the Mayflower family dramatically with a few of its branches being brought almost up to the present.
When inputting data, one of the minor pitfalls that I’ve come across particularly, though not exclusively, with American data is making assumptions about the sex of a child based on its forename. When faced with a Thankful, an Ivory, a Remember or a Recompense, it is not until the relevant marriage has been found that you know if you’ve got the sex right (these were respectively girl, boy, girl, boy). With names that have been widely used, however, such as William, Mary or John, you feel you’re on more solid ground, but beware: to date I’ve found two male Winifreds, two male Dorises and a male Marion!
The Embarkation of the Pilgrims 1857 by American painter Robert Walter Weir