17 January 2012

Perils of closer scrutiny

I'm reminded of a TV program I saw many years ago showing a French scientist dining with, I think, the King, pulling the bread apart and picking out various insect body parts. He assured the King there were many fewer in his bread than normally found.

That crossed my mind as I was further exploring the London, England, Electoral Registers, 1835-1965 database placed online by Ancestry last week. My initial explorations were helpful in filling in gaps in my family history -- the bread tasted good.

Audrey Collins in an intriguingly titled posting Who was Stanmore Groat? found problems. My experience was in searching for mention of my Northwood ancestors. Unfortunately Northwood is also a place name. I found numerous examples of the surname Northwood with unusual first names like Ruislip, Own, Pinner, Parsonage, Farm As, Farm As Occupier Green-Lane Farm, Rickmansworth, These were all in the Ruislip parliamentary district.

View the original records and you`ll find the person`s name is in a column not transcribed. It appears the transcription was done by machine with overly loose quality control. One wonders whether Ancestry even checks the names it comes up with through such machine interpretation against a name dictionary which would surely catch that type of error.

Just because you don`t find your person in this database when you expect to find them doesn`t mean they aren`t there.


James said...

Oh, the sheer joy of Ancestry's so-say "transcription". Did you know that they placed all the BMD records for Harrow registration district under Harlow, and they can't fix it??!! Did you know they created an entirely new registration district in London called Holbron? It just never ends!

Alison (Vancouver) said...

They had one of my relative living at "unmarred then's house"! Never met a 'then', 'marred' or otherwise! The original said quite clearly "unmarried men's house"