Early on in my genealogy adventures, I came across Elizabeth Bartelott – born 3 October 1669 to Henry Bartelott and Katherine Stonestreet – when researching the Roane family in England and Virginia. I was a genealogy newbie at the time I started researching Elizabeth’s family. As a newbie, I readily accepted that all of the online family trees which had her in them on Ancestry.com (and there were around 80 or so) were correct. I took the information they had about her as correct and true – and added her and her ancestors to my own Roane family tree.
There were other sources which corroborated these findings. So again, I didn’t give her ancestry a second thought. At first, it seems to appear that the William and Mary Quarterly, that august guide to Virginian families, also seemed to support the information in all of these family trees. http://books.google.com/books?id=bigjAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA194&lpg=PA194&dq=william+and+mary+quarteryly+magazine,+charles+roane,+elizabeth+bartelott&source=bl&ots=UIgGc3hsTu&sig=Jd-UrgS2Kf5oCJfQqm-0aLh8yf4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=7jyWUuqFLKe2sATm1YGIDw&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=william%20and%20mary%20quarteryly%20magazine%2C%20charles%20roane%2C%20elizabeth%20bartelott&f=false
A few months ago, with far more seasoned and experienced eyes honed through years of research, I decided to return to Elizabeth Bartelott to add additional citations and research the Bartelott family more thoroughly. Something didn’t quite sit right with me where her ancestral story was concerned. I wasn’t quite sure what was bothering me. I wanted to review the information others had published about her with a more critical and impartial eye. And I always respect my hunches. And that is when a feeling of dismay hit me hard. Have a look at the two pieces of information below and see if you can spot the issue. The first image is the official marriage document for Elizabeth Bartelott and Robert Roane of Surrey, England. The second is the family tree I ‘inherited’ from all the other family trees which listed Elizabeth.
Nothing jumping out at you? Have a closer look at the marriage date for Elizabeth and Robert. Then look at her date of birth in the first image in this post…and then look at the dates of birth for his children.
As soon as I realised the mismatch, my heart sank to the floor. Put simply, it’s impossible for children born between 1643 and 1676 to have a mother wedded to their father in 1691 – not without the benefit of a time machine!
A few realizations spring to mind:
- The marriage certificate was for some other Robert Roane and Elizabeth Bartelott. I can’t tell you how much I was wishing for this to be the case. It wasn’t. Extensive searching of archive records in London shows this to be the only marriage between people with these names. A short trip to Sussex and the Parish registry office only confirmed what I already discovered in London.
- The birth certificate I had for Elizabeth belonged to another Elizabeth Bartelott. Careful research in the London Archives showed that this wasn’t the case. I had the correct Elizabeth. The date of birth for her was correct.
- The dates of birth for the children are incorrect. Sadly, in this instance, they would have had to be wildly incorrect. I quickly found Lucy’s year of birth in her marriage certificate to John Chetwynd. Her age at the time of her marriage is also given in the Peerage of the United Kingdom and Ireland, Volumes I-IV :
With her marriage to a Peer of the British Realm, believe me, those facts would have been checked and double checked before entry into the official records. Lucy is known to have been Robert Roane’s last child, so the births of all his other children had to pre-date her birth. If Elizabeth wasn’t Lucy’s mother, she couldn’t be the mother of Robert’s other children.
What I have found is that Robert Roane was married at least twice prior to his marriage to Elizabeth.He married Patience Lambert nee Aynscombe in 1662. It was from her that Robert acquired Tollesworthy Manor in Chaldon, Surrey, which was bequeathed to Patience by her late husband, William Lambert. Robert Roane became master of the manor upon Patience’s death. So far, it looks like Patience bore only one of Robert’s children: Thomas Roane, born in 1670. So the hunt is on for any previous marriage(s) which would account for Robert’s children born between 1643 and 1654.
Further still, he married an Anne Ment after his marriage to Patience. Given the year of Anne’s marriage to Robert, Anne’s is more than likely Lucy Roane’s mother.
So going by the information I’ve found to-date, and the records, I know that two wives, Patience and Anne bore two of Robert’s six children. The search is one for an earlier wife – or wives – to account for his remaining four children. Why so many wives? Smallpox, childbirth and the plague are the most probable reasons why so many of wives died while relatively young. Again, death certificates would help confirm this. At any rate, the mid-17th Century was a deadly time. Civil war, smallpox, cholera, plague and childbirth were all killers.
With this in mind, re-read the information contained in the William and Mary Quarterly article. Read it with what academics call an ‘unbiased and critical’ eye. My advice is to read it without thinking about Elizabeth and the assumption that she is the mother: http://books.google.com/books?id=bigjAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA194&lpg=PA194&dq=william+and+mary+quarteryly+magazine,+charles+roane,+elizabeth+bartelott&source=bl&ots=UIgGc3hsTu&sig=Jd-UrgS2Kf5oCJfQqm-0aLh8yf4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=7jyWUuqFLKe2sATm1YGIDw&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=william%20and%20mary%20quarteryly%20magazine%2C%20charles%20roane%2C%20elizabeth%20bartelott&f=false
Now Any light bulbs going off? It doesn’t state, it really doesn’t even infer, that Elizabeth was the mother of Robert’s children. It merely says she was married to Robert and where her final resting place is. That’s it.
This requires a great deal more investigation. For one, I will need to find the birth certificates for all of his children. The latter doesn’t necessarily guarantee clarification as it looks like only fathers were cited on birth certificates during this time period… which is frustrating. What I’m willing to stake my credibility on is this: Elizabeth didn’t bear any of the 6 children attributed to Robert Roane.
What will ultimately prove exceedingly frustrating is the 6 months previously spent researching the Bartelott family’s lineage quite some time ago. The sole saving grace may come from Frances Bartelott, wife to Charles Roane, Robert Roane’s son. As yet, I can find nothing on her Bartelott lineage.
Let my hard lesson be yours: never take as read anything you find on public family trees. Nor should you let ‘collective wisdom’ colour your interpretation of the facts. Read the facts like an academic: just for the facts. No more and no less. Always double and triple check all the facts no matter how prevalent or accepted those facts are. My mistake early on in my genealogy journey was believing that all those family trees were correct when they weren’t.
What I am happy about is, with far more seasoned eyes and expertise honed by years of research, I returned to the work of my early days to verify, cite and triple check the information I accepted as correct. I just wish I had spotted the discrepancy of Elizabeth and Robert’s year of marriage and the years of birth for his children when I first began this journey.