Gene Surfing

Adventures in Family History

Rules of Genealogy

Rules of Genealogy

bullshot bulletThe family gene pool can be a dangerous place for the unwary, so I have produced a set of rules for guidance through these murky waters.

#1 When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

speech50Sherlock Holmes, The sign of Four.


Sometimes you have to go through this process just to prove that you have made the right decision.

It can be frustrating and time-consuming, and fill your tree with unwanted un-relatives, but it is usually ultimately rewarding.

#2 There is no such thing as coincidence.

speech50Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS


Wise words from the almighty Gibbs. Rule#39

This may save you a lot of work later on when you realise that two people with the same name are, actually, the same person.

#3 If at first you don’t succeed …

speech50William Edward Hickson


Take a break, relax, have a glass of wine, and then another, and maybe just one more, then come back to your problem refreshed – or just have a little nap first.

#4 If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.



Don’t believe everything you read – if fact don’t believe anything you read, check it out for yourself.

And just because a document is old doesn’t mean that it is correct.

#5 Use the force, Luke

speech50Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars episode IV


Trust your instincts, they are often correct.

However it is often difficult to prove that they are correct without first having to apply rule #1

#6 There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.

speech50Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery.


Facts and dates change all the time – there used to be 9 planets in the solar system – fact!

#7 Think outside of the box.

speech50Nobody is owning up to this


This rule has been banned under European bullshit regulations!

#8 Expect the unexpected



Just because you think that people should do something sensible and logical doesn’t mean that they will.

For example, marrying your cousin after a previous marriage or two, therefore reverting back to your maiden name.

#9 It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.

speech50Attributed to Mr. Spock, in Star Trek, but is actually from the parody song “Start Trekkin'” by the Firm, 1987


Do not apply modern terms and attitudes to other periods in history – there are different rules.

The left-handed pamphleteer John Stubbes, in his will, did not identify any children of his own, but he did mention his son-in-law.

This had led some to believe that he therefore had a daughter, but this is not the case.

The term son-in-law today, specifically means a son through marriage – the husband of your daughter.

However in this case it refers to his step-son, Francis, the son of his wife from her first marriage.

#10 The devil is in the detail

speech50anonymous 1975


A single word in an document can make all the difference to your research.

Or it could just be a spelling mistake.

 Chris Sidney 2014


One response to “Rules of Genealogy

  1. Chris Codrington February 8, 2015 at 3:43 am

    Curious when you started your Codrington studies and how you qualify your sources…..Incidentally Robert Codrington of Barbados ( plague, st michaels) had no male progeny. Thomas of New York is very interesting as I observed nearly ten years ago but solid material on these “strays” had eluded others for a long time. Drop me a line you seem almost as obsessed with this as I am 🙂


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