Sunday, July 29, 2012

Be careful when conflating dates and places

Tom recently contacted me with the following question:
In your page on Freemasonry in St Albans it mentions that a meeting was recorded in March 1843 and "Henry Edwards of Hamsteads, Bricket Wood" attended. My question is whether the date could possibly be a mistake?  I have an advert from July 1843 in the Herts Mercury, which announces that the current tenant, a Mr. Bellis, intends to give up the farm and is selling all the live stock.  I assume it was after this point that Henry Edwards took over the farm.
This raises a common problem in some records. There is a dated reference to an individual - but no date mentioned - but it is known where he lived at another date. So the two bits of information are conflated - although (if the truth were known) the individual did not live at the place at that date.  In this example it is not clear whether the March 1843 list was contemporary, or drawn up at a later date. However the conflation of places and dates is a real problem when people drawing up family trees record conflate the place of marriage with the unknown place of birth - giving the impression that the place of birth is known.

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