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So Where do you start ?

 

How far back do we want to go with a family tree ? I think the best answer is as far as possible where there is reliable documentary evidence. As regards the Highlanders, the entire world changed in 1745 in the aftermath of the '45 Rebellion. Prior to this record keeping was seemingly regarded as a bit of a waste of time,  Why bother writing up accurate records when you could be out killing people. After the rebellion accurate parish records were part of the oppression of the rebellious Highlanders. Records meant that the number of fit young men in an area could be monitored, allowing the pre-emptive eviction of a few families if they were getting too numerous or stroppy. Records also allowed the King to know his enemy.

So post 1745 there are mainly good records. This is not to say there are none earlier but as you will see, there was a big change. Because of this, the main part of this history and Family Tree starts with the generation around in 1745, this is 10 generations before the current one. I am as confident as one can be that this tree is accurate, there are a few anomalies and inconsistencies, I will point these out along the way.

Pre 1745 things are difficult. I have traced the tree back as far as I can, using what records are available, mainly Parish Records ( OPR ), legal and court records and of course others who have researched this way before.  At this point I ring a dirty great alarm bell, relying on other peoples family trees is fraught with risk of dud data.  In my tree I try to check out the data as much as possible, others trees are invaluable, but whatever they say I go back to the original records, check and cross check every fact and discard or highlight as many of the inconsistencies as possible. In this manner I got back to around 1550 for both Camerons & Pursers. 

After this, just for the hell of it I went for broke with blatant plagiarism just to see how far back what looked to be well researched trees by other people would get me. 

Within Ancestry it is not possible to cut and paste sections of family tree, however there are clearly other apps that do permit this. It is easy to spot as the same mistakes get propagated to tree after tree. At one point I attempted to colour code a group of John Camerons, there were so many of them all about the same age. So I had John green Cameron, John Pink Cameron, John Blue Cameron etc.  

This was not a good scheme and I soon discarded it, removing the colour designations. However by the time I did this someone had copied John Pink Cameron into their tree, I subsequently contacted them to explain that this was dud data not a real name  but for years after, John Pink Cameron would come up time after time in Ancestry searches and was clearly in dozens of trees. It seems that many people were happy to just copy chunks of family tree without checking any of the facts.

That is not how I traced this tree but the further back one goes, the thinner the records get and there is less and less opportunity to check facts. Some people have got their family trees back a very long way and it is entertaining to follow some of these "what if " type paths back into the mists of time.  I have yet to find anyone claiming descent from "Lucy" the 2,000,000 year old Hominid found by Richard Leaky but some people are not far off.  Where someone has a tree going back to the 11th or 12th Century, I am        A.--Impressed.       but B.---sceptical,   I want to see their data and where they got their facts from.  As often as not, there are virtually no verifiable facts supporting the tree, and almost all has simply come from someone else .

 

Looking at person A's trees he has got his information from person B. Looking at B they got it from C etc, etc. As often as not after five more six trees you come back where you started and find that person H got his data mainly from person A !!This does not automatically mean that the facts are incorrect, but if they are not, there is no way of knowing.

I have attempted to use consistent criteria when considering an individual in the tree.  What I look for is good documentary evidence and accurate dates for the principal milestones, these being Birth / Baptism,  Marriage and Death. I like to be able to look at a record and see perhaps OPR entries for their baptism, their marriage, a photo of their gravestone perhaps. I need to be able to be certain who their Mother & Father were, and see details of their spouse and Children.  If I have all of this or its equivalent then I regard that person as being "Verified" and certainly in Ancestry, stamp this clearly on the record.

So how far back have I got the Tree ?  

At the end of the day I got the Camerons back 26 generations to 1260 and the Pursers 21 generations to 1380.

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