In this piece, we get determined.
Something with the way the Cornish bred meant surnames ebbed and flowed in popularity, and my eager young self stumbled right into the mire. Rodda - rare as hen's teeth, but back then, the most common name in the parish. Jennings - not that numerous, but I faced multiple couples of the same name. Three William Roddas with wife Elizabeth and two Ann Jennings with husband John. I saw red and decided to log every single Rodda in Crowan here, which will now need an update from the excellent GRO site. The Jennings did not need such a blunderbuss, but finesse. The tree all hinged on two Elizabeths. To determine who they married, I squinted deeply at the age given on their death records. Ah, you belong to him and you to him, I said, firmly. I could now parcel out their siblings. I felt I was picking sides at a school football match.
Taking the Path of least resistance
I wasn't that determined to find Eliza Ainsworth's family after 1900; I just followed the paths available at the time. BMD records were laborious whereas finding Eliza's obituary (via CheshireBMD online, the probate index and then the newspaper library at Colindale) was a lot more informative. I then had to look for her granddaughter Miss S. Fox, who I happily found, and who was extremely informative about all the Ainsworths.
Pushing for the clinch
I've made headway with a number of Welsh lines thanks to this approach. Elimination is a highly unsatisfactory method of identification as you never really know who the other eligible candidates are. Keep going! And hope to find a clinching fact, one which locks in your supposition and confounds your suspicion.
Exhaust the avenues available
James Carline's missing baptism has had me routinely cussing him out, as the predecessors were sure to be of interest if we only knew who they were. His father was slapdash brother James Carline, while his wife's father was organised brother Joseph Carline. There is absolutely a gap in both the naming pattern and the chronology of James Carline's infants. Other evidence, such as trades, familial locations, bears this out. What's lovely is to arrive after a hot afternoon's research, digging away, at Mary Ann Bird's cottage in Darley and realise she was both the sister of James and his immediate neighbour in 1851, a fact which had been long hid.
Make a nice diagonal itch
The area has been scratched from every direction, except diagonally. Maybe that will solve things? For some reason I wasn't about to go plunging into guesswork to establish whose parents Ann Morgan, born 1762, might have been. It's tantalising to wonder how far I might have got without the death duty hint, Ann's sister and her will, and even whether I'd have got to see the will anyway, regardless of my lucky hit. The diagonal direction was to look for something at the National Archives to bolster up a very soggy will. Quite what good I thought a glance at the death duty registers could possibly do, we'll never know. By rolling with the fresh direction, this time the scratch was successful: the writer, Elizabeth Morton, had a childless aunt from 40 years earlier who emerged in the paperwork. Where she got her money, name, genes and executive habits were all laid out in the doc. That area no longer itches but there's plenty new places in the body of research which would benefit from a scratch in a different direction.
See: faith in family history, luck in family history, persuasion in family history, inspiration in family history