Rule number one

If your ancestor had no children, he’s not your ancestor. Period. Let’s say Henry married Judy, a widow with 5 kids. If you’re a descendant of Judy, that does not make Henry your ancestor.

Over the “free UK records” weekend, I have lost a big branch of my genealogy tree. Bummer. Eliza Florence Shelley, my 2nd great grand mother was born in England. That’s all I will ever know. I was hoping to dig up more, but what I found was several women with the same name, born the same year. How do I choose which one is Grandma? It’s simple: I can’t. There are no indications if she was born in Ludlow, Herefordshire, or Handbury. I checked Google maps to see how far away these places are, just in case. Too distant.  There are mentions of a 2 year old Eliza Shelley in Census records, who grows up to be 12, then 23 in further censuses. She has the same batch of siblings, so I believe it’s the same girl. But I am not sure she’s Grandma.

I looked at passenger manifests and immigration documents since the 1920 Census notes she migrated around 1880 and was later naturalized. Nothing.

I even looked directly into the UK government’s website to see if I could order a birth certificate. There, I must have done something wrong because I found zero people by that name. Strange.

It would be easy to pick the one that matches my mood of the day. Don’t we all secretly dream of being royalty? Of owning of the piece of the pie, or the crown? It’s also easy to work your genealogy tree retroactively: find the good old Edward Shelley, baronet, and say he’s grandpa. Unfortunately, if you read in details the history of the Shelley family, the ones who own the castle, Edward died “without issue”. So you’re probably related to “a” Edward Shelley (the thief maybe?), but you’re not getting a piece of the Shelley property!

And since it was that branch that was leading me to the Bush family, and unto Edward III, I have to admit, proudly, that I am a still only commoner!

The thieving Baronet

This weekend is “free access to all UK records” on This is a nice break for me since I have hit so many dead ends on the American side of my tree. Free is always good!

I found out really early in my research that my second great grand mother, Eliza, was born in England. She’s the ancestor who would lead me to be somehow related to the Bush family. But since the records were unavailable unless you paid for an additional membership, I couldn’t fact check anything further.

British records are so much more fun that their American counterparts. On the US side, my family members are farmers. Or farm laborers. Or farm hands. There is the occasional coal miner since we are from North West Alabama, but there really isn’t much variety. We grew stuff.

My British ancestors, (or those I believe are my ancestors) were book binders, train car conductor, school masters, cigar makers (a women only profession apparently), lace makers, lace menders, dress makers, millners, tailors, teachers, model makers. I have also seen, though they were neighbors only, an office boy, lace manufacturer, shoe makers and scholars, which I think means student. It seems that the trades existed around neighborhoods, since most people on the same street had a job somehow related to one another.

And prisoners. That’s one thing we have in our blood: crime! Dear Edward was convicted of “larceny on the person” in 1856 and sentenced to prison. But I need to double and triple check this one: although I have no doubt that my great…grandfather could have been simultaneously a thief and a baronet (yes, we have our own page on Wikipedia), I want to make sure that:

  • 1- I am indeed related to them (I don’t need any more criminals than the ones I already know);
  • 2- that he is the same Edward S., in all the records, as it is a very common name.

If that is the case, here’s a picture of “our” property:

tiara-matching-castle(image found on Google)

I think it matches my tiara!