Once the statutory records started in 1855, it became much easier to correctly identify people because you have both parents names recorded on a birth record. In the Old Parish Records you have no such luxury as all you have is the father’s name.
Well, that’s not entirely true, you have the father’s name, and where he lives. This does actually help hugely when trying to separate out people born to the same father and those who are a different man.
I’ve recently been following William Gilbert Jameson (to try to figure a natty problem with a death record) and to find all his children required looking through the Old Parish Records for Baptisms. Here’s what I found:-
- 1791 Sep 19 Willm Gilbt Jameson, Hagdale a daughter bapd Catherine
- 1794 May 14 Willm Gilbt Jameson, Hagdale a daughter Margery
- 1796 Apr 9 Willm Gilbt Jameson, Hagdale a Son James bapd
- 1798 Jun 30 Willm Gilbt Jameson, Hagdale a daughter Janet bapd
- 1798 Sep 23 William Gilbt Jameson, Gew, a Son Andrew bapd
- 1800 May 26 Willm Gilbt Jameson, Hagdale a Son William bapd
- 1802 Sep 16 Willm Gilbt Jameson, Hagdale a daughter Isabella
- 1804 Jul 26 Willm Gilbert Jameson, Hagdale a Son Gilbert
- 1807 Jun 25 William Gilbert Jameson, Hagdale a Son Thomas
There’s one thing that immediately stands out from this list for me. All except one has William Gilbert Jameson living in Hagdale. The other lives in Gew. For me this is enough proof that there is a second William Gilbert Jameson and these are not all children of the same man. In case you’re not completely convinced though, you should also take into account the birth dates of daughter Janet and son Andrew. Both were born in 1798 and with not enough of a gap between them to be from the same woman.
The problem that will catch many people out, is that the on-line records at places like Ancestry or Family Search only show the place as “Unst, Shetland”, and don’t include the detail of the house name which is what helps hugely in spotting this kind of problem. It’s always worth looking at the actual records to see ALL the information.
Of course, I suppose it could be the same man and two different women!