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Beware of the Lord-Seekers.
So we are descended from the great chief Cameron of Lochiel ?

 

Well technically in a manner of speaking, yes but to be fair, so is half of Scotland. There are a couple of caveats to bear in mind here.  Firstly this is the fourteenth Century that we are talking about, and this was sixteen- twenty generations ago. Shall we do the math ? 

In those days virtually everyone had large families, 8-10 kids was by no means uncommon, ok half of them croaked before they got out of a Baby-Kilt but even allowing for this, people had loads of kids, you won't see them all in the family trees, there is not enough space. Do not assume that a tree showing parents with just one offspring means that there were not a half dozen more elsewhere.

Here I am going to make huge under-estimate and say if each set of parents had a mere 3 children, then generation 16 would contain 150 million people, or two and a half times the population of the entire UK now !! So if the guy at the top of the tree was a King, never mind a Clan Chief, and he insisted that each generation should divide his wealth and Crown Jewels equally, that would give about 10p to each person.  Do you get where I am coming from here ? If you go far enough back we all have a chief or King as a worthy ancestor. Personally I like to take the logical next step, cut out the middle guy and claim descent from God.

This only becomes a problem when it comes to amateur genealogists like me, in particular amateur genealogists who live in North America. "Why is that then"I hear you cry ! Let me say now, prior to putting my foot in, where it is not welcome, this is not a dig at the wonderful people across the Atlantic.

 

I have been doing this stuff for years now and I chat to and exchange information with people all over the world, which is half of the fun of doing this. Whilst doing this it is plain that most people are researching their families out of interest and the challenge of doing it. There are however some who are researching in the clear expectation of finding some special ancestor that they can prove themselves to be descended from. Such a special ancestor would be a King, Duke, Lord or some such high-status individual.

Making yet another sweeping generalisation with no evidence, ( Like a Donald Trump election moan ) it does seem that a disproportionate number of such "Lord-Seekers" come from North America. "So what you may think, and I would have to agree, other researchers motivation for their research is of no concern to me, though it can sometimes get a bit comical.

 

Some of these "Lord-Seekers" that I have corresponded with, seem to feel that if they can not find at least one Lord, Duke Chief or King in their ancestry, then the entire exercise will have been a bit pointless.  If one looks at some of these trees, some really ludicrous assumptions, and wildly unlikely connections get made, to bring the 'target person' a bit closer.

 

The thing is , that to research your tree you start with a person whose details you know, like your Mum or Granny and work backwards, generation at a time, confirming every step with primary documentary evidence from national or local archives.  This can take you to some interesting and surprising connections, but you only find that once you have got there.

How not to do it is to say My name is Cameron, 600 years ago there was a famous chief called Cameron so we must be related, then sifting through the records to put together a tree that connects you with the  person you would like to have as your ancestor.  If this involves the odd person living to 120 years and women bearing children when they are over 80, well that doesn't really matter, nobody is going to look all that hard and strange things happened in them olden days. After all, the past its a foreign country, they did things differently there. The fact that their tree is inaccurate, or just plain wrong doesn't really bother them. Accuracy is not a big deal for them, it is the name they have got back to that matters.

In fact I suspect that the majority of Family trees are put together just by cutting and pasting someone else tree into ones own without even really looking at the details, it is easy to spot this where you see the same spelling mistake or typo in the same place in tree after tree.

To be fair in this early years section that is pretty much what I have done too, as sadly there is little choice. However in my defence I have used "pooled data"not just cut and paste. what I have done is to pool the information from a number of family trees and bolstered that as far as possible with what factual information is available.

In the very early years in 14th & 15th Centuries, I was just having fun to see how far I could get. These sections are almost entirely lifted from other member's trees.  Perhaps one day time will permit me to spend a few days in the National Records office and do some proper research myself to confirm or refute these early family trees.

 

Where there are unreasonable assumptions, I have discarded the information. and where there are two equally plausible lines to follow, I have tried to follow both. Most of all, I have tried to be very selective. Where a connection is suggested to a famous family I look for other connections.  Even in the past our Cameron Family were not wealthy landowners, they were lowly tenant farmers living hard, short lives, so where someones family tree claims that Cameron of Lochiel's son married my ancestor's daughter...... well I bet that he didn't !!

Whilst the Lord-Seekers may seem foolish and easy to mock, there is an important point here. It is so very easy to find oneself going in the wrong direction. There have been plenty of situations where I have been sure that Wee Hamish is the Son of Big Hamish and grandson of Evenbigger Hamish, but I just cant find that crucial Baptism record that would clinch it. When on a Data-Hunt like this it is all too easy to find oneself sifting through Evenbigger's records looking for something that mentions his grandson.

OK so sometimes one can get away with this, but it does require the greatest caution, it is so easy to see what you want to see when going through endless pages of search results.

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