Discussion:
Widespread Medieval Genealogical Errors on Wikipedia
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HWinnSadler
2018-04-09 00:31:12 UTC
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While researching Medieval Nobility on Wikipedia (for the primary sources that are referred to, not wikipedia itself), I have sadly come across a multitude of errors. For example, the claim that Isolde le Rous was the daughter of Edmund Mortimer, 2nd Baron Mortimer, which is still fairly widespread among junk genealogy sites. Another common thing I've seen is adding information to biographies that has absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand. For example, the article on William I, Count of Provence previously added at the end:

"He may also be the brother of Eremburge De Pont Audemer (born De Bricquebec Bertrand) who married Torf De Pont Audemer. Eremburge and Torf are the 18th great grandparents of Thomas Newberry the immigrant ancestor of the American family. Thomas Newberry was the fourth great grandfather of Walter Loomis Newberry, the founder of the Newberry Library in Chicago, IL. Walter Loomis Newberry was the 4th great grandson of Joseph Loomis, the immigrant ancestor of the Loomis family in America."

If Thomas Newberry is a Gateway ancestor (which I do not know as I have not paid much attention to the accepted list), than this would probabably be accurate. But most Gateway ancestors would descend from William I of Provence, why point out one specific one?

I would assume that most members of soc.genealogy.medieval would not use wikipedia as a primary source, and rightfully so. I don't use it as a primary source either. However, those less interested in Medieval Genealogy, for example the average person who discovers they might descend from Nobility, might just accept what's presented, whether it's true or not. That's why it is important to correct these errors whereever they are- because these myths have been known to be false for a long time. It's important to stop their spread.
s***@mindspring.com
2018-04-09 01:01:43 UTC
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Post by HWinnSadler
"He may also be the brother of Eremburge De Pont Audemer (born De Bricquebec Bertrand) who married Torf De Pont Audemer. Eremburge and Torf are the 18th great grandparents of Thomas Newberry the immigrant ancestor of the American family. Thomas Newberry was the fourth great grandfather of Walter Loomis Newberry, the founder of the Newberry Library in Chicago, IL. Walter Loomis Newberry was the 4th great grandson of Joseph Loomis, the immigrant ancestor of the Loomis family in America."
If Thomas Newberry is a Gateway ancestor (which I do not know as I have not paid much attention to the accepted list), than this would probabably be accurate. But most Gateway ancestors would descend from William I of Provence, why point out one specific one?
I would assume that most members of soc.genealogy.medieval would not use wikipedia as a primary source, and rightfully so. I don't use it as a primary source either. However, those less interested in Medieval Genealogy, for example the average person who discovers they might descend from Nobility, might just accept what's presented, whether it's true or not. That's why it is important to correct these errors whereever they are- because these myths have been known to be false for a long time. It's important to stop their spread.
Good luck! Let us know how this project works out. :-)

People have been complaining about [insert identity of unreliable source here] ever since this newsgroup was formed. And Wikipedia is far from the worst.

Stewart Baldwin
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-09 01:58:23 UTC
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Post by s***@mindspring.com
People have been complaining about [insert identity of unreliable source here] ever since this newsgroup was formed. And Wikipedia is far from the worst.
Ha ha, four years ago I started a discussion thread over at WikiTree entitled "epidemic of false medieval ancestries for colonial immigrants," and it's still an active thread: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/76708/epidemic-false-medieval-ancestries-for-colonial-immigrants?show=590383
HWinnSadler
2018-04-09 01:51:31 UTC
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So far I'm only correcting errors that I come across instead of actively seeking them out.

You make a good point, that there are many sources out there worse than Wikipedia. For example, Geni and wikitree are full of mistakes. There are trees on geni tracing back to every ancient King imaginable, without any concern for accuracy. I've seen trees in the past making Elizabeth the Cuman, wife of King Stephen V of Hungary, the granddaughter of Genghis Khan, and some people act as though the proposed DFA through Charles Constantine of Vienne is proven. Luckily things are improving on Geni a little bit, I managed to get the fabricated ancestry of Richard Bowen of Rehoboth removed. But there is still a lot to do, especially since people just seem to accept whatever they read and refuse to change their data even when proven wrong.

Hunter Winn-Saddler
HWinnSadler
2018-04-09 02:09:00 UTC
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I've read parts of that thread before- it is extremely important for wikitree. There are many ludicrous links on Wikitree- for example, that Avelina de Hesdin (daughter of Ernulf de Hesdin) was a daughter of King Alexander I of Scotland.
I applaud you for bringing attention to the issue over there.

