In this series — Ancestors Born in England or New England? — I identified a significant problem with birth dates in a number of Ancestry.com resources. Many individuals in the immigrant generation are shown with birth dates and places in New England towns, especially Massachusetts and Connecticut, before those towns were settled. In fact, some of English ancestry are shown as born in New England before 1620, the arrival of the Mayflower.
In Part 1, I wrote: “Over and over, I have found English ancestors listed as born in towns in New England with dates such as 1600, 1612, 1615 and so on. Clearly impossible as these dates were before the Great Migration of 1620-1640.” See Part 1.
In Part 2, I described the types of database records at Ancestry.com that contain these errors. These include Family Data Collection – Individual Records, Millennium Files and American Genealogical-Biographical Index, or AGBI, among others. See Part 2.
To ensure that you avoid birthplace errors for your early New England ancestors who were actually born in England or elsewhere in Europe, use timelines for the founding of the early towns in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Check to make sure each town has been founded or settled by European immigrant ancestors before giving those towns as birth places! Here are timeline resources you might wish to use:
Here is a map with the towns of Plymouth Colony with founding dates including Plymouth, Duxbury, Scituate and so on:
Here is a listing of all the towns in Massachusetts with dates of founding and incorporation:
Here is a listing of Connecticut Towns in Order of Establishment
Important Dates in the History of the Settlement of the Colony of Connecticut until Unification with the Colony of New Haven in 1665
Good strategy: print out these timelines and refer to them every time you are about to add a birth date and place for an early New England ancestor. If there is a birth date before 1620 and a birthplace in Massachusetts or Connecticut, look for additional source materials. That ancestor was likely born in England or other European county such as Holland. Your family tree will be more accurate, thanks to this extra review.
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