Monday, July 31, 2017

Data Problem:  "Birth after Mother's Child-Beaing Years"

This is my first experience with this kind of data problem at FamilySearch Family Tree.  I am, perhaps, too careful with my research and hesitate to add anyone to a tree until I feel confident I have enough documentation to convince me of the accuracy of the names, dates, and relationships.  I added Abel and Eliza (Hartley) Armitage and their two daughters to Family Tree a number of years ago, but another attached Abel's parents.  I'm aware of his parents names from Abel's baptism record but I don't think names alone are enough to add them to Family Tree.

A few weeks ago I was looking at my Armitage line on FamilySearch, specifically Abel Armitage and his parents, and was surprised to see this message:  "Data Problems:  Birth after Mother's Child-Bearing Years."  Oops.

Abel's parents are shown as John Armitage, no birth year noted, and Hannah Baxter, born 1760.

What is the source of the problem?  Other records for Abel -- baptism and a series of census records -- consistently place his birth year at about 1821.  If that year is accurate, then the problem must lie with the person named as his mother, Hannah Baxter, or with her birth date.

Abel's baptism record gives only his parents' given names, John and Hannah.  It is the only record I've found with both of his parent's names on it.  Abel appears in the 1841 U.K census, at age 20, living away from home.  By 1851 he was already married.   

Abel's 1847 marriage record to Eliza Hartley names only his father John Armitage.

There are seven sources attached to Hannah Baxter Armitage on FamilySearch Family Tree.  Six are baptism records for children and the other is a marriage record with her name as "Hannah Baxter OR Pearson."  A note tells me that Hannah was created based on an extracted IGI record and can be found in "England Marriages, 1538–1973."  The citation states, "John Armitage and Hannah Baxter Or Pearson, 09 Aug 1784; citing Saint Peter, Huddersfield, York, England."

If Hannah had been 16 at the time of her marriage in 1784, her birth year calculates to about 1768.  Based on these calculations, she would have been 53 in 1821, the approximate year Abel was born.  There is a slim possibility that she may have had a child at that late age.  From Family Tree, the birth years of children were 1803 (2 children, George and Harriet), 1818 (Marianne), and 1821 (Abel and James).  Is there is any accuracy to these children?  If so, were the ones born in the same year twins or born at least nine months apart during the year?

Now begins the search for Hannah, mother of Abel Armitage, with only Abel's baptism record as a source.  What's sad is that six generations prior to Hannah Baxter are already named and linked in FamilySearch Family Tree.

This reminds me why I am cautious about adding people to my own personal family tree in RootsMagic and even more cautious about adding them to a public tree.  This also reinforces how important it is to consider dates and ages of parents and children.  Keep a calculator handy!

Have you had similar experiences with your families in public trees?  I'm sure it's much more common than I realize.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. What does "Baxter or Pearson" mean? Does that mean 2 women named Hannah? Does it mean one was a maiden name and the other a prior marriage?

    I always see craziness in public trees from couples 100 years apart in age to people married to their own children. I'm always glad when my program alerts me to a data problem so that I have a chance to focus on it instead of blindly moving on.

    1. I wish I knew what "Baxter or Pearson" means, Wendy. I don't want to assume anything (as the person attached her to our tree did). Really, I think it means more research needs to be done!

      I'm so grateful for the notices on FamilySearch Family Tree, especially because some of the people in "my" tree are not people I added. It helps when the gen. program gives alerts, too.


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