Hunter Winn-Saddler
wjhonson
2018-04-09 19:27:11 UTC
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Thank you for the update to William I of Provence.

Some new wikipedians get excited about finding an ancient ancestor and want to let every article know.
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-09 19:37:54 UTC
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I checked Aveline de Hesdin at wikitree: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hesdin-5

It looks like somebody got around to fixing that. Wikitree's medieval profiles keep improving, but it's very much a work in progress. If people notice obvious medieval bloopers on wikitree, please feel free to say so on this thread(?), or you can also anonymously click the "ask a question" button on any wikitree profile, which starts a discussion thread over there.
Paulo Canedo
2018-04-09 19:54:53 UTC
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Post by HWinnSadler
"He may also be the brother of Eremburge De Pont Audemer (born De Bricquebec Bertrand) who married Torf De Pont Audemer. Eremburge and Torf are the 18th great grandparents of Thomas Newberry the immigrant ancestor of the American family. Thomas Newberry was the fourth great grandfather of Walter Loomis Newberry, the founder of the Newberry Library in Chicago, IL. Walter Loomis Newberry was the 4th great grandson of Joseph Loomis, the immigrant ancestor of the Loomis family in America."
If Thomas Newberry is a Gateway ancestor (which I do not know as I have not paid much attention to the accepted list), than this would probabably be accurate. But most Gateway ancestors would descend from William I of Provence, why point out one specific one?
I would assume that most members of soc.genealogy.medieval would not use wikipedia as a primary source, and rightfully so. I don't use it as a primary source either. However, those less interested in Medieval Genealogy, for example the average person who discovers they might descend from Nobility, might just accept what's presented, whether it's true or not. That's why it is important to correct these errors whereever they are- because these myths have been known to be false for a long time. It's important to stop their spread.
Thomas Newberry being a gateway ancestor was disproved years ago by Douglas Richardson, see https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/soc.genealogy.medieval/l1eERcVmy9I/S4qSszuNVLAJ;context-place=msg/soc.genealogy.medieval/-FVUTYFIJyQ/4Xw-wKQTLywJ and https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/soc.genealogy.medieval/-FVUTYFIJyQ/4Xw-wKQTLywJ;context-place=msg/soc.genealogy.medieval/l1eERcVmy9I/S4qSszuNVLAJ.
Tim Forsythe
2018-04-09 20:05:59 UTC
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Post by HWinnSadler
If Thomas Newberry is a Gateway ancestor (which I do not know as I have not paid much attention to the accepted list)
There was a series of comments on the GEN-MEDIEVAL-L mailing list in 2011 that would indicate that he is not a Gateway ancestor. These discussions are summarized on my website at: http://gigatrees.com/users/home/saga/sources/S1767

Tim Forsythe
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-09 21:27:11 UTC
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Post by Tim Forsythe
There was a series of comments on the GEN-MEDIEVAL-L mailing list in 2011 that would indicate that he is not a Gateway ancestor. These discussions are summarized on my website at: http://gigatrees.com/users/home/saga/sources/S1767
Tim Forsythe
It looks like I disconnected Thomas Newberry's fictitious grandfather three years ago at wikitree, but the Newburgh ancestry got grafted onto Thomas's mother's ancestry. I left an "intent to detach parents" message on the profile of Thomas's mother Grace Matthew, at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Matthew-8 Now either somebody will provide some documentation, or I'll go back in a few days with the pruning shears.
HWinnSadler
2018-04-09 22:52:31 UTC
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Yes, that is true about many who find out about their Noble ancestry. What stunned me, is that William I of Provence is not an altogether notable person. I can see someone writing like that on the pages of Kings, but not Counts.

When I mentioned Aveline de Hesdin on wikitree, I meant the profile here: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hesding-2 I assume that's who she is from a discussion refuting the connection to King Alexander I, but haven't verified anything more than that.

It's a good thing, then, that the reference to him as a descendant of the Counts of Provence has been removed.

If anyone else knows of any common Medieval Genealogical errors, it would be a good idea to list them so awareness can be spread.
s***@mindspring.com
2018-04-10 01:13:51 UTC
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On Monday, April 9, 2018 at 5:52:34 PM UTC-5, HWinnSadler wrote:
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Post by HWinnSadler
If anyone else knows of any common Medieval Genealogical errors, it would be a good idea to list them so awareness can be spread.
The problem is, it would take a small army of competent genealogists just to list all such errors as fast as new ones are being produced. And even if you could do that, too many "genealogists" would ignore the list and keep repeating the errors anyway because they liked them better than the truth.

