Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Surrounding Documents

Lancaut Peninsular. Tidenham.
So you did not find viable evidence of your ancestor's heritage in the records. When we start examining records such as land patents and immigration records, there appears to be scant information.  A person pays the passage of a number of people to America, and those names are provided.  The reason he is bring others is that they are his family members or servants.  For each head, he is granted more land.  Here is an example.

"7 January 1659. William Collins of Tidenham, Gos, bound to John South of Bristol, merchant, to serve 5 years in Virginia." The Complete Book of Imigrants by Coldham.

First of all, Tidenham is a village in west Gloucestershire in the Forest of Dean district. This is where to begin the search for the Collins name.  One needs to do a little research and discover the name of the local parish. Then search those records. The English maintained excellent church records of dates of christenings, deaths and marriages and all of that needs to be explored.  Next, it is necessary to discover what ecclesiastical district has the the civil and probate records.  The 18th century script is quite different from what we know today, so it is necessary to bone up on that.  As one ventures into the 1400s and 1500s, you see some Latin.   Apparently this William Collins was a servant of John South of Bristol, England who was bound for Virginia.  To locate Collins in Virginia, one needs to first find John South. Try find some old South Wills in Terrence's book on Virginia Wills and Administrations and zero in on that county.  A servant released in 1664 would probably rent some of his former master's land, or continue to work for him in some way.  At any rate, the association of the South and Collins names should be considered during the research process.  Old deeds, wills, land patents, anything during that period should be examined carefully, noting all of the names in the inventories of estates, appraisements, etc.  Collecting the names of witnesses and other relatives is actually a description of the neighborhood.  There were not too many citizens of Virginia during those years, so a study of everyone in the district should not be too difficult.  A window of understanding opens up as more is learned about the doings of the neighbors.  The puzzle begins to come together.  Those who came as indentured servants would not have created any records for themselves, such as land purchases, until their release.  After that, we are working with bits and pieces until eventually some descendant purchases land or leaves a will or an estate.  It is always smart to read all of the wills and estate records of the neighborhood.  That is because there is so much there!  Names of relatives and places, friends, neighbors, and a network of activity. Virginia Wills are replete with special data, such as former properties in Great Britain and the names of relatives remaining there. The old wills contain the mother load of genealogical data. Thus, irrespective of whether you find a will for your ancestor, all wills of the neighbors should be read and studied for mention of your ancestors. That is where the sons-in-laws are and their parents.

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