Saturday, 16 April 2011

Uninteresting people in your family tree?

According to a press release for, 10% of Canadians have royalty or links to royalty in their family tree. Curious about the source of the information I contacted Jeri Brown of Media Profile,'s publicity company. Jeri kindly sent me the following survey result from May last year based on responses from more than 1,000 people.

11. Based on your current knowledge of your family history, which of the following have you found in your family tree? (check all that apply)
War hero




Someone very wealthy / a lost fortune

An adulterer

A politician

A renowned artist / author / poet

Sports person of note

Royalty or links to royalty

A living relative I wasn’t previously in contact with

None of these


Taking the numbers at face value, I'm surprised. The majority have nobody of note (positive or negative) in their family tree.
85% have not found a previously uncontacted living family relative, which doesn't say much for genealogical social networking.
The percent who have a criminal and a politician in their family tree is the same (don't go there!)

I confess I'm doubtful about the statistics. Am I wrong, or only partly wrong? Please take the simple survey below with much the same questions, except a bit more definition for royalty. If I get sufficient responses I'll blog the results in a few days. Thank you


BDM said...

I share your surprise. May one ask, how many surveys were sent out for Ancestry to base its results on 1,000+ Canadians? To which genealogical societies were the surveys sent? Or elsewhere? Just out of curiosity, if these results are from No. 11 on the survey, what are the other questions?? And some of us desperately wonder what we all think "pirate" encompasses.

Persephone said...

I second the definition of "pirate". Does an Englishman who may have involved in the slave trade in the mid-nineteenth century count? I don't think my family, nor my husband's, is any more unusual than anyone else's, yet I seem to be turning up a healthy minority of free spirits/questionable characters/weirdos. I suggest people aren't looking close enough. They need to un-earth some wills, for example. That's where a lot of strange stuff comes to light.

Anonymous said...

Does the family tree include people who have married into the family? e.g. uncle by marriage? or do you just mean blood relatives? MAS

JDR said...

Now that's a question MAS. It would have been helpful if the original had specified. If I were answering I'd choose anyone in the family tree, except where I've expanded the question on royalty to be explicit. Otherwise I wouldn't be comfortable making the claim in the Ancestry press release.

Old Census Scribe said...

The question was "...on your family tree". I read that to mean it depends on how wide the responder has made their own family tree when they put it on paper or a family-tree program. If the war hero, pirate, politician or 52nd cousin once removed is there, he/she is there.