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How to confuse the genealogist

[just started this page so look for further development down the track. Got a contribution to make?]

This is a a column on why genealogy can get confusing... or "traps for the unwary"... Found any yourself??

Sons of the father

Naming a child after a parent can get confusing, as you will appreciate if you think about it. Was the father's second marriage actually the son's first? I have this question about our two Edward Hougham Royes (father and son) and a marriage to a Hannah Burnham.

It is usually not so confusing with the female of the species because they usually took their husband's surname thus giving an additional clue as to their identity. But when a woman is referred to as, say, Mary Hougham, is that her maiden name or her married name?

There are five Frederick Christian Luthers, father-son, in five generations. I remember my brother showing me that one of these (fourth generation) had had a child with different woman while still married and having children by his wife. You will have guessed by now that in fact this was FCL 4 and FCL 5, father and son.

Where they lived

For example, Sam and Ag Roy and family are on record as living at 80 McLeod Street in Cairns up until the mid 1930s, when they are living at 104 McLeod Street. Moved? No, the street got renumbered.

I read of a man who lived in the Adelaide Hills for more than 50 years, and in that time he belonged to five councils and had at least five mailing addresses without ever leaving his small property.


Older records are hand-written and there is a large number of dedicated people, often volunteers, who transcribe them into digital format. But that spidery old style of writing can be confusing, such as "s" looking like an "f". 

For a long time we could find no records for Solomon Hougham Royes (son of Solomon) but I eventually found a Solomon Houghm Rogers who turned out to be the said Solomon Hougham Royes. His sister Emily's second marriage was to a Henry Smith. In the 1871 English census she was listed as "Math" even though her step-children are identified as Smith.

Owner of originalBruce Roy
Date1 May 2012

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