Following up on my posts about problems one might encounter in online databases (Some of the Perils of Online Databases – one, two and three) here is another wrinkle I found in the various databases. This one concerns missing information.
Sometimes the Clerk or Vicar had lost his notes when it came time to fill in the register. In this case it was my great-grandfather that he forgot! With just the baptism register information it would have been almost impossible to figure out who this individual was and what family he or she belonged to. As it happened, he was the first person I started looked for in this area, as he was the last of my direct line to be born there. And I had his birth certificate, so I knew when and where he was born.
A few days earlier, on August 16th, there was a baptism entered for his cousin, Louisa Shepheard (Sheppard on the entry), whose father was not known.
Cornwood parish, Devon baptism register entries for Louisa Sheppard (top) and [James] Shepherd; source - source – Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers), retrieved 17 August 2012 from FindMyPast
James, or in this case just the surname Shepherd (that is the way the entry was spelled), does not turn up on any search on Ancestry, FindMyPast, TheGenealogist or FamilySearch. Even variations of the name spelling turn up no baptism for him. Louisa can be found on searches of FindMyPast and FamilySearch and both sites have copies of the baptism register page. She does not come up on searches of Ancestry or TheGenealogist.
Both children were registered with civil authorities with the surname Shepheard.
If you cannot locate information about an individual on either indexes or images, do a broader search of an area, on several databases or different types of sources to try to locate the basic data. And let the database owner know so that they can correct their database or add the relevant information.