About 20 years ago, I put my family tree on Ancestry.com. It was hard work, and they blew it away when a new format came along. So I’ve been a bit sceptical.
Last week, I bit the bullet and started another tree. I have to say, I found the experience very positive and really quick. Their algorithms are very good at generating “hints” where other researchers have the same family, and you can choose the facts that have the best backing in terms of attached scans of registers and the like. That’s fantastic.
Not quite so fantastic is that it will also find Old Aunt Edna’s Best Guesses from the 1930s, without documentation, cheerfully entered into Ancestry by her descendants. Indeed, there was a bit of that with my own Howets of Eastwood in the 1600s. I’m still thinking through whether I should contact the people with bad data, asking them to change it, to stop it promulgating further.
Ultimately, Ancestry.com tends to give you the best data it has to work with, which in turn puts some onus on us researchers to provide the relevant documentation. So I am doing that, at least for the early generations in the Howitt tree. One in particular I want to check is Robert Howett of Eastwood, that he really was the one who married the heiress of Wansley Hall in 1668, when he had a cousin of the same name and age living near her in Selston.
Just checked that one: the marriage licence does specify that she married Robert of Eastwood, who we can reasonably presume is the one left the living there in his father’s will of 1664.
I’m still working on it, but if you have a reason to look at my Ancestry tree please contact me (Rhys Howitt) via Ancestry.com and I’ll give you access.