Saturday, February 27, 2010

A case study in location identification

Tonight I was working on my mother's side of the family, for once, and was following the trail of George Roberts and Martha Thomas, who lived in Lambston, Pembrokeshire, Wales, at the time of the 1851 census.[1]

Here's how it looks at

The image quality was a little scratchy. It looks like Martha was born in Harrelston West, Pembrokeshire, and that's how transcribed it. I have some choices here. I can accept the transcription. I could cheat and look at New Family Search, the IGI, my grandfather's typed pedigree charts, and other compiled sources which might be correct. But that's not the point. The point is that I want a clean, well-sourced, accurate family database true to each piece of evidence according to modern research standards. And I also happen to want to read and transcribe this record correctly so that I can find Martha later.

So, I did what I would do if I didn't have a way to cheat, and if had transcribed it incorrectly. Which happens sometimes.

The Family History Library Catalog doesn't think they know of a place called Harrelston. Google Maps and MultiMap were likewise confounded. Even The National Gazetteer of Wales and GeoNames came up empty handed. Time to pull out the big guns. When The NGA GEOnet Names Server (GNS) didn't have a match, I knew I needed to get a little more creative.

Searching har* in the UK, the closest match I could come up with was Harleston. Unfortunately it's not in Wales, let alone Pembrokeshire.

So, it was time to use the free Parish Locator Program which is a wonderful indispensable tool for UK research. (did I mention that it's free and I love it?) I ran a report for all parishes in Pembrokeshire, and what do you know? There was Haroldston West.

Turns out that it was right there on MultiMap all along. Funny how that works! Now I'm off and running in the right direction...Haroldston West.


1. 1851 Census of Wales, Pembrokeshire, Lambston, Class: HO107; Piece: 2478; Folio: 413; Page: 6; GSU roll: 104236., George Roberts; digital image,, (accessed February 2010); Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1851. Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England.

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