I tend to believe that trying to correct errors on bad sites like Wikitree and Geni does more harm than good. Such anybody-uploads-anything-they-want sites are never going to be worthwhile without reasonable quality control, and unless such quality control is exercised from the beginning (which pretty much never happens), the site soon spins so far out of control that it takes more work to fix it than to trash it and start over again with real quality control. Those who spend their time correcting bad sites help make the overall unreliability of the site to become less noticeable, enhancing the monetary value without any significant increase in scholarly value, thus giving those operating the database even less motive to exercise reasonable quality control.

Actually, Wikipedia seems to make a better effort at this than some of the others, but they usually only have a reasonable degree of success when the topic is "high-profile" enough to attract a critical mass of competent contributors. For a topic like medieval genealogy, some charlatan can post hundreds of pages of garbage before someone competent even notices that they are there.

Stewart Baldwin
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-10 05:33:02 UTC
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I tend to believe that trying to correct errors on bad sites like Wikitree and Geni does more harm than good. Such anybody-uploads-anything-they-want sites are never going to be worthwhile without reasonable quality control...
@HWinnSadler, I detached Avelina Hesding's wikitree profile from King Alexander of Scotland, thanks.

@Stewart Baldwin, I hope that your low opinion of wikitree is based on out-of-date information. Wikitree has, for the past couple years, been blocking people from editing pre-1500 profiles unless they have obtained a "pre-1500 badge," which requires them to demonstrate basic competence in using sources. The accuracy of the wikitree profiles of my own medieval ancestors is steadily improving.

Recently I did a lot of work on the wikitree profiles of the ancestors of my presumed ancestor Jane (Machell) Rich. I invite you to criticize their accuracy -- a five-generation chart is at https://www.wikitree.com/genealogy/Machell-Family-Tree-6

If anybody edits any of these profiles (going back five generations or so), I will receive an automatic notification, so I can keep an eye on them. However, this lineage connects to the earlier Bellingham/Tunstall families -- profiles that I did not create and haven't worked on, so I can't vouch for their accuracy. The same goes for the even earlier Radcliffe connection to the Machells' Kirkby/Urswick line.

A different example, that I did a lot of work on three years ago, is the ancestry of my ancestor Humphrey Prideaux (his mother was a Poyntz, going back to Magna Carta baron William Malet). A five-generation chart is here: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Shapton-3 People just don't come along and try to add fantasy parents; these profiles have been quite stable. I'm not saying that they are error-free. I AM saying that I am keeping an eye on what wikitree does with this particular ancestral line, and if you or somebody else comes along to point out errors, I can jump in and fix things.

A third example is Philippa Bonville, wife of William Grenville. British genealogists seem to have been consistent in concluding that Philippa was the DAUGHTER of William, Lord Bonville; while American genealogists Weis and Richardson concluded that she was William's sister. After long discussion, William was "reinstated" as Philippa's father at wikitree, using wikitree's "uncertain" feature to alert people to the lack of documentary proof -- unless you're willing to accept the heraldic implication in that stained glass window with Bonville impaling Grenville, which is a new argument that needs to be thought through and digested. Maybe, in the long run, there will be a consensus among medieval genealogists on that one.

One last example: Years ago Ronny Bodine posted a reworked genealogy of the Champernoun family here at SGM. I used that to thoroughly overhaul the Champernoun lineage at wikitree, adding Bodine's research to wikitree's earlier Champernoun profiles and making Bodine's work more accessible in the process.

At this point, wikitree may or may not be a reliable source for a given medieval family -- as always it depends on the sources cited in any individual profile. On the other hand, I have found that wikitree is an excellent tool for presenting and preserving and improving on my own research.
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-10 05:38:07 UTC
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Post by j***@gmail.com
A different example, that I did a lot of work on three years ago, is the ancestry of my ancestor Humphrey Prideaux (his mother was a Poyntz, going back to Magna Carta baron William Malet). A five-generation chart is here: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Shapton-3
Oops, bad link; the correct link for my Prideaux/Poyntz ancestry is https://www.wikitree.com/genealogy/Prideaux-Family-Tree-22

By the way, this is a proven Magna Carta lineage, with Francis Prideaux (b. 1619) as a sort of "gateway" ancestor to the gentry. His descendants became Cornish miners, and two Prideaux cousins led an exodus of Cornish mining families to southwest Wisconsin in the 1830s and 1840s.
Hans Vogels
2018-04-10 05:34:48 UTC
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Would it not help to attach an unsound/error warning (with reasoning) on a page instead of pruning/removing fictitious contributions.

