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17c research

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17c research

Postby Norfolk Nan » Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:13 am

I'm entering new territory with research in the 17c century and would welcome any general advice about the period please.

I have a couple, Mary Hobbs and Thomas Swan, marrying in Woburn in 1691. The PRs only record date and their names, nothing more. Neither were baptised in the town so I'm on the hunt for their respective beginnings with absolutely no information - great fun, yay!

Bearing in mind Woburn is on the borders of Bucks and Northants and Herts do you have any rules of thumb for narrowing down the possibilities? And, knowing spelling wasn't high on the list of priorities during this period, would you add Hebbs to the list with Hobbs?

Finally, does anyone know why people used alias's so often? The Woburn PR has many people using them. Does it hint at bastardy and parentage? Or something more shady? Clearly they aren't hiding if the priest knows about them.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: 17c research

Postby MoVidger » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:19 pm

For general advice, FMP offers this helpful section on researching parish records: https://www.findmypast.co.uk/content/ex ... sh-history
Last edited by MoVidger on Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 17c research

Postby ksouthall » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:21 pm

I would check the Bedfordshire records first as Woburn is in Bedfordshire, then I'd branch out into Buckinghamshire, then Northamptonshire. Hertfordshire is the least likely of all those counties due to distance.
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Re: 17c research

Postby ksouthall » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:23 pm

Norfolk Nan wrote:Finally, does anyone know why people used alias's so often? The Woburn PR has many people using them. Does it hint at bastardy and parentage? Or something more shady? Clearly they aren't hiding if the priest knows about them.

Thanks in advance.


This could be due to inheritance, possibly linking back to a maiden name earlier in the family or a gift from a family friend.
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Re: 17c research

Postby Norfolk Nan » Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:53 pm

Thanks everyone. I’ve been reading Colin D Rogers The Family Tree Detective - I heartily recommend it. He suggests that most people at this time only moved 5 miles at most but suggested using a 20 mile search radius. He also provided a useful list to help weed out likely candidates and went on to explain the use of ‘alias’ - you could say it was the 17c equivalent of the double-barrelled names we have nowadays.

Thanks again. Every suggestion helps. :)
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