What is wrong with this family? Why you shouldn’t believe everything you read.

I’ve been researching my Family History for almost 5 years (wow, I’ve never had a hobby that’s been this consistent) and in that time I’ve seen some funny/strange/frustrating “facts” that are simply not true, not possible or simply just downright wrong.  The following has to be my crown (family) jewel..

William Bruce (son of James Bruce and Elizabeth Henderson) was born 23 Dec 1796 in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, and died 28 Jul 1871 in Newburn St, West Hartlepool, Durham, England. He married Rosamund Gardner on 22 Sep 1785 in Easton Neston, daughter of John Gardner and Jane.

More About William Bruce and Rosamund Gardner:
Marriage: 22 Sep 1785, Easton Neston.

Children of William Bruce and Rosamund Gardner are:

  1. +John Bruce, d. date unknown.

This William Bruce is my 5x great grandfather, which would make James Bruce and Elizabeth Henderson my 6x great grandparents, or would it?
This particular tree is one of Ancestry’s favourite “hints” to give a researcher complete with a glaring error (have you spotted it yet?).  This particular tree appears to have ‘gone viral’, the list of researchers adding this misinformation to their tree including myself and a close relative continues to grow yearly. Yes, I admit, I fell into the trap way back in 2007 (do you have any idea how long it takes to delete family members on Ancestry?).

In case you haven’t already discovered the mistake… this William Bruce married 11 years BEFORE he was born.  What a clever man! ;) I believe he is the only man to have ever been able to achieve this.  On a serious note, who really is William Bruce?

Firstly, I have no doubt that the William born in 1796 in Alloa, Clackmannanshire really exists and yes, I’m sure James and Elizabeth were his parents.. It’s also probable that he died in 1871 in Durham.  However, this man is most certainly not the William who married Rosamund Gardner.

‘My’ (I use my in the loosest sense of the word) William was living in Easton Neston at the time of his marriage to Rosamund Gardner on 22 Sep 1785.  It’s not certain when or where he was born.  Rosamund was indeed the daughter of John Gardner and Jane Newman.  She was christened on 8th Jan 1759.
William and Rosamund had 6 children, John (1786-1879), Robert (1787-1865), Joseph (1789-1846), William (1792-1793), William (1798-1798) and Jane (1799-1836).
Rosamund was buried 11th March 1799, a week before Jane was christened.
The following year William married, Mary Cross.  He died in Easton Neston in April 1811.

I don’t own my ancestors but if I’m going to claim them it’s my responsibility to record their details accurately.  These mistakes in other people’s family trees are a huge frustration simply because the misinformation is still out there.   I’ve spent the last 4.5 years trying to put people straight on this… but my efforts have evidently failed so far.

I implore you, as one researcher to another, check your facts, read your tree and if you don’t want to delete the incorrect information then you really must rethink your choice of hobby.  That’s not to say that my family tree is perfect, there may be mistakes…. However, I don’t know of these mistakes at the moment.


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