The Henry Project does that. A Dutch website with descendant tables from Charlemagne does that. It warns off those that want to graft on reliable descents.

Hans Vogels
Post by s***@mindspring.com
...
Post by HWinnSadler
If anyone else knows of any common Medieval Genealogical errors, it would be a good idea to list them so awareness can be spread.
The problem is, it would take a small army of competent genealogists just to list all such errors as fast as new ones are being produced. And even if you could do that, too many "genealogists" would ignore the list and keep repeating the errors anyway because they liked them better than the truth.
I tend to believe that trying to correct errors on bad sites like Wikitree and Geni does more harm than good. Such anybody-uploads-anything-they-want sites are never going to be worthwhile without reasonable quality control, and unless such quality control is exercised from the beginning (which pretty much never happens), the site soon spins so far out of control that it takes more work to fix it than to trash it and start over again with real quality control. Those who spend their time correcting bad sites help make the overall unreliability of the site to become less noticeable, enhancing the monetary value without any significant increase in scholarly value, thus giving those operating the database even less motive to exercise reasonable quality control.
Actually, Wikipedia seems to make a better effort at this than some of the others, but they usually only have a reasonable degree of success when the topic is "high-profile" enough to attract a critical mass of competent contributors. For a topic like medieval genealogy, some charlatan can post hundreds of pages of garbage before someone competent even notices that they are there.
Stewart Baldwin
Peter Stewart
2018-04-10 06:41:26 UTC
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Post by s***@mindspring.com
...
Post by HWinnSadler
If anyone else knows of any common Medieval Genealogical errors, it would be a good idea to list them so awareness can be spread.
The problem is, it would take a small army of competent genealogists just to list all such errors as fast as new ones are being produced. And even if you could do that, too many "genealogists" would ignore the list and keep repeating the errors anyway because they liked them better than the truth.
Very true - in a sense though this is both a bane and a boon of the internet (if you will excuse the alliteration).

A bane in that people will copy mistakes and even prefer them to facts, making them proliferate faster and further than printed works ever could.

But a boon in that space limitations virtually don't exist, or at any rate pressure from editors to keep it short and cheap to print, so that evidence from sources can be provided ad lib.

I once thought it could be useful to have a website of corrections to Detlev Schwennicke's ES neue Folge, which carries a (very often undeserved) reputation for authority even with historians who should know better. But I soon realised that it would be far more trouble than it was worth, and that it would be simpler to start afresh. Charles Cawley had an intermediate version of the same idea, but unfortunately he has made a cottage industry of adding new mistakes of his own to the plenty of Schwennicke.

I have now reached the conclusion that it may be worthwhile drawing attention to genealogical errors in standard reference works, printed or online, but only where these are the work of recognised subject experts rather than generalist wannabes. Reasoned explication and analysis of the sources, such as in the Henry Project, ought to stand on its merits without reference to Wikis and other less conscientious opinions.

Eventually (long after my time) there will be similar websites covering everyone recorded in medieval sources. Given that the period is now more than 500 years ago, there is no need to rush over getting everything right.

Peter Stewart
HWinnSadler
2018-04-10 04:00:06 UTC
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Stewart, you raise some excellent points that I'd never thought of. I would agree, at least, that Geni is too far gone to do anything to save it. Wikitree, I'd think, has a better chance, but I'd trust nothing on there without sources. It is a sad truth that people would rather believe lies than the truth. I recently read somewhere that someone found out they had a Mayflower ancestor- but they thought he wasn't a good guy, so they "re-designed" their tree to make it look better. That's not genealogy, it's flat out lies and deceit.

Luckily Wikipedia does seem to have much less erroneous material than the other sites mentioned. That's why it's more important to help them and not geni, for example. Geni is a cesspool.
taf
2018-04-10 05:50:23 UTC
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Post by HWinnSadler
Luckily Wikipedia does seem to have much less erroneous material than
the other sites mentioned. That's why it's more important to help them
and not geni, for example. Geni is a cesspool.
Bear in mind that Wikipedia has a policy on genealogy that states it is only appropriate when it contributes to understanding of the article subjects. The whole line to Newberry and Loomis was certainly wrong, but more importantly, it provided no understanding of William I of Provence. Genealogists have this tendency to overrun sites not originally intended for genealogy, per se. (Example: Find-a-Grave was intended to be a repository of burials, but with the ability to link records together, people are now creating pages for every ancestor of theirs, whether their burial site is known or not.) Wikipedia was never intended to be a genealogical source, but, being open to anyone, people have gotten in the habit of adding progressively more and more, to the degree that a royal infant who died at the age of 50 days will be been given a 6-generation tree to help you understand his motivations and actions. In many cases the optimal solution to bad genealogy on Wikipedia is to remove it entirely as surplus to requirements, rather than getting in a content dispute over which published sources are correct. The more genealogy that is there, the more it gives other editors perceived licence to add more.

