Monday, April 27, 2009

A Pocket Full of Posies

A pocket full of posies was used to warn others of a plague-infested victim. The posies might not keep you safe from swine flu or the plague, but there is a genetic variant, CCR5 Delta32, which may keep you from dying from the plague. For several years now geneticists have been studying the Delta32 variant. It is now known that if you have Delta32 you probably won’t die of the plague, if you have double Delta32 you may not even get sick. About 14% of Europeans and North Americans have the gene variant. The variant has 32 DNA base pairs missing, which causes the plague bacillus from binding to the receptor on white blood cells’ CCR5 protein coating.

One of my ancestors who may have had the Delta32 variant was George Iddenden (Eddenden) whose son Edmund Edenden settled in Boston/Charlestown, MA. When the plague struck Cranbrook, Kent, England in 1597, George’s first wife and three daughters and possibly a fourth daughter all died of the plague. Leaving everyone else in his house dead from the plague and yet George survives, giving the possibility that George may have had Delta32.
The following records were extracted from the Cranbrook parish records:

BAP Martha dof George Iddenden 9 Aug 1590
BAP Sara dof George Iddenden 24 Dec 1592
BAP Hester dof George Iddenden 20 Apr 1595
BAP Elizabeth dof George Iddenden 1 Aug 1596
BUR Sara wof George Iddenden 31 Jul 1597 plague
BUR Elizabeth dof George Iddenden 15 Aug 1597 plague
BUR Martha dof George Iddenden 16 Aug 1597 plague
BUR Sara dof George Iddenden 31 Aug 1597 plague

As you can see above, the plague struck hard in Cranbrook in the late summer of 1597. George survived, remarried and had an additional four more children.

I don’t even know if I inherited Delta32. The standard DNA test doesn’t give you that information. Delta32 will probably not protect against the swine flu pandemic, because it is a virus, while the bubonic plague is bacterial.

"Bring out your dead!"-Monty Python

Reference: Cranbrook PR FHL-ENG#1473753

Word of the Week:
Hoke = Hole

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rush Me to the ER

Abbreviated ‘er’

Abbreviation of ‘er’, ‘ur’, ‘or’ is used quite often in old wills and parish records. They are mostly an upward sweeping hook or a zigzag superscript character.
Examples of the zigzag:

‘Butter’ from the 17th century.

‘Manner’ from the year 1646.

Examples of the upward sweeping hook:

Once again we have the word ‘manner’ which can be transcribed as ‘mann~’ , ‘mann(er)’ or ‘manner’.

This word from 1683 is ‘every’, likewise transcribed as ‘ev~y’, ‘ev(er)y’ or ‘every’. Consistency is important in transcribing. However, using italics in these cases may not be as good. Sometimes when you copy and paste, some of the letter format is lost.

A combination abbreviated word with a superscript ‘t’ and the ‘er’:

Here is the word ‘whatsoever’ also from 1683, transcribed as ‘wtsoev~’, ‘w(ha)tsoev(er)’ or ‘whatsoever’.

Content of the surrounding words is also important to determining the actual word.
When p~using an old will or lett~, you will s~prise y~self when you discov~ your first ‘er’ word.

Word of the Week:
Fyrth = Forrest

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Thorn By Any Other Name

The Letter Thorn
The now obsolete letter Þ (lowercase) and þ (uppercase), known as 'thorn' was used up until the early 1700's to represent a 'th' sound. It is said to have been derived from the Saxon word for ‘giant’. Most often it looks exactly like a y, and it is in this form that it is to this day misunderstood in countless establishments with names like 'ye olde barber shoppe'. Holding down the ‘alt’ key then typing in 0222 and 0254, can give you the thorn letters on most text editors.

