Following up on my posts about problems one might encounter in online databases (Some of the Perils of Online Databases – one and two) here is another wrinkle I found in the various databases. This one concerns what might be found in different versions of parish information.
Sarah and John Adams
I found an example where the parish baptism register recorded two baptism events on the same day, but on one of the Bishop’s Transcripts children’s names were reversed.
Sarah Adams was baptized on 24 April 1808 in Cornwood parish, Devon. She was described as the “Bastard of Jane Adams” on the parish baptism register entry. A note was written alongside the that said, “the mother was permitted to be delivered in this parish under an engagement that Plympton would consider the child as belong to that parish.” Jane was not a normal resident of Cornwood parish.
Top: Cornwood parish baptism entries for William Northmore and Sarah Adams; source – Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers), retrieved 11 October 2012 from FindMyPast
|Bottom: Cornwood Bishops’ Transcripts entries for William Northmore and Sarah Adams; source - "England, Devon Bishop's Transcripts, 1558-1887," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6R9S-6F7?cc=2515875&wc=QZ1P-1LP%3A1589444512 : 11 September 2019), 004398895 > image 209 of 220; Devon Record Office, Exeter|
The image found on FamilySearch is from the Bishop’s Transcripts, not the parish register. It only indicates the child was “base born” but does not comment on the mother’s predicament as a non-resident of the parish.
Prior to passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, individual parishes were responsible for poor relief and they took great care to ensure that only their own legitimate families were listed for any support. Local county and regional governments took over welfare responsibilities after 1834.
For John, there is additional problem between the websites.
On the parish baptism register, John is shown as the bastard son of Jane Adams, the same Jane as for Sarah above. There is also a note about the lying in appended to the entry which says, “Note the mother was permitted to lie in in Cornwood under a promise fr[om] Plymton to consider the Bastard as theirs.” There was a second baptism that same day for Anne Northmore, daughter of Joseph and Mary.
FamilySearch has only the Bishop’s Transcripts and the information on their image is different. It says that John was the son of Joseph and Mary Northmore and Anne was the bastard daughter of Adams. No first name for the mother was recorded which is curious if the information was copied from the parish register.
Top: Cornwood parish baptism entries for Anne Northmore and John Adams; source – Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers), retrieved 11 October 2012 from FindMyPast
Bottom: Cornwood Bishops’ Transcript entries for John Northmore and Anne Adams; source - "England, Devon Bishop's Transcripts, 1558-1887," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6R9S-66Q?cc=2515875&wc=QZ1P-1LP%3A1589444512 : 11 September 2019), 004398895 > image 214 of 220; Devon Record Office, Exeter.
So, which one is right? Either child would fit in the Northmore family. The couple had nine children in Cornwood, one every two years from 1792, and either one would fit in the group.
Bishop’s Transcripts should normally match up with the parish registers. It seems that is not always the case here, so one must review other documents to determine the makeup of families. I did that for Jane Adams. She appears to have married William Head in 1819 in Cornwood. She had a six-year old girl living with her in 1841 by the name of Jane Adams. Further research indicated the girl was most likely the daughter of John Adams, Jane’s son. I lean toward the parish register entry about John being right as it has more information about the event and other records seem to support that interpretation.
It appears that on the parish register, the two entries originally were written as “John son of” the Northmores and “Anne bastard daughter of” Jane, but these were erased and information about John and Anne were reversed. It is possible (probable?) that the Bishop’s Transcript had already been sent to the diocese office before the error in the parish register was discovered and corrected.
Curiously, baptism entries for neither of Sarah or John Adams appear on Ancestry, FindMyPast or TheGenealogist lists. FindMyPast has the images from the register which show the children, but their names were not transcribed to the indexes.
As I indicated for other examples, if there is a discrepancy between different images, such as between parish registers and Bishop’s Transcripts, let those in charge know so they can get the right information online or at least append notes to recognize the differences.
If you come across information on indexes that is not consistent with other data or with the images from which it was obtained, let the database owner know so they can make adjustments or corrections.
In all cases where information is inconsistent or in obvious error, consult as many other sources as possible to determine what the true facts or most likely interpretations are. Remember that all records were made by people using information they were given by others and may contain errors of fact or transposition.