taf
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-10 16:32:01 UTC
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Post by taf
Genealogists have this tendency to overrun sites not originally intended for genealogy, per se.
Perhaps it is well to keep in mind that Douglas Richardson's books, because they are "self-published" (except for Plantagenet Ancestry) are not acceptable sources for wikipedia articles, per their stated policy. This might get enforced some day, especially if "genealogical overrun" prompts counter-measures.
wjhonson
2018-04-10 18:33:31 UTC
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Post by taf
Genealogists have this tendency to overrun sites not originally intended for genealogy, per se.
Perhaps it is well to keep in mind that Douglas Richardson's books, because they are "self-published" (except for Plantagenet Ancestry) are not acceptable sources for wikipedia articles, per their stated policy. This might get enforced some day, especially if "genealogical overrun" prompts counter-measures.
Oh interesting point.
I was going to check on your claim that these were self-published and find here

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Richardson

No publisher is listed at all. That's odd, and should be corrected.
d***@aol.com
2018-04-10 19:03:14 UTC
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Post by wjhonson
Post by j***@gmail.com
Post by taf
Genealogists have this tendency to overrun sites not originally intended for genealogy, per se.
Perhaps it is well to keep in mind that Douglas Richardson's books, because they are "self-published" (except for Plantagenet Ancestry) are not acceptable sources for wikipedia articles, per their stated policy. This might get enforced some day, especially if "genealogical overrun" prompts counter-measures.
Oh interesting point.
I was going to check on your claim that these were self-published and find here
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Richardson
No publisher is listed at all. That's odd, and should be corrected.
The source listed for this wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Richardson) is "http://www.royalancestry.net/about.html". If there are errors on the source page, perhaps contacting the webmaster at royalancestry.net would be beneficial.
John Higgins
2018-04-10 21:20:30 UTC
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Post by taf
Genealogists have this tendency to overrun sites not originally intended for genealogy, per se.
Perhaps it is well to keep in mind that Douglas Richardson's books, because they are "self-published" (except for Plantagenet Ancestry) are not acceptable sources for wikipedia articles, per their stated policy. This might get enforced some day, especially if "genealogical overrun" prompts counter-measures.
Oh interesting point.
I was going to check on your claim that these were self-published and find here
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Richardson
No publisher is listed at all. That's odd, and should be corrected.
The source listed for this wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Richardson) is "http://www.royalancestry.net/about.html". If there are errors on the source page, perhaps contacting the webmaster at royalancestry.net would be beneficial.
Ummm...the webmaster at royalancestry.net clearly hasn't updated the website since about 2004 or 2005.

As to the self-publishing of the Richardson works, the first editions of PA and MCA were published by Genealogical Publishing Co. The second editions of these works, along with Royal Ancestry, were self-published. This can be verified by the information in the OCLC records for the various titles.

IMO a self-published book may or may not be a reliable source for genealogy, and the same goes for a book published by an established publishing company. It's the content of the book that matters, not how it was published. I've chosen not to buy the self-published works in the Richardson series, but it's not because they're self-published.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-10 08:26:30 UTC
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It is good that this topic of online databases comes up every now and then. I'll try to give my opinions in short form:

1. The idea of small but high quality is great, and I keep hoping we can have more projects like the Henry project (or a version of that project's information put into a media like a moderated wiki, where it can grow in a controlled way). The problem for now is shown by the practical reality: small scale means it is difficult to grow. But to me this project is the gold standard in how to create a format for profiles in this type of period.

2. For the large scale projects, the first question for me is whether they have a tendency to get better, or to create more problems. I think it is correct (as others have suggested) that geni seems hard to ever recover, while Wikitree does honestly seem to keep slowly getting better. The medieval (pre 1500) profiles are now under special rules, and it is to be hoped that the Henry project inspires the editors working in that section.

3. Concerning Wikipedia, I think it is even more obvious that it has a positive but very slow trend, but as has been mentioned, it is not really designed for genealogists, except when we are dealing with notable historical people and families. It is not however a place for posting even basic research, only for summarizing what has been published by others. I think many of us over the years have noticed problems and tried to fix them. I'd encourage anyone interested to make sure they have an account and a familiarity with the basic practices and principles there.

