Friday, 8 March 2013

Tips to ensure you are remembered fondly

In general, I like my ancestors. They seem to be decent people that you would be happy to have as friends and neighbours, even if they weren't family.

But every so often, I stumble across a record that makes me think less kindly of them. At times, they frustrate me terribly. Which is a shame, because it all could have been avoided if only they had rid themselves of a few bad habits.

Since any one of us might end up as the subject of genealogical research, I thought that the following tips might help to preserve your reputation (and your descendant's hair).

  • Have everyone practise spelling the family name in the same way; all the time. The letters "e" and "s" are small but important.
  • Do not adjust your stated age (up or down) at any stage of your life. Honesty is always the best policy.
  • If you don't like your given name, choose another ONE and stick to it. In matters of personal identification, variety is not the spice of life.
  • If you feel that you must marry someone with the same given name as your parent, allow that name a rest in the next generation. Your child will be perfectly happy with something else.
  • Your affection for your sibling does not need to be demonstrated by marrying someone with the same name. If he or she reciprocates, you create a literal Gordian knot.
  • Investigate some variants of the beloved great grandfather's name. Four cousins given the same name within five years is plenty.
  • Follow the census instructions precisely. "She usually lives here, just not tonight" can only end in genealogical tears.
  • If you marry someone with the same family name, make a fuss about it so the information passes down through many generations. A widely-circulated news report about this odd coincidence would be useful.
  • Check an atlas for the location of your place of birth and memorise it. Give that same response each time you are asked; even after you have moved up in the world.
  • If it is necessary to transfer a child to the household of grandparents or an aunt, ensure he or she is labelled unambiguously. Micro-chipping is probably out of the question, but a barcode can be unobtrusive.
  • As the first step in any plans to migrate to a new home, learn to say your name as it would be spoken by a minimally educated man at your destination. Then he will write it down in a way that you (and I) will recognise.

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