Examples of ‘thorn’ used to spell the word ‘the’:

Ordinarily a ‘thorn’ with a superscript ‘e’ is the word ‘the’.
Examples of ‘thorn’ used to spell the word ‘that’:

When you see 'Þat' or a ‘thorn’ with a superscript ‘t’, it should be transcribed as 'that'.
An example of the two forms used together is:

Where it states, ‘that he the said Nicholas my son’.
Note: when transcribing documents it is good practice to convert the thorn letter into italics. I prefer to italicize the whole word.

Where a ‘y’ is used in place of an ‘i’, sometimes the word ‘it’ gets confused with ‘that’, but as you can see there is no superscript ‘t’:

Also an example of ‘if’, note the longer tail than the ‘t’:

For more information on the letter thorn see:


Word of the Week:
Favel = Yellow

Monday, April 6, 2009

How has technology helped in my genealogical research?

USB drives
USB drives, thumb drives or as I like to call them my Urim and Thumb Drives are my favorite. I backup all my genealogy on USB drives and keep one in my safe. I also always carry another in my pocket wherever I go. When I’m at the Family History library, I can always plug it in and access my database. I have a GEDCOM file and also an aq (Ancestral Quest) file. Luckily, the Family History Library in SLC has Ancestral Quest installed on their computers among other genealogy programs.

Spreadsheet applications
Where would I be without Excel? Putting extracted data in nice neat rows and columns, then arranging then in proper order, makes it easier to see family connections. I have been using spreadsheets since þe old Enable program (<===notice the letter thorn).

Digital Cameras
Now I don’t have to scan all those multitude of pictures into my computer. Taking a shot of a headstone is great, because now if the picture wasn’t quite right you just take another and delete the grave picture (pun intended). Digital cameras have increased the volume of pictures taken immensely, now if we can just make sure that they are all labeled adequately.

The internet has some very useful information, if you know where to look and are lucky enough to find it. Of course there is a lot of bogus genealogy out there too. Always check your facts.

Notice how all the previously mentioned technologies relate to the computer. The computer was invented for genealogy. However, I do remember entering all my genealogy by hand, only 3500 at the time and then having the old PAF auto-merge great grandparents to great great grandchildren. Every once in a while, I still see the old merge problem in genealogy data bases today.

Although my Y chromosome is Swedish which uses patronymic names, I have seen some interesting connections with other families. If I can only talk my Scottish cousins into getting their DNA results?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Someone Deserves a Good Sneafin

This is in response to the five worst sources of genealogy. I will not even mention this so-called ‘expert’ genealogists’ name or his site. His excuse: something about increasing traffic. Try spam, which most of us will ignore.
Last week’s hurried post was an attempt to correct a book written in 1906 by an ‘expert’ genealogist that many people have copied and passed around for many years. Proof is in the picture and the source is noted for any to check out.

Blogs are one of the best sources of genealogy; people talking about their grandparents, their lately deceased Aunt Betty or cranky Uncle Elmer, first-hand knowledge, pictures, recordings and videos, or what it was like growing up in Malta, Idaho or Misquamicut (sic) Rhode Island.
There’s more to genealogy than birth, marriage and death.
Blogs are the new backbone of genealogy research, opening up communication between people discussing and commenting on the most recent post.
Many bloggers teach, give hints and tips to help improve researching techniques.
There are also Graveyard Rabbits who spend countless hours photographing and transcribing sometimes nearly futile to read weathered headstones. et al.

Even our primary sources are rife with possibly bad info:
Census takers with bad hearing or in too big of a hurry to get home for the evening, estimating ages haphazardly.
Bishop’s transcripts, copies of the original parish records.
Registered wills, Oh, my gosh! They too are not originals merely copies.
And let’s not forget that all the original English parish records were written on paper in 1537 through about 1598, and then transcribed between 1598 and 1601 onto parchment by order of Queen Elizabeth.

Conclusion: I like blogs, instead of an ‘expert’ site in which tons of people have done the wrong lines and where anyone with a little cash is descended from Charlemagne.

Word of the Week:
Sneafin = Reprimand