4. The case of MEDLANDS is a mixture of positive and negative. We all complain about the tendency it has to create errors which spread all over the internet (including to Wikipedia, where it is also a subject of concern). But I think it needs to be said that by collecting a lot of references to primary sources in one, careful researchers (who check the sources themselves) are being helped every day. This is a case where it is not the primary sources which are lacking so much as the secondary ones, meaning that Charles often falls into traps long pointed out in the secondary literature.
Peter Stewart
2018-04-10 11:18:28 UTC
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Post by Andrew Lancaster
1. The idea of small but high quality is great, and I keep hoping we can have more projects like the Henry project (or a version of that project's information put into a media like a moderated wiki, where it can grow in a controlled way). The problem for now is shown by the practical reality: small scale means it is difficult to grow. But to me this project is the gold standard in how to create a format for profiles in this type of period.
2. For the large scale projects, the first question for me is whether they have a tendency to get better, or to create more problems. I think it is correct (as others have suggested) that geni seems hard to ever recover, while Wikitree does honestly seem to keep slowly getting better. The medieval (pre 1500) profiles are now under special rules, and it is to be hoped that the Henry project inspires the editors working in that section.
3. Concerning Wikipedia, I think it is even more obvious that it has a positive but very slow trend, but as has been mentioned, it is not really designed for genealogists, except when we are dealing with notable historical people and families. It is not however a place for posting even basic research, only for summarizing what has been published by others. I think many of us over the years have noticed problems and tried to fix them. I'd encourage anyone interested to make sure they have an account and a familiarity with the basic practices and principles there.
4. The case of MEDLANDS is a mixture of positive and negative. We all complain about the tendency it has to create errors which spread all over the internet (including to Wikipedia, where it is also a subject of concern). But I think it needs to be said that by collecting a lot of references to primary sources in one, careful researchers (who check the sources themselves) are being helped every day. This is a case where it is not the primary sources which are lacking so much as the secondary ones, meaning that Charles often falls into traps long pointed out in the secondary literature.
This gives a false impression of Medieval Lands, and coming from someone who cares a great deal about medieval history and takes pains over the subject it represents the depth of the problem created by specious methodology and results.

Medieval Lands emphatically does NOT purposefully collect primary sources, but only randomly gleans them, and it DOES grossly lack appropriately evaluated primary sources.

The method employed is to follow (often obsolete) secondary works for tips and to skim through (often obsolete) editions of primary sources, all done with so little understanding of Latin or of modern languages other than English that only roughly comprehended tidbits are "collected". There is no sign of methodical study of the most proximate sources, in time or place, or of any thorough assessment of even the haphazard findings, or of any prudent application to current scholarship.

This invites error, and it has rushed to the party in droves bringing folly and nonsense along for the revels. The website is doing far more harm than good, as it gives a false sense of security to people who don't have the time, energy or inclination to research for themselves.

Peter Stewart
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-10 16:25:09 UTC
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Post by Andrew Lancaster
1. The idea of small but high quality is great, and I keep hoping we can have more projects like the Henry project (or a version of that project's information put into a media like a moderated wiki, where it can grow in a controlled way). The problem for now is shown by the practical reality: small scale means it is difficult to grow. But to me this project is the gold standard in how to create a format for profiles in this type of period.
2. For the large scale projects, the first question for me is whether they have a tendency to get better, or to create more problems. I think it is correct (as others have suggested) that geni seems hard to ever recover, while Wikitree does honestly seem to keep slowly getting better. The medieval (pre 1500) profiles are now under special rules, and it is to be hoped that the Henry project inspires the editors working in that section.
3. Concerning Wikipedia, I think it is even more obvious that it has a positive but very slow trend, but as has been mentioned, it is not really designed for genealogists, except when we are dealing with notable historical people and families. It is not however a place for posting even basic research, only for summarizing what has been published by others. I think many of us over the years have noticed problems and tried to fix them. I'd encourage anyone interested to make sure they have an account and a familiarity with the basic practices and principles there.
4. The case of MEDLANDS is a mixture of positive and negative. We all complain about the tendency it has to create errors which spread all over the internet (including to Wikipedia, where it is also a subject of concern). But I think it needs to be said that by collecting a lot of references to primary sources in one, careful researchers (who check the sources themselves) are being helped every day. This is a case where it is not the primary sources which are lacking so much as the secondary ones, meaning that Charles often falls into traps long pointed out in the secondary literature.
This gives a false impression of Medieval Lands, and coming from someone who cares a great deal about medieval history and takes pains over the subject it represents the depth of the problem created by specious methodology and results.
Medieval Lands emphatically does NOT purposefully collect primary sources, but only randomly gleans them, and it DOES grossly lack appropriately evaluated primary sources.
The method employed is to follow (often obsolete) secondary works for tips and to skim through (often obsolete) editions of primary sources, all done with so little understanding of Latin or of modern languages other than English that only roughly comprehended tidbits are "collected". There is no sign of methodical study of the most proximate sources, in time or place, or of any thorough assessment of even the haphazard findings, or of any prudent application to current scholarship.
This invites error, and it has rushed to the party in droves bringing folly and nonsense along for the revels. The website is doing far more harm than good, as it gives a false sense of security to people who don't have the time, energy or inclination to research for themselves.
Peter Stewart
I stand corrected. You are right that MEDLANDS does not have a complete or systematic collection of primary sources. I did not mean to imply that, but I guess you are right that my wording implies a habitual assumption.

How to reword what I said without going too far in the other direction? I basically wanted to say that I think many of us find the webpage a useful place to glance at when we have to remind ourselves of something. (Let's face it, medieval genealogy is like the card game "memory" sometimes. So memory prompts are vital.) Do such glances sometimes lead to problems even for careful readers? Yes I think it probably does!

MEDLANDS is an unusual and impressive case of a massive-scale online collection, but not done by a "massive" group of people. I appreciate what you say about Latin or other types of expertise but I think this is only one aspect of the more general problem that one person is trying to achieve so much. This has to lead to errors unfortunately. As you probably realize, I think it would be better as a wiki or group-edited project.
Peter Stewart
2018-04-10 22:09:21 UTC
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Post by Andrew Lancaster
Post by Peter Stewart
Post by Andrew Lancaster
1. The idea of small but high quality is great, and I keep hoping we can have more projects like the Henry project (or a version of that project's information put into a media like a moderated wiki, where it can grow in a controlled way). The problem for now is shown by the practical reality: small scale means it is difficult to grow. But to me this project is the gold standard in how to create a format for profiles in this type of period.
2. For the large scale projects, the first question for me is whether they have a tendency to get better, or to create more problems. I think it is correct (as others have suggested) that geni seems hard to ever recover, while Wikitree does honestly seem to keep slowly getting better. The medieval (pre 1500) profiles are now under special rules, and it is to be hoped that the Henry project inspires the editors working in that section.
3. Concerning Wikipedia, I think it is even more obvious that it has a positive but very slow trend, but as has been mentioned, it is not really designed for genealogists, except when we are dealing with notable historical people and families. It is not however a place for posting even basic research, only for summarizing what has been published by others. I think many of us over the years have noticed problems and tried to fix them. I'd encourage anyone interested to make sure they have an account and a familiarity with the basic practices and principles there.
4. The case of MEDLANDS is a mixture of positive and negative. We all complain about the tendency it has to create errors which spread all over the internet (including to Wikipedia, where it is also a subject of concern). But I think it needs to be said that by collecting a lot of references to primary sources in one, careful researchers (who check the sources themselves) are being helped every day. This is a case where it is not the primary sources which are lacking so much as the secondary ones, meaning that Charles often falls into traps long pointed out in the secondary literature.
This gives a false impression of Medieval Lands, and coming from someone who cares a great deal about medieval history and takes pains over the subject it represents the depth of the problem created by specious methodology and results.
Medieval Lands emphatically does NOT purposefully collect primary sources, but only randomly gleans them, and it DOES grossly lack appropriately evaluated primary sources.
The method employed is to follow (often obsolete) secondary works for tips and to skim through (often obsolete) editions of primary sources, all done with so little understanding of Latin or of modern languages other than English that only roughly comprehended tidbits are "collected". There is no sign of methodical study of the most proximate sources, in time or place, or of any thorough assessment of even the haphazard findings, or of any prudent application to current scholarship.
This invites error, and it has rushed to the party in droves bringing folly and nonsense along for the revels. The website is doing far more harm than good, as it gives a false sense of security to people who don't have the time, energy or inclination to research for themselves.
Peter Stewart
I stand corrected. You are right that MEDLANDS does not have a complete or systematic collection of primary sources. I did not mean to imply that, but I guess you are right that my wording implies a habitual assumption.
How to reword what I said without going too far in the other direction? I basically wanted to say that I think many of us find the webpage a useful place to glance at when we have to remind ourselves of something. (Let's face it, medieval genealogy is like the card game "memory" sometimes. So memory prompts are vital.) Do such glances sometimes lead to problems even for careful readers? Yes I think it probably does!
MEDLANDS is an unusual and impressive case of a massive-scale online collection, but not done by a "massive" group of people. I appreciate what you say about Latin or other types of expertise but I think this is only one aspect of the more general problem that one person is trying to achieve so much. This has to lead to errors unfortunately. As you probably realize, I think it would be better as a wiki or group-edited project.
Yes, it probably would be better if more people had tried to cover the immense field - provided their skills on average were higher than those deployed by the single compiler.

The trouble is not only that one person has taken on too much, but also that he was and remains ill-prepared to take on any part of the effort. It would have been sensible for him become competent at reading Latin before starting, but evidently he didn't try and still hasn't bothered after years of making a hash. It would have been even easier for him to become familiar with many bibliographies and indices in the field of his endeavours, that would have saved a great deal of time and - if he had any shame - embarrassment over avoidable blunders.

Historians make mistakes with genealogy very commonly. Making a one-stop website that could set them right most of the time would be a substantial contribution, but this is a will-o'-the-wisp. There are some excellent prosopographies online, and eventually these will be the basis for extending coverage to everyone in a medieval source. Whether they will be aggregated for this purpose or stay only as specialised studies is a question yet to need answering.

Meanwhile for a quick refresher of memory I think Leo van de Pas did the job of providing this (http://www.genealogics.org/) far better than Charles Cawley, without wasting energy on an inept search for primary references.

Peter Stewart
HWinnSadler
2018-04-30 18:14:12 UTC
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Here's an example of an error that seems to have just been fabricated out of midair, speaking of the FitzAlan's: "They were descendants of the Breton knight Alan fitz Flaad (d. 1120), grandson of the Seneschal of the Bishop of Dol.

No one knows anything about Flaald other than that he is the progenitor of the later Earls of Arundel and possibly the House of Stuart (I've seen debate about that). So from where does one come up with the idea that he was the son of a Seneschal? And as usual, no source provided.
HWinnSadler
2018-04-30 18:30:01 UTC
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RETRACTION: It seems like that is a true theory regarding the ancestry of the FitzAlan's and not just a fabricated tale.
Paulo Ricardo Canedo
2018-04-30 19:02:15 UTC
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Post by HWinnSadler
RETRACTION: It seems like that is a true theory regarding the ancestry of the FitzAlan's and not just a fabricated tale.
There are no doubts nowadays that the FitzAlans and the Stuarts were descended from Alan FitzFlaald and the seneschals of Dol, the debate is about some details.
Paulo Ricardo Canedo
2018-04-30 19:04:31 UTC
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Post by Paulo Ricardo Canedo
Post by HWinnSadler
RETRACTION: It seems like that is a true theory regarding the ancestry of the FitzAlan's and not just a fabricated tale.
There are no doubts nowadays that the FitzAlans and the Stuarts were descended from Alan FitzFlaald and the seneschals of Dol, the debate is about some details.
Also, please, read https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Legendary_Scottish_Stewart_Ancestry and https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Round_and_Fox_and_the_Seneschals_of_Dol.
HWinnSadler
2018-04-30 20:14:39 UTC
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Post by HWinnSadler
"He may also be the brother of Eremburge De Pont Audemer (born De Bricquebec Bertrand) who married Torf De Pont Audemer. Eremburge and Torf are the 18th great grandparents of Thomas Newberry the immigrant ancestor of the American family. Thomas Newberry was the fourth great grandfather of Walter Loomis Newberry, the founder of the Newberry Library in Chicago, IL. Walter Loomis Newberry was the 4th great grandson of Joseph Loomis, the immigrant ancestor of the Loomis family in America."
If Thomas Newberry is a Gateway ancestor (which I do not know as I have not paid much attention to the accepted list), than this would probabably be accurate. But most Gateway ancestors would descend from William I of Provence, why point out one specific one?
I would assume that most members of soc.genealogy.medieval would not use wikipedia as a primary source, and rightfully so. I don't use it as a primary source either. However, those less interested in Medieval Genealogy, for example the average person who discovers they might descend from Nobility, might just accept what's presented, whether it's true or not. That's why it is important to correct these errors whereever they are- because these myths have been known to be false for a long time. It's important to stop their spread.
Yes, that's why I retracted my statements after further research.
And thank you, I'll take a look.

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